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Sony could supply iPhone front-facing ‘selfie’ sensors

Apple wants Sony to provide image sensors for the front-facing camera on future models of the iPhone in a situation that would see the latter double its component shipments to Apple.

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Japanese site Nikkei reports that the two are in negotiations over a deal that would begin in 2015 and extend Sony’s shipments to the firm beyond the rear-facing camera sensors that it already provides.

“The Japanese firm already supplies nearly all of the CMOS [complementary metal-oxide semiconductor] sensors for the current iPhone models' rear-mounted main cameras. Apple is likely looking to switch to Sony sensors for the secondary camera on the screen side, used for taking self-portraits,” read the report.

The sensor supplier is reportedly investing big bucks in a new manufacturing facility in order to cope with the rise in demand that will stem from producing the new sensors.

Mac Rumors suggests that Sony is set to spend 35 billion yen [£207 million] constructing the plant and that it will boost its monthly production capacity by some 25 per cent as a result.

Sony has been supplying image sensors for the rear camera since the iPhone 4S and it will take over the front-facing camera sensor production from OmniVision.

With Sony on board for the front-facing sensor it could signal improvements to the camera, which is a mere 1.2-megapixel sensor despite the rear-facing version being upgraded to an 8-megapixel sensor. The iPhone 5S contains a vastly improved camera compared to previous versions after Apple upped the sensor size and combined it with a smaller aperture to enable better shooting in low light conditions.

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It remains unlikely that Sony’s front-facing sensor will find its way into the Apple iPhone 6 expected later on this year and it will instead be utilised in future versions of the device being released from next year onwards.