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?
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