New information on the 8-megapixel camera rumored to be used in the LG-manufactured Nexus 5 has hit the Internet today from the same people that dug through a Nexus 5 log file to give us other specs on the upcoming device. Thanks to Android World, we now know the sensor model used in the camera on the Nexus 5, but there seems to be some confusion surrounding what it actually means.
The sensor found in the camera is a Sony IMX179. It’s a non-BSI, f/2.4 CMOS sensor. It’s the same sensor found in the Meizu MX3, which is capable of producing some beautiful pictures. It’s also the same sensor found in Digital Optic’s MEMS smartphone camera module. As you may have guessed by now, one of these is rather boring, and one is not.
If the IMX179 in the Nexus 5 is being implemented like it is on the MX3, then there isn’t a whole lot to get excited over. It’s definitely not going to be better than most other flagship Android, Nokia or Apple smartphones on the market. In fact, it might even be worse. But it’s not going to be terrible by any means. If the IMX179 in the Nexus 5 is just a part of a MEMS camera assembly, then we’re in for a treat.
Digital Optics’s MEMS autofocus module for smartphones, known as “mems | cam,” is a unique take on the smartphone camera. MEMS, short for microelectromechanical system, cameras take a shoot first, focus later approach. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the popular Lytro camera does the same thing. MEMS cameras take a handful of pictures in incredibly rapid succession, all at different focal points, and combine them into one file. That file can then be used as an interactive photograph where you can pick where to focus. MEMS modules are also very fast at auto-focusing, nearly twice as fast as traditional smartphone cameras.
The mems | cam module set to go into mass production in Q4 uses a Sony IMX179 in its assembly, so it is entirely possible the Nexus 5 has a MEMS camera inside. With the unique look of the camera on the Nexus 5 and past remarks from Vic Gundotra on wanting Nexus phones to have “insanely great cameras,” people are betting on it. But don’t get your hopes up just yet. As mentioned above, the mems | cam is set to go into production in Q4, which would be a bit late for the Nexus 5. And the mems | cam is nearly twice as expensive as a normal smartphone camera module. That could have Google thinking twice about it.
Either way, it won’t be long now until we find out for sure. I would absolutely love to see a mems | cam stuffed inside the Nexus 5, but I’m not putting any money on it.