Apple’s next series of iPhones will be equipped with the latest state-of-the-art image sensors manufactured by the Japanese Sony Group.
According to a news report, Sony Semiconductor Solutions developed the new image sensor, which the company will manufacture at its Nagasaki plant and begin shipping to Apple and other smartphone makers.
Incorporating the new image sensor into the upcoming iPhones will be crucial for Sony to consolidate its competitive advantage in high-definition photography technology.
Top rival Samsung Electronics has ramped up pressure on Sony, which already supplies image sensors to Apple, in this field.
“The landscape could change in one or two years,” an executive, at a components manufacturer, told Japanese news outlet.
Sony’s new image sensor roughly doubles the saturation signal level in each pixel compared with conventional sensors. In other words, the sensors can capture more light and reduce overexposure or underexposure in certain settings, enabling a smartphone camera to clearly photograph a person’s face even if the subject is standing against a strong backlight.
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Sony accomplished this breakthrough 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.
Last year, Sony controlled a 44 per cent global share in CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) image sensors, according to British analytics firm Omdia, with Samsung in second place at 18.5 per cent.
But Sony’s share has been on the decline in recent years. In 2020, the Japanese group lost business with a key client, Chinese smartphone maker Huawei Technologies, due to tensions between the US and China.
In May, Sony announced plans for 900 billion yen ($6.46 billion at current rates) in capital expenditures for image sensors in the three years through fiscal 2023, lifting the previously planned figure by 200 billion yen. At the Nagasaki plant, the group is expanding its newest facility, which began operation last year.
Sony also said in May that it hopes to capture a 60 per cent market share in CMOS image sensors by fiscal 2025, reiterating a target first announced in 2019, when the company held 53 per cent of the market.