Sony chief Sir Howard Stringer may have unintentionally given away plans for an eight-megapixel camera in the iPhone 5. During an interview with the WSJ's Walt Mossberg, he claimed that the company's camera sensor plant in Sendai had seen hit by the Japanese earthquake and that shipments of sensors to Apple would be delayed. Apple has so far only sourced cameras from OmniVision, suggesting that Sony was shipping for a future model.
Stringer said, more or less, "Our best sensor technology is built in one of the (tsunami) affected factories. Those go to Apple for their iPhones...or iPads. Isn't that something? They buy our best sensors from us?" Currently the cameras in the iPhone models are manufactured by OmniVision which begs the question, are Apple moving to Sony? The Street reported a story last year which seems to confirm the rumour, "Apple has picked Sony's 8-megapixel camera chip for the 2011 iPhone, according to supply and manufacturing sources, said Rodman Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar." reports WSJ.
iPhone 5 may use the Sony's Exmor R 8MP camera sensors which're currently used in the Sony Ericsson Neo and Xperia smartphone are taking over from OmniVision after possible chip yield issues prevented the sensor from arriving on time. An anonymous source from Sony's UK office said, "We're experiencing lots of problems with supply, many of our factories, especially those that manufacture batteries, are not able to keep up with the high demand."
Sony's current eight-megapixel sensor from phones like the Xperia Neo may be an ideal fit as it has a CMOS sensor suited to low light with little noise. Apple has often insisted on overall quality over megapixel count and would get its needs met while still seeing a sensor upgrade.