The iPhone 5 is not coming out until at least this summer or fall. Yet, we are starting to see some possible component upgrades that will be in the next iPhone. One of those components is the camera sensor. Apple has switched suppliers a number of times as they pick the best camera for that year. Since the iPhone is the number one selling smartphone, building camera sensors can be a profitable business.
The current iPhone 4S iPhone uses a Sony camera. While Sony does make their own line of high end cameras, their biggest market is camera sensors. Currently, a number of Nikon high-end cameras use Sony sensors. Sony is now taking what they are learn from high-end sensors and building a line of great smartphone sensors as well. Despite its high resolution, the sensor in the iPhone 4S is excellent, with low noise and good detail. Sony is not standing still.
Sony announced this week a new line of camera sensors that should be shipping in time for iPhone 5 production in June. The new sensor stacks multiple sensors on top of each other in layers, which has a number of advantages. Those advantages are outlined in two new features which are RGBW coding and HDR movies.
RGBW coding adds white pixels into the layers of sensors. This improved sensor sensitivity creates better lower noise pictures in low light. Basically, those noisy, blurry pictures taken from last night’s party will be much better with the iPhone 5.
HDR movie mode will create movies with less black or white areas. Our eyes can see a wider range of light than cameras, which have a limited light range. That is why photos taken during the day have white or black areas. With new HDR movie mode, the sensor will take multiple pictures with each video frame and combine them to create a higher dynamic range frame. This translates to blue skies and more detail in the shadows than the current iPhone 4S movies.
Cameras continue to improve at a rapid rate. The smart-phone camera market continues to be a very competitive one, as more and more consumers replace their point-n-shoot cameras with smart-phones. The iPhone is the number one selling smart-phone and Apple is driving much of the camera competition in the market. The iPhone 4S saw a major leap in camera technology, and the iPhone 5 will see the another one.