Please, rate the engine
Results   All polls
In July last year, Sony announced a new intriguing sensor camera smartphone. The IMX586 model has a width of 48 megapixels and half an inch, it is larger than the majority of mobile sensors on the market, and provides a much greater resolution than its competitors, despite the fact that it does not require a large camera. But with tiny 0.8 micron pixels, won't the image quality deteriorate?

So, the first phone with a new sensor appeared in the form of Honor's View 20, which was fully announced today in Paris. Much more can be said about this phone, and last but not least, how its distinctive hole display works in practice. (A full review from Vlad Savov will be published soon.) At the same time, I tested the phone's header function to find out whether 48 megapixels can be significant in a mobile photo.

In short, the answer is yes. Under the right conditions, this phone takes amazing photos with details that far exceed what I would expect from a regular mobile image sensor. But to achieve the best results, a small experiment is required, and the ideal mode for each situation may not always be what you can assume.


The punch display will be fine
The default setting for the View 20 camera is actually a 12 megapixel mode, which presumably provides results similar to a much larger sensor with 1.6 micron pixels. This is due to the fact that the Sony sensor uses Bayer's quadrangle RGB scheme, which includes 2 x 2 square pixels assigned to this color, which means that the effective resolution is indeed 12 megapixels. But the sensor allows the phone's image signal processor to convert this array to a 48-megapixel image in good light. Honor also has a more advanced mode called "48MP AI Ultra Clarity”, which uses Kirin 980's machine learning capabilities. It takes several seconds of phone inactivity to capture and combine several 48 megapixel frames, and Honor recommends using it only in good light with stationary objects.

Here is an image from Sony showing how the Bayer quad filter and array transformation work:

For this comparison, I will map the various View 20 modes to each other and the iPhone XS Max. The popularity of the iPhone makes it a useful guide, but it is also a technically interesting comparison due to its combination of a 12-megapixel sensor and a 2x telephoto lens. You expect Honor to exceed the resolution of the main iPhone 12 megapixel camera, but can a higher resolution of the sensor catch up with longer optics?

None of these photographs was edited except by cropping to show the details at the pixel level.

First, here is a 12-megapixel Skytree shot in Tokyo around 14:00 on a cloudless sunny day. In other words, these are the best conditions for tiny pixels to do their thing. View 20 is on the left, iPhone XS Max is on the right.