iPhone 5 Could Have 8 Megapixel Camera

Yeah – there’s loads of iPhone 5 rumours flying around at the moment.

An iPhone Nano? Again? Wouldn’t that require all the app icons being re-worked to fit on the rumoured edge-to-egde mini screen?

This slightly more reasonable rumor has Apple testing at least one prototype next-gen iPhone hardware with an 8MP camera.

OmniVision, which has supplied many of the camera sensors used in past iPhone models, has just announced an 8MP sensor with improved backside illumination.

The timing is right for Apple to bump up to 8MP from 5.

When Apple built the iPhone 4, they increased the resolution from the 3.2MP of the iPhone 3GS to 5MP. In doing so, Apple also increased the sensor size from 1/4″ to 1/3.2″.

Having more megapixels is one thing but actual pixel size is one of the biggest factors affecting sensitivity – especially in those low light situations. Apple opted for a sensor that uses backside illumination technology, which rearranges the physical layout of the photodiodes (the little fellas that convert light into either current or voltage) on the sensor to allow more light to reach each individual pixel.

The new 8MP sensor announced by OmniVision on Tuesday is a 1/3.2″ size sensor, offering Apple a drop-in replacement for the 5MP sensor it currently uses for the iPhone 4.

Omnivision says that “These advances include a 20 percent improvement in peak quantum efficiency in all color channels, a 35 percent improvement in low-light sensitivity and a 45 percent increase in full-well capacity,”

The sensor also includes improved hardware that would let Apple bump video resolution up to 1080p and offer digital image stabilization and decreased rolling shutter effects.

The thing is that, apparently, even though OmniVision’s OV8830 has a 35% improvement in low-light performance the current iPhone snapper still rates better. OmniVision claims a sensitivity of 864 mV/lux·sec for the new sensor, whereas the sensor in the iPhone 4 is rated at greater than 1300 mV/lux·sec.

So – would having an 8MP snapper tempt you from Android or WinPho 7?

Let me know below.

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