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Sony's new sensor could bring DSLR-like autofocus to phones

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While there's speculation that multi-sensor phone cameras are the next big thing, Sony has just launched a sensor that will likely make its smartphone cameras better soon. The latest Exmor RS IMX230 is a so-called stacked CMOS sensor that squeezes an effective 21-megapixels into a 1/2.4-inch sized form factor. The killer feature, however, is built-in 192-point phase-detection autofocus, which will keep fast-moving subjects sharp. The new chip also has integrated HDR for high-res stills and 4K video to save shots that are overly backlit or in shadow (see the image below).

Sony has a hot hand in cameras and particularly in sensors, which earned it $2.4 billion last quarter. Its Exmor sensor is used in Apple's iPhone 6, along with other Android handsets like the OnePlus One. The new Exmor RS model will appear in April next year, perhaps in time for Sony's next flagship handset, which would give it one of the best Android smartphone camera options. However, there's nothing much wrong with the cameras in Sony's current smartphone lineup, yet its mobile division is still losing loads of money.

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