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Associated Press
Microsoft executive Chris Weber presents the Lumia Selfie App for Nokia smartphones during the consumer tech show IFA 2014 on Thursday in Berlin.

New phones focus on lots more selfies

BERLIN – Visit any tourist destination, and you’re bound to see individuals and groups taking photos of themselves to share 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 by posting stylized selfies to their leagues of followers. Even politicians are taking selfies with ordinary folks these days 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 sport higher-resolution front cameras, so selfies will come out sharper.

The annual IFA is the world’s leading trade show for consumer elec­tron­ics and home appliances.

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

One of the phones Microsoft announced Thursday, the Lumia 730, has a 5-megapixel front cam­era and software to help users touch up their image after taking it.

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

With a starting price of $258, the phone is likely to attract young­er buyers and aspiring mid­dle classes in developing countries.

The phones come with sizable online storage space on Microsoft’s OneDrive, where users can back up their photos or share them with friends.

On Wednesday, Samsung un­veiled its Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy Note Edge phones, which come with a wide-angle option that 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 but was too far over to the side. 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 8-megapixel and 5-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 hand gesture.

Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC unveiled an 8-megapixel front-facing camera for its new Desire 820 device, while China’s Huawei can claim to have pioneered the selfie-phone idea this year when it released the As­cend Mate2 4G. The Mate 2 has a 5-megapixel front camera and a wide-angle option similar to Samsung’s.

But some wonder whether users will embrace the idea of capturing themselves in high resolution.

“I’m not sure people want selfies to be very sophisticated to start with,” said Steve Jones, a professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“There’s something to be said about having selfies be kind of the modern-day version of the Polaroid – instant, but it has its own look and had its own style.”

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