There's a good chance we'll approach the 1 trillion mark in images taken by the time 2014 comes to close, and a large percentage of those will be captured by smartphones.

And, seeing as the image-capture capability in smartphones has already trampled the point-and-shoot camera market, could they be ready to set their sights on the higher-end camera category next?

There are rumors HTC is toying with tech that could place optical zoom capability in its smartphones sometime in the next two years. Symon Whitehorn, HTC's director of special projects, explained in a recent interview that's one of the major features smartphones have lacked and will need to add to take on the big boys -- DSLRs.

"Optical zooming in a smartphone is not too far off at all for HTC," he said in the interview. "I can't give too much away, but within 12 to 18 months we'll see huge advances in phone optics. That's why we don't necessarily believe in doing a high-resolution, photo-enlarging solution."

As we've covered in this space in the past, the imaging features on smartphones are no longer ancillary, they are oftentimes one of the more highly touted features on the device, standing front and center in the manufacturer's marketing plans.

In the last year alone we've seen Nokia come to market with the Lumia 1020's 41-MP capture capability; LG and the G2's optical image stabilization made a splash late last year; Samsung's move to 16-MP sensors in the Galaxy line was announced earlier this year; and Oppo recently introduced its new Find 7, a larger-screen (5.5-inch) model that boasts a 50-megapixel resolution.

Add to this the fact HTC literally just unveiled its new dual-lens tech on the HTC One, with its two lenses on the backside, a feature dubbed Duo Camera, and it's not a stretch to say smartphone manufacturers may just be getting started when it comes to offering the only device you'll ever need when it comes to capturing life's precious memories.

For many, that time is already here as the smartphone continues to be the camera you always have with you, and it's becoming a very capable one these days.

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