Sam Byford at The Verge tested the new Honor 20 with 48 megapixel Sony camera against the iPhone XS Max. The Honor with the Sony IMX586 took better photos at about half the price.

Honor 20 camera vs iPhone XS camera
Click for full size

Byford has side by side and sliding comparisons. The IMX clearly captures more detail. It’s an impressive phone, a 6.4″ LCD with a top of the line Kirin 980. It’s pricing from US$500-700.

The image processing today is almost as important as the sensor. Huawei has a little too much contrast and sharpening for my taste.

Sony has spent US$billion on manufacturing for high end cameras. It will also appear in the Redmi Note 7 Pro from Xiaomi and presumably half a dozen more releasing at MWC.

Sony Releases Stacked CMOS Image Sensor for Smartphones with Industry’s Highest*1 48 Effective Megapixels*2

Featuring World First*3 Ultra-compact Pixel Size of 0.8 μm

Sony Corporation
Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation

Tokyo, Japan—Sony Corporation today announced the upcoming release of the IMX586 stacked CMOS image sensor for smartphone cameras. The new sensor features 48 effective megapixels*2, the industry’s highest pixel count.*1 The new product achieved a world-first*3 ultra-compact pixel size of 0.8 μm, making it possible to pack 48 effective megapixels*2 onto a 1/2-type (8.0 mm diagonal) unit, thereby supporting enhanced imaging on smartphone cameras.

  • *1:Among image sensors for smartphones. As of announcement on July 23, 2018
  • *2:Based on image sensor effective pixel specification method
  • *3:Among image sensors. According to Sony research. As of announcement on July 23, 2018

IMX586 stacked CMOS image sensor

Model nameSample shipment date (planned)Sample price
(excluding tax)
IMX586 1/2-type (8.0 mm diagonal) 48 effective 
megapixel*2 stacked CMOS image sensor
September 20183,000 JPY

These days, high-end smartphone models require even greater imaging quality from their cameras. The new Sony sensor features 48 effective megapixels,*2 a pixel count which rivals that of high-performance SLR cameras, making it possible to capture beautiful, high-resolution images even with a smartphone.

The new sensor uses the Quad Bayer color filter array, where adjacent 2×2 pixels come in the same color, making high-sensitivity shooting possible. During low light shooting, the signals from the four adjacent pixels are added, raising the sensitivity to a level equivalent to that of 1.6 μm pixels (12 megapixels), resulting in bright, low noise images.
In addition to these advantages, original Sony exposure control technology and signal processing functionality are built into the image sensor, enabling real-time output and a superior dynamic range four times greater than conventional units. Even scenes with both bright and dark areas can be captured with minimal highlight blowout or loss of detail in shadows.

Main Features

1.World’s first*3 0.8 μm ultra-compact pixel size enables industry’s highest*1 pixel count at 48 effective megapixels*2

Generally, miniaturization of pixels results in poor light collecting efficiency per pixel, accompanied by a drop in sensitivity and volume of saturation signal. This product was designed and manufactured with techniques that improve light collection efficiency and photoelectric conversion efficiency over conventional products, resulting in the world’s first*3 0.8 μm pixel size, with both high sensitivity and high saturation signal level.
This smaller pixel size allows the new product to deliver 48 effective megapixels*2 on a compact unit with 8.0 mm diagonal, which can be fitted on many smartphones. The increased pixel count enables high-definition imaging even on smartphones which use digital zoom.

Conventional image (12 effective megapixels)IMX586 image (48 effective megapixels*2)

2.The Quad Bayer array enables both high sensitivity and high resolution

By adopting the Quad Bayer color filter array, where the adjacent 2×2 pixels come in the same color, the new sensor delivers both high sensitivity and high resolution. In low light situations, such as shooting at night, the signal from the four adjacent pixels are added, raising the sensitivity to a level equivalent to that of 1.6 μm pixels (12 effective megapixels), to capture bright, low-noise photos and videos. When shooting bright scenes such as daytime outdoors, the built-in, original signal processing function performs array conversion, making it possible to obtain high-definition 48 effective megapixel images in real time.

Pixel array of the new sensor
(Quad Bayer Array)
(conceptual diagram)

Array conversion using original signal processing
(conceptual diagram)

3.Four times greater dynamic range than previous products and real time output

Original Sony exposure control technology and signal processing functionality are built into the image sensor, enabling real-time output and a superior dynamic range that is four times greater than conventional products. Even scenes with both bright and dark areas can be captured with minimal highlight blowout or loss of detail in shadows while viewing the image on the smartphone display.

Key Specifications

Model nameIMX586
Number of effective pixels8000 (H) × 6000 (V)48 megapixels*2
Image sizeDiagonal 8.000mm(Type 1/2)
Unit cell size0.8μm(H)×0.8μm(V)
Frame rateFull30fps
Movie4K(4096×2160)90fps1080p240fps720p480fps(w/crop)
Sensitivity (Standard value: f5.6)Approx. 133LSB
Sensor saturation signal level (minimum value)Approx. 4500e
VoltageAnalog2.8V, 1.8V
Digital1.1V
Interface1.8V
Main functionsImage plane phase-difference AF, HDR imaging
OutputMIPI C-PHY1.0 (3 trio) / D-PHY 1.2 (4 lane)
Color filter arrayQuad Bayer array
Image output formatBayer RAW