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Huawei P40 series could sport a custom Sony IMX700 image sensor

17/02/2020

The Huawei P series has always stood for big strides in smartphone photography, on both hardware and software fronts. Leaks suggest that the upcoming P40 series will be no different.

In 2020, we’ve already seen a few smartphones ship with massive 108MP image sensors which are also bigger than what we had in the past. Samsung and Vivo also implemented periscopic telephoto lenses for true optical zoom on their flagships. With the P40 series, troubled Huawei will aim to win some ground back. 

New reports suggest that the Huawei P40 series will sport a custom 52MP Sony IMX700 CMOS image sensor. It will be a modified version of the new IMX686 which will make an appearance on many flagships this year. 

What makes the Sony IMX700 special?

Huawei P40 Pro concept render

A resolution of 52MP spread across a big 1/1.33-inch sensor will inherently bring bigger pixels for better low-light imaging. Moreover, it is also rumoured to bring 16-pixel binning where 16 adjacent pixels (4×4) will be combined to form a larger “superpixel” with a size of 4.48μm, which will by far be the biggest on a smartphone. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra can go up to 2.4μm pixel size by combining 9 adjacent pixels(Nonacell pixel binning), while the rest of the industry maxes out at 1.8μm. 

The Huawei P40 series is also likely to once again implement an RYYB colour array, instead of the RGGB Bayer filter seen on every other smartphone. This lets the sensor collect 40% more light than a similar specced conventional one. The RGB has been used extensively in the past because red, green and blue are the most easily interpreted colours by human vision. But tweaking the algorithm can yield similar results even without a dedicated green lens or throwing the colour balance off.

The primary camera will be joined by an ultra-wide shooter, a variable telephoto lens and a 3D ToF depth sensor at the least. 

We also expect a crazy level of ISO sensitivity (the P30 Pro could go as high as ISO 4,09,600), a slew of AI-backed shooting modes and improvements in video capturing capabilities.

While none of this is confirmed yet, the Huawei P series has always been announced in March. If it is to follow that timeline, we should have an official confirmation about the P40 and its capabilities in the coming days.

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