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Sony Develops High-Res Smartphone Sensor

Tokyo — Sony disclosed here Monday that it has developed a DSLR-like image sensor that may soon deliver 4K video capture to smartphones and other tablets.
The Sony Exmor RS IMX230 is a stacked CMOS imaging sensor for smartphones and other devices with a whopping 21 effective megapixels, while still providing compact size, higher image quality and improved functionality, the company said.
Billed as “the industry’s first CMOS image sensor for smartphones,” the Exmor RS IMX230 will be equipped with an onboard image plane phase detection AF signal-processing function “to achieve excellent focus tracking of fast-moving subjects.”
Sony has included a high dynamic range (HDR) function, which captures both backgrounds and subjects clearly and vividly even in high-contrast scenes such as backlit locations, and supports both high-resolution still images and 4K video recording.
Sony said the new CMOS image sensor will ship in April 2015.
Rather than the traditional back-illuminated CMOS image sensor’s support substrate, the Exmor RS uses a chip consisting of signal-processing circuits, on top of which is stacked a pixel section consisting of back-illuminated pixels for an original stacked construction. This kind of stacked CMOS imaging sensor, which delivers superior image quality and high functionality in a compact size, was first commercialized by Sony in 2012.
 The IMX230 is a type 1/2.4 stacked CMOS image sensor with a newly developed signal-processing function. Sony said the features “fulfill the growing needs in smartphone photography for high-speed autofocus (image plane phase detection AF) and clear, high-quality capture of bright and dark areas even in backlit scenes (HDR imaging).”
Image plane phase detection AF is a technology used in mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras, and HDR imaging now supports not only 4K (4,096 by 2,160) high-resolution videos but also still images.
Sony said it is also planning to extend the lineup by adding a 16-megapixel stacked CMOS image sensor equipped with image plane phase detection AF and HDR imaging functions by the end of the next fiscal year.