A new leak from Nikkei (opens in new tab) (via SonyAlphaRumours (opens in new tab)) says that Sony will supply Apple with its latest state-of-the-art CMOS image sensor and that the new component is expected to feature in next year’s iPhone series, the iPhone 15 (opens in new tab).
According to Nikkei, Sony Semiconductor Solutions developed the new image sensor, which is said to be manufactured at its Nagasaki plant, in Japan and then shipped to Apple, as well as other smartphone manufacturers.
If Sony's new image sensor does feature in the iPhone 15 family, it will give roughly double the saturation signal level in each pixel – that's compared to a conventional camera phone (opens in new tab) sensor.
The camera phone revolution has been astounding, and if Sony’s new sensor does feature in the next iPhone series, it will enable the next-gen devices to capture far better-quality photos compared to the iPhone 14 (opens in new tab), thanks to all the extra light. iPhone users could potentially expect overexposure and underexposure to become a thing of the past.
Nikkei writes that Sony’s breakthrough sensor technology was achieved using a new semiconductor architecture “which places photodiodes and transistors in separate substrate layers, allowing the sensor to add more photodiodes to the dedicated layer.”
Bold claims from Sony
Back in June, we reported (opens in new tab) (via SonyAddict (opens in new tab)) that Sony had made some very bold forward-looking statements concerning the future of the camera phone market, specifically that by 2024 that the image quality of a smartphone will exceed that of a single-lens reflex camera.
“We expect that still images will exceed the image quality of single-lens reflex cameras within the next few years,” said Terushi Shimizu, Sony Semiconductor Solutions CEO, via SonyAddict.
An article on Shimizu’s bold statement by Nikkei (opens in new tab) and translated from Japanese by Photo Rumors (opens in new tab) does give some details of how Sony plan to achieve this. “In the future, in addition to increasing the diameter, by combining the new pixel structure “two-layer transistor pixel” technology and artificial intelligence (AI) processing technology that can double the shooting performance of bright places, for still images, a single-lens camera The image quality can be exceeded. Furthermore, it is said that background blurring using 8K video shooting / high-speed readout and ToF (opens in new tab) (distance measuring sensor) will be realized toward 30 years.”
We can assume then that the new Sony sensor that will benefit the iPhone 15, is the company’s halfway mark to the bold claim. The iPhone 15 family is expected to launch in September 2023, in line with Apple’s standard launch model, and we can expect many more leaks and rumors (opens in new tab) before then.
If you're wondering which iPhone model to buy, check out our best iPhone for photography (opens in new tab) guide.