Samsung Galaxy S 4 Zoom

The Samsung Galaxy S 4 Zoom is a smartphone that features an optical zoom camera, just like a point-and-shoot. (Samsung)

Last year, smartphone manufacturers focused on selling phones with really big screens. This year, it's all about really big camera lenses.

A report Friday by SonyAlpha, a blog that covers Sony camera news, claims the Japanese electronics giant is developing a large camera lens that users could attach to their smartphones using NFC technology.

The rumored camera lens would come with its own sensor, battery and memory, according to the report. But most importantly, the rumored Sony lens would allow users to take higher-quality pictures than the ones they can shoot using the lenses on their smartphones.

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The move toward outfitting smartphones with larger and better camera lenses has become a theme in 2013. Though Sony has not confirmed the rumored lens, Samsung and Nokia have officially unveiled smartphones with significantly better cameras than the ones offered by their peers.

The Samsung Galaxy S 4 Zoom, for example, features an optical zoom lens that sticks out on the back of the device. Like digital cameras, the lens extends and retracts as users zoom in and out while shooting a photo.

Meanwhile, Nokia unveiled the Lumia 1020 earlier this month, a smartphone with a 41-megapixel camera. That's about five times the number of megapixels as most smartphones have with their cameras, and that's because Nokia said this device is built to let users quickly snap pictures and zoom in on specific parts afterward without dropping the quality of the image.

The move toward these higher-quality camera smartphones is, of course, being influenced by the growing popularity of picture and video apps. Instagram, Vine, Snapchat and others have grown extremely popular over the last year, and it seems Sony, Samsung and Nokia believe some users are willing to pay a little extra for chunkier devices that will take excellent photos.

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