Sony Unveils World's First 48MP Smartphone Camera Sensor

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A 0.8 micron pixel size might seem small and less efficient in capturing the entire light information, especially in low light.

As smartphone's imaging capabilities get better and better, manufacturers like Sony and Samsung will continue to push the boundaries of technology with its own hardware created to make compact devices even more proficient in photography and videography.

Sony is labelling the new unit "compact" - it measures up at 8millimetres diagonally, meaning phones that adopt it should not have to carry a huge camera bump.

Sony has a strong heritage in cameras, however in recent years the cameras on its flagship smartphones haven't quite hit the same illustrious heights as rivals - but that could be about to change. Pixel combining is a common thing on the most recent smartphone cameras - it's one of the elements of the LG G7's Super Bright camera, for example. There are plenty of phones out there with high-resolution sensors taking mediocre photos because of crappy image processing software.

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The new sensor also uses the Quad Bayer color filter array, where adjacent 2×2 pixels come in the same color, which allows for a higher sensitivity shooting.

What this means is that even highly contrasted scenes featuring both bright and dark sections can be captured in detail with little highlight blowout. This enables real-time output with a much better dynamic range that is four times greater than conventional units. With the IMX586 Sony uses a Quad Bayer filter that merges four adjacent pixels together for low light shooting.

Sony will start shipping samples of the IMX586 camera sensor in September 2018, which means that the first smartphones sporting this sensor are expected to ship in early 2019. Going by the spec sheet, other features of the sensor include full frame burst capture at 30 fps and support for 4K video recording at 90 fps and 1080p video recording at 240 fps.