Will Smartphones kill off the DSLR?

Recently, one of the titans of the imaging world made a pretty ground-breaking statement:

We expect that still images [from smartphones] will exceed the image quality of single-lens reflex cameras within the next few years. Still images are expected to exceed ILC [interchangeable lens camera] image quality sometime during 2024.

Terushi Shimizu - Sony

What makes this proclamation all the more note-worthy is that he placed a date to his statement, and that this man is none other than the CEO of Sony Semiconductor Solutions Terushi Shimizu.  He is responsible for producing the image sensors in approximately 50% of all mobile phones on the planet. (the 50% that matter)

And this statement has major implications for his own parent company’s DSLR business, which accounts for an impressive 22% of the global market for DSLR cameras. (But also for your app-to-print strategy)

Of course, pundits on both sides of the divide have been predicting the eventual complete demise of the stand-alone camera for a long time.  Whether this expected “better image quality” (what does that even mean?) will finally kill standalone cameras or not remains to be seen.  Still, one thing is certain: for the average consumer, the advantages of carrying a bulky DSLR camera during their milestone events (think bar mitzbahs, graduation and weddings) are rapidly reducing since their pocket-size smartphones can do the job.   As for travels; bringing a separate camera on a vacation is now about as obscure as…traveller’s checks! (remember those?)

So how is this relevant to the print industry? 

It’s no secret that here at photobook.ai, we have always been a mobile-first company and a huge proponent of a app-to-print approach.  Shimizu-san’s statement only validates our approach.  But we don’t have to wait for 2024 when mobile phone’s image quality are expected to “surpass” those of the ILC.  The quality of today’s average mid-market mobile phone cameras are already more than good enough for consumer print.  In fact, they have been since the iPhone 6, according to Apple (and who are we to argue with Steve?).  Incidentally, the iPhone 6 uses a Sony Exmor IMX220 image sensor.


iphone6 billboard
iphone6 billboard

Many of you may rightfully say “but my web-to-print solution is mobile responsive”.  And my mobile browser audience is growing faster than desktop visitors, so my users are happy with my mobile website.

Yes and No; allow us to elaborate.

If your user’s photos are already in the cloud, (Facebook, Google Photos, Instagram) then maybe, a mobile responsive Web-to-print is good enough since users will probably transfer their photos from their cloud service of choice to your web-to-print editor.  (but really, how many of you access Instagram via a browser?)

Your mobile audience are growing on your site because that’s where your users are.   That does not tell you that they are happy with your mobile-responsive site.  But it tells you where to find them!

Take a closer look at your mobile audience conversions.  Then compare them with mobile-app only companies like Chatbooks (USA) and photosi (Italy) and Popsa (UK).  Then find out how much ad-dollars are going into Sergei and Mark’s pockets.

We already know standalone cameras are going the way of the dodo (see quote above by the man responsible for that!)  Photos will start their lives on the phone. 

A native App-to-print gets first dips on these photos, and you absolutely want to have your print shop be right there inside their camera.  An App-to-print channel makes things much easier from a user’s point of view, no uploads before editing, no responsiveness issues, and it is 100% private and secure. Your shop is in your users’ pocket, next to their camera roll and credit card! (and if your App-to-print happens to be supercharged with AI, even better, wink, wink)


Wanna learn more about how this affects your business; check out our post where we deep-dive into the key differences between a mobile-responsive web-2-print solution Vs. a native app-to-print solution.