In the world of smartphones there’s a number of competing size aspects of a handset that help sell a device. The marketing departments of the major manufacturers want the thinnest device possible, with the largest display, and longest battery life. If you hit all three, you’ve gone a long way to producing a popular device.
Making a phone thin comes down to what materials you use in the casing, how you layout the components inside, and just as importantly: what components are available to use. After all, you can only be as thin as the thickest component in the case.
One of the largest components used in phones, in terms of height, is the camera module. Any significant reduction in the size of the CMOS camera module translates into an opportunity for a thinner phone. Sharp has just offered that opportunity to anyone willing to purchase its latest, thinnest module.
The new part is a 12.1-megapixel 1/3.2-inch CMOS camera module. Sharp has managed to reduce the module’s height to just 5.47mm (11 x 11 x 5.47mm), and is aiming it squarely at the smartphone market in what the company says is a huge demand for “ever more slender designs.”
Sharp has explained that in order to make such a thin module it had to use its proprietary high-density packaging technology. The company also used a lens-shift system for control inside the camera. Even so, the camera is capable of capturing 1080p video and includes optical image stabilization as standard, meaning it hasn’t suffered for being so thin.
We won’t have to wait too long before the camera appears in a device. Volume shipments of 100,000 units per month will start in January, meaning we should hopefully see it added to a handset by the middle of 2012. That same phone may also take the crown of thinnest smartphone.
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