This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Cameras have become the number one feature that differentiates premium smartphones in an already saturated market.
It's no surprise then that coming up with the next great smartphone camera has become the top priority for most if not all phone makers.
And that is a noble goal, meant to serve the users and give everyone a better experience. But somewhere along that road something went wrong. And here is how I imagine it all went: downtown Shenzhen, China, at the high-rise headquarters of an unnamed phone maker, a marketing department battled it out against engineers and common sense folks. It presented some slides, it put out some bullet points. There was a discussion. The engineers could not present their point of view well enough, and marketing people won. The topic of discussion was "more cameras". Not better cameras, just "more cameras".
Somewhere along our noble quest for a better camera experience on a phone, an unnamed marketing team won an argument and convinced tech CEOs. They told them the story of the user who just looks at the specs, sees that one phone has more cameras than another and then buys it because of that. It was the old trick of selling snake oil, but tech CEOs bought it.
Okay, don't quote me on that story, I don't have any insider knowledge, just a gut feel, but that's my version of how we got to have this abomination called macro cameras on our smartphones. And now we all have to deal with the results.
In my humble opinion, macro cameras are a filler that adds little true value to a smartphone. Back just about a year ago, no phone had a macro camera.
Do you know why? Because there was no reason to have a macro camera. You could just capture a macro photo using the main cameras, or the ultra-wide camera, or the telephoto camera. And it turned out just fine.
In fact, macro cameras on recent phones are not better, they are worse. The recent OnePlus Nord, an otherwise brilliant smartphone, has a... wait for it... 2MP macro camera! Guess how detailed and good 2MP images look in 2020? Not very!
Motorola even made a smartphone all around a macro camera: the aptly named Motorola One Macro, but Motorola also seems to churn out a new phone every week, and it's hard to find a justification for such a device.
Anyway, at the end of the day, macro cameras are now a thing in 2020, especially on budget phones. They capture blurry photos that don't look good, but having a macro camera allows phone makers to say things like "our new phone has six cameras". Don't be fooled by that. It's not about the quantity, it's about the quality.