Sector Report

Global smartphone cameras – More is more

by Cherry Ma / Feb 26, 2019


The obsession with smartphone camera photography is intensifying. The average number of cameras per smartphone reached 2.59 units in 4Q18, while camera photography leader Huawei has packed, on average, 3.2 cameras into each device. We are expecting high-end flagship devices to feature triple cameras this year, while dual-camera penetration in low to mid-end devices will continue to increase. With average selling prices increasing on spec upgrades, we expect the total lens industry to enjoy a 24% revenue compound annual growth rate over the next five years.

Four to six cameras per flagship smartphone
This year, flagship smartphone brands have announced handsets equipped with a total of four to six cameras (front + rear) per device. The Nokia 9 PureView has six cameras, the LG V50 ThingQ 5G and Samsung Galaxy Fold have five cameras each, while most other flagship smartphones have four. We believe US digital photography company Light has the technology to allow smartphone brands that lack adequate engineering R&D to accelerate multiple camera development and adoption.

Smartphone lens patents being filed by Largan and Sunny
Besides more cameras per phone, the number of elements per lens set is also increasing to enable feature upgrades. We sifted through US and China patent databases and found that Largan and Sunny Optical have filed patent applications for 8-P lens designs, telephoto lens and ultra-wide angle lenses implying further lens upgrades in coming years.

Numbers game
Among the top brands, Huawei has 3.20 cameras per phone, followed by Oppo (2.83), Xiaomi (2.75), Vivo (2.66), Samsung (2.46) and Apple (2.43). For smaller brands/sub-brands such as OnePlus and Realme, almost 100% are equipped with multicams.