Sony Unveils Record-Breaking 48MP Smartphone Camera Sensor

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(Photo: Sony Facebook page)

Sony has once again proven its prominence in the tech industry when the company announced this week the first-ever smartphone camera sensor with specs to rival that of dedicated camera devices.

On Monday, Sony introduced the IMX586, a stacked CMOS camera sensor designed for use in smartphones. The first of its kind, it has the "highest pixel count" of 48MP, according to a report.

At this MP rate, users can expect ultra-high resolution shots and improved level of details in pictures even when done in the low-light setting.

To achieve this impressive low-light performance, the Japanese brand utilizes Quad Bayer color filter array which combines signals coming from four adjacent pixels and then merge them into one pixel. This increases from an individual pixel size of 0.8 μm to 1.6-μm.

"These days, high-end smartphone models require even greater imaging quality from their cameras," a press release from Sony reads.

"The new Sony sensor features 48 effective megapixels, a pixel count which rivals that of high-performance SLR cameras, making it possible to capture beautiful, high-resolution images even with a smartphone."

What It Means To the Industry

The coming of Sony's 48MP snapper means a lot to the industry, especially that cameras are now the most dominant selling point, if not a very crucial factor, for a smartphone to sell.

Huawei and Nokia were among the first companies to reach this high-level of camera sensor specs. The Huawei P20 Pro, for example, boasts 40MP resolution while Lumia 1020 came with a slightly higher 41MP.

With Sony now leading the pack, consumers can expect to see an influx of 40-ish MP-carrying smartphones flooding the market. The iPhone, for example, is now believed to sport this imaging sensor in one of its iterations in a much nearer future.

A report from 9to5Mac revealed that Apple has long been working with Sony in the camera department for their iPhones. Unlike other smartphone manufacturers, the Cupertino-based tech giant has a specific preference for using tiny camera sensors with high pixel count. This is sometimes why Apple users complain about poor pictures taken in low-light.

The IMX586, however, will soon eradicate this problem as the sensor is now more than capable of absorbing more light despite its small size.

"...miniaturization of pixels results in poor light collecting efficiency per pixel, accompanied by a drop in sensitivity and volume of saturation signal," Sony added. "This product was designed and manufactured with techniques that improve light collection efficiency and photoelectric conversion efficiency over conventional products, resulting in the world's first 0.8 μm pixel size, with both high sensitivity and high saturation signal level."

It remains to be seen how Sony will get to utilize this new tech development. However, it is expected to arrive first in Sony's Xperia XZ line, as this report suggests.

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