Sony's new image sensor for smartphones has 48 effective megapixels

Sony emphasised the need to bring "greater imaging quality" to smartphone cameras and insisted its new technology rivals "high-performance SLR cameras".

Sony, the company that struggles selling its own smartphones but is very good at building camera sensors for other companies' phones, has announced its new IMX586 CMOS image sensor for smartphones. That conversion is how the company arrives at that 48-MP effective resolution. This is largely thanks to the ultra-compact pixel size of just 0.8μm, the smallest in any image sensor to date. Indeed, the single sample that Sony shared offers noticeably higher resolution while keeping noise levels low, although the image was clearly taken in sensor-friendly broad daylight.

Add all of this together with a dynamic range that's four times greater "than conventional products", and it sure does sound like Sony's got a victor on its hands.

In many cases, higher resolution sensors are created to enable digital zoom and that's one of the functions that Sony is pushing with its new IMX586 sensor.

Sony says this allows even scenes with both bright and dark areas can be captured with minimal highlight blowout or loss of detail in shadows.

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Sony also claims that the new sensor delivers both high sensitivity and high resolution because of the Quad Bayer color filter array, where the adjacent 2×2 pixels come in the same color.

When this sensor makes it into smartphones, it will enable some pretty huge daylight photos with 8,000 x 6,000 pixels, beating even Huawei's P20 Pro and its 40-megapixel sensor. It could result in poor light collecting efficiency per pixel, accompanied by a drop in sensitivity and volume of saturation signal.

For bright low-noise photos and videos when shooting at night.

Sony's image sensor business so far has been quite profitable racking in $5.9 billion in revenues in 2017.

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