Generally speaking, 12 megapixels is more than adequate for large prints and any more than that may be wasted storage. High megapixel cameras can often produce poor quality images. Phone and camera marketing companies have focused on and benefited a great deal from advertising high megapixel counts and as a result, most people have placed a lot of importance on megapixels.
What is more important than the megapixel count, is the sensor size. Have you ever noticed how big a professional photographer’s camera is? That is mainly due to a large sensor. A camera sensor is responsible for capturing the light to form a digital image. Smart phones are getting slimmer by demand and therefore, they have limited space for an adequately sized sensor. A point and shoot camera has a compact sensor, which is larger than a smart phone sensor but smaller than a digital SLR sensor. Then when you venture into SLR territory, you have cropped sensor SLR’s (larger than point & shoot sensors but smaller than full frame sensors) and full frame sensors in professional grade cameras which are considerably larger sensors than all of the above; but come at a cost (both size/weight and the cost of the camera itself). You will notice that smart phones provide particularly poor results in low light situations and that is mostly due to the sensor size.
In addition to the sensor size, there is a wide range of lenses available from compact smart phone lenses to low grade SLR lenses to professional grade SLR lenses. The importance of a good quality lens can mean the difference between a poor quality photo and an amazing shot. Professional grade lenses provide far better quality results, but are expensive. Then there is the limitation of the on-phone flash; an external flash is a great tool used by photographers even in broad daylight to make portraits pop. To sum up, most professional and reputable photographers make an initial investment in their camera equipment of around $5,000 - $10,000 and then continue to upgrade as necessary.
It is fabulous that now-a-days, people are taking so many more photos. Having a camera readily accessible for when your child has cake smeared all over their face, or when your newborn baby smiles for the first time (AKA wind)! The ability to share those images on social media is great fun. Those are special memories that you would not have been ready for without a smart phone camera handy. But it is important to understand the limitations of a smart phone camera and that is where professional photography comes in. The cost of professional equipment is out of reach for most people, as well as expertise in using the equipment as generally the best results are achieved using fully manual settings. But most importantly, people turn to a professional photographer for their artistic flair. So it is nice to splurge from time to time on professional photos.
And don’t throw away your point and shoot camera just yet as it most likely has a larger sensor, better lens and flash than the smart phone in your pocket!