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What is a Pixel Phone?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 16, 2024
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A pixel phone, while not a term often used, refers to a cell phone that includes a digital camera as part of its features. Digital cameras are often described in terms of megapixels, in order to indicate the clarity and size of pictures that can be expected. For instance, if one pixel phone has a 3-megapixel camera and another has an 8-megapixel camera, it is to be expected that the second phone will produce clearer pictures at a higher screen resolution.

Pixels simply refer to the number of "dots" making up a digital image, which is made up of millions of these tiny colored dots. One megapixel image contains one million pixels, so an 8-megapixel camera will produce images that contain 8 million pixels. Historically, cell phones have had much lower megapixel ratings than any other traditional camera, because the photos were not generally intended to be printed, just viewed on the phone. The cameras in cell phones continue to improve, however, and now with the use of the term "pixel phone," high-quality cameras in cell phones are becoming more common.

A pixel phone with a high-quality camera may include other features such as a flash or even basic photo-editing tools, allowing someone to crop, rotate, or reduce red-eye in a recently taken photo. A pixel phone may also include the ability to use removable memory cards. The photos may then be loaded onto a computer for more extensive photo editing, if necessary, or to allow the user to create prints of the photo.

A pixel phone generally also allows users to send pictures to other cell phones using a multimedia messaging feature. It is necessary for the receiving phone to be able to open and recognize multimedia messages, but this can be a great way to share pictures of an event as it happens. Some phones may also allow the user to upload photos to social networking websites; this is becoming a very popular feature.

Cameras in cell phones are becoming so common that it is sometimes difficult to find a phone without one. Quality does vary widely, and price often goes hand-in-hand with the number and quality of extra features included in a cell phone. Cell phones with cameras that function more closely to an actual digital camera tend to be quite expensive. For someone who enjoys constantly snapping pictures or who doesn't want to miss an important moment, however, a higher-quality pixel phone could be a good investment.

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Discussion Comments
By anon997065 — On Nov 11, 2016

One bad thing about a camera phone is the fact that as soon as you see the picture, you forget about it. No longer do you cherish those pictures like the ones you saw in a book of photos, from your childhood.

I remember certain things from my childhood, from seeing a picture of it in a photo album. As a result, I've gotten back into the habit lately of taking great shots, with my digital camera, and printing them. Then I put them into a photo album (like, a real book, the kind you can hold in your hands,) and when family members come over, they sit on the couch and actually look at them... and remember them.

We're quickly accelerating to an age where we never remember anything, yet we only want more and more. Technology hasn't made things easier, it's made things more difficult; more difficult to separate right from wrong and more difficult to separate privacy of others from your own privacy.

You say you have nothing to hide, until someone uses the information your so easily share, against you. Twenty years ago, you'd wouldn't have thought twice to not post a video of your child on YouTube or to post all that you do every day for anyone to see. Are we that much safer, or are you more gullible than you were twenty years ago?

By Mykol — On Jan 15, 2012

It is hard to remember what we did before we had cell phones with cameras in them. All of my grand kids live across the country from me, and I always look forward to getting current photos of them.

My kids will send me pictures or videos all the time of cute and funny things the kids are doing. Not only is this a great way to stay in touch, but lets me know what is happening in the moment.

A simple way of being able to share the pictures is just as important to me as the ability to take them.

By SarahSon — On Jan 14, 2012

@myharley - That is why my daughter justifies her expensive phone. She pays much more a month for her phone and data package than I do, but she also uses it for everything.

In addition to being the only phone she has, her cell phone also serves as her camera and internet. When you take all of that into consideration, it doesn't seem that expensive.

My cell phone bill is cheaper, but I also pay for a land line phone, have internet access at home, and have a couple of digital cameras laying around.

By myharley — On Jan 14, 2012

If you are like me, you had no idea what a pixel phone was until you read this article. I guess I have had one of these for a long time.

It is amazing to me how much better the quality is with cell phone cameras these days. When we were on vacation, my son took a lot of pictures with his expensive phone.

The quality of pictures from his phone were much better than those I had with my digital camera. It was also much more convenient to just carry around a phone that could do everything, than have to lug around a phone and a camera.

By Oceana — On Jan 13, 2012

I like to do a lot of nature photography, and for that, I have to have a camera constantly with me. Since today's pixel phones are so awesome, I can just use mine instead of lugging around a separate camera.

I photograph weather, clouds, and wildlife, all of which are unpredictable. Some of my best pictures are not ones that I deliberately set out to take. They are the result of being in the right place at just the right time and having my camera phone with me.

I have a nice color printer hooked up to my computer at home, and I simply remove the card from my phone to transfer the photos to the hard drive. This is so much better than taking them to a store to have them printed, because there is no wait, and all you have to buy is ink and paper.

By seag47 — On Jan 13, 2012

Pixel phones that let you edit photos are a lot of fun. My friend and I like to take photos of people and then alter them drastically.

It is entertaining to do this and then send the photo back to the person in a message. We enjoy poking fun at each other by applying filters and extra images to the photos.

We can change the color, blur parts of the image, and crop things off of them. Our phones also have silly little pieces of clip art, like wigs with bows and glasses, that we can add to the photos.

I'm sure this will get old after awhile, but for now, we are having a blast. It is hard to believe that a phone can do all of this. It's like a replacement for my computer!

By cloudel — On Jan 12, 2012

@lighth0se33 – Isn't it frustrating to have to rely on someone else's pixel phone for good photos? I had a 3-megapixel camera phone for years, and I snapped so many photos that I wish I could have printed out on high quality photo paper and framed, but they looked blurry when I made them bigger.

I used my sister's phone to take family photos, and I blew them up to 8x10, and they still looked great. That's when I decided to upgrade my phone.

I now have the highest quality pixel phone on the market, and I use it more for taking photos than for talking or texting! I prefer it to a regular camera, because I always have my phone with me, and you never know when photo opportunities will happen.

By popcorn — On Jan 11, 2012

@Sara007 - When it comes to things like watching online videos and internet access most modern cell phones can do that but you need a good data package from your service provider to make sure that the fees for the Internet don't kill you. Data can get very expensive if you aren't careful.

I have a nice Verizon cell phone the Galaxy Nexus by Samsung and it does a great job of keeping me in touch with all my social networks. It is fast when I am surfing the web and has a nice 5MP camera built in. I especially love its Micro USB port and lovely HD screen. Perfect for video if you are looking to watch movies.

By lighth0se33 — On Jan 10, 2012

My boyfriend gave me a pixel phone when he added me to his plan. He handed over his old phone to me, because I had no need for a high-tech phone. He then got a newer model.

The phone he gave me takes pictures, but they are not high quality. Though I can zoom in and see details while the pictures are in my phone, once I remove the memory card and insert it into my computer, I can see that the photos are low quality on the big screen.

I use my phone mostly for snapping memories as they happen. If we will be going on vacation and taking photos, we use my boyfriends phone, because it takes photos that rival those of my expensive digital camera.

By Sara007 — On Jan 09, 2012

I have been looking at a variety of pixel camera phones and am wondering which cell phone model has a resolution by pixels that is the best?

To be honest I am not that familiar with cell phones and currently have a really old one that does its job but isn't that nice to look at. I want to upgrade to something that can take great photos and has all the bells and whistles.

I think besides a nice camera I want to be able to surf the net easily and be able to watch movies and online videos like my friends are able to. It would make my commute to work much better.

By lonelygod — On Jan 09, 2012

I was curious as to what a pixel phone was after seeing the phrase used in a blog I visit. I suppose the term makes sense, especially considering how big of a selling point that a camera can make when it comes to choosing your phone equipment.

I currently have an 8 pixel camera phone and find it takes great photos, especially if I just want to upload the images to my favorite social networking sights. I used to carry around a digital camera around with me all the time but I've found that as cell cameras continue to improve it has become totally unnecessary to have more than one camera around.

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