Sony’s monstrous 48 megapixel sensor could boost iPhone camera


The detail you can get on Sony’s new sensor is astounding.
Photo: Sony

Future iPhone cameras could soon rival the pixel count of high-end DSLRs thanks to a new 48 megapixel sensor created by Sony.

Sony says it has created the highest pixel count sensor for a smartphone with its new IMX586 sensor. Usually higher pixel count means lower quality low-light photos, but Sony has managed to merge the best of both worlds. And it might make you want to toss your DSLR.

Apple heavily relies on Sony’s camera sensors for the iPhone. The company prefers lower pixel count sensors that are more light sensitive to snap better all-around shots. With the IMX586 Sony uses a Quad Bayer filter that merges four adjacent pixels together for low light shooting. During good lighting scenarios you’d get high-res 48MP photos. Then during the nighttime you would get 12MP photos that don’t look like they were shot by a potato.

The IMX586 has an effective pixel count of 1.6 micrometers. Google’s Pixel 2 XL is considered the best low-light smartphone camera and its sensor only boasts 1.4 micrometers of pixel pitch.

Sony’s new sensor is unlikely to make it into this year’s iPhone lineup, but it could make it into the 2019 lineup.

On the video side, the IMX586 would allow you to record 4K video at 90fps or 1080p at 240fps. Output speeds and dynamic range on the sensors are four times greater than conventional products thanks to Sony’s image signal processing tech.

The sensor will likely first make its appearance in Sony’s flagship Xperia XZ smartphones.