Although the techniques are equally applicable to camera phones and dedicated cameras, they may be more valuable in phones, where users tend to edit and share their photos without first transferring them to a PC.
Scalado and DxO both maintained that there's more to picture quality than increasing the number of megapixels in the image sensor, but that didn't stop companies from touting sensors with higher and higher resolution. LG Electronics showed its LT1000 phone, with a 1.3 megapixel camera -- and a built-in TV tuner into the bargain. Panasonic Mobile Communications Co. Ltd. showed its VS3 and VS7 phones, also with megapixel cameras.
Motorola showed its own answer to the problem of image quality at low light levels: Its E1120, a 3G (third generation) phone for the European market, has a built-in 30-lux lamp, and ups the stakes on resolution with a three-megapixel camera.
Micron Technology of Boise, Idaho, announced a two-megapixel image sensor with a built-in JPEG compression engine. Including this on the camera chip eliminates the need for a second chip to do the compression, which means phones can be made smaller and cheaper, the company said. Samples of the chip will be generally available beginning in April, it said.
Mitsubishi Electric of Tokyo showed imaging components in a range of capacities up to two megapixels, and said it plans to introduce a four megapixel version "soon."
Back on dry land, Nokia showed its 6680 Imaging Smartphone for 3G networks, with a 1.3 megapixel camera on one side and a 0.3 megapixel resolution camera on the other. The launch marks something of an about-face for Nokia, which has until now maintained that people were more interested in sending images of what they can see than they are in face-to-face videoconferencing. With the 6680, they can do both, Nokia said.
Mobile network operators encourage their customers to use devices such as the 6680 to share pictures in electronic format, but some people still like to pass their holiday snaps around on paper. Eastman Kodak has developed an online photo album hosting service bringing both worlds together, and this week announced deals with three European network operators to offer cobranded portals to their customers. Photos can be uploaded to the portals from a phone by MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), or directly from a PC over the Internet. They are then published as Web pages, and visitors can order prints over the Web or from their phones.
The photos can be delivered by mail to anywhere in the world using Kodak's Easyshare Gallery printing service, the company said. The service will be available on mmO2 PLC's U.K. network, O2, from March; on T-Mobile International AG & Co. KG's U.K., German and Austrian networks from April, and on the French network of Société Française du Radiotéléphone SA (SFR) from May. Creating an account to host the photos is free, but network operators set their own charges for sending MMS messages to the service, and Kodak will charge $0.38 for each print ordered, plus a shipping fee, a company spokesman said.
The 3GSM World Congress, at the Palais des Congrès in Cannes, France, closed Thursday.