Today, OmniVision announced a new 1/4” 8-megapixel sensor based on their 1.1 µm OmniBSI-2 pixel architecture. The OV8850 is 20% thinner than any other 8-megapixel sensor in the market and paves the way for devices with even slimmer designs.

Per Rosdahl, Senior Product Manager at OmniVision said the new sensors offer significant improvements over the previous 1.4 µm sensors, with a 35% increase in low light sensitivity, a 20% improvement in peak quantum efficiency across all color channels and a 45% increase in full-well capacity, all whilst maintaining an extremely compact and power efficient package. The OV8850 fits in an 8.5 x 8.5mm enclosure with a height of 4.7mm. Sampling begins in August with mass availability expected in Q1 2012.

OmniBSI, which is similar to Sony’s Exmor technology, moves the metal wiring and circuit elements in the sensor behind the photo diodes, thereby making them more sensitive to incoming light. OmniVision currently supplies the 5-megapixel sensor found in the iPhone 4 which is based around it’s older 1.4 µm OmniBSI technology. Given Apple’s obsession with thinness, the OV8850 could very well find its way into the next iPhone, but would inevitably be a downgrade in terms of pixel size and light sensitivity when compared to the iPhone 4 which uses an OV5650 sensor. (Thanks ltcommanderdata!)

Our own Brian Klug explained backside illumination in our iPhone 4 review. CNET also has an explanatory article or you can check out OmniVision’s own video here.

Source: Omnivision - OV8850 Technical Specifications, Product Brief, Press Release

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  • ltcommanderdata - Thursday, August 4, 2011 - link

    Hopefully Apple will not go with the OV8850 since it'll be a step backwards from the iPhone 4. The iPhone 4 uses a larger 1/3.2" sensor instead of 1/4" allowing it to capture more light, especially useful for night shots and other sub-optimal conditions. This new OV8850 has a light sensitivity of 650 mV/lux-sec whereas the iPhone 4's OV5650 has double the light sensitivity at 1300 mV/lux-sec. Megapixels are good for marketing, but they don't always make for a better picture.

    Unless OmniVision can come up with a 8MP camera that can match the iPhone 4's 5MP light sensitivity, Apple should consider sticking with the existing 5MP camera and enable 1080p video recording as the new feature since that seems to be the new capability of the Apple A5 SoC.
  • 7sudden - Thursday, August 4, 2011 - link

    Finally, someone with some logic! I was thinking the same thing, as I was reading this. It just felt like something Apple would consider. More megapixels to market.

    There are better options for sensors. With mobile phones penetrating into such a market presence, better imaging sensors will help further their ability to replace consumer point-and-shoot cameras and camcorders.
  • Saumitra - Thursday, August 4, 2011 - link

    Thanks for pointing that out! :)
  • Hrel - Thursday, August 4, 2011 - link

    yeah, we need bigger sensors, not smaller ones. Really as long as you have 5MP start worrying about other factors. Light sensitivity, firmware, flash, 1080p video in h.264, response time, manual calibration features. SOOO many things matter so much more than the marketing friendly MP.
  • iwod - Friday, August 5, 2011 - link

    Yes, a bigger ( or MUCH bigger ) , and thinner 5MP Sensors would be nice.
  • KingKuei - Friday, August 5, 2011 - link


    While we're at it, the next iPhone better have the better Gee's so it's faster.

    Boy I just couldn't help myself...

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