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Sony's new smartphone camera sensor is smaller and cheaper

Don't be surprised if Sony's 22.5-megapixel sensor pops up in plenty of flagship smartphones.

At this point, Sony's more famous for the components that it makes for other people's devices than their own phones. It's certainly the case for its image sensors, which are now used by Apple, Huawei and, if the rumors are to be believed, Samsung. Just in time for MWC, the firm is releasing a new Exmor RS, the IMX318, that's likely to pop up in plenty more devices in the next year or so. It's a 1/2.6-inch stacked CMOS that has a maximum resolution of 22.5-megapixels and a hybrid autofocus that'll focus in as little as 0.03 seconds. The sensor is a lot smaller than its predecessors, but now includes three-axis, electronic image stabilization that could do away with bulky OIS lenses.

If all of that jargon is too much to handle on a Tuesday, it's probably easier to say that this is a very close cousin to the IMX300 we found in the Xperia Z5. That phone also came with similar features and makes a good case for being the best smartphone for photography that's currently on the market. The hybrid autofocus that it was packing was devilishly quick and its low-light photography was pretty amazing. If that same technology is now available for non-Sony phones, the arguments about the quality of phone photography could soon be a thing of the past. The company thinks that it'll be able to ship these sensors out by May, so expect it to pop up in plenty of other devices by the time the holidays come calling.