Dear Santa / LG / Verizon: How about a phone camera revolution?


As some others have underscored here, there's currently a paltry variety among Verizon's basic phones.  Yes, I realize that the comically-misnamed "smart" phones are all the rage and by far the biggest market segment just now, but there is also a market segment that is just as adamant in their refusal to jump onto that overkill bandwagon.  I don't want to become one of those rather pathetic-looking zombies wandering around with their faces buried in their combination phone/mobile computer/music player/GPS hall monitor/social networking machines.  I just need a phone, and the one extra that I find useful, a camera.

I doubt I'm alone in noting that no basic flip phone has a camera with anything greater than 1.3 MP.  1.3 megapixel cameras are mid-1990s technology.  They're technological dinosaurs, like 8-track tapes and the Eniac.  Why can't Verizon approach a phone manufacturer with a no-brainer proposal to bring 2012-era camera technology to phones?  How about putting a decent-sized image sensor and a quality lens into at least one phone in each of Verizon's tiers of phone types, from basic flip phones up to top-of-the-line "smart" phones?  How about offering at least one no-frills flip phone with an outstanding camera?

There's no reason why my choice to eschew the "smart" phone overkill for a simple phone with text and camera should force me to settle for a toy camera as a matter of course.  Here's a point to consider, Verizon: 

I can't speak for anyone else, but the initial, one-time cost of the phone is not that big an issue for me.  I'm not staying away from "smart" phones because I don't want to pay umpty-hundred dollars for one, I'm staying away from them because I do not want or need the complexity, the functionality-duplication with computers, or the jacked-up monthly bills they require.  I want a no-frills phone and a no-frills plan, but I'm not necessarily opposed to paying a higher initial cost for a basic phone that has some meaty hardware options.  When my trusty six-year-old LG8350 lost its ear speaker function, I nearly went for that indestructible Casio Ravine - but balked at the news that its camera was reviewed as mediocre.  (Plus I've learned that LG is worthy of its reputation for quality and am reluctant to switch to another manufacturer.)

So how about this idea:  Make Verizon synonymous with the best-quality cameras in the cellphone business - on every single phone it offers?  True, that's problematic because different phone manufacturers serve multiple phone companies.  So get an exclusive manufacturing contract already.  Lawyers have to be good for something.  But what I'm talking about here is industry leadership:  Given that the entire cellphone industry is inexplicably dancing around the subject of phone cameras - essentially asking customers to "settle" for substandard crap and pretending it's an acceptable norm in 2012 - the door is wide open for one company (such as Verizon, f'rinstance,) to step way, way ahead of the pack by leading a revolution in phone camera quality that will shock the rest of the pack and leave them flailing, bewildered, in the dust.  

A better-quality camera is the one thing I invariably hear everyone I know mention as the #1 thing they wish their phones had.  I'd happily pay an additional chunk of cash for even the simplest phone if it had a quality lens from someone like Leica or Zeiss, and the biggest sensor that can be physically jammed into a phone housing. Another idea would be to coax a phone manufacturer to design its entire line of phones, from flip to "smart," with some kind of modular camera section that would allow vendors like Verizon to offer the options of "No frills phone with cheapo no frills camera" or "No frills phone with the Full Monty camera."  I'm envisioning a design that would allow different levels of camera quality to be integrated, order-by-order, into everything from the cheapest flip phone to top-of-the-line, or not, as the order may demand.  IOW, LG or whoever could design a standard physical interface into all of its phone housings, from bottom to top of the line, that would allow either-or configuration of the camera for every phone, during the manufacturing process, with no need to create separate designs for every one.  It's a concept NASA has been doing with its robotic probes in its old X2000 program, later MSAP:  Develop a standardized core that's configurable to multiple end uses,so as to obviate the need to reinvent the wheel for every different application. 'Same concept here, basically, only in reverse:  Create an interchangeable camera module that allows for easily configuring any level of phone with whichever level of camera quality a customer orders, without needing to create umpty different variations of each different phone model. 


Long story short: 1.3 megapixel cameras with Fisher-Price kiddie-toy plastic lenses are not just anachronistic to 2012, they're an inexplicable quality hole that is no longer justifiable, if it ever was.  No offense to Fisher-Price. We're just... not kids.  If you're going to put cameras into phones, do it like you mean it.  Customers have been waiting patiently for phone manufacturers to get with the program on camera quality for years, and so far not a single one of them has stepped up.

Which means that Verizon, LG, or ...whoever, is sitting on a potential gold mine.

D'OH!  'Scuse the book.

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