Sony has a very successful image sensor business – the company’s camera components feature in a number of high profile smartphones across various manufacturers. Interestingly, during the recent Q3 FY15 results, the company confirmed that its own dual-lens camera platform would feature in products from “major smartphone players” over the next year.
Obviously, no names were given, but this follows recent rumours that the iPhone 7 Plus may adopt this new type of camera module. Sony did temper expectations though saying that it believed the flagship smartphone market is slowing which could impact production and therefore expects that the real “takeoff of smartphone with dual lens camera will be in the year of 2017”.
So what advantages would a dual-lens camera module bring to smartphones? Well, greater zoom is one advantage, without the need to resort to digital zoom. This is enabled by using two lenses that have different focal lengths – for example, the first lens is wide-angle and the second lens has 5x zoom. Then, when taking a picture of an object further away you would simply switch lenses to ‘zoom’ in. The second main benefit is better low-light performance, by using two parallel lenses with their own sensors.
We would hope to see Sony Mobile adopting a dual-lens camera solution within its Xperia range at some point, but it could be 2017 before this turns into a reality.
Extract from Q3 2015 Results Earnings Call
Analyst: “Do you have thoughts from dual camera adoption over the next one to two years and the impact from some of these operations?”
Kenichiro Yoshida (Chief Financial Officer of Sony Corporation): “Well, for next year, our so-called dual lens – dual camera platform will be launched by, we believe, from major smartphone players. However, as I said previously, recently, our smartphone market is growing and particularly, our high-end smartphone market is now slowing down. So, that may impact the demand or production schedule of dual camera smartphones by the major smartphone manufacturers. So, we believe the real start, the takeoff of smartphone with dual lens camera will be in the year of 2017.”