Technology

Sony's new image sensor means your smartphone photos are about to get better

The new sensor will start shipping later this year.

The quality of the photos you take on your smartphone could dramatically improve from next year, after Sony announced the creation of an image sensor said to be the highest quality that can fit into a phone.

The technology giant has just announced the upcoming release of a new sensor that features 48 megapixels, the most of any camera sensor in a smartphone currently on the market.

The firm is already a prominent supplier of image sensors to many of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers, including Apple, but is now looking to raise image standards across smartphones more broadly.

Sony says the new IMX586 sensor, which is due to start shipping in September and therefore could start appearing in phones from 2019, will offer picture resolution that can rival SLR cameras, in particular when it comes to image clarity when zooming in.

(Sony)
The size and zoom on a conventional smartphone image (left) compared to the IMX586 image and clearer zoom on the right (Sony)

Large-megapixel sensors are not a new phenomenon in smartphones – plenty of devices including the Huawei P20 Pro, which launched earlier this year, feature a 40-megapixel sensor.

But the difference, Sony says, is that its new sensor is very small – 8mm – and as a result could more easily be fitted into a wider range of smartphone cameras without causing big design headaches.

The Japanese firm has been able to keep the size down without cutting down on the number of pixels by using technology which enables each pixel to use signals from the four adjacent pixels, which helps create brighter, higher quality photos.

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