Sony Likely to Provide Front-Facing Camera Sensors for Future iPhone

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 11, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Sony may provide Apple with image sensors for both the front and rear cameras in a future iPhone, according to a new report from Japanese business site Nikkei, which suggests that Apple and Sony are in negotiations that would double Sony's shipments to the Cupertino company in 2015.
    Sony recently purchased a new manufacturing plant, reportedly aimed at stepping up production in order to comply with Apple's request for more sensors. Sony will invest 35 billion yen in the facility, which will boost its monthly production capacity by 25 percent.

    Since the iPhone 4s, Sony has supplied Apple with sensors for the iPhone's rear camera, while OmniVision has supplied the sensors for the front camera.

    Historically, the iPhone's front camera has been of a significantly lower quality than its rear camera. For example, the rear camera in the iPhone 5s, which utilizes a sensor from Sony, is eight megapixels while the front camera is just 1.2 megapixels. While Apple has worked hard to improve the rear camera with each iteration of the iPhone, the front-facing camera has received little attention.

    Sony, a camera manufacturer itself, is well-known for its impressive sensors and its work getting large, light-absorbing sensors into small cameras. Apple too has focused its efforts on improved sensors and low-light picture taking capabilities even as its competitors, like Nokia, aim to focus only on higher megapixels.

    Apple has greatly improved its iPhone camera with each iteration, and the iPhone 5s, its best camera yet, utilizes a larger sensor with a lower aperture for higher quality low-light photos. It is likely that with Sony supplying sensors, the front-facing camera in a future iPhone could see some significant improvements as well.

    It does not appear that the Sony-sourced front-facing camera sensors will make it into the iPhone 6 given the timeline specified in the article, and will instead be included in a future iPhone.

    As for the iPhone 6, it remains unclear what camera improvements Apple may implement. While an initial rumor suggested the company would continue utilizing the 8-megapixel rear sensor in the iPhone 5s, a subsequent report pointed to a 10-megapixel or higher sensor for the rear-camera with an f/1.8 aperture and an improved lens filter.

    Article Link: Sony Likely to Provide Front-Facing Camera Sensors for Future iPhone
  2. macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2013
  3. macrumors 68020


    Jun 6, 2010
    Since selfies have become such a big deal this makes sense. A 5mp camera on the front would be great...but would space be an issue?
  4. macrumors 6502

    Oct 15, 2010
    more selfies, but now in HD! *sigh*

    Sony must be stoked to land that contract. :cool:
  5. macrumors 68030


    Aug 16, 2011
    Philadelphia Area
  6. macrumors 601


    Oct 1, 2010
    Since the iPhone 6 is going to be bigger they will have the space.
  7. macrumors 65816


    Feb 11, 2010
    Kind of a strange article. First, this:

    According to the DXOmark website, the top Nokia (808) has the top camera (barely) overall, while the Nokia 1020 is barely behind the iPhone 5S. Overall, the Nokias are slightly better at still photos, the 5S better at video. So, a strange thing to say.

    That said, if people actually use the face-facing camera for Facetime videoconferencing, it makes sense for it to be at least ~3.6 MP and do a quality 720p. Do people actually use that feature much? I would rather they spent the time, effort, and money, on improving the low-light and high-contrast capabilities of the regular camera.
  8. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2011
    I don't care about the front facing camera. But an even bigger sensor in the "normal" one would be awesome (while staying at 8-10MP!)
    Something like 1/2.3" should theoretically be possible (the nokia N8 had a 1/1.8", the Lumia 1020 has a 2/3" and the 808 Pureview even has a 1/1.2" sensor - the iphone 5s in comparison has a 1/3" sensor)
  9. macrumors 65816

    Mar 31, 2009

  10. macrumors 6502


    Jan 20, 2014
    Apple should buy Sony. I heard they are in financial trouble. The possibility isn't impossible.
  11. macrumors 68020


    Dec 9, 2008
    I can't wait for the new rhombus shaped FaceTime camera…
  12. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 2, 2013
    I truly care about both cameras. The rear for obvious reasons and the front for chatting with family and friends across the world. I can't wait to see the improvements in low-light and a general step up from what we currently have. The speed of 4G/LTE is not a bottleneck anymore in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, so I truly hope Apple will improve the front to really utilize the speed of our network.

    However, what we still have a great issue with all around the world is latency.
  13. macrumors 603

    Jun 7, 2011

    "Apple too has focused its efforts on improved sensors and low-light picture taking capabilities even as its competitors, like Nokia, aim to focus only on higher megapixels. "

    (Emphasis by me.)

    Well, to put it mildly, this is far from the truth...


    Agreed. The writer of this article may not really be into photography.
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 2, 2013
    Well, that's a good question. I assume some actually use it for chatting with family or something business related. But there's certainly no doubt that the front facing camera isn't going anywhere. If anything it's going to get improved thanks to the instagram-generation and selfies which is a substantial part of that community.
  15. macrumors regular

    Apr 5, 2007
  16. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 31, 2012
    Buffalo, NY
    I'm happy to see my 2nd favorite company supply cameras to my 1st favorite company. :)
  17. macrumors 6502a


    Aug 30, 2013
    Sony are doing fine, they have some amazing cameras out and their upcoming OLED and 4k tv's are arguably the best coming to market highly impressing at CES.

    Not to mention the amazing success they have had with the PS4 which has blown Microsofts offering away on a hardware front.

    Also as one of Japan's most famous and largest companies which has branches in to a variety of technologies the government would never allow them to go down it would be just to damaging to an already perilous economy.


    If Sony start using more of their latest camera sensors then we are in for a pretty special camera on the next few iphones.

    The thing about Nokia cameras is they over saturate and that is what people are used to seeing on screens being sold to them. The Nokia phones ramp up the vibrancy so greens look like what we all imagine they do and skys are a deep blue, you lose natural gradations.
  18. macrumors 65816


    Aug 1, 2000
    Los Angeles, CA
    Just great. Apple is deciding to use more Sony image sensors. Which are fantastic.

    But on the reverse "selfie" side only? Nuts

    I'd rather have a higher bitrate camera on the main camera. That would be best.

    Sony's phone with a 21 megapixel rocks. Why not let consumers get that and if its too much data, opt into a lower megapixel setting?
  19. i4m
    macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2013
    what does Sony know about cameras & photography?
  20. macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2004
    Coquitlam, BC
    A Nikon or Canon slappy I see. Sony is a leader in semi-transluscent mirror and mirrorless technologies. I love my Sony Alpha A33 and old NEX-5. Would love it if they developed larger cell phone sensors.
  21. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2011
    furthermore the sensors for some of the best Nikon cameras like the D800 are made by Sony!
  22. macrumors 68020

    Sep 24, 2002
  23. macrumors 68020


    Oct 25, 2009
    This sentence is painful
  24. macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2014
    Would make sense for face recognition as well.
  25. macrumors regular

    Apr 5, 2007
    I think selfies are kind of tacky looking, at least, I think it looks kind of silly, a picture in front of the mirror with your phone (rear facing camera), or the front one, where obviously, you are looking vain, using the front camera, which we can tell you are using because the quality is terribly pixelated.

    So with these new sensors, I can take tasteful front camera selfies? :D

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