Sony creates a 16MP cell phone camera sensor

Sony creates a 16MP cell phone camera sensor
Sony's CyberShot line were the handsets that started all that "cameraphone" business, and the company has been installing great cameras with Xenon flash in a lot of their phones ever since. The biggest camera sensors in smartphones are 12MP, as in the Nokia N8, or 14MP, as in the yet unreleased Altek Leo.

With the advent of dual-core Snapdragon, TI OMAP4, and Tegra 2 chipsets, there will be a hardware capability of supporting up to 18+ megapixels of resolution, and full HD 1080p video at 30fps. That is why Sony decided to jump ahead of the game, and offer a 16MP CMOS sensor. The size is 1/2.8", and the Exmor R sensor is back-illuminated, like the one in iPhone 4. This feature, combined with a novel arrangement of the photo diodes, tailored to the fine pixel structure, should bring high sensitivity, and less noise in low-light situations, or so Sony claims. The merits of Sony's Exmor R backlit sensors are exemplified in a few comparison shots below, showing the detailed and bright pictures that the sensor can capture, compared to a regular 5MP phone camera sensor.

The sensor supports full HD video capture at 30fps, and 720p HD video at 60fps, which, in the new dual-core Cortex-A9 based phones will lead for some smooth video with incredibly high resolution for a cell phone. Those microSD card prices better fall down fast, or we will have to carry them instead of film rolls now. If manufacturers wish, they can also buy from Sony the whole set - 16MP sensor with the camera optics, for the hefty price of $145, but this will go down pretty fast.

Sony is also outing an 8MP sensor with 1/3.2" size, which can also be coupled with Sony-made optics. There are rumors that Apple is ditching OmniVision cameras for its next iPhone, and going with an 8MP sensor made by Sony, so we are wondering if that's the one Cupertino was waiting on.

Have a look at what the 16MP and 8MP sensors look like below. Just for comparison's sake, the Nokia N8 will still have the biggest sensor in a cameraphone, at 1/1.83" size. Thus, when phones with 16MP cameras come out, they will inevitably be compared to it, for all of us who want to know if bigger resolution actually matters for better photos and video.

Nokia N8 Specifications | Hands-on

source: Sony via Engadget



5. gigi unregistered

Even if Nokia has a bigger sensor (wich means a better picture quality then a smaller sensor at the same resolution) I think Sony will solve the problem with the software. Many Nokia phones have a poor image quality compared to Sony Cybershot series. For example k810i has a good image compared with a picture taken with a compact camera (at the same resolution). Let's be onest if you stretch a picture from 16Mp to 8Mp you will have a better quality and the noise will "vanish".

3. som

Posts: 768; Member since: Nov 10, 2009

cell phone camera with higher mp are good but I hardly use it.

2. vzw fanman

Posts: 1977; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

it's a cellphone. there is no professional photographer that would use a cell phone camera to take pictures!!!! therefore 16 mp regardless of the sensor or whatever juimbo mumbo is fine for 99% of the people who own a cell phone.

1. Stoli89

Posts: 333; Member since: Jun 28, 2010

A Panasonic Lumix ZS-3/TZ-7 digital compact zoom camera (25mm-300mm) has a 10MP, 1/2.33 sensor size. The Nokia N8 sensor (1/1.83) is even bigger than the one on the LUMIX. It's also bigger than the one used on SONY's DSC HX5v, another compact zoom with 25-250mm lens and HD1080 video, at only 1/2.4 (though backlit as like on the iPhone 4). Test results demonstrate that when it comes to sensors, size does matter. Check out GSMarena's blind test of the N8 versus the Sony DSC HX5v. Sony is clearly marketing the Bigger is Better Megapixel story, which is an unfortunate trend in the compact camera business these days. A very high megapixel count on a much smaller sensor invites NOISE. The N8 raw pics demonstrate the advantages of its design in NOISE reduction.

4. Koss unregistered

If the people from mobile phone industry were thinking like you today we just stuck with 1.3 megapixel camera :-??

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