With a little help from Sony, the iPhone 15 camera may take fewer photos that are oversaturated or undersaturated

Photos taken with the iPhone 15 camera in some specific situations should be less overexposed or underexposed thanks to the latest imaging sensors from Sony.

Young man holding an iPhone 12 Pro Max in front of his work desk. In the background, there's a monitor using the Big Sur wallpaper and Apple's space gray keyboard and trackpad
iPhone 15 should have a higher camera dynamic range | Image: Jonas Leupe/Unsplash
  • What’s happening? New mobile imaging technology from Sony should allow iPhone 15 owners to take better photographs with less overexposure.
  • Why care? Because it looks like the next iPhone will finally let you snap a person’s face even if the subject is standing against a strong backlight.
  • What to do? If you like reading iPhone camera rumors like this one, why not visit our iPhone photography guide to improve your skills?

Shooting a person’s face against harsh sunlight

If you like to take photos of people, especially during warm, sunny days, you won’t get flattering results unless you shoot during the Golden Hour (we have a dedicated tutorial covering how to use the Golden Hour rule to boost your photography).

Now, direct sunlight is too harsh on the human face and you often end up with poor results. Either the subject’s face is properly exposed but the background is too dark or the sky and the background look right but the subject’s face is much too dark.

This happens because the camera sensor’s saturation signal level isn’t high enough for a higher dynamic range required in those and similar settings. As the sensor struggles to capture a photo’s full dynamic range, certain parts end up being underexposed or overexposed.

The iPhone 15 camera may reduce over and underexposure

A new report by Nikkei Asia alleges that the next iPhone will address this by taking advantage of new technology from Sony, which has been supplying Apple with camera sensors for iPhones for many years. As a result, the iPhone 15 cameras should take better photographs that have less overexposure in high dynamic range settings, such as when snapping up a person set against direct sunlight.

The outlet claims that Sony’s new sensor places photodiodes and transistors in separate semiconductor substrate layers, freeing up space for more photodiodes on the dedicated layer. The new technique roughly doubles the saturation signal level in each pixel compared with conventional smartphone imaging sensors.

Sony’s new sensor captures more light and reduces over and underexposure in certain settings, “enabling a smartphone camera to clearly photograph a person’s face even if the subject is standing against a strong backlight.”

Other camera upgrades for the iPhone 15 family

The iPhone 14 Pro introduced a new main camera sensor with four times the pixels. It’s unclear if the latest Sony sensor will be used in other iPhone cameras (the telephoto and the ultra-wide ones) or just the main 48-megapixel sensor.

Other rumors suggest other camera upgrades for the iPhone 15 family, including deeper optical zoom thanks to a periscope lens with mirrors and Thunderbolt connectivity on the iPhone 15 Pros for fast transfers of RAW photos and videos.