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Wednesday, December 23, 2009, 05:25 am PT (08:25 am ET)

Supplier rumored to provide 5MP iPhone camera upgrade in 2010

Apple could ship between 40 million and 45 million iPhones in 2010, well up from the 20 million estimated in 2009, and will add a 5-megapixel camera to next year's phone, a new report claims.

Citing industry sources, Taiwanese publication DigiTimes said OmniVision, the supplier of CMOS image sensors for the iPhone, expects to see demand for its sensors in iPhones grow exponentially — as high as 45 million. The report also said that OmniVision is set to supply a 5-megapixel camera for the next-generation iPhone, due to arrive in the second half of 2010.

In April, it was revealed that OmniVision was selected to provide the 3.2-megapixel sensor for the then-forthcoming iPhone 3GS. The supplier beat out Aptina, which provided the 2-megapixel camera used in the previous iPhone 3G.

OmniVision is expected to ship about 65 million total units to Apple in 2009, when the addition of iPods is included. The company also reportedly makes the sensor used for the 0.3-megapixel video camera in the latest iPod nano.

The company was also rumored to supply a camera for the latest iPod touch, though the part was eventually not included due to alleged hardware issues. Sources have told AppleInsider that a camera-equipped iPod touch remains in the plans for Apple's future products.

Evidence for plans of a camera in the iPod touch was bolstered by third-party cases with camera holes and even photos and video of an alleged prototype of the hardware. After it was released and taken apart, it was discovered that the new hardware includes space for an iPod nano-style video camera inside.

It should be noted that in August, DigiTimes also incorrectly reported that the iPod classic would receive a camera upgrade.

OmniVision is expected to ramp up its production of sensors beginning in the first quarter of 2010. The company was profitable last quarter for the first time in over a year, earning $8.1 million. Last year, the company lost $5.3 million in the same frame.