This year's crop of winners from the iPhone Photography Awards are making the world a more beautiful place, and it's all thanks to the much-maligned phone camera.
From pictures of children framed against a pillar of smoke in the background in the Iraqi town of Qayyarah to protesters in freezing North Dakota to a beautiful shot of the inside of the Indian city Udaipur's palace, the winning photos this year all make the most of the power and quality of the iPhone's built-in camera.
Speaking to CNET, Singaporean photographer Yeo Yeow Kwang, who won second place for his pensive shot of a Chinese opera singer in Singapore, said he decided to enter as there was a "general misconception that the iPhone (or any other smartphone)" isn't capable of taking a quality picture.
Yeo, who shot his winning shot on an iPhone 6 Plus, stumbled upon the the shot when he was having dinner and spotted a local Chinese opera troupe performing. He went backstage and spotted the performer waiting for his turn to go on stage.
"I was attracted by his facial expression, the old plastic curtain, electrical fan and the overall calm atmosphere. Without giving it a second thought, I pointed my iPhone and captured a few photographs, I didn't interact with the performer, didn't get him to pose or manipulated anything in front of me," said Yeo.
Yeo is no stranger to winning photography awards, having won other contests with his regular-sized DSLR or mirrorless cameras. It, was, however, his first time winning an award with his phone camera, he added.
Given that growth of internet traffic from phones in is the highest in the world in Asia, it's no surprise that phones are now replacing compact cameras as the go-to tool for most people taking pictures in the region.
While Yeo normally uses his DSLR for his usual shoots, there are photographers in the region who only use a phone. Malaysia-based husband and wife duo Ahady Rezan and Shaz Sharif make a perfect example. Their Instagram feeds are a riot of beautifully composed frames of architecture and human subjects, especially these two taken during the muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, known as Hari Raya Puasa locally.
For the average consumer in Singapore, a phone's camera can play an important choice when it comes to upgrading.
"Image quality, speed and ease of use are my top three criteria, though increasingly I'm evaluating easy access to social networks and sharing functionality as essential to that process," said David Chieng, a tech enthusiast who upgraded to the LG G6.
With dual-cameras capable of taking great shots making their way down to budget phones thanks to Qualcomm's newest chips, expect to see more budding photographers from places such as Indonesia emerge in the future.
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