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Sony CEO Lets Slip That iPhone 5 Will Have 8MP Camera 176

Posted by timothy
from the no-such-thing-as-a-true-leak-anymore dept.
An anonymous reader writes "During a recent interview with Walt Mossberg, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer may have inadvertently let it slip that Sony plans to supply Apple with 8 megapixel cameras for the next-gen iPhone. While discussing the Japanese earthquake, Stringer noted that Sony's camera sensor plant in Sendai had been affected and that shipments of 8 megapixel camera sensors to Apple were subsequently delayed."
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Sony CEO Lets Slip That iPhone 5 Will Have 8MP Camera

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  • Yeah, but.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 02, 2011 @02:55PM (#35694878)

    Who cares?

    • And in other news, there was news.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 02, 2011 @03:44PM (#35695208)

      I care because I didn't know that Sony supplied components to Apple. Maybe I have just been living in a cave or something....but I didn't know.

      And now that I DO know, Apple is on my do-not-buy list.

      I hate Sony THAT much. And you should too.

      • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Saturday April 02, 2011 @04:22PM (#35695434)
        Sony provides parts to many different companies as they have so many different companies. If your criteria is to avoid all Sony parts, you may have to avoid electronics altogether.
        • by hazydave (96747)

          Yup. And Apple is a product integrator, not a component manufacturer. They don't make a single thing on their own. But they sell so many, this isn't a problem. And in fact, much of their strategy is to maximize volumes by selling only a very limited number of models of a product, and then reusing these parts as much as possible. Thus the single version of the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad each year, using many of the same parts in each.

          And in fact, Apple's increasingly buying parts from direct competitors. S

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I care because I didn't know that Sony supplied components to Apple. Maybe I have just been living in a cave or something....but I didn't know.

        And now that I DO know, Apple is on my do-not-buy list.

        I hate Sony THAT much. And you should too.

        Pshaw. Apple has been every bit as evil as Sony, shitting on their customers since the 2nd gen iPod. If you had any real ethics, you wouldn't have been buying Apple products, either.

        • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Saturday April 02, 2011 @06:32PM (#35696066)

          Apple has been every bit as evil as Sony

          No, they haven't. Not even close.

      • I'm pretty close to that... I tend not to buy sony label products, and let people I know also know that I do as such.... I think what really needs to happen is pressure to break sony corp up in order to sell products in the US.. of course they own like 40% of big media, so that would be a hard sell.
        • by hazydave (96747)

          I switched from Sony to Panasonic camcorders a year and a half back... but primarily because Panasonic simply made a better product. And year, part of that reason is that Sony, more than anyone, was pushing some of their corporate vision on the features of different models, rather than just doing what they could do with the technology. That ultimately kills market share... it has with Sony on many fronts, and it will with Apple too.

          And those who leave probably don't come back, even when if they fix those pr

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          I think what really needs to happen is pressure to break sony corp up in order to sell products in the US..

          Why? I would agree with you if they were tying all their products (for example if the PS3 had features that could only be use on Sony TVs) together but they aren't.

      • by DinDaddy (1168147)

        They didn't until now. The sensor in the current iphone was from someone else.

        • by hazydave (96747)

          Sony's a big proponent of backside illumination photo sensors. That's probably why Apple's interested -- the 1/4" CMOS sensor is just too frickin' tiny to be useful at 8Mpixel without employing nearly all of the magic tricks these days. And back illumination is one of the best ones.

          They used Micron sensors for the earlier phones... don't know offhand who made the iPhone 4 sensor.

          They're going to 8Mpixel because every other high-end smartphone has had an 8Mpixel sensor since last summer or so. That doesn't m

          • by wisty (1335733)

            So ... most 8MP camera phones have 5MP of information, and 3MP of blur. The new Sony sensors will use backside illumination (hehe .. backside), which will give it a maximum of 8MP.

            But it's all a wank anyway, because 90% of page views will be of a 25 kP thumbnail, and the rest will be 0.3 MP Facebook photos.

            (It's a sore point. My SO nags me to carry a DSLR, so she can take photos to post up for internet friends to gawk at. I *told* her that a Canon S95 would be almost as good. She doesn't care, as the DSLR m

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Damn, Sony puts parts in Apple products? Now that's one more to add to my list of reasons not to buy from Apple:

        1) I play a lot of games that aren't on OSX.

        2) I don't have the kind of money to spend on Macs.

        3) Sony supplies parts to Apple.

        4) I look good in black, but I don't look good in turtlenecks. And I hate jeans.

      • by Draek (916851)

        You're doing it wrong, you should've already been refusing to buy Apple because of Apple, not Sony.

        When Sony does evil, they do it in a 5-years-old kind of way: petty and sometimes bothersome, but if you have patience it's easily ignored. When Apple does evil, however, they do it like old politicians: they'll use every connection and leverage over the industry they have to make sure that you're still screwed, but that if you buy their products they'll make sure to use some lube beforehand.

      • by hazydave (96747)

        Sony had been supplying components and subsystems to Apple for decades. Back when I worked at Commodore, I took various Macs and Mac IIs apart, and they usually had large modules, even power supplies, from Sony. They used Sony picture tubes in their monitors in the old days (as did anyone selling a "Trinitron" tube.

        This is not such a shock... the two companies have been very similar in many ways, again for decades. Their idea of product design, shooting for the high end based on marketing and reputation as

    • Thank you, I thought it was just me. Slashdot seems to be approaching Gizmodo levels of news that would only be interesting to Apple fanboys. Who cares if the iPhone 5 will *shock!* have a high-end camera sensor, or about the specs of some random Apple laptop, or if iPad 2 supplies are low, or if Steve Jobs took a shit in the woods.

      If Slashdot is going to bring us gadget news it should be about unusual or groundbreaking products. Not micro-coverage of the freaking Wal-Mart electronics catalog.

  • Good Lord (Score:4, Insightful)

    by matty619 (630957) on Saturday April 02, 2011 @02:56PM (#35694886)

    This is news?

  • by damnfuct (861910)
    More megapixels means more noise if you don't increase the size of the detector.
    • by kimvette (919543)

      What you say is true only with a given sensor type/technology. As megapixels counts increase, most manufacturers manage to increase the S/N ratio at the detection and amplification stages often resulting in a net improvement in image quality. Compare yesteryear's 2 megapixel DSLRs or even medium format camera backs to today's 18-24 megapixel DSLRs. The original DSLR cameras were limited to maybe ISO1600 max and were very, very noisy, whereas with today's DSLRs if you expose properly you can shoot at ISO1600

      • On the contrary, if the comparison was referencing differences between the iPhone4 and the iPhone5, then we are indeed comparing Apples to Apples.


        ps. Sadly, I have been waiting about 25 years to use that joke.
      • The comparison makes sense whenever image quality is not limited by pixel count. If an iPhone still only barely achieves the image quality of a point and shoot with 3MP from 8 years ago, we can safely assume that the iPhone's bigger problem is the optics and not the sensor.

  • by Xtense (1075847)

    The Zune MHD will have a QSXGA, 60fps cam, not impressed. ...

    Shit, did I just let that slip?

    • Re:Meh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jugalator (259273) on Saturday April 02, 2011 @03:07PM (#35694972) Journal

      QSXGA

      Quad Super Xtended Graphics Array... This is among the most annoying acronyms I know! Ahh!

      Easier to just say "5 MP" about that, if it's the resolution others are talking about.

      But with that out of my system - I wonder who in their right state of mind are actually going to print either 5 MP or 8 MP photos from a mobile phone on an A3-sized (Tabloid-sized for US citizens) sheet of paper?? It's obvious that they're once again just doing the old Megapixel race for no good reason.

      • It's obvious that they're once again just doing the old Megapixel race for no good reason.

        Well, I guess that's true, if you consider "big numbers impress people with money to burn" not being that good of a reason.

    • MS is going to make new Zunes? I thought they'd given up on that line.
  • I don't buy it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by abhi_beckert (785219) on Saturday April 02, 2011 @03:05PM (#35694958)

    This rumor isn't credible. 8MP is a bad idea unless you make the lens and sensor bigger. The trouble is, as you increase the megapixels you reduce the amount of light the sensor can collect. Creating significantly poorer photos in low light conditions and slightly poorer photos in normal conditions.

    If you have a huge lens and sensor, like some phones and like a point-and-shoot camera then 8MP (or more) is a great idea. But apple isn't likely to do either of those.

    They already made the lens and sensor about as good as they could in the iPhone 4. I think we're a long time away from seeing an 8MP iPhone camera.

    • Re:I don't buy it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by damnfuct (861910) on Saturday April 02, 2011 @03:12PM (#35694998)
      I wish more people understood this rather than "MOAR MEGGAPIXALS MEENS MOAR BETTAR"
      • No, Steve will convince with a wave of his hand, not unlike the Dark Lords before him, that this is exactly what you are looking for.

        Pray that he does not find your lack of faith disturbing.

    • I could see Apple making the lens/sensor slightly larger, but I don't know if it would be enough to maintain quality. The iPhone 4's camera isn't bad. It's not great, but it's certainly a massive step up from the godawful camera that was on the 3G.
    • by zalas (682627)

      Just a nitpick, but...

      • Increasing the number of megapixels while keeping everything else the same does not change the amount of light the sensor collects, although each individual pixel gets less light.
      • Increasing or decreasing the fill-factor or changing the total sensor size does.
      • In low light situations, statistics of the intensity of light should be Poisson, which means that 4 pixels at 1/4 the area, when averaged together, should result in the same amount of SNR, assuming relatively small read noise, whi
      • by thegarbz (1787294)
        What you say is true if and only if the design actually allows for that downsizing. Now what consumer camera on the market has a high megapixels sensor and then downsamples to increase noise performance? It's a numbers game. It will affect noise. Also there is another valid reason lower megapixels mean less noise. Other than there being less gaps between pixels thus greater fill for the same sensor, a larger physical photosite will absorb photons at greater angles off perpendicular. I'm going to go out on a
      • by hazydave (96747)

        Take one photo sensor site of 5um x 5um. Ok, good. Now take four photo sensor sites of 2.5um x 2.5um each. All other things being equal, we will have the same light hitting the sensor chip, and thus, four times as much light hitting that larger sensor. Let's assuming a 100% fill factor, to not make the smaller sensor any worse than it already will be.

        Since our goal is to operate each photodiode in its linear range as much as possible, we can assume it usually does. Thus, the signal from that large sensor i

    • Re:I don't buy it (Score:5, Informative)

      by doctor_no (214917) on Saturday April 02, 2011 @04:10PM (#35695344)

      There have been a lot of technology advancements that dramatically increase the amount of light each photosite can collect. The biggest is BSI (back side illuminated) sensors which can double the amount of light that gets captured per photosite. We are also moving to high-dynamic range, high-speed, and pixel-binning CMOS technology that can combine signal data from multiple photosites into one.

      http://image-sensors-world.blogspot.com/2011/02/sony-announces-12mp-155um-pixel-bsi.html [blogspot.com]

      In general you will get better quality from a larger sensor, all things being equal, but technology has moved considerably forward. 1~2 micron photosites (that are common in cellphones) can easily handle 8MPs. But don't expect it to take the same quality as a dSLR (or even the larger sensored point and shoots).

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      You do not have to make a lens that much larger to double the area. Also take a look at Nokia's phones they have very good 8MP cameras and optics on them. At this point you sound like an Apple ad. Today the Iphone 4s hardware is at best just Okay. They still have a very good display but the CPU is just okay. IOS is still a very good OS but the hardware really needs an update to stay on top including the camera.

      • by leenks (906881)

        I disagree - the iPhone4 cpu is very good. Yes, there are more powerful phones on the market, but there are even more that are less powerful, and it is more than enough for 99% of the things people want to do at the moment on the device. Once there are more multi-core devices around then I'm sure this will change as expectations increase, but the reality is that the device is still faster in use than a lot of peoples home and office computers.

        The camera is good enough to the point that I stop taking my DSLR

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          which is why I said it was just okay. Not terrible but not state of the art. IOS is a good OS but even there I would say that the UI is not the best on the market. That would have to go to WebOS. The SDK is the best I have seen in the mobile space. That is the point the iPhone 4 is still a very good device. But it is not better in every category anymore. The Next Gen IPhone will have a dual core and a better camera. My bet is that it will support 1080P video as well as having a better front facing camer.

    • by OneAhead (1495535)
      You're absolutely right, but although light collection (and the quantum physical fact that light interacts with matter in the form of discrete photons, which puts a hard limit on the sensor's sensitivity/noisiness) is the most important reason why 8MP is ridiculous, it's not the [i]only[/i] reason. If it were, someone might argue that it still will be possible to make pixel-sharp low-noise images on a sunny summer day. No such luck, because of diffraction. The size of the optics required to focus light on a
      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Even the typical DSLR doesn't come with a lens that truly performs at the pixel level - at least not for consumer DSLRs.

        If you spend $300 or so on a prime lens, or $1500+ on a zoom lens then you can probably get a lens that will give you a real 12MP of quality (give or take). Those lenses of course are anything but compact.

        Now, if you wanted to build a camera with a prime lens that was fully integrated (no support for interchangable lenses) I'm sure you could get real 8MP quality in a smaller and cheaper p

    • by hazydave (96747)

      The rumor is completely credible.

      First is the fact they mention Sony. If they were not already using a back illuminated sensor, they want one. That's Sony's big thing... they're using smaller back illuminated sensors in their consumer camcorders and competing with larger conventional sensor pretty favorably. Not crazy differences... a Sony with a 1/2.88" sensor is outperforming a JVC with a 1/2.33" sensor, and doing well against a Pansonic with three 1/4" sensors, that kind of thing. But in short, this is

  • In other news, not a shit was given that at the interview...

    Megapixels are meaningless if they aren't coupled with a larger sensor and better glass. Cheap plastic and a tiny sensor still make it a shitty camera. It's the same picture whether it's 4Mp or 8Mp. Now if they put a real Xenon flash on it, that might be something interesting.

    • The quality of the software that processes the data coming from the sensor is vitally important to the quality of the image produced.
      This has been amply demonstrated by some DSLR's that use the same Sensor and almost identical quality lenses only to have a vast difference in the quality (bokeh) of the resulting image.
      This is why you pay lots of $$$$ to the likes of Nikon & Canon and less to Sony especially as Sony make most of the Nikon DSLR Sensors.

      • by Pulzar (81031)

        Why did you throw bokeh in there? There's a lot more to image quality that comes to mind before nice bokeh, whose quality is lens-dominated anyway.

      • by thegarbz (1787294)
        quality != bokeh. Bokeh is an entirely lens based characteristic which in a given camera system is completely unaffected by the sensor or electronics behind it.
      • by leenks (906881)

        I don't think bokeh means what you think it does.

  • Now that it has been slipped, that feature will now be dropped like every other feature that has been leaked in the past.
  • by nomadic (141991)
    So is Steve Jobs going to throw a tantrum and terminate Sony like he's done before when a component maker lets something slip?
  • It depends on whether or not Steve Jobs throws a hissy fit.
    http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/00/07/19/apple_turns_cold_shoulder_towards_ati_at_macworld.html

  • It's taken something like 7 or 8 years for compact camera manufacturers to realize (or, perhaps, "come to grips with" is better) that shoving more megapixels into a tiny sensor doesn't give the user better photos. Unfortunately the phone manufacturers apparently haven't learned that lesson.

    Actually I am probably being unfair. They're just giving the customers what they want, and - even here on Slashdot - I still see people saying things like "my phone has a 6MP sensor, so it's better than an iPhone's camera

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