Do Phone Cameras Get Worse Over Time (Solved)

Phone cameras may or may not get worse over time due to dust buildup, shocks from drops, humidity, or even software tempering.

iPhone cameras can progressively get worse over time. They can also be perceived as worse through grainy pictures due to dust buildup or scratched cameras.

If you’re into home living you love taking pictures of your house and garden. Almost all we do as home lovers are to make our homes look and feel better. Much of this experience is shared through our smartphones.

But the topic of phone cameras getting worse over time is not discussed enough. It has been a while since Batterygate was mentioned in the big media. Apple purposefully slowing down smartphones as their batteries started to degrade was a real shock to many. Needless to say, Apple phones are very good, arguably the best. But why would they perform deliberately worse? Can the story be the same for the picture quality its cameras are offering?

Why would phone cameras get worse over time?

The perception of lesser quality smartphone photos over time is real. I’ve discussed the issue with so many smartphone owners from  Android phone owners to iPhone owners to start getting suspicious.

Most of them agree there are a few reasons which can give off the impression of considerably worse photo quality.

Insufficient storage space for high-resolution photos

The size of a photo in MB should indicate its resolution. Some phone owners said that the lower the MB a photo takes up on the phone’s memory the lesser of a quality you can expect for it.

Sure, but if this is the case, why the grainy pictures so many have on their old phones? Why aren’t these old phones just making lesser quality photos (compared to new phones) but without the grains? These grains weren’t there at the beginning. This leads us to the next point.

Dust buildup on the camera sensor

Some phone owners said their smartphones started taking bad pictures in time as the camera lens cover started to collect dust.

The more dust particles you have behind this lens cover the grainier or the fuzzier the phone camera photos can look like.

Scratched lens covers

A similar but different physical problem can be attributed to scratched lens covers. It might take a few years, but eventually, we all end up scratching the lens cover protection of our smartphones.

This problem can be mitigated by buying a very good smartphone case. This is not a case you choose because it looks good but because it protects your camera lenses properly.

Common issues with phone cameras that have scratched lenses include

  • Grainy pictures
  • Photos that are out of focus
  • The inability to tackle multiple sources of light properly
  • Very poor and inexplicable low light performance (compared to the new state of the phone)
  • A poor ability to lock focus (on a subject)

Do iPhone cameras get worse over time?

iPhone cameras have been constantly seen as some of the best out there. They constantly win all types of mobile photo awards and many people who professionally rely on photos and videos only use iPhones.

This being said, my personal iPhone 8 camera quality has gotten worse over time. Photo quality just isn’t there and it’s not just about grainy pictures. It’s also about the amount of light the camera can pick up.

iPhone 8 photo from 2017
iPhone 8 photo taken in 2021

2 major reasons come to mind, like those listed above.

The iPhone 8 camera could be suffering from too much dust behind the lens cover. This cover can also have too many (fine) scratches that prevent it from taking the best pictures.

I still remember how impressed I was about the first photos I took with the iPhone 8 the first week after purchasing it. I was less and less impressed by its photos over time.

iPhone cameras probably don’t get worse over time. My experience in this space with iPhone photos looking worse in time is different, however, albeit limited to a case of 1. Others might have another experience.

Does Samsung smartphone camera quality degrade over time?

The story with lesser photo quality isn’t specific to iPhones only. Samsung owners reporting lesser photo quality on old Samsung smartphones are convinced something is going on.

Samsung camera sensors don’t deteriorate in time. The photo quality should be the same given the lens cover is not scratched and given the camera hasn’t picked up too much dust.

However, some users believe all large phone brands deliberately worsen photo quality in time as a marketing strategy.

This theory might or might not be true and proving it is really difficult.

First, you’d need to own multiple phones from a brand and other brands for a few years to test it out yourself. You’d then need to keep your phone’s memory mostly free almost all the time.

Some users say software updates are to blame as they force smaller pictures due to app bloat. Essentially, your phone might be running out of memory if you notice worse photo quality as pictures the software limits memory usage.

Does Huawei smartphone camera quality degrade over time?

Huawei phones have been known to decrease photo quality unofficially. Some Huawei users have raised concerns the EMUI 10 update came with lesser photo quality which was believed to be deliberate.

Is this true?

It would be nice if Huawei phone owners would share their opinions below.

Can we discuss intentional acts behind worse camera picture quality in smartphones?

The main question that this post tries to raise is on the deliberate act of lower photo quality. This may or may not be true.

You can see the example photos from my iPhone above and judge for yourself.

What’s your experience? Have your photos decreased in quality over time? Feel free to share your thoughts below.


Apple fined for slowing down old iPhones: BBC

Apple confirms it’s slowing down your old iPhone – but for good reason: TechRadar

Huawei p20 camera quality decreased after emui 10 update: Huawei support

Why does the Samsung camera quality decrease after several years of using the same phone?: Quora

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