The first cell phone to be able to transmit, receive, and display digital images was a prototype device called the Intellect, which was designed in 1993 by the American inventor Daniel A. Henderson. The Intellect was, in essence, a hand held mobile phone with a large, high resolution monochrome screen, that was able to display images and video files that had been transmitted by a computer connected to a wireless transmitter. Many of the technologies and data transfer protocols that were pioneered by Henderson are still in use today, in our modern camera phones.
Apple's Videophone/PDA in 1995, and several prototype digital camera/mobile phone combinations demonstrated by Kodak and Olympus in the mid 90s. However, none of these devices were capable of connecting to the internet wirelessly, which was to prove a crucial development as it allowed instant media sharing with anyone regardless of their location.
In Japan, two competing projects were run by Sharp and Kyocera in 1997. Both had cell phones with integrated cameras. However, the Kyocera system was designed as a peer-to-peer video-phone as opposed to the Sharp project which was initially focused on sharing instant pictures. That was made possible when the Sharp devices was coupled to the Sha-mail infrastructure designed in collaboration with American technologist, Kahn. The Kyocera team was led by Mr. Kazumi Saburi
Invention of the Camera Phone by Philippe Kahn
June 11, 1997
Philippe Kahn invented the camera phone in June 1997. The first commercial camera phone was the J-SH04 made by Sharp. Philippe Kahn instantly shared the first pictures from the maternity ward where his daughter Sophie was born, with more than 2000 family, friends and associates around the world. A sharing infrastructure and an integrated cell-phone and camera combo augured the birth of instant visual communications.
Kyocera Visual Phone VP-210
Widely acknowledged as the first camera phone, the VP-210 debuted in May 1999 and was originally billed as a "video mobile phone" rather than a phone with a digital camera
First Commercial Deployment
The first commercial deployment in North America of camera phones was in 2002. The Sprint wireless carriers deployed over 1 million camera phone manufactured by Sanyo and launched by the PictureMail infrastructure (Sha-Mail in English) developed and managed by LightSurf.
Popularity of Camera Phones
By 2003, more camera phones were sold worldwide than stand-alone digital cameras
Nokia - Worlds most sold digital camera
In 2005, Nokia became the world's most sold digital camera brand.
Camera Phones Spread
In 2006, half of the world's mobile phones had a built-in camera.[
First Satellite Phone w/ Integrated Camera
In 2006, Thuraya released the first satellite phone with an integrated camera. The Thuraya SG-2520 was manufactured by a Korean company called APSI and ran Windows CE.
Grundig Mobile X5000
Released back in 2006, the Grundig Mobile X5000, a hybrid flip-phone and video camera, was notable for its interesting form factor. The display half flipped up and could be twisted around in much the same manner as the flip-out display for a standalone video camera. With a 6-megapixel image sensor, the camera was able to shoot 640 x 480, 30fps video to a mini-SD card. A few images of the X5000 in action can be seen at the NewMobile site.
Still Cameras to Motion Video
By 2007, the first cell phones and other consumer products appeared using the Tardis technology to make the move from still cameras to full motion video
Camera Phones Capture Crimes
January 17, 2007
On January 17th, 2007, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to encourage people to use their camera-phones to capture crimes happening in progress or dangerous situations and send them to emergency responders. Through the program, people will be able to send their images or video directly to 911.
Nokia Sold More Camera Phones than Kodak Sold Film
In 2008, Nokia sold more camera phones than Kodak sold film based simple cameras, thus becoming the biggest manufacturer of any kind of camera.
The Samsung Memoir, released in 2009, was a good example of how a mobile phone camera can be implemented in an intriguing way. Instead of a being a phone with a minimal camera added, this was a point-and-shoot camera with an Android-powered phone added.
Camera Phones Totaled More than 1 Billion
In 2010, the worldwide number of camera phones totaled more than a billion. Most mobile phones, even inexpensive ones, were being sold with a camera. High end camera phones usually had a relatively good lens and high resolution, but a small sensor.
The Nokia N8's camera specs are striking, closer to a standalone point-and-shoot than a phone: 12 megapixels, a genuine glass Carl Zeiss lens (f/2.8, 5.9mm focal length) and a Xenon flash instead of the usual LED. (It only shoots 720p video, however.) What's less clear is if Nokia will produce another device to follow in its upscale footsteps: The N8-00 was released in October 2010, and all the following models in Nokia's N series have only had 8-megapixel cameras.
HTC Evo 3D
The HTC Evo 3D (released in June 2011) packed two different imaging innovations into one phone. Not only did it shoot 3D images and movies (up to 720p for movies and 5 megapixels for stills), it played back 3D content on its own stereoscopic display (and you didn't need separate glasses).
Apple iPhone 4S
October 7, 2011
Many of the incremental revisions that Apple made to the iPhone 4 when it was revised as the iPhone 4S revolved around the camera. It was bumped from a 5-megapixel to an 8-megapixel sensor, with a larger f/2.4 aperture (to admit more light) and an infrared filter to allow better color reproduction. The iPhone 4 shot 720p video; the iPhone 4S shoots 1080p video. (The makers of the Camera+ app did their own side-by-side comparisons.) One feature that's not new (it was in the iPhone 4) but still noteworthy is back-side illumination for the image sensor, for even greater light sensitivity.
Polaroid SC1630 Smart Camera
Polaroid, struggling to reinvent itself in the digital era, has produced its own variation on the Memoir's camera-with-phone concept. With 16 megapixels, a 3X optical zoom and 720p video recording, the SC1630's camera specs are more than competent. The "phone" side is essentially a touch-screen Android device sans cell access (at least, as of this writing) but with Wi-Fi connectivity (and with access to the Google Play market, so yes, you can run Instagram).
Sony Xperia Ion
Sony's forthcoming Android 2.3-powered Xperia Ion will sport a 12-megapixel sensor and Carl Zeiss glass optics; it will also be capable of 1080p video. The images will be viewable on a 4.6-in. high definition, 1280-x-720-pixel display. The AT&T phone is expected to ship sometime in the second quarter of 2012.