Apple CEO Tim Cook visits super secret Sony image sensor facility in Japan

Apple CEO Tim Cook visits super secret Sony image sensor facility in Japan
Apple CEO Tim Cook had the opportunity yesterday to visit Sony's highly secure facility in Kumamoto Japan where some of the company's camera sensors are produced. In a tweet, the executive disseminated a photo taken at the facility that also included two phones that appeared to be a non-Pro iPhone 14 and an iPhone 14 Pro model. Cook is looking at them as though he was a consumer looking to purchase one from the Apple Store.

The tweet by Cook said, "We’ve been partnering with Sony for over a decade to create the world’s leading camera sensors for iPhone. Thanks to Ken and everyone on the team for showing me around the cutting-edge facility in Kumamoto today." The visit by Cook is a sign that Apple has no plans to look anywhere but Sony for the image sensors used on the iPhone.

The visit by Apple's top executive comes roughly two weeks after a report said that the Sony sensors that will be used on next year's iPhone 15 series will be able to collect twice as much light as the last generation of sensors. This should help improve the detail in photographs covered by shadows thanks to a wider Dynamic Range that will limit underexposures and overexposures.

Apple is not getting an exclusive on this technology so we could see it used on some Android handsets as well. However, what isn't clear is whether Apple is getting the first crack at these new sensors. A report in the Nikkei Asia English language website late last month said that Sony's new technology doubles the saturation level in each pixel to account for the improvement in dynamic range.

The new image sensor technology could be available for use next year, possibly on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra. While Apple is reportedly looking to reduce the differentiation between the non-pro and Pro models next year, it could add a periscope camera on its most expensive phone in 2023. Such a feature uses prisms to bounce light off of a camera to extend its focal length. Due to the restrictions placed on the camera by the size of a smartphone, it is mounted sideways internally.

The iPhone photography system is a big selling point for the device and the new sensor could give Apple an edge in the battle for the title of "best smartphone camera" between the iPhone 14 Pro series and Google's Pixel 7 series. When it comes to video though, the iPhone is considered to be ahead of the pack.
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