Sony is making image sensors for the iPhone 5, judging by comments made on stage at a US conference by CEO Sir Howard Stringer. His claim that Sony is making cameras for Apple chimed with reports earlier this year that the company has won the contract to make 8-megapixel image sensors for upcoming iOS devices.
9 to 5 Mac and the Wall Street Journal reported Stringer's comments separately, albeit with a certain amount of paraphrasing. The WSJ has him saying, "It always puzzles me: why would I make Apple the best camera?" While 9 to 5 Mac paraphrases another comment as, "Isn't that something? They buy our best sensors from us."
Why has this sent the blogosphere into a flap? Well, Sony doesn't make the camera sensors for the current iPhone 4 -- they're made by a company called OmniVision.
A switch from OmniVision to Sony has actually been rumoured since April 2010, when analyst Ashok Kumar predicted that the 2011 iPhone model would include an 8-megapixel Sony camera (while at the same time correctly predicting a 5-megapixel OmniVision sensor for the iPhone 4).
Assuming Stringer's comments referred to a deal -- and just as importantly, assuming that deal isn't now scuppered by Apple as a result -- what can we expect from the iPhone 5?
Sony's 8-megapixel sensor is already being used for a couple of Sony Ericsson phones, the Xperia Arc and Xperia Neo. Both include back lighting to help your shots in low-light conditions, much like the iPhone 4.
If Sony is supplying an 8-megapixel sensor for the iPhone 5, that may scotch our hopes that the device will include dual-camera 3D capabilities, which were hinted at in a patent filing from Apple that came to light last week. Ah well, there's always the iPhone 6 for that...