Toshiba launches 4.7 mm thin 13 MP camera sensor

Toshiba is set to release the thinnest 1/3 inch 13 MP camera sensor ever made. The module, named TCM9930MD, will be just 4.7 mm thick. It’s specifically designed for use in smartphones and tablets, and may show up in a flagship device or two in the future.

The module’s pixel size is 1.12 µm, and you probably won’t see it in HTC devices anytime soon, since the Taiwanese company is focusing on bigger pixels with its One flagship phone.

Toshiba TCM9930MD camera module

The size of this camera sensor makes it suitable for use in extremely thin devices, so we may get more and more 13 MP handsets in the near future. That said, at that size, don’t expect miracles in terms of picture quality. Even the 12 MP sensor in the two and a half year old Nokia N8 will surely produce images that are a lot better, thanks to its huge 1/1.83″ sensor size. Let’s not even mention the 808 PureView.

But, for ‘casual’ photography, and casual users who don’t necessarily know what’s important in a camera – this will be swell.

To make the TCM9930MD this slim, Toshiba’s used four plastic lenses and a dedicated signal processing circuit for improving lens performance. The circuit “compensates for the distortion of the lenses and conducts the restoration of resolution (MTF: modulation transfer function) for the peripheral area of an image”, according to Tech-On. To further reduce the thickness of this camera module, Toshiba even used a flip chip structure in place of a wire bonded structure. So everything in the name of extreme slimness. That seems a little bit similar to what certain smartphone makers are usually up to.

Toshiba’s new camera sensor is probably going to be used in all kinds of smartphones that won’t have any real ambitions in terms of imaging quality – from the flagships of the so-called ‘Tier 2′ makers, to the upper-midrange offerings of the most well-known companies.

However, it will be a while until it will be inside shipping products. Toshiba will begin to ship samples in May, but volume production will only be started in December. One of these modules will cost 7,000 yen, so approximately $74 at the current exchange rate. At the end of this year, Toshiba will be making around one million of these each month, so the company certainly expects the TCM9930MD to be at least a moderate success.

Author: Vlad Bobleanta

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