iPhone 6 gray silver gold back camera

Apple supplier Sony has announced a new 21-megapixel mobile camera sensor, dubbed the Exmor RS IMX230, that could see itself in a future iOS device after the sensor begins shipping in April 2015. The IMX230 camera uses a stacked CMOS imaging sensor design, allowing for faster auto-focusing and better image quality. It also features 4K HDR video.

“Rather than the traditional back-illuminated CMOS image sensor’s support substrate, the Exmor RS uses a chip consisting of signal processing circuits, on top of which is stacked a pixel section consisting of back-illuminated pixels for an original stacked construction,” Sony describes. Confusing, right?

Sony says up to 192 AF points can be used, carried out by the stacked CMOS image sensor’s internal image processing circuits, making it easier to capture fast-moving objects. The sensor also includes support for full 21-megapixel HDR pictures and 4K HDR video, made possible by setting two different exposure conditions and applying the appropriate signal processing to the image information obtained from each condition. The 4K video shoots in a 4096 x 2160 resolution.

Apple has typically stayed away from high-megapixel cameras in its iOS devices (using only 8-megapixels in the iPhone 6 lineup), but has chosen Sony’s camera sensors, as they’re some of the best in the business. If Apple doesn’t opt for the 21-megapixel sensor announced on Monday, perhaps it would use a 16-megapixel version with the same stacking technology.

[Sony via MacRumors]