Camera-centric smartphone with 20-megapixel 1/1.6-inch sensor could be coming later this year

Smartphone imaging tech is constantly evolving, with manufacturers cramming ever more advanced shooters into handsets. Now it seems Sony may be taking things a step further with a new flagship phone for late 2013, codenamed "Honami." 

VR-Zone has published a fairly detailed report on the optics behind the purported new Sony handset, which it says is being worked on by all areas of the company, not just Sony Mobile. The alleged 1/1.6-inch sensor would put the "Honami" close to the Nokia Pureview 808 (1/1.2-inch) and comfortably ahead of the HTC One (1/3-inch), Galaxy S4 and Xperia Z (1/3.06-inch), and even some dedicated imaging devices like the Galaxy Camera (1/2.3-inch). In addition, it's reported that a Sony G lens will be used, bringing this area in line with some of Sony's standalone cameras. Sony is apparently exploring new options for its flash, too, with either Xenon or dual-LED flash options reportedly being considered for ten times more brightness than a standard smartphone flash.

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The new hardware to be backed up by refreshed camera software, too, including new image processing algorithms taken from Sony's Cyber-shot series cameras, and a new camera app with "Superior Auto Scene Recognition." That's said to be a step beyond the regular Superior Auto mode found on the current crop of Xperias.

All this extra camera tech means the "Honami" could be a fairly hefty smartphone -- VR-Zone reports that Sony's own estimates point to a thickness of around 10mm. By comparison, the thickest part of the HTC One measures 9.3mm. A combination of glass, metal and carbon fiber will make up Honami's chassis, the site reports. As for other specs, rumors are floating around Chinese forum ePrice pointing to a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 CPU, 2GB of RAM and a new-fangled 5-inch "WhiteMagic" 1080p IPS-NEO screen with 2000:1 contrast ratio. The pixel count behind that fancy new camera? A whole 20 megapixels, according to ePrice, which points to an August or September launch.

That's around the time we usually see a fall refresh for Sony's products, so if these reports turn out to be accurate, we could be looking at an IFA 2013 launch for the "Honami." As for the purported tech behind the new device, digital imaging is a natural place for Sony to see differentiation, and Q3 is about when we're expecting to see the first Snapdragon 800 phones. We'll be waiting with bated breath come September.

Source: VR-Zone, ePrice via Phandroid