What it is: The camera in the iPhone 7 Plus uses software and hardware to capture better pictures.
At one time, digital cameras captured grainy pictures. Their only advantage was that they were easy to capture and edit compared to a film camera. For the longest time, professional photographers dismissed digital photography because film captured superior images.
Then digital cameras got better and film cameras did not. Eventually most photography enthusiasts who clung to film and dismissed digital photography as a “toy” changed their minds and switched to dedicated digital cameras. Then these same people claimed that dedicated digital cameras were far superior to built-in cameras on mobile phones — and they were right for years.
One huge advantage that dedicated digital cameras offer is that they have physics on their side. Screw on a different lens and you can captured different images. Even the bulk of a dedicated digital camera makes it easier to fill it with superior lenses that mobile phones could never copy. The whole point of a mobile phone is to stay mobile while a dedicated digital camera offers interchangeable lenses.
While the hardware of digital cameras steadily improved, the computing power of mobile phones rapidly improved. With the iPhone 7 Plus, not only does Apple offer a dual lens capability and sharper lenses for improved hardware, but they also offer the processing power of the iPhone’s A10 Fusion processor. So not only does the iPhone 7 Plus offer advanced hardware (that still can’t match the physics of a dedicated digital camera), but it can also offer advanced processing power that dedicated digital cameras are failing to match.
Dedicated digital cameras will always have a hardware advantage because they have more room at the cost of greater bulk, weight, and heft. Mobile phones will always be at a hardware disadvantage because they lack similar space.
However, digital cameras are falling behind in the processing power of capturing images while mobile phones are improving rapidly. Eventually software improvements will dramatically improve while hardware advances just steadily improve. Just as digital photography eventually surpassed film, so will mobile cameras using software eventually surpass dedicated digital cameras that rely on hardware improvements alone to capture quality images.
Already the hassle of lugging around a dedicated digital camera with all its accessories has made dedicated digital cameras less popular, and the trend will only continue. On the other hand, mobile phones are easy to carry and with improved processing power, the images captured by the iPhone 7 Plus can already rival the quality of dedicated digital cameras, all with he added bonus of not having to lug around a bag full of digital camera accessories all the time.
The best camera is the one you have with you and the iPhone 7 Plus is far easier to carry everyday for everyone. Dedicated digital camera manufacturers will always have a small but loyal following. The problem is that a small but loyal following can’t be as profitable as the far faster growing number of iPhone photographers. As the iPhone’s processing power continues growing, the idea of using dedicated digital cameras at all will make as much sense as using a typewriter and carbon paper to make copies. Some people will still want to do that, but most will not. That means the dedicated digital camera business has nowhere to go but down.
Anyone remember how photographers used to claim film was superior to digital photography? One day people will forget that anyone ever used dedicated digital cameras as well.