HONOR Puts Pixels Over Megapixels In Camera Strategy Shift

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Smartphone maker HONOR is placing pixels over megapixels in latest mobile camera strategy shift. Pixel size, that is.

The Chinese company's essentially pausing its unconditional pursuit of sensors with greater megapixel counts. HONOR marketing chief, Kailang Shen, said as much on social media earlier this week.

According to the executive, HONOR's subsidiary won't be betting on mobile cameras with 100+ megapixels. With that said, the new R&D direction may not be of the long-term variety. However, as far as 2020 is concerned, sensor size must take precedence over megapixel count, the official suggested.

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In other words, the HONOR View 40 range whose 2020 debut is now all but certain to feature a 1μm main sensor. As opposed to a smaller, 0.8μm one that a move to 100+ megapixels would prompt.

HONOR, of course, claims its new approach to mobile photography tech will result in even better image quality. However, the firm's reasoning is somewhat suspect, primarily due to the timing, i.e. context of its newest announcement.

The year of fewer megapixels and lower expectations

108-megapixel camera sensors are one of the latest trends in the smartphone industry. Many flagships set to release this year will feature such imaging modules and a number of recently launched ones already do.

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HONOR's parent company Huawei jumped on the triple-digit-megapixel-count bandwagon in late 2019 as well. It did so with the Mate 30 line that's currently largely unavailable in the West due to licensing issues. HONOR's decision to pause efforts to increase mobile camera resolution may actually be related to that fact.

Namely, Huawei and its subsidiaries are in for a rough year regardless of how much they innovate in the immediate future. In yet another escalation of a neverending standoff between the U.S. and China's telecom behemoth, Washington blacklisted Huawei in 2019. All of its affiliates have, in effect, been unable to use Google-issued Android versions since last fall.

Outside of China, Android is essentially inseparable from Google Mobile Services. Huawei and HONOR's smartphone business has, therefore, taken a massive global hit in recent months.

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That grim state of affairs may have prompted the Chinese conglomerate to cut back on near-term R&D. Regardless of how HONOR presents it, that's precisely what its newly announced camera strategy shift accomplishes.

Granted, mindless pursuit of higher-resolution sensors, i.e. camera megapixels doesn't really make sense for mobile photography, and that's what HONOR realized. But it's not like that stopped smartphone makers in the past; after all, greater numbers are always easier to advertise, as banal as that might seem.

So, while HONOR's logic behind this move may be sound, its official reasoning is still dubious at best.

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