Sony IMX586 will cram 48 megapixels into smartphone cameras

This is largely thanks to the ultra-compact pixel size of just 0.8μm, the smallest in any image sensor to date.

From Sony's press release it's clear the company is making a point to explain that it didn't just increase the pixel count for the sake of being able to brag about this milestone.

In a blog post, the company went on: "These days, high-end smartphone models require even greater imaging quality from their cameras". The new sensor features 48 effective megapixels, the industry's highest pixel count.

With the new revelation, Sony has raised the smartphone camera standards to a whole new level. The IMX586 implements the Quad Bayer 2x2 pixel array. That means it won't take significant space inside the smartphones of the future.

Image Sony
Image Sony

The images on the left shows a shot from a conventional phone camera image (with 12 effective megapixels), while the right side shows photos from a camera with the IMX586 sensor (with 48 effective megapixels). In darker scenes, the data from the sensor simply isn't converted, resulting in a 12-MP effective sensor that Sony says has the light-gathering power of 1.6-µm sensor wells.

Sony exposure control technology and signal processing functionality is built into the chip. The IMX586 is apparently the world's first sensor to feature a pixel size of 0.8 μm - and those tiny pixels allowed for Sony to cram a whole lot of them into a sensor small enough to fit in a smartphone chassis. In fact, it was quite obvious that Sony would be the one to blur the lines between smartphone and a camera.

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.

It is also capable of recording full frame at 30 frames per second and can also record 4K videos (4096×2160) at 90 frames per second.

  • Latoya Cobb