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Camera phones come of age?

Camera phones come of age?

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association said today that its analysts predict that camera phones will replace low-end digital cameras in the next few years. The theory goes that the quality of camera phones is improving at such a rapid pace that consumers won't need standalone cameras with a low resolution.

Analysts love studies like these, but I can't help but be a little skeptical. Sure, we now have 2-megapixel mobiles such as the Samsung MM-A800, but camera phones have a long way to go before they replace even low-grade digital cameras. Until a camera phone offers optical zoom, a really usable flash, and a solid set of editing options, I don't think they'll remain anything more than fun novelties. And though the megapixel camera phones may offer decent photo quality, you still have the problem of getting the pictures off the phone. Some handsets, including the MM-A800, let you send your shots directly to a photo printer, but it's extremely irritating that carriers such as Sprint and Verizon Wireless limit wireless photo transfer to a computer unless you go through their data services. As long as carriers insist on having a piece of the photo-transfer pie, I'll stick with my reliable standalone camera.