Companies at the IFA show off selfie phones

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Companies at the IFA show off selfie phones

BERLIN - Visit any tourist destination, and you’re bound to see individuals and groups taking photos of themselves for sharing on social media. It’s a declaration to the world that they were there.

Pop stars such as Rihanna and Justin Bieber have helped popularize the trend, too, by posting stylized selfies to their leagues of followers. Even politicians are taking selfies with ordinary folks as a way of showing how close they are to voters.

So it was only a matter of time before tech companies responded with phones and apps specifically designed to help people take more and better selfies.

Several phones unveiled at the IFA tech show in Berlin this week have higher-resolution front cameras so selfies will come out sharper. Some even have apps that let you use the rear cameras, too. That means even clearer photos - and the use of the flash, if you need it.

Promoting new phones as the perfect selfie camera is a natural move for manufacturers scrambling to stand out.

“The ‘selfie phone’ race resembles the megapixel race for cameras on the back of the phone,’’ said Gerrit Schneemann, an analyst at research firm IHS. “Handset makers try to satisfy a specific use case by including more powerful features in the front camera.’’

One of the phones Microsoft announced Thursday, the Lumia 730, has a five-megapixel front camera and software to help users touch up their image after taking it.

For even better shots, the rear camera has 6.7 megapixels. Users won’t be able to see themselves on the screen, but an app called Lumia Selfie will use face-detection technology and beep to tell users where to hold the camera.

With a starting price of $258 before taxes, the phone is likely to be particularly attractive to younger buyers and aspiring middle classes in developing countries.

It also fits neatly with Microsoft’s stated strategy of prioritizing mobile phones and Internet-based services. The phones come with sizeable online storage space on Microsoft’s OneDrive, where users can back up their photos or share them with friends.

Microsoft’s announcement follows Samsung’s new Galaxy Note phones unveiled Wednesday. The Note 4 and the Note Edge come with a special wide-angle option, which allows users to fit more people into their selfies by stitching multiple images together.

The feature could help avoid bloopers such as the time Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres snapped a selfie with Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lawrence but cut out Jared Leto, who had just won an Academy Award. Coincidentally or not, Samsung was a sponsor of the Academy Awards, and DeGeneres was using a Samsung phone.

Not to be outdone, PC-maker Lenovo launched its Vibe Z2 and Vibe X2 phones, with eight-megapixel and five-megapixel front cameras, respectively. The phones will also have a feature that triggers the camera to snap the shot by smiling, blinking or making a “V’’ gesture.

Meanwhile, LG wants to take selfies to a whole new place. The South Korean consumer electronics firm presented a refrigerator Thursday that can send pictures of its contents to users while they’re out shopping. That’s right, your fridge is soon going to be sending you selfies.


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