Cell phone sensors, in the new Nokia phones, are now as large or larger than point and shoot cameras, a new gold standard for camera sensors in smartphones. Keeping in mind that it is not megapixels that determine the quality of your pictures, it is the sensor size and its technology. The larger the sensor in most cases the better the picture quality. Now one can argue that lenses are also important in determining picture quality, and lenses are very import in determining picture quality. However a good lens on a small sensor can only do so much to improve a picture, as small point and shoot sensors capture so very little light.
Nokia has driven one more nail in the coffin of what was once a lucrative point and shoot market, a market now in step decline. Given that the smartphones will have the same sensors as a point and shoot and that mirrorless and DSLR cameras are as cheap as the better quality point and shoots, where is the market? If you can not afford a smart phone or a better quality camera then perhaps there is a market that could sustain the point and shoots. However for those who can afford a smart phones why carry two devices that have very similar capacities, when you can just carry one? It will be interesting to see what Samsung, Motorola, Blackberry and Apple will do next, as there has been very little sensor size change in the last few years. Some innovation in this area is long overdue, but at the moment it looks like Nokia is out ahead by quite a bit.
I have provided a diagram of sensor sizes below, to help visualize the difference in size difference. The purple coloured squares indicate the smartphone sensors that are currently on some of the leading brands of cell phones; the orange coloured ones the new sizes from Nokia’s smartphones and the green are the standard sizes for most point and shoot cameras.