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Self obsession to culture, taboo to ubercool: How selfies have come a long way

The obsession for selfies has not only take over the people but the markets are all slaves to the trend now.

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It’s amazing how far we’ve come with selfies in last five-six years. Self portraits became selfies (with being announced the word of the year by Oxford Dictionary in 2013). And the practice which was frowned upon back then, conveniently turned into a tradition!

When I was in school, selfies were cool as hell, and like any average teen, I quickly dived in the trend. But, back then, I cannot remember a single time I picked up my phone to click a selfie and my dad wouldn’t click his tongue saying, “ye apni picture click karne ka kya matlab hai mujhe samajh nahin aata.” (I don’t understand what’s even the point of clicking your own pictures)

Fast forward five years, my dad now demands a phone with a good front facing camera, because he loves clicking selfies. Any family gathering, or a get together with his friends is simply incomplete with that customary selfie! Only to be shared on their WhatsApp group.

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That’s what’s amazing! From being a practice of self-obsessed teens, it took the world just about five years to turn the selfies into a customary tradition of every gathering. And it’s worked that way for so many other things. Remember the Harlem Shake? Well, it did sound stupid the first month the other part of the world was doing it, but weren’t you wearing the helmets and pots on your head to do the crazy dance? Or the Mannequin Challenge for that matter! That’s how any trend picks up!

But none of these trends can match up to the hold selfies have on the human race right now. Though, several mobile phones released in late 2003 featuring front-facing cameras – including the Sony Ericsson Z1010 and Motorola A835. People were yet to realize the potential of a front-facing camera. Around 2010, when Apple released its first front-facing camera module in the iPhone 4, that’s when the fad really started to spread. Cut to 2016, the tradition has an upper hand over the manufacturers, with companies like Oppo and Vivo launching smartphones with dual front cameras.

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Until now, device manufacturers were really caught up in a specs war. All that mattered was which product offered a better display, more battery, more RAM or storage or a more faster processor. However, over the last two years, the camera seems to be the focus, more specifically, the key target has been “selfie lovers”.

To an extent, the new Oppo F3 has been touted as the “selfie expert” smartphone, which offers a combination of a 16-megapixel and 8-megapixel camera on the front. And this is a smartphone, which costs about Rs 19,000. Five years ago, a high-end smartphone did not even offer a primary camera over 12-megapixel. Then there are the likes of the Vivo V5s, which features a 20-megapixel front-facing camera along with a ‘Moonlight’ glow LED light to help you capture better photos in low-light conditions.

The point being, selfie is centric to a customer’s smartphone’s demand now from not just a high-end but any sub-budget smartphone as well. A decent front facing camera is the least being asked now.

And it’s only a matter of a while now that the bokeh effect or the iPhone 7 Plus-like portrait mode comes to the front facing phones. Apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and now Messenger’s in-built camera, and partially Facebook with its new Stories features, they are all catering to the selfie obsession with filters, stickers, geotags and so much more to just make the selfies more fun.

At this moment, if I am asked what I think would be the future of smartphones, given that this selfie obsession is not going anywhere anytime soon, I’d say a smartphone with four cameras! There are smartphone dual front facing cameras already in market, smartphones with dual rear cameras have been around a while too, why wouldn’t two dual cameras at the front and two at the back be the next big thing?

Turns out, someone has already thought of that before us. Alcatel has a new Flash phone, which has four cameras. The rear-facing cameras both have 13-megapixel sensors. One is color while the other is monochromatic. One front-facing camera is 8-megapixels, and the second is 5-megapixels.

While right now four cameras may seem unnecessary to some, just like these selfies, this would soon become one of those ‘customary traditions’!

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  • Published Date: May 6, 2017 6:21 PM IST