Sony shows clever 48MP smartphone camera sensor that could be used in future iPhones

Apple has long used Sony to supply its camera sensors, and the Japanese company has today announced its highest ever resolution option for smartphones …









The company says that both the resolution and pixel size are world firsts.

Sony Corporation today announced the upcoming release of the IMX586 stacked CMOS image sensor for smartphone cameras. The new sensor features 48 effective megapixels, the industry’s highest pixel count. The new product achieved a world-first ultra-compact pixel size of 0.8 μm, making it possible to pack 48 effective megapixels onto a 1/2-type (8.0 mm diagonal) unit, thereby supporting enhanced imaging on smartphone cameras.

Apple has historically opted to be conservative with its megapixel counts, with good reason. Squeezing a high pixel count into a tiny smartphone sensor means a high pixel density – and that’s usually bad news for low-light photos. High pixel density plus low light normally equals noise.

But that’s a problem Sony claims to have solved with this latest sensor.

The new sensor uses the Quad Bayer color filter array, where adjacent 2×2 pixels come in the same color, making high-sensitivity shooting possible. During low light shooting, the signals from the four adjacent pixels are added, raising the sensitivity to a level equivalent to that of 1.6 μm pixels (12 megapixels), resulting in bright, low noise images.

Engadget notes that the sensor is likely to be used first in Sony’s own smartphones, with the Xperia XZ line a likely candidate. But if Sony can deliver on its promise of no compromise to the clean low-light shots for which iPhones are known, we could well see it make it into future iPhone models down the road.

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