Sample pictures from Sony's new phone camera show the future of photography

Sony Xperia 1
Sony Xperia 1 (Image credit: Future)

While Sony phones may make up a small percentage of the phones in peoples' hands, the company's camera sensors are in plenty of the newest smartphones, so if you take pictures you could well be using Sony's tech. The company has just posted a few pictures from its new upcoming sensor, which will likely be in plenty of handsets very soon.

This new sensor is the IMX686, and we don't know the resolution of it just yet, but the pictures Sony shared on its official Weibo page give us a good clue of just how great snaps look.

It's worth noting that we won't necessarily see this sensor in the Sony Xperia 2, or Xperia 3 as some rumors are pointing to Sony's next phone being called. This is because Sony often doesn't use its highest resolution or best sensors in its newest phones, as the Xperia 1 and Xperia 5 use 12MP snappers instead of the company's latest.

Other companies will be sure to use the sensor though. Sony's current high-end tech, the IMX586, is a 48MP sensor that can be found in the Samsung Galaxy A80, Oppo Reno 10x Zoom, Moto Z4, Honor 20 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 9, OnePlus 7 Pro and many more popular smartphones.

It's likely that the IMX686 will be available in plenty of smartphones soon enough, especially given that Samsung's newest 108MP sensor is now available in smartphones, starting with the Xiaomi Mi Note 10.

Sony IMX686 camera samples

Here are some of the samples shown on the video on Sony's Weibo page. You can see the full presentation here.

As you'll see the pictures are pretty bright, with colors that seem quite naturalistic while retaining an element of vibrancy. This could be as much thanks to the subjects Sony chose for the pictures as due to the power of the sensor, but the photos all still look good.

The fourth image we've posted above shows an astrophotography mode, which picks up celestial bodies. We've seen similar modes in a few phones now, and it's a testament to the power of the sensor that it can 'see' these tiny pinpricks of light.

Photographs are a combination of sensor power and post-processing though, and each company to use the Sony IMX686 will also have a range of tricks up their sleeves to make pictures seem unique, such as AI scene optimization and smart editing modes.

Therefore, while these camera samples give us an idea of what to expect in future smartphones, the actual pictures taken on future phones from Xiaomi, Honor, OnePlus and many other companies may look even better.

Via Trusted Reviews

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.