it is possible to preview the result of applying high dynamic range imaging to pictures. HDR imaging usually helps create better pictures in extreme lighting conditions but with digital cameras, it is processed after snapping a photo.
LG showed off how its high-end G Pro 2 smartphone can selectively blur and sharpen a picture by tapping the area that a user wants to adjust. This feature, which adds depth to a photo, was a major trait in DSLR cameras. While DSLR cameras did this trick in the image's raw data by changing the lens aperture, the G Pro 2 does it through software after the photo is taken in a special mode. The Galaxy S5 offers a similar option though less sophisticated.
Nokia is also betting big on powerful camera features to lure buyers from Samsung and Apple Inc. Among Nokia's major products is the Lumia 1020 smartphone announced last year, which can take 38 megapixel images. Larger pixels in the camera don't necessarily mean a better picture, which also depends on the lens and image sensors. But bigger pixels allow taking photos with sufficient details for poster-size prints, something that professional photographers are keen on. Other high-end smartphone cameras are around or below 20 megapixels.
Sony's Xperia Z2 smartphone, announced at the Mobile World Congress, has a rear camera with 20.7 megapixels, same as the predecessor Z1, but Sony upgraded the camera's video-recording power to 4K. The Z2 is also equipped with technologies that allow users to capture moving subjects blur-free.
All these handsets from Samsung, Sony and LG can record ultra-HD picture quality video, something that isn't widespread among stand-alone cameras.
''This trend is happening much faster than most predicted,'' said IDC's Chute of the 4K video recording in high-end smartphones.
But will these moves push smartphone cameras to reach the market reserved for premium cameras over $1,000?
''You're getting to the stage where cameras in high-end models are good enough for the majority of consumers in most environments,'' said Nick Dillon, a senior analyst at Ovum. But there will be a significant quality gap between the pictures from DSLR cameras and smartphones for the foreseeable future, he said.
One reason is the sensor. The larger the sensor is, the better the image's quality because it can capture more light.
''There is a limitation in the sensor size you can put in smartphones because it would make smartphones bigger,'' Dillon said.