Sony recently announced the commercialization of the world's first 16.41 megapixel "Exmor R" back-illuminated CMOS image sensors for use in mobile phones, and this got us wondering. At what point do we start to consider these devices as digital cameras with a built-in smartphone rather than vice versa?
"IMX081PQ is world's first type 1/2.8 back-illuminated CMOS image sensor which realizes 16.41 effective megapixel resolution, and adopts the industry's smallest unit pixel size of 1.12μm achieved by the fine pixel fabrication process technology," Sony said. "In theory, when a unit pixel size is made smaller, there are also some issues such as color mixture among smaller unit pixels. Sony solved this problem by implementing a unique formation of photo diodes optimally designed for fine pixel structure to realize a CMOS image sensor with high resolution, high sensitivity and low noise."
Sony plans to start mass producing the Exmor R sensors by the end of 2010, which could find their way into new smartphones in early 2011. In addition to the high megapixel count for stills, cameras that employ the sensor will also be capable of shooting HD video.