Why do new smartphones at MWC19 need so many cameras?

Why do new smartphones at MWC19 have so many cameras? Who needs that many? We love the advanced technology, but shouldn’t we also be aware of the invasion of online privacy? It’s time to on both smartphone advancement and privacy protection.

nokia 9 cameras
Michael Simon/IDG

Looking at all the product introductions at this year’s MWC 19, we saw sooooo many cameras on smartphones. Why? Apple iPhone, Google Android and countless others all have multiple cameras. Do we really need that many on a single device? Do we even want them? What about the personal privacy implications?

We are taking a great idea too far. Years ago, cellphones were just, well, wireless phones. Then mobile phone makers started to add lots of new features. The camera was one of them. It started out as a way to capture a rough and scratchy image. Then, especially over the last several years, it’s gotten much better.

Today, smartphone makers seem to think if there is one great camera on the device, two would be better. Then three, four, five, even six. Someone should tell them, enough is enough already!

HMD launched Nokia PureView 9 smartphone with 6 cameras

At MWC19, HMD launched the Nokia PureView 9. Just like when Apple launched the upgraded iPhone or Samsung with their new Galaxy smartphones, HMD and Nokia focused on multiple cameras. Six in fact. There are five on the back and one on the front.

Who the heck needs six cameras, anyway?

  1. Maybe, there’s one in a million who needs more than one camera. Or maybe smartphone makers want to continue to charge more for their new devices every year. Or maybe this is a way to fool the customers into thinking the two-camera smartphone is outdated and needs to be replaced.

Who knows the real reason? The bottom line is, the smartphone industry is getting carried away and spinning out of control with all this camera technology the average user could care less about.

Do smartphone cameras create loss of privacy for users?

Not to throw a wrench into all this excitement, but too many cameras should make everyone a bit nervous. As a wireless analyst, social media influencer and columnist, I hear from all sorts of industry insiders warning of the loss of privacy these cameras represent.

Remember, before this camera revolution started a couple decades ago, we had privacy. Then governments started to install traffic cameras all over the place. That was one of the first steps in this new world order.

Today, we can’t step outside our home without being watched. Heck, we can’t even stay inside our homes without cameras everywhere.

Outside, there are traffic cameras, security cameras, satellite cameras, cameras on the ceiling of every store and building we enter. Cameras on our front door with new doorbells like Ring and SimpliSafe. Even cameras inside our homes on security systems looking for the bad guys.

Google Home, Amazon Alexa and other AI devices invade online privacy

That’s right, we’re surrounded by all sorts of different cameras. To make matters worse, we buy devices that have microphones and bring them into our homes. Consider Google Home, Amazon Echo or Alexa and other AI devices entering the picture as well. They’re always there, quietly sitting on the countertop, listening. All day, every day.

Want proof? All you have to do is talk, and it responds. That feature you think is so cool – and it is – also invades your privacy.

And it’s only getting worse, year after year.

Think you’re safe? Think again. Everyone carriers a smartphone today, right? Try this with your iPhone or Android sitting on the table next to you.

Simply say, “Hey Siri” or “Hey Google,” and see what happens. That’s right, your smartphone is always listening to everything that you say.

Privacy is out the window. Once upon a time, we had it. But we lost it. Companies that make this technology wow us with what it can do.

But no one is warning us of the loss of privacy we’re experiencing as a society.

Now smartphones are increasing the number of cameras they have. Why? Is it a way to increase the price of the smartphone? Is it a way to increase the desire for users to trade up? There are all sorts of reasons, but does the average user need extra cameras?

I’m as excited as everyone else with all this new technology like AI, IoT, the cloud and more. Used correctly, it’s pretty incredible. It empowers us. It will improve our lives in countless ways. It will save lives. It will create self-driving cars and smart cities. All sorts of exciting changes are coming.

However, I wish the makers of all these devices – not to mention the media, including tech media – would care as much about protecting our privacy as they do with selling more devices and whipping everyone into a frenzy. There is room for both. There is need for both.

Heck, we put warning labels on everything. Shouldn’t there be a warning label on all this new technology? Of course, there should be. Everyone should be educated on what they are losing.

Smartphone advancement and privacy protection are key

After all, do we have to have another Facebook crisis to realize our privacy is being stolen right from under our noses? Why can’t we focus on both sides of the coin at the same time?

Some companies take privacy seriously. IBM Watson uses AI to do wonderous things. So far, I don’t think they are part of the loss of privacy issue. Every company should follow their lead.

Advancement and privacy protection. Is it really too much to ask?

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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