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Budget phone cameras are about to get much better with the OmniVision OV48C and OV64C

The size of the 1/1.3" OV48C versus regular 1/2.55" sensors. (Source: Xiaomi)
The size of the 1/1.3" OV48C versus regular 1/2.55" sensors. (Source: Xiaomi)
Sony and Samsung have taken to offering bigger, more impressive smartphone camera sensors of recent, with the IMX555, IMX686, ISOCELL Bright GW1, and ISOCELL Bright HMX billed to be some of the most popular premium sensors this year. OmniVision isn't keen on being left out, and its new sensors, the OV48C and OV64C, keep up with the competition—the former, in particular, delivering an impressive 2.4μm pixel size.

The last few months have seen the advent of bigger smartphone camera sensors in an attempt to improve smartphone photography. Sony and Samsung have both released big, improved sensors recently. OmniVision isn't one to be left out, however, and may just have outdone the competition with its latest products, the OV48C and OV64C.

The OV48C is the real winner here, over the OV64C. It's a 48 MP sensor, joining Sony's IMX586 and Samsung's GM1 from last year. While the IMX586 has a 1/2" sensor size and a 0.8μm pixel size, the OV48C does a lot better by delivering a 1/1.3" sensor size and a 1.2μm pixel size. 

That makes it the most impressive Quad Bayer sensor on the market in terms of pixel and sensor size. It uses 4-to-1 pixel merging to output 12 MP images with a 2.4μm applicative pixel size, matching the ISOCELL Bright HM1 on the Galaxy S20 Ultra in that regards.

The OV64C is a direct competitor to the ISOCELL Bright GW1 and the Sony IMX686, as it offers a 0.8μm pixel size and a 1/1.7" sensor size—the same as Sony and Samsung's offerings.

OmniVision's CMOS sensors aren't exactly popular, with OEMs opting for hardware from the more established big two. A lack of demand likely means that OmniVision's new offerings will be cheaper than Sony and Samsung's equivalents. This could see these new sensors adopted by OEMs for their more "high-value" offerings. The OV48C, in particular, is one to watch out for.

OmniVision Announces Its First 64 Megapixel, 0.8 Micron Image Sensor

February 18, 2020

Sensor Offers Premium Resolution and Features for High End Smartphones

SANTA CLARA, California — Feb. 18, 2020 — OmniVision Technologies, Inc., a leading developer of advanced digital imaging solutions, today announced the OV64C, its first 64 megapixel (MP) image sensor featuring a 0.8 micron pixel size to enable high resolution smartphone cameras in a 1/1.7" optical format. Built on OmniVision’s PureCel®Plus stacked die technology, this sensor provides leading edge still image capture and exceptional 4K video performance with electronic image stabilization (EIS) for high end smartphones. The OV64C also offers a wide range of features, such as 4-cell remosaic for full resolution Bayer output as well as digital crop zoom, and a CPHY interface for greater throughput using fewer pins, making it ideal for the main rear-facing camera in multicamera configurations.

TSR estimates there will be 127 million image sensors with 64MP or higher resolution shipped to smartphone manufacturers in 2020,” said Arun Jayaseelan, staff marketing manager at OmniVision. “The OV64C, with its premium resolution and features, is well positioned to address this ramp in demand among high end smartphone designers.”

The OV64C integrates an on-chip 4-cell color filter array and hardware re-mosaic, which provides high quality, 64MP Bayer output in real time. In low light conditions, this sensor can use near-pixel binning to output a 16MP image with 4X the sensitivity, offering 1.6 micron equivalent performance for previews and still captures. In either case, the OV64C can consistently capture the best quality images, as well as enabling 2X digital crop zoom with 16MP resolution and fast mode switch.

The sensor features type-2, 2x2 microlens phase detection autofocus (ML-PDAF) to boost autofocus accuracy, especially in low light. Output formats include 64MP at 15 frames per second (fps), 8K video at 30 fps, 16MP captures with 4-cell binning at 30 fps, 4K video at 60 fps and 4K video with EIS at 30 fps. Additionally, the OV64C supports 3-exposure, staggered HDR timing for up to 16MP video modes.

Samples of the OV64C image sensor are available now. For more information, contact your OmniVision sales representative:

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Ricci Rox, 2020-02-25 (Update: 2020-02-25)