It seems like only yesterday that digital cameras came on the scene, easily muscling out their film counterparts. (The first mass-market camera — the Brownie — went on sale in 1900, and Instamatic point and shoot came along in the 1960s.) It wasn't surprising, as the high-tech gadgets could store hundreds or thousands of photos on memory cards — no running out of film! — and provide users with instant access to the photos they'd just snapped — no waiting for film to be developed! But now cameras of both species appear to be in peril, thanks to the smartphone.
Cell phones first began featuring cameras in 2001, when Sharp unveiled the J-phone. The cameras weren't much to brag about back then; the J-phone's camera was a not even 1 megapixel. But the fact that any kind of image could be shared over a cell signal thrilled the masses. Today's smartphone cameras are vastly improved. The iPhone 7 Plus, for one, contains two 12-megapixel cameras, one wide-angle and one telephoto [sources: Cameraplex, Stein]. When you ponder the fact that most people own smartphones, and smartphones allow you to quickly share photos on social media, it doesn't look good for the traditional camera's future.
While most industry experts agree smartphones will replace point-and-shoot cameras, if they haven't already, some argue there will always be a place for upscale DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras. These allow photographers to manually adjust factors like the aperture, ISO and white balance, plus they offer more editing options than smartphones.