Sony IMX686 looks to challenge Samsung's 108MP camera sensor in 2020

Sony Xperia 1 cameras
Sony Xperia 1 cameras (Image credit: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Sony's IMX686 is a 60MP sensor that's slated to replace the existing IMX586 48MP sensor.
  • Expect this sensor to launch with the first flagship smartphones in 2020, including ones from VIVO and Huawei.
  • This sensor is expected to deliver greater dynamic range and better low-light performance than the current generation 48MP camera sensor.

Not to be outdone by the recent launch of the Samsung ISOCELL Bright HMX camera sensor inside of the latest Xiaomi phones, Sony has taken to Chinese micro-blogging social network Weibo to tease its upcoming 60MP sensor. We're expecting this sensor to launch inside the rumored VIVO X30 Pro and Huawei Nova 6, but don't have a confirmed list just yet.

If you take a look at the video below, you'll find all sorts of video and imagery taken right from the Sony IMX686 sensor, which is housed inside of a prototype phone (oddly enough, not the phone you'll see in the hands of the person in the video). This video does not feature full resolution video or pictures, but it gives us a good idea of what to expect from the new sensor.

Both the videos and imagery represented here seem to exude phenomenal dynamic range, likely highlighting additional tricks and methods that Sony has developed in multi-frame exposure composition. Just as Samsung's latest 108MP sensor utilizes a Quad-Bayer array of pixels to create an actual 27MP picture, Sony's IMX686 is a 60MP sensor with a Quad-Bayer array and should produce actual 15MP images. Expect this sensor to help deliver some pretty epic zoom levels.

This type of pixel structure isn't just for producing crisper images or greater dynamic range, it's also masterful at producing excellent low-light imagery without the need for additional computational photography to take over. We saw this earlier in 2019 when the first phones launched with the IMX586, the first 48MP sensor of its kind in a smartphone. Near the end of the video, you'll see some seriously clean low light video that seems to confirm this.

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Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu
  • Man the camera hardware race is heating up and I love it. I love that manufacturers are pushing for non software only solutions unlike some popular tech software companies. What I'm excited about it is a greater marriage of software and hardware to push mobile photography and videography even further from something that fits in our pockets and connects us to people and places instantly. An exciting time for nerds like me taking hundreds of photos and videos on their phones.
  • What are the chances of these new sensors making it to Pixel 5......big fat zero lol
  • Expect the same old 12.3mp sensor I bet.
  • The new Xiaomi is ridiculously good at any price, but at ~£400 (with discount codes, but I assume I can't say where on here!) it's almost unbelieveable. Obviously the photos are good, but the video looked like something shot with a DSLR. Can't wait to see what this one can do, too.