How smartphone technology is winning the race for better attention

Abdul Halim Johar
4 min readAug 3, 2020

These are some of the pictures that I took in Sungai Semungkis. Pristine and original, yet easily accessible due to its proximity to the main road. The place was opened a week before the government announced the Movement Control Order (MCO). It was recently reopened when the government decided to impose a more relax Recovery MCO. I am so fortunate to be among those that can enjoy its beauty. Talk about having the perks of living in a small town called Hulu Langat, where pristine picnic spot is just a 10km away from the house.

While the subject of potential touristic adventure in Hulu Langat is certainly an interesting subject to broach, it is not a subject that I want to discuss. What I want to discuss is about the question posed by a friend, asking what did I use to take those pictures. Was it with the smartphone or the usual suspect of Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR)?

Coming to think of it, while the question was innocent enough, it begs us to explore how far technology has evolved in the past years. The past few years have been very interesting where we have seen smartphone evolve into a force that DSLR has to reckon with. The space that was dominated by the like of Canon and Nikon, is slowly being displaced the moment Apple introduced its first version of iPhone. Google, as the steward of the Android OS, has been making inline in the smartphone space, with its OS being adopted by companies such as Huawei, Samsung and a few more. Similarly to Apple which has created a healthy ecosystem for people to innovate their apps idea, a whole slew of applications on both Google and Apple App Store that targeted at photography buffs were released. Realizing how powerful their devices can be, many of these smartphone manufacturers are pivoting their product that appeals to the people that have a high affinity for photography. Thus, it is now a war of how many cameras can our smartphone crammed, as well as what is the maximum resolution it can go to satisfy our hunger for better photos.

As a result of these advances, photography has become so accessible that there is a whole industry flourishing out of it. Together with videography, it has lent to the rising of application such as Instagram, YouTube and the most recent TikTok towards a greater height that we have never seen before. Our hunger for instant stardom has been fueled by easy access to highly powerful camera equipment, as well as the applications that are so user-friendly, even our kindergarten kids can make a career out of the Internet these days.

So what is left of the traditional camera players such as Canon or Nikon? Are we seeing the beginning of an end for traditional camera players, such as that befall on Kodak? With the recent decision by Olympus to close down their camera business, the possibility is not that far off. As an owner that owned a few of these cameras, I am now relying more and more on my smartphone for picture taking. The sight of people slinging the camera strap is becoming a rarity, as it is much more convenient to dish out our smartphone from the pocket. Weight is becoming an issue that it is a hindrance for these manufacturers to continue to attract people to opt for their equipment. With the introduction of a mirrorless or a four third camera by Fuji and Panasonic, the weight issue is being addressed considerably, but will it be enough to get people to stick to the devices that are meant solely for the picture/video-taking?

Already companies such as Huawei or Apple are working to ensure their smartphone are the cutting edge as far as the camera is a concern. A lot of these manufacturers are banking on their camera as part of their promotional campaign. The trend will continue at least until our insatiable appetite for attention diminish. Until then, the smartphone will continue to become our device of choice, to record those cooking videos that we posted on our Youtube channel.

So coming back to the earlier question by a friend of mine. What is the answer to his question? Obviously, my answer was that the pictures were taken using a smartphone, and the picture, as well as the video, were slightly edited to make the colours more striking and deliver a more believable storyline.

Originally published at on August 3, 2020.