Posted: September 22, 2017, Updated: November 15, 2017
2017 marks the ten-year anniversary of iPhone and its cameras, which Apple claims are the most popular in the world. We thought it would be worthwhile looking back at some high-level changes we’ve seen in the rear-facing camera image sensors. Micron Imaging was there for the birth of iPhone and at the time ranked #2 in CMOS image sensor (CIS) market share (Sony was ranked #5). Apple dropped Micron in favor of OmniVision's back-illuminated OmniBSI platform in 2009 before settling on Sony in 2011. Early iPhone cameras featured chip vendor's standard products. Today we see customized solutions from Sony, which now has a dominant leadership position in image sensor market share. Through iPhone 7 we haven’t typically seen Sony roll out its newest process technologies for iPhone. For example, we haven’t yet seen 3-layer chip stacks or hybrid bonding in iPhone, however every year we see the gap closing between Sony first use and Apple adoption. This gap shouldn't be perceived as a negative; we assume it's related to the longer development cycle required for iPhone's heavily customized imaging ecosystem (CIS + AP). The results speak for themselves.
Stay tuned; we’ll provide some blog updates on our iPhone 8/8 Plus findings and we’re excited to analyze the iPhone X’s TrueDepth Face ID system in November.
We have prepared a slide to show the 10 years technical history of the Apple Application Processors.
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