Sony unveils the world's highest-resolution smartphone camera sensor

Sony's new image sensor for smartphones is a monster but we don't know which phone will get it first

Sony's new image sensor for smartphones is a monster but we don't know which phone will get

Sony emphasised the need to bring "greater imaging quality" to smartphone cameras and insisted its new technology rivals "high-performance SLR cameras". Today, the Japan-based company has announced a new imaging sensor - Sony IMX586, which supports resolution of 48 effective megapixels, which Sony says is the highest in the industry for smartphones.

While its smartphones haven't exactly been earning awards in any category, Sony still has the smartphone market cornered when it comes to camera sensors. "The 1.2" sensor can capture 8,000 x 6,000 pixels, which is a full 48 megapixels in 4:3 format. Sony, however, seems to be turning things around again with its new IMX586 image sensor for smartphones. The Japanese company has taken the wraps off its new image sensor for smartphones which packs some impressive numbers.

Image Sony
Image Sony

Sony said in a press release the increased pixel count will enable high-quality photos even when devices are using digital zoom. Sony's advanced filter features adjacent 2x2 pixels in the same color which means it can merge four pixels into one for use in low light situations. Also, the sensor can also be adjusted to employ signals from four adjacent pixels in low-light surroundings that results in superior sensitivity that can go hand in hand with a sensor featuring 12 effective megapixels.

But when shooting in bright scenes (e.g. daytime outdoors), a signal processing function is used to do an array conversion that allows the individual tiny pixels to be used for an ultra-high-res 48-megapixel photo. Better dynamic range means that pictures with both bright and darker areas should have more detailed highlights and shadows. It could result in poor light collecting efficiency per pixel, accompanied by a drop in sensitivity and volume of saturation signal. Perhaps the novelty of the sensor will be enough for DxOMark to actually put Sony's flagships to the test for the world to see where high-end Xperia phones truly stand.

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