Apple CEO Tim Cook Confirms Sony Sensors in iPhones

tim cook examines iphone in Sony factory

The presence of Sony camera sensor technology in Apple’s best-selling iPhone models has long been suspected (and technically easy to verify). Nonetheless, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook finally, formally confirmed it today.

Specifically, according to a tweet by Cook, “We’ve been partnering with Sony for over a decade to create the world’s leading camera sensors for iPhone”.

The Apple CEO also thanked Sony’s CEO Kenichiro Yoshida for being given a tour of Sony’s Kumamoto manufacturing facility, where he was shown one of his company’s own iPhones, presumably in a demonstration of how it works with Sony sensor technology.

With the recent release of the company’s iPhone 14 lineup of devices, opinions about the performance of their cameras have been especially widespread and almost universally positive. Many even go as far as to claim the iPhone’s cameras as the best available in a phone on today’s market.

Apple has a long history of being extremely quiet about the detail of hardware installations in its phones and other devices.

An outright confirmation like this of a partnership stretching back over a decade, possibly even back to the time of Steve Jobs’s tenure, is unique.

A visit to Apple’s website for a look at the iPhone’s specs certainly makes no mention of Sony technology. The details mentioned there cover resolution, aperture, FOV, and so forth but without going into hardware source details.

Other, more detailed sites dedicated to phone specs also don’t generally specify where iPhone components come from.

photo of iphone 14 models

In practical terms, it has long been pretty much known that Apple gets its camera sensors from another provider, and even that this provider may be Sony, which is known for the exceptional quality of its photographic technology.

What’s more, anyone with moderate technical knowledge of the sensor industry could easily disassemble an iPhone and either scan its photo sensor or investigate its part number to know who it came from.

In other words, there was never any big secret to Sony sensors probably being in iPhones. Instead, the unique thing about Cook’s tweet is that it’s an open admission by Apple’s top boss about another brand’s technology in a key part of the iPhone.

This admission by Cook is also a major point in Sony’s favor. If the world’s most selective phone manufacturer has decided to use a certain brand for its extremely important camera sensor technology, that speaks volumes about that sensor maker’s product quality.

Photographers have of course long known that Sony is a particularly superb maker of cameras and high-quality sensors.

The company is in fact one of today’s leaders in image sensor technology, with 44% of the CMOS sensor market in its hands, followed by Samsung at just over 18%.

Many of Sony’s mid-range and premium cameras are also widely considered to be some of the best on the market and are notable for the innovative quality of their sensors.

Previously, many reports have speculated about Sony sensors in the iPhone. Back in 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that the iPhone 6 contained two Sony sensors.

Furthermore, websites like iFixit have done complete tear-downs of previous iPhone models and traced their sensor model numbers back to Sony.

Essentially, here Tim Cook is like a partner in a long-term relationship seeing things going so well that they finally admit it’s a serious thing. This suggests more joint developments.

This brings us to a final rumor about Sony’s sensor designs for the iPhone: The company is reportedly developing a new type of sensor with unique semiconductor technology that lets it capture light better while reducing both under and over-exposure.

This particular development is reportedly going to be found in Apple’s next iPhone releases.

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