Newer Smartphones Packing CMOS Sensors with Dedicated White Pixel

Some time ago Sony announced a new series of “stacked” CMOS sensors that would bring a new level of quality to smartphone cameras. And now, several months later, rumors are floating about that Sony’s new LT29i smartphone — codenamed the Hayabusa — will be packing a 13-megapixel version of the new tech.

What makes these sensors special is that the pixel section of the sensor is “stacked” on top of the circuit section instead of surrounded by it. In this way, Sony is able to make a sensor with more pixel area without actually increasing the sensor size at all. The new tech doesn’t stop at sensor size though, Sony has also loaded the new sensors with two of their unique functions.

First is a unique “RGBW coding” function, which adds a dedicated white pixel and helps to capture high-quality, low-noise photos in low-light situations (as you can see in the above comparison). And second is a new “HDR movie” function that, if the sample is any indication, is pretty impressive indeed:

Sony CMOS sensors can already be found in many high-quality smartphones such as the iPhone 4S, so don’t be surprised if the technology makes its way into other smartphones very soon.

(via Ubergizmo)

  • John R

    Looks good.  Bizarre the way innovations appear first on phones.  The power of multiple sales over the best possible product.


  • mythbuster

     Maybe, with the earnings of selling millions of phone sensors, they can begin to make high end camera sensors with this new technology and get more experience about it.

  • Darren Ward Photo

    The two comparison photos are a bit odd, the exposure is different so not only can you not really compare the two because they look different but the underexposed photo will actually have more noise simply because it’s underexposed rather than because of the sensor used.

  • Joshua Neate

    I respectfully disagree. Yes the RGB image has more noise, but I think you’re confusing exposure with color luminance and noise. I obviously can’t speak for Sony, nor can we look at the metadata, but I believe the point is that these images were both taken at the same exposure but with separate sensor coding. Also, I think they intentionally underexposed (but equally) to exaggerate the comparison between an RGB coded sensor and an RGBW coded sensor. 

  • Darren Ward Photo

    I think you’ve misunderstood what I said somehow.

  • SwedishKiwi

    Don’t get this wrong, but I just watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory – and I couldn’t help hearing Sheldon in my head when reading your comment.