The iPhone 4S camera system has a fifth lens and larger aperture to let more light in.
It is widely assumed that Apple’s next iPhone is going to be thinner and lighter than its predecessor —the 9.3mm thick iPhone 4S. However, camera modules for smartphones are not shrinking as fast as other tiny components are, and it is becoming a growing limitation when designing ultra-thin gadgets. If Apple is to engineer a thinner iPhone, the company is likely going to redesign the camera system all over again. Conveniently, Sony has a brand-new back-illuminated CMOS image sensor in the works that could be a natural fit for a next-generation iPhone.
Unveiled Monday, it separates the CMOS sensors from imaging circuitry:
This image sensor layers the pixel section containing formations of back-illuminated structure pixels onto chips containing the circuit section for signal processing, which is in place of supporting substrates for conventional back-illuminated CMOS image sensors. This structure achieves further enhancement in image quality, superior functionalities and a more compact size that will lead to enhanced camera evolution.
Of course, there is no way of telling whether Apple will put the new CMOS sensor inside the next iPhone as the company famously refuses to comment on speculation. Nevertheless, Sony’s chip also benefits from the new white-light image sensors (RGBW Coding) to produce clearer images with reduced picture distortion in dark scenes and sharper videos with a wider range of light.
It also sports the HDR Movie feature that lets the camera combine two different exposures simultaneously – during video capture, one for the foreground and the other for the background. It makes a big difference in bright light situations, as seen in the below clip.
So, what’s in it for Apple?