iPhone 14 Pro Could Feature Larger 48MP Primary Sensor

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 4 Apr 2022

iPhone 13 Pro CameraThe rumor mill suggests the upcoming iPhone 14 will deliver much sharper images, thanks to the use of a 48MP primary sensor. However, a new rumor circulating on Weibo suggests Apple will bump up the sensor’s physical size so color accuracy doesn’t suffer.

A sketchy leak from user “Fishing 8” on the Chinese blogging platform Weibo lists several rumored camera features of the upcoming iPhone 14 Pro. Corroborating several rumors from reputed leakers such as Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the blog post claims the phone will use a 48MP sensor for the wide (primary) camera.

The sensor will reportedly bring the size of each pixel down from 1.90µm on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max to 1.22µm. The reduction in pixel size isn’t as much because Apple has allegedly made the sensor larger as well. The iPhone 14 Pro’s sensor is said to be 1/1.3 inches in size — 21 percent bigger than the sensor used on the iPhone 13 Pro models. Incidentally, the size of the sensor is the same as the 50MP Samsung GN1 sensor used on the Google Pixel 6.

The post claims the sensor will be supplied by Sony, the same company that supplied camera sensors for the iPhone 13 series. The upcoming iPhone 14 Pro will allegedly retain the same dual pixel autofocus (DPAF) technology that its predecessor markets as “Focus Pixels.” Apple has offered this technology since the iPhone 6 was released in 2014.

While more pixels do translate into higher-resolution and more detailed photos, smaller pixel sizes could cause color accuracy and sharpness to suffer, especially on smaller sensors such as that seen in smartphones. Moreover, the low-light performance could suffer as well.

One solution is to use a technique called pixel binning where a group of four adjacent pixels on a 48MP sensor pool their collected data together to create one pixel of a 12MP image. The other solution is to make the sensor physically larger. With the latter, it is not physically possible to quadruple the sensor size on a smartphone because it could hamper pocketability and make the iPhone more fragile.

The above-mentioned Weibo account doesn’t have a history of being a reliable source for Apple leaks. However, if its claims are true this time around, it appears that the Cupertino giant has chosen the ideal middle ground. Sensor size could increase and previous rumors suggest pixel binning could be used as well.

All things considered, the iPhone 14 Pro camera could “elevate mobile phone camera photography to a new level,” as Ming-Chi Kuo put it. Do you think that could be the case? Tell us in the comments section.