Sony reporting huge shortage of IMX214 camera units


sony imx 214

The current trend by Chinese phone makers to use the Sony IMX214 in their newest phones is putting huge pressure on Sony who are reporting demand is outstripping supply.

Last year the IMX214 was the camera sensor to have on any flagship Android phone. The sensor boasts 13 mega-pixel imaging and the ability to shoot 4K video. The sensor found its’ way in to the OPO, Oppo Find 7 and many other flagship devices last year.

The IMX214 is still an excellent sensor, but as it is last gen tech the price has dropped meaning Chinese phone makers are able to spec the unit on their low-cost flagships for 2015. Elephone, Ulefone, to name just a few, are all using the sensor on their new devices, but demand is so high Sony are reporting shortages.

The issue is so serious that Sony have taken to their official Weibo account in China to explain the situation. Apparently Sony say that only %50 of current orders of the IMX214 will be able to be filled!

So what does that mean for us? Well it means that a lot of the phones we have seen with IMX214 in the specs are either going to have to be delayed or the manufacturer is going to have to choose a suitable replacement for the sensor. It will also means that rivals such as Omnivision might use the issue to court manufacturers and tempt them to use their Chinese made sensors.

Which camera would you like to see make its way on to phones due to the IMX214 shortage?

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66 Comments

  1. Steve B
    May 2, 2015

    Would have to be Samsung (as in Blackview S1) or the OV unit used in Iuni U2 & Gionee E7.
    Didn’t know the IMX214 was considered last gen already, has it been directly superceeded?

    • Mrinal
      May 2, 2015

      I believe the Sony IMX234 is the current gen sensor. It is used in the Nubia z9 series (at least the z9 mini), it’s a 16MP f2.0 camera unit. According to some articles found on google (incl. gsmarena), the LG G4 also uses a variant of the Sony IMX234, however this sensor has apparently been modified to have a 1.8 maximum aperture.

      • Steve B
        May 2, 2015

        Good to know, will have to look out for that one in ‘lesser’ models.

      • csak1user
        May 2, 2015

        Sensors doesn’t have aperture.
        Camera modules has.
        LG can make his own camera module with IMX234 sensor.

        If some Chinese manufacturer uses a relatively good sensor, this doesn’t mean that the pictures will be the same quality as on a higher end phone with the same sensor.
        They can use a cheaper optics which can highly affect image quality.

        • balcobomber25
          May 2, 2015

          One of the best replies on here and a fact many either don’t know or always forget. The sensor is important but it is only one factor in great pictures, kind of like mp’s (higher doesn’t mean better quality).

          • Nahúm Pérez Mesa
            May 2, 2015

            I think so!

      • balcobomber25
        May 4, 2015

        The LG G4 uses a sensor they designed themselves. Sony had nothing to do with it.

  2. May 2, 2015

    OmniVision OV13860 would be a nice one as well

    • Simion Florin
      May 2, 2015

      This sensor is found on what phone?

      • Oz
        May 2, 2015

        I believe its in Gionee E7 (a 16M version OmmiVision16825). I have this phone, the Oppo 5 and One+. The Gionee E7 camera is better than the Oppo 5 and One+

      • Robbie
        May 3, 2015

        Jiayu G4/G5 (S/T/C)

        • Robbie
          May 3, 2015

          sorry,it’s 13850 there…

  3. saor
    May 2, 2015

    They can post me out the sensor when they get it from Sony!!

  4. Ricardo
    May 2, 2015

    OV13860: http://www.ovt.com/download_document.php?type=sensor&sensorid=167
    OV16825-2A: http://www.ovt.com/download_document.php?type=sensor&sensorid=117
    OV16880: http://www.ovt.com/download_document.php?type=sensor&sensorid=181
    OV16850: http://www.ovt.com/download_document.php?type=sensor&sensorid=168

    All these sensors look freaking good, and as @disqus_EdwoZrV4Jg:disqus said, if they are properly implemented they can beat IMX214.

    I don’t know what’s happening with all that “Sony craze”. They make awesome sensors, that’s for sure, but there are many devices with Omnivision sensors that beat their Sony counterparts (Gionee E7, Xiaomi Redmi 1S/2). We should know by now that “Sony” means nothing if a good software is not supporting the sensor.

    (Omnivision also have 21 and 23 MP sensors, but we are mainly talking about mid-range devices with MT6752, which only supports up to 16MP).

    • csak1user
      May 2, 2015

      13860 and 16825-2A is fine, but the other two has smaller sensor size/pixel count ratio.

      And don’t forget the optics. Sensor and software is just one part of the whole imaging system.

      • Ricardo
        May 3, 2015

        Yeah, I forgot mentioning that. And yes, I checked the pixel size before posting, but 1.1micron pixels is still pretty standard today so that’s why I still considered those too.

        • csak1user
          May 3, 2015

          Yes, Sony IMX214 also has 1.12 micron pixel size.
          But bigger is better in this case, so I would replace these Sony sensors any time for a bigger pixel size OmniVision.

  5. balcobomber25
    May 2, 2015

    For most phones that are using this sensor the 135 is a logical replacement, it’s built on the same architecture as the 214.

    • csak1user
      May 2, 2015

      Seems like the main difference is the video capabilities.

      IMX135 vs IMX 214: http://www.sony.net/Products/SC-HP/new_pro/april_2014/imx214_e.html

      • balcobomber25
        May 4, 2015

        There is some minor software differences as well but most of those can be achieved with the 135 with the use of a good software package like Open Camera or FV5.

  6. Steve B
    May 2, 2015

    Would have to be Samsung (as in Blackview S1) or the OV unit used in Iuni U2 & Gionee E7.
    Didn’t know the IMX214 was considered last gen already, has it been directly superceeded?

    • Mrinal
      May 2, 2015

      I believe the Sony IMX234 is the current gen sensor. It is used in the Nubia z9 series (at least the z9 mini), it’s a 16MP f2.0 camera unit. According to some articles found on google (incl. gsmarena), the LG G4 also uses a variant of the Sony IMX234, however this sensor has apparently been modified to have a 1.8 maximum aperture.

    • Steve B
      May 2, 2015

      Good to know, will have to look out for that one in ‘lesser’ models.

    • csak1user
      May 2, 2015

      Sensors doesn’t have aperture.
      Camera modules has.
      LG can make his own camera module with IMX234 sensor.

      If some Chinese manufacturer uses a relatively good sensor, this doesn’t mean that the pictures will be the same quality as on a higher end phone with the same sensor.
      They can use a cheaper optics which can highly affect image quality.

    • balcobomber25
      May 2, 2015

      One of the best replies on here and a fact many either don’t know or always forget. The sensor is important but it is only one factor in great pictures, kind of like mp’s (higher doesn’t mean better quality).

    • Nahúm Pérez Mesa
      May 2, 2015

      I think so!

    • balcobomber25
      May 4, 2015

      The LG G4 uses a sensor they designed themselves. Sony had nothing to do with it.

  7. Christopher Straßer
    May 2, 2015

    OmniVision OV13860 would be a nice one as well

    • Simion Florin
      May 2, 2015

      This sensor is found on what phone?

    • Oz
      May 2, 2015

      I believe its in Gionee E7 (a 16M version OmmiVision16825). I have this phone, the Oppo 5 and One+. The Gionee E7 camera is better than the Oppo 5 and One+

    • Guest
      May 3, 2015

      Jiayu G4/G5 (S/T/C)

    • Guest
      May 3, 2015

      sorry,it’s 13850 there…

  8. saor
    May 2, 2015

    They can post me out the sensor when they get it from Sony!!

  9. Ricardo
    May 2, 2015

    OV13860: http://www.ovt.com/download_document.php?type=sensor&sensorid=167
    OV16825-2A: http://www.ovt.com/download_document.php?type=sensor&sensorid=117
    OV16880: http://www.ovt.com/download_document.php?type=sensor&sensorid=181
    OV16850: http://www.ovt.com/download_document.php?type=sensor&sensorid=168

    All these sensors look freaking good, and as @disqus_EdwoZrV4Jg:disqus said, if they are properly implemented they can beat IMX214.

    I don’t know what’s happening with all that “Sony craze”. They make awesome sensors, that’s for sure, but there are many devices with Omnivision sensors that beat their Sony counterparts (Gionee E7, Xiaomi Redmi 1S/2). We should know by now that “Sony” means nothing if a good software is not supporting the sensor.

    (Omnivision also have 21 and 23 MP sensors, but we are mainly talking about mid-range devices with MT6752, which only supports up to 16MP).

    • csak1user
      May 2, 2015

      13860 and 16825-2A is fine, but the other two has smaller sensor size/pixel count ratio.

      And don’t forget the optics. Sensor and software is just one part of the whole imaging system.

    • Ricardo
      May 3, 2015

      Yeah, I forgot mentioning that. And yes, I checked the pixel size before posting, but 1.1micron pixels is still pretty standard today so that’s why I still considered those too.

    • csak1user
      May 3, 2015

      Yes, Sony IMX214 also has 1.12 micron pixel size.
      But bigger is better in this case, so I would replace these Sony sensors any time for a bigger pixel size OmniVision.

  10. balcobomber25
    May 2, 2015

    For most phones that are using this sensor the 135 is a logical replacement, it’s built on the same architecture as the 214.

    • csak1user
      May 2, 2015

      Seems like the main difference is the video capabilities.

      IMX135 vs IMX 214: http://www.sony.net/Products/SC-HP/new_pro/april_2014/imx214_e.html

    • balcobomber25
      May 4, 2015

      There is some minor software differences as well but most of those can be achieved with the 135 with the use of a good software package like Open Camera or FV5.

  11. Muhammad Yasir
    May 2, 2015

    hmm… with all this cam sensor talk going on….
    i MUST ask the TECHIES here…

    Which Sensor UP TILL NOW , is the MOST COMPETENT all-rounder in photography for ALL conditions (low-light AND high light)
    (i.e which sensor performs BRILLIANTLY well and to IMMACULATE perfection in low-light as well as high light photography in today’s day and age)

    • Airyl
      May 2, 2015

      IMX214 and IMX135 are both fairly reliable, while the IMX234 is the latest and greatest. Some Omnivision sensors like the OV13860 are good too, and Samsung sensors are generally good. Avoid Toshiba sensors.

      • Muhammad Yasir
        May 3, 2015

        thanks!

        P.S i just did some googling and to utter IRONY! , LG G4 is using a imx234 rear cam and a TOSHIBA for front cam 😀

        • balcobomber25
          May 4, 2015

          LG G4 is using one of their own sensors which is made by LG Innotek (the component division of LG). Early reviews say it is excellent. The latest and greatest Sony sensor is the 240 which is used on the Galaxy S6 and Note 4.

          • Muhammad Yasir
            May 4, 2015

            hm… guess any chinese phones using IMX 240 must be really REALLY expensive ?

            • balcobomber25
              May 4, 2015

              As of right now the only phones officially using the 240 are both by Samsung, the S6 and the Note 4. If you want to see just what the G4 camera is capable of check out this site:

              http://www.phonearena.com/news/LG-gave-the-G4-to-a-professional-photographer-heres-what-happened_id68943

            • Muhammad Yasir
              May 4, 2015

              wow! thanks!
              i do hope sub-$200 phones also start embracing this sensor with BRILLIANT lenses and aperture sizes!

            • balcobomber25
              May 4, 2015

              I wouldn’t expect that anytime soon lol. The sub-$200 phones have just now started using the Sony IMX214 as the gold standard and the 240 is just for flagships at the moment. The 214 though is a very good sensor and with the right optics can be an excellent camera as seen in the Vivo Xshot.

              If you want an amazing camera for under $200 check out the Gionee E7, which uses a 16mp Omnivison OV16825 sensor. I have used about 10 phones with OV sensors and all have been very good.

    • balcobomber25
      May 4, 2015

      This is a difficult question to answer because the sensor is only part of taking good pictures As much as the sensor matters so does the lens and aperture among other things. Two phones using the same sensor can have different results.

      Overall the IMX 135 and 214 have had good results. Think of the 214 as the 135 version 2.0, they are essentially the same sensor. I have had very good luck with both the OV13860 and OV16825 from Omnivision.

  12. Guest
    May 2, 2015

    hmm… with all this cam sensor talk going on….
    i MUST ask the TECHIES here…

    Which Sensor UP TILL NOW , is the MOST COMPETENT all-rounder in photography for ALL conditions (low-light AND high light)
    (i.e which sensor performs BRILLIANTLY well and to IMMACULATE perfection in low-light as well as high light photography in today’s day and age)

    • Airyl
      May 2, 2015

      IMX214 and IMX135 are both fairly reliable, while the IMX234 is the latest and greatest. Some Omnivision sensors like the OV13860 are good too, and Samsung sensors are generally good. Avoid Toshiba sensors.

    • Guest
      May 3, 2015

      thanks!

      P.S i just did some googling and to utter IRONY! , LG G4 is using a imx234 rear cam and a TOSHIBA for front cam 😀

    • balcobomber25
      May 4, 2015

      This is a difficult question to answer because the sensor is only part of taking good pictures As much as the sensor matters so does the lens and aperture among other things. Two phones using the same sensor can have different results.

      Overall the IMX 135 and 214 have had good results. Think of the 214 as the 135 version 2.0, they are essentially the same sensor. I have had very good luck with both the OV13860 and OV16825 from Omnivision.

    • balcobomber25
      May 4, 2015

      LG G4 is using one of their own sensors which is made by LG Innotek (the component division of LG). Early reviews say it is excellent. The latest and greatest Sony sensor is the 240 which is used on the Galaxy S6 and Note 4.

    • Guest
      May 4, 2015

      hm… guess any chinese phones using IMX 240 must be really REALLY expensive ?

    • balcobomber25
      May 4, 2015

      As of right now the only phones officially using the 240 are both by Samsung, the S6 and the Note 4. If you want to see just what the G4 camera is capable of check out this site:

      http://www.phonearena.com/news/LG-gave-the-G4-to-a-professional-photographer-heres-what-happened_id68943

    • Guest
      May 4, 2015

      wow! thanks!
      i do hope sub-$200 phones also start embracing this sensor with BRILLIANT lenses and aperture sizes!

    • balcobomber25
      May 5, 2015

      I wouldn’t expect that anytime soon lol. The sub-$200 phones have just now started using the Sony IMX214 as the gold standard and the 240 is just for flagships at the moment. The 214 though is a very good sensor and with the right optics can be an excellent camera as seen in the Vivo Xshot.

      If you want an amazing camera for under $200 check out the Gionee E7, which uses a 16mp Omnivison OV16825 sensor. I have used about 10 phones with OV sensors and all have been very good.

  13. Lee Sze Yong
    May 3, 2015

    checked sony’s weibo; don’t see any announcement, as mentioned in the article http://www.weibo.com/sonychina please doublecheck, thanks

  14. Lee Sze Yong
    May 3, 2015

    checked sony’s weibo; don’t see any announcement, as mentioned in the article http://www.weibo.com/sonychina please doublecheck, thanks