Apple eyes Sony's advanced image sensor for iPhone 15

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,573   +174
Staff member
In a nutshell: Sony will reportedly supply Apple with its latest image sensor for use in the next iPhone, bringing mobile photography one step closer to rivaling what's capable with a traditional DSLR camera.

According to Nikkei, Sony Semiconductor Solutions' new image sensor nearly doubles the saturation signal level of each pixel. This allows the sensor to capture more light and reduce the chances of underexposure or overexposure in scenes with strong contrasting lighting. For example, it could better expose a person's face when they are standing in front of a bright background.

The publication said Sony achieved the breakthrough by leveraging a new semiconductor architecture that puts transistors and photodiodes in separate substrate layers, thus allowing for more photodiodes on its dedicated layer.

Earlier this year, Sony Semiconductor Solutions (SSS) President and CEO Terushi Shimizu said he expects smartphone camera image quality to surpass what is possible with a DSLR within the next few years through a combination of advanced image sensor technology and larger apertures.

According to British analytics firm Omdia, Sony was responsible for 44 percent of global CMOS image sensors in 2021 with rival Samsung in second place at 18.5 percent.

Apple's iPhone 15 is shaping up to be a substantial upgrade, at least if rumors are to be believed. All models are expected to feature the Dynamic Island and switch from Lighting to USB-C, but only the premium iPhone 15 Pro models will reportedly get the fastest wired connectivity. Pro variants may also ship with haptic solid-state volume and power buttons, bringing the iPhone a step closer to being a buttonless, portless handset.

Recent rumblings also suggest Apple's own 5G modem will not be ready for next year's iPhones despite significant time and money investments over the last few years. In July, Bloomberg said Apple was struggling with overheating issues in its prototypes. As such, Qualcomm is again expected to supply the majority of 5G chips for the 2023 iPhone family.

Image credit: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona, Cottonbro Studio

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ChrisH1

Posts: 217   +113
The annoying thing is, it’s just technology; it could be applied to DSLRs just as easily, but for some reason they don’t. By my calcs, assuming scalability and cooling problems can be overcome, a full-sized sensor on a DSLR should have about a gigapixel count.
 

p51d007

Posts: 3,428   +3,109
Every time I see this, I just laugh. If more sensors, more megapixels were the
answer (along with software "AI") why do most d-SLR's max out at 26-50 megapixels?
It's not the NUMBER of pixels...it's the SIZE of the pixels along with the expensive glass
in front of the sensor.
Heck, one of the lenses for my camera, costs as much as an iphone. And that is JUST
the lens!

"one step closer to rivaling what's capable with a traditional DSLR camera"
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 1,564   +1,469
Cough BS cough. This time it's Sony smoking crack. If they think AI processing means it's IQ is anywhere near as good as a real cameras, they need to stick to playstation.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,399   +1,038
Doesn't even pass the sniff test - as Sony is major sensor maker for DSLR cameras.
Plus you need more AI to clean image from crosstalk on tiny sensors - ie focusing say 60 degree scene onto a X size sensor with 50Megapixels or a DSLR - same variables onto 9X size sensor.
I don't know much- but sensor size matters.
Now what may be true is sensor is becoming greater than resolving image from lens.
With new sensors lenses had to get better- however as mentioned above -how will Iphone glass compare with lenses glass - with a 8 foot to infinity snapshot with good lighting behind - F8 , 1/250sec Iso 100- ie a very common shot - no fog , no glare , not dark etc all cameras/phones do well .
those coatings , and corrections in lenses make a difference - yes AI can clean up RGB separation etc
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 2,080   +1,292
The annoying thing is, it’s just technology; it could be applied to DSLRs just as easily, but for some reason they don’t. By my calcs, assuming scalability and cooling problems can be overcome, a full-sized sensor on a DSLR should have about a gigapixel count.

The reason you don't have 'gigapixel' sensors in everyday SLR/mirrorless cameras is due to the file sizes. Not just storing them, but processing them fast enough for rapid shooting.

But this advance isn't about pixel density; its not to increase the resolution of a sensor. This advance increase the dynamic range of a sensor. So in that regard, it will 100% end up on SLR/mirrorless bodies around the same time it ends up on smart phones. 'Real' cameras can benefit from this just as much as smartphones.

Of course, Sony is also full of s*** here, when they talk about smartphone cameras surpassing full-sized ones; they're just trying to sell more sensors to other phone manufacturers. The issue is the sensor is only one small piece of the puzzle. The lens(es) are just as important, if not more so, than the sensor. And there is only so much you can bend light in a small area. Any advance you make towards better smartphone lenses will yield even better results when applied to full-sized ones.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 761   +643
The annoying thing is, it’s just technology; it could be applied to DSLRs just as easily, but for some reason they don’t. By my calcs, assuming scalability and cooling problems can be overcome, a full-sized sensor on a DSLR should have about a gigapixel count.
While what you said is true, but the point is that these are not required on DSLRs. All these supposed "AI" features are really to make up for the shortfalls of mobile phone cameras. You can add some "smart" to a dedicated camera as a value add for sure. And in my opinion, there are problems with all these AI solutions,
1. The way AI processed the images may not suit everyone's taste. You can argue that you can shoot raw on the phone, but I am pretty sure the output is anyway processed to some extent
2. AI can only do so much with the data its got. So generally we get pretty decent shots when it comes to the main camera. Switching to other more specialized lens will see quality degrade. For example, while phones can do optical zoom to 10x, the sensor is very small with these periscope solutions. So when zoomed in, you won't get the same image quality as a DSLR or a good bridge camera.

For me, phone cameras are a big hit purely because they are very convenient while still producing decent photo quality. This is especially so when people are mostly looking at the images on a small screen, so won't notice any differences.
 

p51d007

Posts: 3,428   +3,109
Doesn't even pass the sniff test - as Sony is major sensor maker for DSLR cameras.
Plus you need more AI to clean image from crosstalk on tiny sensors - ie focusing say 60 degree scene onto a X size sensor with 50Megapixels or a DSLR - same variables onto 9X size sensor.
I don't know much- but sensor size matters.
Now what may be true is sensor is becoming greater than resolving image from lens.
With new sensors lenses had to get better- however as mentioned above -how will Iphone glass compare with lenses glass - with a 8 foot to infinity snapshot with good lighting behind - F8 , 1/250sec Iso 100- ie a very common shot - no fog , no glare , not dark etc all cameras/phones do well .
those coatings , and corrections in lenses make a difference - yes AI can clean up RGB separation etc
EXACTLY!
The crosstalk alone on a super tiny 100mp sensor in not perfect lighting requires the "AI" to clean up the noise, then try to impose what it took out, which means you end up with a flat photo.
 

joe1946

Posts: 42   +8
They said DSLR not mirrorless like the Sony A1 . Get four f2.8 Sony lenses (12-24, 24-70,70-200 & 400mm) to cover from 12mm to 400mm . I think Pentax is the last of the DSLR companies.
 

passingposeidon

Posts: 38   +51
The annoying thing is, it’s just technology; it could be applied to DSLRs just as easily, but for some reason they don’t. By my calcs, assuming scalability and cooling problems can be overcome, a full-sized sensor on a DSLR should have about a gigapixel count.

Yes there's no reason for a DSLR to have worse quality than a phone, except economics (which is quite a big reason really). This is like saying "mobile phones could get faster than desktop computers" ... which just makes no sense on a technology basis.