For a good few years, almost all new cheap phones had a 48 MP main camera, with mobile manufacturers hoping that a high-resolution snapper would convince potential buyers that this was a good camera phone (high megapixel count doesn’t equal good quality, but brands probably hoped you wouldn’t know it).
But in 2022, that’s changed, as we’ve seen plenty of budget phones selling 50MP snappers instead, and a new Samsung phone shows the trend is here to stay.
This is the Samsung Galaxy A04, which has just been announced on the company’s website (opens in a new tab), although no pricing or sales information has been provided yet. Judging by the Galaxy A03 from last year, this is likely to be the company’s cheapest phone in most regions, as the A03 cost just $160 / £140 (it didn’t officially go on sale in Australia).
In most areas, the phone’s specs scream “cheap mobile” – it has a 6.5-inch HD display, no fingerprint scanner and an unnamed, but probably weak, chipset. The battery is large at 5,000 mAh, a spec we see on most budget phones, but no charging speed was detailed.
The memory is surprisingly good, because while there are versions with 32 GB or 64 GB of storage space, you can also get a 128 GB model. Likewise, the RAM goes up to 8GB, with 4GB and 6GB options as well.
But on the cameras, the main focus of this article – there is a 5 MP snapper on the front, while on the back there is a 50 MP camera, along with a 2 MP depth sensor.
Analysis: why 50
We’ve seen a lot of budget mobiles in 2022 with 50MP cameras, especially those from OnePlus, Realme and Motorola, with brands opting to use this over 48MP in most phones.
It’s worth pointing out that different phones use different 50MP cameras – both Samsung and Sony make smartphone sensors with this resolution that we’ve seen used a lot.
One of these is Sony’s IMX766 sensor, which we saw a lot at the beginning of the year in phones like the Realme 9 Pro Plus, but since then high-end phones like the OnePlus 10T have also adopted it. This sensor is impressive because it’s quite large, which makes it great for picking up color, especially in low-light settings – but its use in budget mobiles suggests that the component is quite affordable.
We’re happy that phone brands are adopting 50MP over 48MP – while the actual pixel gain is limited, from a purely experiential point of view, we’ve found these cameras to outperform the older 2MP ones.
That’s especially the case for night photography, which has long been a weak spot for mobile phones (not that actual cameras fare well either).
Bridging the gap between budget phones and the best mobiles out there, these 50MP cameras make mobile photography just a little more accessible. And while we can’t say that the Samsung Galaxy A04 will compete with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, or join our list of the best camera phones, it seems very likely that it will surpass the Galaxy A03, and that’s good enough.