iPhone camera supplier Sony says it is running its production lines 24 hours a day, and that is still not enough to keep up with demand.
Sony manufactures sensors for a number of smartphone and camera brands and models and tells Bloomberg that this is the second year in a row that the company will keep its factories running through the holidays in an attempt to keep up with demand.
Terushi Shimizu, the head of Sony’s semiconductor unit [said that] the electronics giant is more than doubling its capital spending on the business to 280 billion yen ($2.6 billion) this fiscal year and is also building a new plant in Nagasaki that will come online in April 2021.
‘Judging by the way things are going, even after all that investment in expanding capacity, it might still not be enough,’ Shimizu said in an interview at the Tokyo headquarters. ‘We are having to apologize to customers because we just can’t make enough.’
The trend of multiple camera lenses on the back of smartphones has been the main reason for the increased demand. The base model iPhone 11 boasts twin cameras, while the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max both have three cameras.
‘The camera has become the biggest differentiator for smartphone brands and everyone wants their social media pictures and videos to look nice,’ said Masahiro Wakasugi, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. ‘Sony is riding that wave of demand very well.’
Sony’s latest camera tech is expected to be used in next year’s iPhone lineup’s Time of Flight (TOF) cameras.
Sony is now looking to a new generation of sensors that can see the world in three dimensions. The company uses a method called time of flight that sends out invisible laser pulses and measures how long they take to bounce back to create detailed depth models. This helps mobile cameras create better portrait photos by more precisely selecting the background to blur out, and it can also be applied in mobile games, where virtual characters can be shown realistically interacting with real-world environments. If used on the front of the phone, TOF sensors allow for hand gestures and facial motion capture for animated avatars.