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Sony's next-gen camera sensor could allow Apple to make thinner iPhones

post #1 of 69
Thread Starter 
Sony, which builds the camera modules used by Apple in the iPhone 4S, has announced a smaller next-generation CMOS image sensor that could allow for even thinner iPhone models in the future.

The new complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor announced by Sony on Monday is a back-illuminated module that allows superior image quality in a more compact size. Sony has promised that the new sensors will allow cameras to continue to evolve.

The new image sensor layers the pixel section containing formations of back-illuminated structure pixels onto chips containing the circuit section for signal processing. Benefits of the new stacked CMOS image sensor touted by Sony are:

Large-scale signal processing circuits required for higher image quality and better functionality are built in

More compact image sensor chip size

Even higher image quality of the pixel section by adopting manufacturing processes specialized for superior image quality

Faster speeds and lower power consumption by adopting the lead processes for the circuit section

The camera components are currently one of the thickest pieces of the iPhone's internal hardware. It was said before the release of the iPhone 4S that the height of the 8-megapixel camera found in the handset presented design challenges for Apple, forcing the company to keep the same form factor as the iPhone 4.

Back in April of last year, Sony CEO Howard Stringer accidentally confirmed that Apple planned to add an 8-megapixel camera to its next-generation iPhone. That eventually proved true when Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S in October with a greatly improved lens sporting more pixels, faster picture taking, and image stabilization when shooting 1080p video.




In addition, Sony's entrance into the iPhone camera supply chain was confirmed by iFixit and Chipworks, who disassembled the iPhone 4S and did an X-ray cross-section of the 8-megapixel camera found in the iPhone 4S. Written on the base layer of the camera they found a die marking that clearly reads Sony's name.

Previously, Sony did not provide image sensors to Apple. Before the iPhone 4S launched, OmniVision had been Apple's primary camera supplier for the 5-megapixel camera on the iPhone 4 and the 3.2-megapixel sensor for the iPhone 3GS.
post #2 of 69
Apple, PLEASE buy that light field company!

Do it before SOMEONE ELSE DOES.

Thinner iPhones? I see this as more "better cameras in iPads and iPod touches".
post #3 of 69
I just hope Apple keeps adding more pixels and doesn't cheap out just for the sake of thinness. Gave us the 12 mega pixel for next iphone
post #4 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by xavier83 View Post

I just hope Apple keeps adding more pixels and doesn't cheap out just for the sake of thinness. Gave us the 12 mega pixel for next iphone

Screw pixels. I want the best sensor and lens on the freaking planet. There's no reason for a 12 MP camera.
post #5 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Apple, PLEASE buy that light field company!

Do it before SOMEONE ELSE DOES.

Thinner iPhones? I see this as more "better cameras in iPads and iPod touches".

Reasonable comment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xavier83 View Post

I just hope Apple keeps adding more pixels and doesn't cheap out just for the sake of thinness. Gave us the 12 mega pixel for next iphone

Not so much.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #6 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Screw pixels. I want the best sensor and lens on the freaking planet. There's no reason for a 12 MP camera.

not only that, why not double the size of the battery for example?
post #7 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post

not only that, why not double the size of the battery for example?

You mean the physical size or the length of charge?

I'm certain that Apple's still investing heavily in battery tech to make use times even longer. Haswell will greatly help out on the Mac end, but that's just the Mac end and with existing tech.
post #8 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Screw pixels. I want the best sensor and lens on the freaking planet. There's no reason for a 12 MP camera.

That's exactly the right attitude. 8Mp is enough! better optics and more light sensitivity is needed.
post #9 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by xavier83 View Post

I just hope Apple keeps adding more pixels and doesn't cheap out just for the sake of thinness. Gave us the 12 mega pixel for next iphone

Read this article on the megapixel myth.
post #10 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

You mean the physical size or the length of charge?

I'm certain that Apple's still investing heavily in battery tech to make use times even longer. Haswell will greatly help out on the Mac end, but that's just the Mac end and with existing tech.

if increasing battery size means much more battery life, why not? thin components is great if used wisely. iPhone does not need to thinner.
post #11 of 69
Leave the enclosure alone. Cram in more battery.
post #12 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post

if increasing battery size means much more battery life, why not? thin components is great if used wisely. iPhone does not need to thinner.

But lighter would be awesome.
post #13 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rabbit_Coach View Post

That's exactly the right attitude. 8Mp is enough! better optics and more light sensitivity is needed.

Yes! I have an old Sony camera with fewer MP than the 3GS, but it takes pictures that are far better than the 3GS and even rivals those of the 4S (when not blown up). MP is nice, but the optics and light sensitivity really make the camera.

On the other hand if the number of MP on the iPhone doesn't continue to steadily improve, all the noobs who don't know any better about what really makes a good camera will point to 8 MP and say the iPhone is crap.
post #14 of 69
A better sensor in this case meaning low light level capability. As far as optics go I'm not sure why Apple or the industry thinks that the lens assembly must be flush. I'd rather see a bump on the phones body, especially if it is used to support a faster higher quality lens.

On the other hand I'm not going to resist 12MP, if they can get there while improving camera quality. For a point and shoot type usage 12MP is a sweet spot in my book. Effectively I want the iPhone to be a direct replacement for a point and shoot. In many ways it already is, but the acceptance as such will only increase if they can continue to improve the basic factors that affect image quality. That means addressing issues with low light performance, color and resolution first. 12MP should only come afterward, but I believe pixel counts around that number provide for much versatility for the average user.

Beyond that I wonder how many people would object to an iPhone with let's say a 2 mm or so bump if that meant a much faster lens? Something in the range of F2.8 to 2 to allow for increased light gathering ability. I just see the drive to super thin phones as being detrimental to potential for great optics and would much prefer a focus on optics as opposed to thinnest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Screw pixels. I want the best sensor and lens on the freaking planet. There's no reason for a 12 MP camera.
post #15 of 69
Apple needs to move its manufacturing out of China.
What good is an embargo on Iranian oil if China is going to buy it all so that it can run factories to produce goods for America?
In other words, how long will Apple investors support the Iranian regime and terrorism?

Or has the long arms of a blind capitalist society become too long for people to recognize and understand their actions? That your sending your countrymen off to die in wars so that you can watch your investments grow. Do you even understand that as the stock price grows, so does the body count of your neighbors?

Where is the voice of Apple investors to bring manufacturing home and employ some of the 60+ million people out of work, homeless and living in poverty.
Silenced by greed and little green ticker numbers?

Shame on you investors and your blood monies. It doesn't have to be this way. You should be demanding Apple invest in R&D at home and develop your own technologies. Sure Sony is an ally country - but buying their technology because you have bankrupted society at home so that people can no longer afford education, and the brain-drain train that is full steam ahead... do you see the short sightedness of this folly?

You have a voice and responsibility as investors.
Be the change you want to see.
post #16 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post

if increasing battery size means much more battery life, why not? thin components is great if used wisely. iPhone does not need to thinner.

Because you can be too heavy and large to appeal to users. There is a balance that has to be met. Since Apple already has the best battery life in the industry I don't see them moving to a much larger and heavier device just to add a significantly larger battery. If they can thin it out while being more power efficient they likely will... and Gorilla Glass 2 allows them to lose 20% on both the front and back glass without changing any of the internals. If you really want a significant amount increased there are always Mophie products.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #17 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Screw pixels. I want the best sensor and lens on the freaking planet. There's no reason for a 12 MP camera.

8 megapixels is A LOT, if the lens exploits them and the sensor is sensitive. More pixels means smaller pixels, which means less sensitive pixels with less dynamic range.

I'd rather see this technology used to make existing pixels larger, not cram more in or make the optical assembly smaller. The phone is thin enough, anyway. A faster lens would be awesome also.
post #18 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alonso Perez View Post

8 megapixels is A LOT, if the lens exploits them and the sensor is sensitive. More pixels means smaller pixels, which means less sensitive pixels with less dynamic range.

I'd rather see this technology used to make existing pixels larger, not cram more in or make the optical assembly smaller. The phone is thin enough, anyway. A faster lens would be awesome also.

I think the iPhone 4 with the 5Mpx camera uses the same size sensor as the iPhone 4S with an 8Mpx camera. The 4S's sensor is much better, but the pixels are unfortunately smaller, if I remember correctly.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #19 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Thinner iPhones? I see this as more "better cameras in iPads and iPod touches".

We can only hope. The camera modules in the iPod and iPad are an embarassment (in my opinion).

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

A better sensor in this case meaning low light level capability. As far as optics go I'm not sure why Apple or the industry thinks that the lens assembly must be flush. I'd rather see a bump on the phones body, especially if it is used to support a faster higher quality lens.

On the other hand I'm not going to resist 12MP, if they can get there while improving camera quality. For a point and shoot type usage 12MP is a sweet spot in my book. Effectively I want the iPhone to be a direct replacement for a point and shoot. In many ways it already is, but the acceptance as such will only increase if they can continue to improve the basic factors that affect image quality. That means addressing issues with low light performance, color and resolution first. 12MP should only come afterward, but I believe pixel counts around that number provide for much versatility for the average user.

Beyond that I wonder how many people would object to an iPhone with let's say a 2 mm or so bump if that meant a much faster lens? Something in the range of F2.8 to 2 to allow for increased light gathering ability. I just see the drive to super thin phones as being detrimental to potential for great optics and would much prefer a focus on optics as opposed to thinnest.

I mostly agree, except I'm not sure what the average user (or even a prosumer) would need 12 MP for, other than bragging rights? 12 MP would get you a bigger than 13 x 10" print at the highest printing resolution, twice that on your typical home ink jet. Or you could crop out 90% of the image and still print a good 4 x 6" print or upload to Facebook. Is that really the capabilty folks need? Just think of the amazing quailty you'd have if they took all the technology that makes 12 MP acceptable and applied it to an 8 MP sensor! No amount of noise reduction in the world would make up for not have a nice, big, fat light-gathering pixel.

The only reason for 12 MP is for marketing purposes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mode View Post

Apple needs to move its manufacturing out of China.
What good is an embargo on Iranian oil if China is going to buy it all so that it can run factories to produce goods for America?
In other words, how long will Apple investors support the Iranian regime and terrorism?

Or has the long arms of a blind capitalist society become too long for people to recognize and understand their actions? That your sending your countrymen off to die in wars so that you can watch your investments grow. Do you even understand that as the stock price grows, so does the body count of your neighbors?

Where is the voice of Apple investors to bring manufacturing home and employ some of the 60+ million people out of work, homeless and living in poverty.
Silenced by greed and little green ticker numbers?

Shame on you investors and your blood monies. It doesn't have to be this way. You should be demanding Apple invest in R&D at home and develop your own technologies. Sure Sony is an ally country - but buying their technology because you have bankrupted society at home so that people can no longer afford education, and the brain-drain train that is full steam ahead... do you see the short sightedness of this folly?

You have a voice and responsibility as investors.
Be the change you want to see.

Apparently it's not just about the money. The US simply doesn't have a capability to support it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/bu...pagewanted=all
post #20 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

But lighter would be awesome.

I don't agree with that. The one thing I have enjoyed from my several years of carrying an iPhone is that compared to the various other smartphones out there, the iPhone's 'heft' (if you can consider 5 oz 'heft') has always made it feel more like something well built. Compare it to the lighter Samsung or Motorola phones, and they feel like toys to me.
post #21 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mode View Post

Apple needs to move its manufacturing out of China.
What good is an embargo on Iranian oil if China is going to buy it all so that it can run factories to produce goods for America?
In other words, how long will Apple investors support the Iranian regime and terrorism?

Or has the long arms of a blind capitalist society become too long for people to recognize and understand their actions? That your sending your countrymen off to die in wars so that you can watch your investments grow. Do you even understand that as the stock price grows, so does the body count of your neighbors?

Where is the voice of Apple investors to bring manufacturing home and employ some of the 60+ million people out of work, homeless and living in poverty.
Silenced by greed and little green ticker numbers?

Shame on you investors and your blood monies. It doesn't have to be this way. You should be demanding Apple invest in R&D at home and develop your own technologies. Sure Sony is an ally country - but buying their technology because you have bankrupted society at home so that people can no longer afford education, and the brain-drain train that is full steam ahead... do you see the short sightedness of this folly?

You have a voice and responsibility as investors.
Be the change you want to see.

Maybe America should stop playing world police. You've got your finger in everyone's eyes in the world. China and India have taken all of the middle manufacturing jobs that used to be in America and before he died, Steve Jobs said they weren't coming back. China and India are the worlds fastest growing markets and are buying up production of electronics and luxury goods (Rolls Royce, Bently, BMW etc.) at a quicker and quicker pace. Pretty soon your car choices and options will depend more on what the Chinese want than what Americans want. WAKE UP! the party is over for America.
post #22 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Apple, PLEASE buy that light field company!

Do it before SOMEONE ELSE DOES.

Thinner iPhones? I see this as more "better cameras in iPads and iPod touches".

I think that's the second time I've seen you comment about this, but I'm not sure what you're referring to. What light field company is this and why should Apple buy them?
post #23 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alonso Perez View Post

More pixels means smaller pixels, which means less sensitive pixels with less dynamic range.

You say that as if it's an absolute, but it's not. The statement that makes that true is "Given the same technology..."

They could, for example, bump the next iPhone camera up to 12MP and it could have better images with more dynamic range than the 4S. The lens, sensor size, the sensor technology (BSI), the A/D converters, and the processing all play a major part.

That said, I'd prefer the newer technology AND stay at 8MP for better available light, low-light images.
post #24 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Thinner iPhones? I see this as more "better cameras in iPads and iPod touches".

yep. folks seem to forget that the cameras aren't the only thing that cause the phone etc to be 'fat'

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(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #25 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Read this article on the megapixel myth.

When I finally decided to make the jump from film to digital (after reading just about everything at this site: http://kenrockwell.com/ ) I got a Nikon D40 just as production ended. Besides the lower MP I also found the D40 more comfortable to hold since the screen on the back is only 2.5 inch instead of 3 inches. Larger dedicated area for my thumb instead of it having to rest on the corner of the screen.

Owning a decent DSLR I have no reason to even want a camera in a phone. Make the phone even thinner and lighter by leaving the camera out completely works for me.
post #26 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Apple, PLEASE buy that light field company!

Please don't. Being able to focus after the fact is a one-trick pony. Give me better image quality and better low-light performance.
post #27 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTac View Post

...thinner and lighter by leaving the camera out completely works for me.

SInce 99.99% of the people out there would prefer NOT to carry a DSLR at all times, I don't think you're going to get your wish.
post #28 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahmlco View Post

That said, I'd prefer the newer technology AND stay at 8MP for better available light, low-light images.

Agreed. 8MP isn't shabby at all for the types of photos the iPhone and even iPad are intended to take. better light sensors, better image stabilization etc would be more useful to many than bumping up the MP. Same as the game of whether to add more pixels in the display screen or keep the pixels the same and improve the brightness etc so you can use the dang things outside

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post #29 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post

not only that, why not double the size of the battery for example?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

You mean the physical size or the length of charge?

I'm certain that Apple's still investing heavily in battery tech to make use times even longer. Haswell will greatly help out on the Mac end, but that's just the Mac end and with existing tech.

Investing in battery tech is all fine and well, but Apple should quit reducing the available space for a battery. The iPhone simply will not benefit from being any thinner in my view. Most everyone puts a protective case on their phones because they are so slippery and easily damaged anyway.
post #30 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTac View Post

Owning a decent DSLR

is something that isn't true about most of the masses. In fact many of them don't own a DSLR or a decent point and click and really don't want to. why carry two things when you can just take photos with your phone

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post #31 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahmlco View Post

SInce 99.99% of the people out there would prefer NOT to carry a DSLR at all times, I don't think you're going to get your wish.

Actually, there is an aftermarket vendor working on removing the camera entirely for sale to individuals who can not have any photographic device with them. Apple should explore the "option delete" for the camera. I think they would be surprised.

P.S. Besides, how hard can it be to simply leave out a part or two and mask the area where the lenses were?
post #32 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by RBR View Post

Apple should explore the "option delete" for the camera. I think they would be surprised. Besides, how hard can it be to simply leave out a part or two and mask the area where the lenses were?

Given that we have 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB phones in both black and white, adding a with/without camera option would up the number of SKUs from 6 to 12.

Besides, as you said, there's an aftermarket vendor already doing the mod if someone really needs it.

The point remains that the vast majority of people would prefer a camera that's "good enough" bundled into a device they already carry. You're the outlier.
post #33 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by RBR View Post

Actually, there is an aftermarket vendor working on removing the camera entirely for sale to individuals who can not have any photographic device with them. Apple should explore the "option delete" for the camera. I think they would be surprised.

P.S. Besides, how hard can it be to simply leave out a part or two and mask the area where the lenses were?

I believe you're referring to the Thai carrier that is selling iPhones without the camera (and with voided warranty) because all Thai men have to serve time in the military and can't bring camera phones with them. I really don't think the market for such devices is big enough for Apple to waste their time on it. Especially when there are other companies willing to do it for them at no cost to Apple.
post #34 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahmlco View Post

Given that we have 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB phones in both black and white, adding a with/without camera option would up the number of SKUs from 6 to 12.

Besides, as you said, there's an aftermarket vendor already doing the mod if someone really needs it.

The point remains that the vast majority of people would prefer a camera that's "good enough" bundled into a device they already carry. You're the outlier.

I am not the "outlier". I am just fine with the camera. My comment is simply that there is a market segment that Apple is ignoring. The vendor is a local outfit in the far East serving the local community only.

Cheers
post #35 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregInPrague View Post

I believe you're referring to the Thai carrier that is selling iPhones without the camera (and with voided warranty) because all Thai men have to serve time in the military and can't bring camera phones with them. I really don't think the market for such devices is big enough for Apple to waste their time on it. Especially when there are other companies willing to do it for them at no cost to Apple.

There is an additional cost for the lowered functionality so I think we can deduce that the market is exceptionally small.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #36 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by LighteningKid View Post

I think that's the second time I've seen you comment about this, but I'm not sure what you're referring to. What light field company is this and why should Apple buy them?

There are two schools of thought about light field cameras.

The first is mine: the ability to take a picture and not have to worry about focusing because you can make the focus anywhere in the picture after it's taken. So if you screw up the perfect shot because you accidentally put the focus too far forward or back (or if it's off by just a little), you can adjust it at your leisure.

Then there's this belief:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ahmlco View Post

Please don't. Being able to focus after the fact is a one-trick pony.

Your decision, really. Personally, I DON'T feel that light field photography is to the photography industry what 3D is to the movie industrya huge, pointless gimmick. I feel that it's the future.
post #37 of 69
for the love of god not any more obsessions with thinness...more battery life PLEASE. Ever since I had my third iphone stolen (yeah, the third...) and reverted back to my charge once use for the week phone I am enjoying sheer battery bliss. Of course I am not expecting such a thing from a smartphone but more than a couple of days realistic battery life would be nice.
post #38 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Since Apple already has the best battery life in the industry I don't see them moving to a much larger and heavier device just to add a significantly larger battery.

iPhone does NOT have the best battery life in the industry. I thought I have proven to you, with multiple screen shots of my Nexus, that I get the ultimate in battery life.....surpassed by NO ONE!!!

Signed
DaHarder

You talkin' to me?
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post #39 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by myapplelove View Post

for the love of god not any more obsessions with thinness...more battery life PLEASE. Ever since I had my third iphone stolen (yeah, the third...) and reverted back to my charge once use for the week phone I am enjoying sheer battery bliss. Of course I am not expecting such a thing from a smartphone but more than a couple of days realistic battery life would be nice.

Seems like you might be more in need of an iChain/wrist cuff solution.
post #40 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by LighteningKid View Post

I think that's the second time I've seen you comment about this, but I'm not sure what you're referring to. What light field company is this and why should Apple buy them?

It's called Wikipedia. Use it or lose it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lytro

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2011/10...ameraannounced

Somehow, the system captures light from multiple angles and there is no need to focus as you shoot.
Focusing is done when you view the captured image, and you can apparently change the focal
point from near to far while you view the images.

Sent from my iPhone Simulator

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