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Don't hold your breath for full-frame camera sensors in smartphones

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If you were hoping to see full-frame camera sensors on smartphones at some point soon, well, don’t hold your breath. Sony just clarified things by saying that it won’t happen, at least not anytime soon.

Sony makes is clear that smartphones won’t get full-frame cameras… at least not in this decade

In a presentation by the company, which is titled ‘Imaging and Seeing Solutions Segment’, Sony demonstrated the evolution of smartphones in videography, and how it’s connected to the sensors. This presentation was presented by the Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation’s Director, President, and CEO, Terushi Shimizu.

For this decade, up until 2030, Sony’s president exponential growth in mobile video shooting. It was clarified that the industry has to focus on sub-cameras to improve smartphone videography.

In that presentation, five characteristics were highlighted for mobile camera performance. Those characteristics are Sensitivity/Noise, Dynamic range, Power consumption, Resolution, and Readout speed.

Still images are excellent, Sony believes, but videos need work

Sony did highlight that as far as photography goes, the quality of smartphone cameras comes close to the human eye thanks to large sensors and AI. In some cases it’s even possible to surpass that point, says Sony.

The videos, on the other hand, are a completely different beast. Sony sees room for performance. Sony believes that video quality is left behind compared to still imagery, as real-time performance is required. Video performance is more directly related to the image sensors.

In one of the slides Sony shared, the elevation of sensor size through the years was shown. It shows the growth of sensor sizes in the main and sub-cameras on smartphones from 2019 to 2023.

We’ve reached a limit in terms of sensor size, at least until 2030

As part of that slide, Sony makes it clear that we’ve basically reached a limit in terms of sensor size, at least until 2030… for smartphones, of course. Improvements from this point on, up until at least 2030, will be based on AI, more or less.

Why is that the case? Well, other than the physical size of large sensors, those camera sensors also need more cooling. That’s not so easy to achieve in such a small body (smartphones). So, don’t hold your breath for full-frame sensors, at least not anytime soon.

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