Prepare to see another giant leap in smartphone picture-taking quality this year.
Sony announced today three new back-illuminated stacked CMOS image sensors optimized for bright and low-light conditions. The new compact sensors are faster, consume less power than previous versions, and will be available in 8- to 13- megapixel flavors. Most notably, the sensors feature new "RGBW Coding" and "High Dynamic Range (HDR) Movie" abilities baked directly onto the hardware. The iPhone 4S features a Sony 8-megapixel sensor, and it's possible that this may be a preview of the camera sensor inside the iPhone 5.
You might recognize the RGB acronym, as it stands for red-green-blue; the new sensor adds white pixels to the mix that pumps up the sensor's light sensitivity. It is possible that a future smartphone with this sensor will have little problem shooting pictures in dark rooms (or at night), as evidenced in the example picture above. Another benefit to the RGBW coding is that no changes to signal processing are required to support this updated technology, making it easy to implement. Surprisingly, Kodak has been shopping around something like this technology since at least 2007. … Read more