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It's 2020 and laptops still have 1 MP cameras. What gives?

It's 2020 and laptops still have 1 MP cameras. What gives?
It's 2020 and laptops still have 1 MP cameras. What gives?
We asked two major laptop makers and both arrived at similar conclusions. Though we understand the reasoning behind them, it's also a bummer that we likely won't see any laptops with the same high quality cameras as smartphones anytime soon.

So, you just purchased a brand new laptop with the latest hardware and specifications. It's got a fancy Intel 10th gen CPU, super-slim and attractive design, 4K UHD display, and maybe even a dedicated Nvidia GeForce GPU. But, why does the webcam look like it's straight out of the 1990s?

While laptops are getting thinner, faster, and longer-lasting, OEMs seem to be batting an eye when it comes to video quality from the integrated webcams. A few OEMs like Asus have even omitted the webcam completely from some of their laptops. In contrast, even the cheapest Android or Apple smartphones have better front-facing cameras than the most expensive consumer laptops you can find.

Why don't manufacturers put those same smartphone cameras onto their laptops? We had asked both Dell and AMD on two different occasions and their answers were the same: customers just don't buy laptops for their webcams. Users tend to gravitate towards their smartphones instead when it comes to FaceTime, selfies, TikTok, and other social media applications. In other words, a Dell XPS 13 with a 20 MP webcam probably won't get anyone as excited as additional RAM, higher storage, thinner bezels, or a cheaper price.

While we don't disagree, we also don't think it's a good excuse to continue putting horrid 720p or 1 MP cameras onto expensive laptops. The latest Surface Laptop 3 15, for example, is Microsoft's premier laptop retailing for well over $1000 and yet it comes with a grainy 720p webcam. It's true that you probably don't need a 4K camera for the occasional video conference, but the muddy image quality of 720p and poor color reproduction of the webcam don't do it any favors, either.

Are OEMs right that laptop users don't care about webcam quality? Would a laptop with an integrated 4K webcam be any useful? Let us know what you think below.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 webcam
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 15 webcam
Blackview A60 smartphone camera for comparison. Despite costing only 70 Euros, this smartphone has superior camera quality to the $1500 Microsoft laptop
Blackview A60 smartphone camera for comparison. Despite costing only 70 Euros, this smartphone has superior camera quality to the $1500 Microsoft laptop
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 02 > It's 2020 and laptops still have 1 MP cameras. What gives?
Allen Ngo, 2020-02- 9 (Update: 2020-02-10)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.