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Will the next smartphones measure in ultrapixels?

16
We reviewed the HTC One X last year. The Taiwanese hardware maker is expected to announce groundbreaking mobile photography technology at its press event in New York City on February 19.

If early tech blog reports ring true, HTC's much-anticpated "M7" smartphone, expected to be revealed at press events to be held in New York City and London on February 19, may seriously be worth the excitement.

According to Pocket-lint, HTC will forgo a previously-speculated (and presumably conventional) 13-megapixel sensor for three, 4.3MP sensors to achieve a stacked "ultrapixel" sensor.

Although we don't know what this means  - sensors aren't transparent, so you can't simply 'stack' three on top of one another - it is just possible that HTC is planning on using a sensor similar to the Foveon  imagers used in Sigma's line of DSLRs and large-sensor compact cameras. While traditional Bayer sensors work by capturing information for just one color (red, green or blue) at each pixel location, and then interpolating that data to make true color, in a Foveon sensor, every pixel captures a true color because the red, green and blue filters are stacked above the light-gathering photodiodes.

However, we're not convinced. The Foveon sensors in Sigma cameras are known for excellent pixel-level detail but at present, compared to conventional Bayer sensor-equipped cameras they struggle with noise in low light conditions - a problem that would only be exacerbated in a cellphone, equipped with a much smaller sensor capable of gathering much less light. We wonder if the story comes from a translation error of Sony's 'Stacked CMOS' technology - which is used in a 13MP Exmor RS sensor. This Sony sensor appears to be the standard for 2013's top-of-the-line smartphones. This leaves open the posibility of HTC using a Nokia 808-style pixel combination system to give images with 4.3m super pixel made up from a 13MP whole.

Whatever the truth about HTC's "ultrapixel" technology, HTC's M7 will be one to watch amongst a batch of new mobile devices coming in conjunction with the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of the month. If the rumors are true we'll see a quad-core Qualcomm processor, 4.7-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel display and an HTC Sense 5 update.

We'll be reporting live from the weeklong Mobile World Congress event to share with you the most exciting mobile photography advances we spot. 

Comments

Total comments: 16
spencerberus
By spencerberus (Feb 6, 2013)

This is a case of "just enough info to get people talking, not enough info to tell you anything". Success!

0 upvotes
KEG
By KEG (Feb 6, 2013)

Nice ... so it can crash during photoshot also ...

http://androidandme.com/thread/htc-phones-crash-a-lot/

0 upvotes
Jostian
By Jostian (7 months ago)

think u are dreaming... I had the One X and the HTC One (Voted best smartphone in the World 2013) and both were brilliant, especially the One, smoothest Phone I ever had, no, crashes of any sort. Maybe you had problems with with older HTC's but please don't generalise with stupid statements like the one above...

0 upvotes
massimogori
By massimogori (Feb 6, 2013)

"If early tech blog reports ring true"
"Although we don't know what this means!"
"However, we're not convinced"
"Whatever the truth"

Maybe a primer on journalism is required.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Ws

7 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Feb 6, 2013)

Tidy "facts," eh? OK. On February 2, a ground hog in Pennsylvania rose from his burrow and gave the world absolute assurance that winter would be over no later than June. The sage rodent also stated, firmly and without any doubt, that a phone with a foveon sensor camera would be excellent on a sunny day with low ISO, but that shadows bother him, so he will prefer cloudy days and CMOS sensors.

0 upvotes
Charles2
By Charles2 (Feb 6, 2013)

"in a Foveon sensor, every pixel captures a true color because the red, green and blue filters are stacked above the light-gathering photodiodes."
My understanding is that there are no such filters in a Foveon sensor. Light travels deeper into the silicon depending on its wavelength (color); the readouts gather the intensities at several depths.

Comment edited 17 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (Feb 5, 2013)

Its not possible. It would suck battery dry in very short time, not mentioning that heat output isnt exactly low either.

Yea and Foveons are really expensive to make..

2 upvotes
gsum
By gsum (Feb 6, 2013)

Thanks for your in-depth technical analysis.

0 upvotes
brittonx
By brittonx (Feb 5, 2013)

My guess is it is really just a 13-15MP Bayer sensor where they just bin pixels together to get the lower resolution, better image.

2 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Feb 5, 2013)

No really, is there a version of this RSS feed that doesn't include the "Connect" content?

0 upvotes
Oliver Lang
By Oliver Lang (Feb 5, 2013)

Actually, if it would stop these sort of snarky comments I'm all for it.

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Feb 5, 2013)

From the front page of dpreview.com, you'll see a little flag next to to the most recent news story, allowing you to filter news by type.

1 upvote
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Feb 6, 2013)

I don't see a way to select everything but the connect content as an RSS feed...

0 upvotes
dj0502
By dj0502 (Feb 6, 2013)

I agree. There are alot of snarky comments primarily because they include the Connect feeds for the regular dpreview feeds in RSS.

Personally, I feel that they are not of the same quality. I would really want a feed without the Connect articles.

1 upvote
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Feb 5, 2013)

At 4.3MP, it can't possibly be a Foveon sensor which is very large for a smartphone. I guess, this is still the 13MP sensor that has capability of merging pixels in hardware.

2 upvotes
ryder78
By ryder78 (Feb 5, 2013)

Let's have a look at the size of the sensor first before attempting to judge the quality of the camera. The typical size of sensors in most smartphones is approximately 1/3.6" which almost always guarantee poor low light performance.

If the size of the sensor on this thing is at least 1/1.7" or larger then only I'll believe it has the potential to become a decent cameraphone.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Total comments: 16
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