The mega-battle over smartphone camera megapixels could be a moot point based on images and information on Sony’s latest project. The Verge says Sony may introduce its new DSC-QX10 and DSC-QX100 lenses for handsets. Except these aren’t just lenses. According to the Sony Alpha Rumors site, these are fully operational cameras packed inside the lens that will snap on to an Android phone.
At that point, it won’t matter what internal camera sensor and software the phone has. The snap-on camera will take the place of your internal imaging sensor and your Android phone will become a wireless viewfinder for Sony’s camera. Unlike traditional smartphone cameras, you’d then have a much higher quality set of lenses and optics to use for image capture using a smartphone.
Here’s how the site explains these products:
They have built-in sensor, Bionz processor, Wifi/NFC wireless connection and SD card slot. These lenses have no LCD screen and no usual camera controls. You will be able to control them through your smart phone or tablet (via WiFi or NFC). The lenses can be magnetically attached on your smartphone and it works on both, Android and iOS devices. That is nothing like we have seen before. For the first time you can shoot top quality images with your smartphone.
If true, you won’t need to rely on the small image sensor typically found in smartphones. These higher end of these two lenses is expected to offer 1-inch sensors, which are nearly as large as those used on Micro Four Thirds cameras. For comparison, Nokia’s new Lumia 1020 uses a small 2/3-inch sensor while Apple’s iPhone 5 with its 1/3.2-inch sensor is too small to appear on this chart. The less-expensive lens uses an 18 megapixel sensor the same size as the Lumia 1020
These lenses actually exist in their traditional form for Sony cameras with costs ranging from $400 to $600, so adding Bluetooth and additional processors could raise the price even higher if the products do come to market.
Even so, I can see camera enthusiasts being interested in the lenses, although they might be a little bulky to carry around all the time. Still, leaving the DSLR or other full-time camera at home could become an option for day trips; particularly if you were going to take your smartphone with you anyway.