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?
One creepy, one poignant, one bizarre.
FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) took some heat for "Misunderstood" -- a holiday TV ad that spent most of its precious 90 seconds seeming to reinforce the stereotype of a socially awkward teenage boy with his nose in a smartphone. But that was before the critics saw what Samsung and Nokia (NOK) UK had served up for the holidays.
Last year, it was Samsung that seemed to MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 24, 2013 7:02 AM ET
If Microsoft ends up giving away its mobile operating systems, it will be playing catch-up with Google's dominant Android OS.
FORTUNE -- Microsoft (MSFT) is reportedly considering a radical shift in its mobile strategy: offering its operating systems free to manufacturers of mobile devices.
The Verge, quoting unnamed sources "familiar with Microsoft's plans" reported Wednesday that the company might trade in the revenues it gets from licensing Windows Phone and Windows RT by MOREDan Mitchell, contributor - Dec 11, 2013 3:26 PM ET
The outgoing CEO admits that Microsoft is still in the "early days" of a turnaround.
FORTUNE -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer isn't done saying goodbye just yet. After a heartfelt speech to employees late last month, on Monday Ballmer published his final letter to shareholders, taking the opportunity to extoll the company's ongoing "transformation" into a devices and services provider and highlight its key milestones over the last year.
"We brought Windows MOREMichal Lev-Ram, writer - Oct 8, 2013 9:55 AM ET
A hearing on the leak of confidential Apple documents is scheduled for Oct. 22.
FORTUNE -- In advance of last year's big patent infringement trial that resulted in a billion dollar judgement against Samsung -- not a penny of which has yet been paid -- Samsung's attorneys demanded that Apple (AAPL) turn over the contents of its patent licensing agreements with Nokia (NOK) and three other manufacturers, Ericsson, Sharp, and Philips.
Apple MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 3, 2013 8:49 AM ET
The exception is Apple, which dominates in both brand and operating system loyalty.
FORTUNE -- Given the magnitude of recent telecom deals -- Microsoft (MSFT) offering $7.2 billion for Nokia's (NOK) handset business, Google (GOOG) shelling out $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility, Verizon (VZ) paying an astonishing $130 billion to buy out Vodafone's (VOD) 45% stake -- Consumer Intelligence Research Partners asks an interesting question:
What matters most to smartphone customers, the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 5, 2013 4:19 PM ET
Software hasn't just supplanted hardware in the past decade. It needs hardware as an ancillary business.
By Kevin Kelleher, contributor
FORTUNE – Imagine it's 1999. Scratch that, it's 2006.
The computer in your office is made by ... well, it doesn't matter who it's made by. Unless you are in a creative profession, that computer is run on Microsoft Windows. And the phone in your pocket is made by Nokia (NOK), or -- MORESep 4, 2013 10:02 AM ET
Why the Microsoft acquisition -- and Stephen Elop -- may turn out to be Nokia's greatest hope.
FORTUNE -- It's a sad day for Finland. Or is it? Sure, much of the phonemaker's storied legacy -- and future -- is now in Microsoft's hands, a bitter pill to swallow for many Finns. And yes, 32,000 Nokia employees will become part of the Redmond-based tech giant's empire overnight, whether they like it MOREMichal Lev-Ram, writer - Sep 3, 2013 2:53 PM ET
Apple has been aiming for the heart, Nokia for the jugular.
FORTUNE -- If, like me, you haven't been watching much ad-supported TV this summer, you may have missed the dramatic miniseries being played out on what used to be called Madison Avenue -- before so much of the business moved to the Coast.
The latest episodes pit Apple (AAPL), represented by BWA/Media Arts Lab, against Nokia (NOK), represented by WPP's JWT.
Its pitches much MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 18, 2013 1:29 PM ET
Nokia's new Lumia 1020 features a 41-megapixel camera.
By Matt Vella, senior editor
FORTUNE -- Nokia is doubling down on one of the oldest features of the smartphone: the camera.
At a press conference on Thursday, the struggling Finnish electronics giant unveiled its latest smart phone, the Nokia (NOK) Lumia 1020. Its marquee feature: a built-in camera that packs a 41-megapixel sensor. The device, which the company had been teasing ahead of MOREJul 11, 2013 12:23 PM ET
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