Sony Unveils 48-Megapixel Smartphone Camera Sensor

Sony Releases World’s Highest Resolution Smartphone Sensor With 48-Megapixels

Sony IMX586 will cram 48 megapixels into smartphone cameras

The IMX586 sensor features the highest-ever pixel count for any smartphone image sensor, coming in at an effective 48 megapixels.

Adding these four adjacent pixels raises the camera's sensitivity to the equivalent of an efficient 1.6 μm pixels (12 megapixels).

It's also worth noting that modern chipsets are so fast that they can double up, with oversampling or pixel binning from this Sony sensor and multiple exposure combination, producing computational images that are super-pure. This smaller pixel size allows the new product to deliver 48 effective megapixels on a compact unit with 8.0 mm diagonal, which can be fitted on many smartphones. The enhanced MP count should give smartphone uses the ability to take SLR-quality images with lossless digital zoom. Sony says the 48MP sensor will rival that of high-performance SLR cameras, making it possible to capture lovely high resolution images with a smartphone.

A 0.8 micron pixel size might seem small and less efficient in capturing the entire light information, especially in low light.

Sony says that it has used the "Quad Bayer colour filter array, where adjacent 2x2 pixels come in the same colour, making high-sensitivity shooting possible". This will enable you to capture bright, low-noise photos and videos.

A resolution comparison of a standard 12-megapixel sensor (left) compared to the 48-megapixel photos captured by the Sony IMX586 (right).

Sony's IMX586 sensor should appear in smartphones as of next year, as the company is now planning on shipping samples in September for 3,000 yen ($27) each. Of course, this isn't ideal for daytime shots, so the image signal processor will perform array conversion in brighter environments for more detailed images with the 48MP resolution. It's possible that Apple could use this sensor in its future iPhones models.

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