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Apple turns to Samsung for new iPhone 16 camera sensors

Rendered iPhone 16 Pro models

Last updated

After exclusively using Sony for its iPhone camera image sensors, Apple has is said to have begun final quality testing on models from Samsung for the iPhone 16 range.

Apple has previously considered bringing iPhone camera sensor designs in-house, but to date has only bought CMOS image sensors (CIS) from Sony. Now according to The Elec, that is changing as the company turns to Samsung following alleged issues with Sony for the iPhone 15 range.

Reportedly, there were sufficient delays from Sony over supplying its image sensors, that in late 2023, Apple asked Samsung to begin developing a CIS. The delays were enough that they gave Apple problems scheduling the launch of the iPhone 15.

Apple reportedly now also fears facing a shortage of image sensors for the iPhone 16 range. That's also partly because it is introducing new technology for the forthcoming iPhone models.

Where the current CIS systems used two wafers that saw the photodiode and transistors sharing one, the new system will have three separate wafers. The practical effect is that there should be reduced noise on images, and pixels can be smaller than before.

Using Samsung will address the concern over supplying sufficient quantities for the increased iPhone 16 orders that Apple is said to be anticipating.

Samsung's CIS is said to be currently going through Apple's final quality tests before the expected approval.

Assuming Samsung's CIS is approved, it will mean Sony losing its status as exclusive supplier for image sensors on the iPhone. Separately, Sony also lost its exclusive status as provider of screens for the Apple Vision Pro, because it reportedly refused to increase production capacity.

Note that The Elec tends to be a reasonably good source of information regarding supply chain issues. It has a poorer track record in extrapolating Apple's plans from the information it receives, but this particular report appears to be more the former than the latter.

Update July 3, 2024: 11:00 A.M. ET: A spokesperson representing Samsung told AppleInsider that the story in The Elec is false. There was no specific denial of the claims, but The Elec has since pulled the article while it is "reviewing" it.