updated 03:39 pm EST, Tue February 11, 2014
Deal would double number of camera sensors supplied by Sony
Sony is preparing to supply Apple with front image sensors for a future iPhone release, according to a report. While Sony already provides the vast majority of CMOS sensors for the rear cameras of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, the manufacturer has apparently entered negotiations to offer both the front and back camera modules to Apple for its devices.
Nikkei claims the rise of video calling has caused Apple to look into improving its front-mounted camera sensor, an item currently supplied by OmniVision, with Sony as a prime candidate for its replacement. It is currently believed Sony provides somewhere in the region of 100 million sensor modules to Apple annually, with such a deal increasing the production to 200 million per year. Sony also provides camera modules to a number of other smartphone producers, with Samsung and Huawei counted as sensor customers aside from Apple and its own smartphone lines.
Sony Exmor RS camera modules
In order to cope with the extra work load, it is said that the negotiations with Apple prompted Sony's acquisition of a plant from Japanese chip producer Renesas Electronics, a factory that Sony plans to invest 35 billion yen ($341 million) into in order to increase monthly production by 25 percent.