The explosion of the selfie phenomenon has been a boon for smartphone-makers.
Users taking snaps of themselves on their handsets and shovelling the results onto Facebook, Twitter and Instagram has meant an upsurge in the use of previously average quality front–facing cameras.
So it’s perhaps not too surprising that companies are now actually marketing devices as ‘selfie phones’ to try and entice the so–called youth market.
The latest example is HTC’s Desire Eye. It has a huge 13-megapixel sensor on the front, matching that found on the device’s rear.
Using HTC’s new ‘Eye Experience’ software, it aims to make shots of your mug look even sharper and smarter.
Microsoft has been here too, of course.
Its Lumia 735 has a five-megapixel shooter up front and is paired with a dedicated Lumia Selfie app for making sure you take the perfect snap of your face.
Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 4 has a special ‘wide selfie’ option thanks to the broad angle of its front–facing lens.
The question is, is this all just a gimmick?
The concept of selfies is still relatively new and it’s hard not to think that we’ll soon all become collectively bored of sharing pictures of ourselves posing outside major tourist traps or in inappropriate places.
Surely these phones’ selfie features are just a case of trying to capitalise on a brief phenomenon that we’ll one day look back upon through our fingers, cringing at our own narcissism.
They’re also indicative of the need most mobile-makers feel to offer differentiation.
The impressive growth in smartphone tech means that many devices now offer very similar services built around the same platform.
There are differences, but by and large the best models have excellent screens, intuitive software and access to the best apps.
Manufacturers need something to help them stand out from the ever-growing crowd.
With that in mind it stands to reason that it’s mainly manufacturers who are struggling who are producing these phones.
HTC is still teetering on the edge despite a moderately successful 2014.
Lumia devices are critically adored but sell in pitiful numbers.
Samsung is facing a growing crisis in its mobile division after an extreme case of resting on its laurels.
Selfie phones and selfie cameras can help them secure some headlines, but they aren’t long term solutions to problems that are much more deep-seated.
Selfies are, of course, a genuinely real-world use of smartphones. But they don’t require fancy extras in order to work.
Part of their joy, surely, is that they’re a bit ramshackle.
Like messenger phones, camera phones and music phones before, such focused devices are destined to be confined to mobile history in very short order.