A 1080p capable iPhone might not be as far off as you think

Fri, Jun 26, 2009

News, Rumors

While the Apple masses continue to bask in the glory of the iPhone’s much improved camera, not to mention its new ability to record video, a recent development might shed some light on what features Apple might include in future iterations of the iPhone.

Imagine shooting 1080p quality video right from your iPhone.

Done salivating?

OmniVision, the company that supplies Apple with the 3 megapixel cameras it uses in the iPhone 3GS, announced on Thursday that its latest 5 megapixel OV5650 Image Sensor for mobile phones is capable of capturing HD video in 1080p quality at 30 frames per second. At 720p, still HD mind you, the sensor can capture video at 60 frames per second.

As it stands now, the current iPhone 3GS records video in VGA quality at 30 fps, but as was reported last week, an examination of the iPhone 3GS processor revealed that it was in fact capable of capturing video in 720p. Apple presumably didn’t enable 720p because doing so would put the processor through the ringer and obliterate battery life in the process. Also, HD video isn’t too storage friendly, and with the maximum capacity iPhone coming in at 32GB these days, concerns about the practicality of 720p were probably taken into consideration as well. Luckily, by the time the new sensors begin shipping, the above issues will undoubtedly be less of an impediment.

Also, if Apple ever gets around to releasing its much rumored tablet, storage space and room for a decent sized battery will be even less than an issue than it is for the iPhone.

We should point out that while the difference in quality between 720p and 1080p is negligible on HDTV’s smaller than 42 inches, the potential to record full HD quality video from an iPhone and upload it to your computer for editing and/or send it directly to your >40 inch HDTV is particularly intriguing.

OmniVision expects that production of its new sensor will commence towards the end of 2009, and anticipates that mobile phones will begin sporting them sometime in 2010.

As a point of interest, OmniVision noted in a recent presentation that while the current trend in mobile phones is 2 megapixel sensors, 5 megapixel sensors will begin to emerge as a “volume leader in 2011”.


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6 Comments For This Post

  1. MathieuB Says:

    “an examination of the iPhone 3GS processor revealed that it was in fact capable of capturing video in 720p”

    720p is one thing, 1080p is another, quite a big step up in required processing power to say the least.

    You won’t see a 1080p iphone for quite a while, not until there’s a chip that can encode and decode with a low power consumption and small footprint.

    Now, who will introduce a chip? Intel? AMD? Nvidia? Another company?

    That’s the question.

  2. DMann Says:

    Another Company? How about Apple, who purchased P.A. Semi chip designer, likely for this purpose?

  3. John Says:

    Apple seems to be rather methodical in their product development. I can see them doing 720P next year, 1080P maybe two to four years after that.

    Personally, I’d like to see better quality in the signal (low light sensitivity, dynamic range, low noise, contrast, color fidelity) before they go to higher megapixels or 1080P.

  4. Kash Says:

    Apple is doing what many other companies have failed to do, add features already in other phones on a year by basis because of the Software and ease of use of the iPhone. Most people flock to the iPhone because it’s so easy to use and people forget about what it doesn’t offer. I’m sure 720p video would have been capable. Honestly if 720 were offered, I’d pony up the 500 bucks and get the 3gs and sell my current 3G but not for standard video. I own a Vado HD and would love to get rid of it, if I could. One device is better than two.


  5. ttlyon Says:

    I wish they would install a DxO EDoF camera like the Nokia’s and Palm Pre. Omnivision has really failed to deliver ever since Thomas Cathey of CDM OPtics inventor of Wavefront Coding and Raymond Wu co-founder of Omnivision to retire. Hong is a great leader but he has no engineering talent. It was a big mistake for Apple to use Omnivisions aging inventory just to save money. The new camera is the worst part of the worlds greatest iconic game changing smartphone.

  6. Steven Says:

    “Apple seems to be rather methodical in their product development.”

    That is an excellent description of how Apple goes about it. I get so tired or reading these reviewers and pundits talking about what features iPhone doesn’t have and how it should have them because such-and-such phone has had them for years. Well, such-and-such phone is an impossible-to-navigate piece of crap and people don’t use half the features on it anyway because they’re so difficult to use or even to locate. Apple will not include a feature until it can implement it in a way which is smooth and intuitive. That would be methodical development.

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