Apple CEO confirms iPhones use Sony sensors

Apple CEO Tim Cook has confirmed that the company’s iPhones use camera sensors manufactured by Sony.

How was the news broken?

Apple didn’t make any form of official announcement regarding Sony sensors. Instead, the news was broken in a tweet from Cook during a visit to Sony’s sensor factory in Kumamoto. The tweet said: “We’ve been partnering with Sony for over a decade to create the world’s leading camera sensors for iPhone. Thanks to Ken and everyone on the team for showing me around the cutting-edge facility in Kumamoto today.” The “Ken” that Cook mentions in the tweet is Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida.

Why is this news?

In the past, Apple has been secretive about where it sources the components for its iconic smartphones. As such, the specifications for their smartphone cameras are limited to general details such as aperture or resolution. There have been rumors for some time that Apple was using Sony sensors. However, the confirmation from Cook that the partnership has existed for more than ten years is the first official word on the matter.

Does Sony make sensors for anyone else?

Sony is the largest manufacturer of complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) sensors for cameras. Figures for 2021 show that the company had around 44 percent of the world market for sensors. To put that figure in context, Samsung is in second place but some way behind, with a market share of only 18.5 percent. Although Sony has its own range of mirrorless and cinemas cameras, it also provides sensors for many other brands. For example, earlier this year, it was confirmed that the Nikon Z9 uses a Sony sensor.

What next?

Sony is rumored to be working on a new sensor for the iPhone 15. It has been claimed that the new sensor will have twice the saturation signal level in each pixel when compared to conventional sensors. This means that it could capture increased light and also reduce overexposure or underexposure. It has been suggested that the new sensor can expose a person’s face correctly, even if there is bright backlighting.

What we think

It had always been rumored that Apple used Sony image sensors, so the official confirmation isn’t such a big surprise. However, it does suggest that the partnership between Apple and Sony will be more open going forwards. Together with the rumors about Sony’s new image sensor, this does suggest that the iPhone 15 camera could be something to get excited about. Sadly, we will have to wait until the second half of next year for it to be launched.

Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.

Related Content