In a recent study, market research firm Nielsen found that 6 out of every 10 pictures taken with a camera phone were selfies, using the user-facing camera. Phone maker HTC claimed in 2014 that this number was closer to 9 out of 10.
Additional Nielsen findings were that 89% of consumers were more willing to take selfies with family and friends, 96% of consumers take more than one selfie every time to get a perfect one, 82% send selfies to connect with friends, and 75% use selfies to share on social media.
Another interesting insight--66% of users claimed that the biggest issue they face while taking a selfie is the difficulty in fitting all people in one frame.
Why are so many users taking selfies?
First, it is important to note that while 58% of users ages 16-20 take selfies every day, only 23% of users ages 36-40 do the same. No doubt, the selfie is a Millennial "thing."
Columnist Pamela Rutledge counted in an article in Psychology Today 10 reasons we take selfies, emphasizing that they are not a symbol of narcissism, bur rather part of identity exploration, context, social interaction, and other reasons.
Author Jenna Wortham echoed Rutledge's ideas and explained the phenomenon further in her New York Times Sunday Review, asking readers to see selfies for what they are at their best, "a kind of visual diary, a way to mark our short existence and hold it up to others as proof that we were here."
The selfie can also boost teenagers' (especially girls') self confidence, according to a study conducted by the NBC TODAY/AOL titled the Body Image survey.
Finally, one of the Millennial generation imperatives is their need to feel part of their environment. While for previous generations a good picture captures only the environment, for a Millennial--a good picture captures them as part of the environment.
But do phones cater to that? Not really.
A quick review of the specifications of the recently released Apple iPhone 8 shows that the camera in the back of the phone is a 12MP camera (the iPhone 8 Plus offers two cameras in the back, wide-angle and telephoto), with f/1.8 aperture, capable of panoramic capture of up to 63MP, 4K video resolution, and high quality elements such as flash, IR filter, 6-element lens, and much more. The front-side ("selfie") camera, on the other hand, has only 7MP, 1080P video resolution, f/2.2 aperture, no flash, and much lower quality elements.
No doubt, even though the use of the customer-facing camera crossed the 50% usage mark (some say 90%), and the growing generation is the one driving it higher--it is still the rear camera that gets all the bells and whistles.
Isn't it time to turn this around? If most users want to see themselves as part of the picture they are taking, shouldn't the user-facing camera have a higher resolution, better optics, better aperture that would allow better depth-of-field performance, panoramic capabilities, wide angle lens, possibly two lenses to combine a short-range (face) image with long-range (landscape) one, and more, so that selfie images would be better? Just a thought...