Digital cameras will die a death as people opt for high-end cameraphones this Christmas. That's the forecast from the folks over at Carphone Warehouse (CPW).

The phone retailer predicts that sales of camera phones will eventually overtake digital cameras, as we consumers opt for converged handheld devices rather than standalone cameras.

One billion camera phones will be sold worldwide by 2010, CPW figures showed. Eighty-four per cent of mobile phones currently sold in the UK have cameras built-in.

As cameraphones now boast 5-megapixel resolution, built-in flashes and advanced lenses, it's possible to shoot high-quality photos using a mobile handset. Recent favourites in the high-end camera phone market include the Samsung G600, Samsung G800, Sony Ericsson K850i, Nokia N95 8GB, and the LG KU990 Viewty.

Ditching digital cameras?

These upgrades in quality and service are expected to accelerate the trend of ditching digital cameras, in favour of a converged device, CPW predicted.

"There is high consumer demand for gadget convergence - one all-purpose device to replace cameras, MP3 players and PDAs," said Andrew Harrison, UK CEO at Carphone Warehouse.

"The next stage in the evolution of the mobile phone is taking the mobile device beyond talking and texting to fulfil this demand."

Harrison called the digital still camera market is a 'disappearing breed'. "Camera phones are much more convenient for capturing spontaneous shots - people want to be able to take pictures when they want and where they want.

"The standalone digital still camera may not be extinct yet but there is a chance it will join the VHS video tape, the cinefilm recorder and even the film camera as a technology of the past. The photographic market is changing rapidly and the digital camera's position within it is not assured," Harrison said.

Camera makers hit back

But the digital camera makers we spoke to weren't so sure about Carphone Warehouse's claims.

"Mobile phone cameras still suffer from slow image processing, high shutter lag between photos, and poor zoom. Camera phones are likely to get even higher megapixel counts [than today], but they will never be able to cram in the same lens technology as digital cameras feature," Theo Georghiades, product manager for digital cameras at Fujifilm, told Tech.co.uk today.

Mark Robinson, Lumix product manager at Panasonic, agreed: "Mobile phones and digital still cameras continue to cater for different markets. The quality of the functions and capabilities for which the product is primarily intended remain the key selling points for consumers."

Georghiades added: "If anything, I think mobile phones with high megapixel counts could mean more sales for digital camera manufacturers. As people get more used to taking photos, many will upgrade to a camera offering more quality shots."