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New Sony smartphone camera sensor packs in OIS and hybrid AF

Sony’s new smartphone camera sensor could seriously change the game by offering up a smaller, faster, brighter, and cheaper package.

We all know by now that Sony rules the smartphone camera component roost. Its image sensors are in everything from the latest iPhone to the latest flagship Samsung phone.

That’s why it’s of particular interest when the Japanese tech giant announces a new smartphone camera sensor, which it just what it’s done today.

The Sony IMX318 packs a number of intriguing features that should mean very good things for your next phone. It’s a 1/2.6-inch stacked CMOS image sensor, but even though it’s smaller than usual – pixels are just 1.0μm – it won’t sacrifice image quality.

Sony says it’s managed this by employing “manufacturing technology that improves light utilisation efficiency, as well as circuit design technology that eliminates noise, a root cause of deterioration in image quality.”

It’s good for image resolutions of up to 22.5-megapixels, and it packs the industry’s first built-in hybrid autofocus system. This will make for lock-on speeds of up to 0.03 seconds (as illustrated in the video below).

The IMX318 also features built-in 3-axis electronic image stabilisation technology, which Sony mentions it in relation to improved video performance. It could potentially be used to improve low-light stills, too.

If you’re still wondering how this sensor will perform, take a look at last year’s Sony Xperia Z5 for a clue. At the time we commented that the IMX300 image sensor was exclusive to the Z5, but that the technology would more than likely crop up in other phones in 2016. Well, here we are.

Related: Best cameras 2016

We found the Xperia Z5 camera to be excellent, particular in terms of its ability to handle a variety of lighting conditions – not typically a strength we’d associate with smartphone cameras.

Sony reckons it’ll be shipping the IMX318 in May, so the MWC 2016 crowd of early-2016 flagships won’t benefit. If you’re really into your mobile photography, then, you might want to wait until later in the year to buy a new phone.

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