Toshiba Launches New 16MP Image Sensor Capable Of Phase-Detection Autofocus

Toshiba launched its first 16MP CMOS imaging sensors for smartphones and tablets called the T4KC3 and T4KC3-121. According to the company, its sensors are among the smallest CMOS sensors that can achieve both high-performance and low-power consumption (240mW or less).

T4KC3-121 is the first Toshiba sensor to feature phase-detection autofocus, a technology that has been used increasingly more often by more smartphone companies, including Apple and Samsung. PDAF takes an image and splits it between two pixels in order to see how out-of-focus a subject is. It then hones in and tracks the movement, making it a good autofocus technology for both stills and video.

"Mobile device manufacturers are constantly striving to design and build the most powerful, power-efficient devices in the smallest possible form factors," said Andrew Burt, vice president of the Image Sensor Business Unit, System LSI Group at TAEC. "To support this objective, both new 16MP CMOS sensors are housed in a small module (both area and height) and use Toshiba's new low-power circuit design method to lengthen battery life when the smartphone or tablet is being used in video mode," he added.

The two sensors also come with an improvement of 4x in image brightness, which allows for better picture-taking in low-light environments, as well as 240fps HD video recording in the "Bright Mode." In the normal mode, it can capture 1080p video at 60fps, and 720p video at 120fps. Both sensors can shoot stills at up to 30fps at the full 16MP resolution.

The sensors measure 1/2.78" and have a pixel size of 1.12 micrometers. They also incorporate 16Kbit one-time programmable memory that can store lens shading correction data for four conditions at maximum, such as indoors and outdoors, daylight and sunset, with settings that can be switched by one command.

The T4KC3 sensor samples are already available, while the samples for the T4KC3-121 will be available in mid-August. Mass production for both will begin this December, which means we should see them in devices by approximately mid-2016.

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Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.