FORTUNE -- "Selfies are great," says the New York Times' Molly Wood (rhymes with Hollywood), "but the front-facing cameras on cellphones are terrible."
"Selfies taken on most major smartphones," she writes in Thursday's issue, "are almost uniformly of poor quality. They're unfocused, pixelated, dark, blown-out, backlit, grainy and worst of all, distorted (I swear, I have a normal size nose!)."
Some may be more terrible than others, however. So Wood, deputy tech editor for the Times' business section, set out for Times Square to shoot some pictures of herself with what she describes as "arguably, the four best camera phones in the U.S. market."
"The big surprise," she says in a video posted on the Times' website, "is that I have to say I'm not very impressed with the iPhone's front-facing camera." She's surprised because the 5S has, in her words, "one of the best smartphone cameras available, and is easily capable of replacing a snapshot camera entirely."
But the iPhone's selfies were a disappointment: "Its focus was inconsistent, colors tended to appear washed out, and its lens produced the most distortion of the bunch (once again: My nose does not look like that in real life)."
As for the rest ...
But none of the phones were good enough for Wood. She blames the pressure on manufacturerers to make every new generation of smartphones thinner than the old -- a design priority she lays at Apple's feet.
But there may be a larger issue issue for Apple.
Selfies, like Facebook and Twitter, are a major social media phenomenon. The word "selfie," Wood points out, was the Oxford Dictionaries' neologism of the year. And "#me" is the third-most-common tag on Instagram.
With 184 million selfies on Instagram, how could Apple miss it?
That's up 35% a year ago. Samsung ownership (not sales) grew to 26% from 22%.
FORTUNE -- If you thought the long green line at the top of the attached chart represented the burst of iPhone sales last quarter following the release of Apple's (AAPL) new models, you could be forgiven. But you would be wrong.
When the NPD Group surveyed 5,000 American smartphone owners 18 and older last quarter, it didn't ask MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 16, 2014 3:33 PM ET
For owners of Apple's iPhone or iPad, it's a straight shot from iTunes to their device.
FORTUNE -- When it comes to understanding the difference between Apple's (AAPL) iOS and Google's (GOOG) Android, the long skinny picture attached below is worth at least 1,000 words.
It was produced for the Taiwanese manufacturer HTC and spotted last week by 9to5Google's David Beren.
We have no idea, of course, what's going on within Apple to get MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 2, 2014 4:30 PM ET
Samsung got caught doing to HTC what it has been accused of doing to Apple in the U.S.
FORTUNE -- It has often been suggested that some of the comments critical of Apple (AAPL) on U.S. social media -- including this blog -- are posted by paid Samsung shills.
But there is no proof, and Samsung has certainly never owned up to it.
Samsung's subsidiary in Taiwan, however, admitted in April that it MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 24, 2013 7:48 AM ET
HTC makes some of the best Android phones in the market, but that's not enough anymore.
By Kevin Kelleher, contributor
FORTUNE – First Palm. Then Nokia (NOK). Then BlackBerry (BBRY). Is HTC the next smartphone maker to go from a strong contender in the smartphone market to a troubled company in need of rescue?
It's starting to look like it. Earlier this month, the company warned investors to brace themselves for the company's MOREOct 17, 2013 3:34 PM ET
Facebook's CEO reportedly approached Samsung about making the social network's next phone. Smart move.
FORTUNE -- Remember the first Facebook phone, the HTC First? Not many do -- despite its recent April launch.
The First was Facebook's (FB) first phone with Facebook Home, customized software that modifies areas of Google's (GOOG) popular Android operating system so users can readily check status updates and text friends. The phone is also one of Facebook's biggest MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Jun 20, 2013 6:23 AM ET
Accused of hiring students to post negative comments about rival HTC's phones.
FORTUNE -- Readers who post comments critical of Apple (AAPL) in this space are often accused of being shills for Samsung, provocateurs paid to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about Samsung's chief U.S. competitor.
With rare exceptions -- a guy who called himself The_Truth_Hurts comes to mind -- I prefer to assume those charges are false. There are plenty of MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 16, 2013 12:04 PM ET
Will the One save HTC, the Android manufacturer that once seemed most likely to succeed?
by Kevin Kelleher, contributor
FORTUNE -- This is how quickly fortunes change in the smartphone industry. In 2006, Nokia (NOK) still controlled more than half of the share of the smartphone market. The iPhone wouldn't appear until the summer of 2007. And no one was making Android phones. Android Inc., bought by Google (GOOG) in 2005, wouldn't emerge MOREApr 16, 2013 5:00 AM ET
As Apple prepares iOS 7, it could stand to learn a few things from Facebook Home.
FORTUNE -- Now we know: The Facebook Phone is neither a phone, nor an operating system. Instead, Zuckerberg unveiled a downloadable collection of apps, available April 12, that will be supported on select Android phones to start, including the $99 HTC First, the first device to come pre-loaded with it. Home, as the whole kit MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Apr 5, 2013 6:42 AM ET
Also: Yahoo's $30 million acquisition; BlackBerry's mysterious million-smartphone partner.
HTC's marketing chief takes bolder approach [THE WALL STREET JOURNAL]
"We have a lot of innovations but we haven't been loud enough," said Mr. Ho, a Singaporean who is HTC's third marketing chief in less than two years. The new approach, he says, will be bolder.
Customers were treated to a sneak peek of the new strategy when HTC fielded teams to demo the One outside the MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Mar 26, 2013 3:00 AM ET
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