What You Should Know About Sony’s Rumored 1-Inch Xperia Sensors

Sony Xperia 1 V Feature

One of the more recent rumors to emerge in the world of smartphone camera technology is that the next generation of Sony Xperia phones will possibly be redesigned around a large (by phone standards) 1-inch sensor.

The rumors, courtesy of the website NotebookCheck, claim that Sony’s upcoming Xperia 1 V and Xperia 5 V phones will be designed to accommodate large cameras with these 1-inch sensors.

These new phones will be the successors of Sony’s current Xperia 1 IV and Xperia 5 IV models, and if these rumors are true, we might see a serious new development in the quality of smartphone photography. Read on to understand why.

The leaked info about these phones comes from a somewhat mysterious Chinese social media source on the site Weibo, which claims that the Xperia 1 V and Xperia 5 V are slated for a 2023 release and will sport a sensor size of “approximately” 1 inch.

This sensor size already exists in Sony’s Xperia Pro-1, which claims a main camera resolution of 12MP. Notably, Sony’s existing Xperia 1 IV and Xperia 5 IV models also sport main camera resolutions of 12MP.

The above might prompt you to first wonder how all three current phone models can have the same sensor sizes despite the hype about the upcoming 1-inch sensor for the successors to the 1 IV and 5 IV models. You might also wonder why a 1-inch sensor is such a big deal if the resolution of these cameras is only 12MP.

Image credits: Sony

After all, at first glance, it would seem that many existing smartphone cameras are much more impressive than that, with some new phone releases claiming sensor resolutions well above 50 megapixels, or even up to 200MP.

Well here’s the catch, and the answer to why Sony’s camera phone specs seem more mundane despite being more interesting:

As we’ve previously covered here and here, phone camera sensor pixels aren’t at all the same in their quality as standalone camera sensor pixels. When you read about a phone camera sporting 50, 100 or even 200MP sensor resolutions, what you usually get are extremely tiny pixels with sizes of 0.56 or maybe 0.8 μm (microns).

Normally, pro camera sensors such as those found in Sony’s semi-pro and professional Alpha camera models range in size from 5.9 to 8.4 or more microns (μm).

For most phone makers, these tiny pixels serve well for honestly being able to state a huge megapixel resolution. In practical reality though, such tiny pixels are so small that they individually barely absorb enough light to capture photos in anywhere near the sharpness delivered by a standalone camera with much larger individual pixels.

Instead, what most camera makers do is “bin” anywhere from 4 to 12 pixels together to create larger pseudo-pixels that amount to a much smaller real camera resolution.

Sony isn’t doing any of this. Instead, the company’s current  Xperia Pro-1 offers a large sensor that claims and delivers just 12MP, but with each individual pixel sized at 2.4μm. The existing Xperia 1 IV and Xperia 5 IV phones also offer 12MP but with pixel sizes of 1.8 μm.

This is how all three phones can have the same resolution but with different levels of quality.

In all three cases, (but especially in the case of the Sony Xperia Pro-1) these much larger real pixels should deliver much better light-absorbing qualities than the binned pseudo-pixels of many so-called 50-100 or even 200Mp smartphone cameras.

In practice, this should also mean that Sony’s upcoming  Xperia 1 V and Xperia 5 V successor phones to the 1 IV and 5 IV will deliver a much more detailed level of photographic quality. If they’re given a 1-inch sensors, they should sport fewer but superior pixels.

In other words, they too can probably look forward to pixels that are closer in size to those of standalone cameras from brands like Sony and others.

If any company can understand the importance of these specific details, it’s Sony, a high-end manufacturer of both phones and highly-acclaimed cameras.

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