More Flagship Smartphones to Get 1-Inch Image Sensor

  • A fresh round of battle has started for DLSR-like imaging performance in smartphones, with more newly launched premium flagship models sporting Sony’s IMX989 in their main cameras.
  • The implementation of true 1-inch capability further narrows the gap between mobile photography and professional photography.
  • The 1-inch optical format is a key milestone in smartphone sensor development.

Smartphone OEMs’ quest to bring professional photography experiences to their consumers has led the flagship models to increasingly adopt the 1-inch large-area image sensor. The newly launched Xiaomi 13 Pro and vivo X90 Pro/Pro+ flagship models are equipped with Sony’s IMX989 sensor, whose size has reached a level equal to that of a digital camera sensor, a key milestone in the development of mobile photography sensors.

History of 1-inch CIS in smartphones

OEMs have been trying to equip smartphones with large-size CMOS image sensors for many years. As early as Q4 of 2014, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1 carried a 20MP 1-inch image sensor. This model also used some professional camera function settings and solutions, together with Leica lenses. Compared with other smartphones of the same era, this model was thicker and heavier. It seems Panasonic was trying to leverage its ability to produce compact digital cameras and combine it with the then fast-developing Android smartphone design. The model was only sold in Japan. Though it was innovative, it failed to become a success. In Q2 2021, Sharp’s Aquos R6 was launched with Sony’s Exmor RS 1-inch image sensor in its main camera. Further, in Q4 2021, Sony’s Xperia PRO-I also came equipped with the same sensor. Both models were leveraging the image sensor primarily designed for digital camera applications. As of Q4 2022, the sales volume of these two models was around 130,000 units.1-inch camera android smartphone sales trend, counterpoint research

Source: Counterpoint Smartphone Model Level Shipments Tracker

In the pre-1-inch era, the largest image sensor in terms of mobile photography was Samsung’s GN2 with a sensor size of 1/1.2″ and 50MP resolution. Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Ultra/Pro and Honor’s Magic 4 Ultimate used it as the main camera image sensor. According to Counterpoint Research’s Market Pulse Service, the models equipped with the GN2 reached a combined sales volume of 3.46 million by Q4 2022. The IMX989 released by Sony in Q2 2022 officially brought mobile image sensors into the 1-inch era. As of now, the models equipped with this 1-inch CIS as the main camera include the Sharp Aquos R7, Xiaomi 12s Ultra, vivo X90 Pro, vivo X90 Pro+ and Xiaomi 13 Pro. The total shipments of models equipped with the IMX989 reached around 530,000 units by Q4 2022.

Performance improvement

A large-area image sensor can bring better background blur effects to photographs. It is worth mentioning that unlike the blur effect simulated by computing photography, the depth of field brought by a large-area sensor is much more natural. In a dark or complex environment, a large-area image sensor has better imaging effects and a shorter waiting time for taking photographs. What is more, photographs taken with a large-sensor camera have more detailed information. The gap between smartphone photographs and digital photographs is getting narrower and narrower. The 1-inch optical format smartphone image sensor has been a milestone in mobile photography development.


Large image sensors will undoubtedly increase the cost of smartphones and bring more challenges to their internal design. But for OEMs that want to further improve their photographic performance and differentiate their portfolio, a larger image sensor would be a good solution. We will see more flagship products with 1-inch image sensors in 2023.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the technology, media and telecom (TMT) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Shenghao Bai

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Global Smartphone CIS Shipments Dropped to 2.4 Billion Units in H1 2022

Global smartphone CMOS image sensor (CIS) shipments in H1 2022 fell 14% YoY to about 2.4 billion units, according to the latest Counterpoint Smartphone Camera Tracker. This was due to sluggish smartphone shipments and a slowdown in the multi-camera trend during the period.

Commenting on the multi-camera trend, Senior Analyst Ethan Qi said, “The average number of cameras per smartphone dropped to 3.9 units in Q2 2022 from 4.1 units in 2021. For rear cameras, the share of smartphones featuring a triple camera setup has been increasing since Q2 2021 at the expense of the quad and above setup, as major Chinese OEMs remove the depth camera on certain models and use existing cameras in concert with software to generate depth-related data. Additionally, we expect Samsung to remove the depth camera from its Galaxy A series next year as mid-end chipsets can use AI algorithm to produce bokeh effects. Thus, the number of cameras per smartphone will continue to decline in 2023.”

Global Smartphone Rear Multi-camera Trend

                                                                    Note: CIS counts include ToF sensors.

Looking from the brand perspective, Research Associate Alicia Gong said, “In H1 2022, the sales volume of CIS for Samsung smartphones declined from that in Q4 2021. However, sales volume of the overall market fell even more, which resulted in the brand’s share increasing to 25% in Q2 2022. Driven by the Galaxy A series, smartphones with a rear quad camera setup still accounted for 57% of Samsung’s total volume. Meanwhile, the sales volume of CIS for Apple’s iPhones in H1 2022 also dropped as the iPhone 13 series started to cool down and the brand entered its slow season. With the launch of the iPhone 14 series in September, Apple’s share will increase in H2 2022.”

Global Smartphone CIS Sales Volume Share by Brand

Notes: CIS counts include ToF and SL sensors; Xiaomi includes Redmi; OPPO excludes OnePlus; vivo excludes iQOO

Gong added, “For Chinese brands, the volume share of CIS for Xiaomi smartphones rose slightly from that in Q4 2021, helped by improved supply and the 618 shopping festival promotions in China, while OPPO and vivo remained stable. Starting from a low base last year, HONOR’s share rose to 5% in Q2 2022. These Chinese brands had shifted their focus to enhancing core camera performance and image quality instead of camera numbers.”

Although we expect the smartphone CIS industry shipments to see a high-single digit percentage increase in H2 2022 from that in H1 2022, the total shipments in 2022 are still expected to drop 10% YoY due to weak demand for smartphones resulting from geopolitical conflicts, rising inflation, ongoing pandemic and weak economic conditions.



Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

Alicia Gong



Ethan Qi




Global CIS Market Revenue to Reach $21.9 Billion in 2022

Beijing, Hong Kong, New Delhi, London, Seoul, Buenos Aires, San Diego – FEBRUARY 23, 2022

  • The global CIS market’s revenue is expected to reach $21.9 billion in 2022, posting a YoY increase of 7%.
  • Mobile phones are expected to contribute 71.4% of the total CIS market revenue.
  • The top three vendors are expected to capture a 77% revenue share.

The global Camera Images Sensor (CIS) market revenue is expected to grow 7% in 2022 to reach $21.9 billion, largely driven by increasing demand from the smartphone, automotive, industrial and other applications, according to the latest findings by Counterpoint’s Camera Supply Chain Research.

Commenting on the performance of different segments, Associate Director Ethan Qi said, “As the largest CIS end market, the mobile phone segment is expected to contribute 71.4% of the total market revenue in 2022, followed by automobile (8.6%) and surveillance (5.6%).”

Qi added, “With the continued rebound of global smartphone shipments and further upgrades of image sensors, particularly in resolution, the mobile phone segment is expected to see a mid-single-digit YoY increase in CIS revenue. Meanwhile, as vehicles become more intelligent, connected and autonomous, the implementation of view and sensing cameras for ADAS and ADS functions will proliferate, leading to increased CIS content in new vehicles in the coming years. Besides, the surveillance segment is expected to maintain a low-single-digit growth, partially driven by the lasting social distance impact of COVID-19.”

Source: Counterpoint Research

Note: Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding

Looking from the vendor perspective, Sony is expected to capture a 39.1% revenue share in 2022, followed by Samsung (24.9%) and OmniVision (12.9%).

Sony has been actively expanding and diversifying its CIS customer base as the largest supplier of image and ToF sensors, both consisting of large-sized pixels, pushing the trend of raising mobile photography to a pro-level DSLR quality. Sony’s CIS revenue is expected to increase 3% YoY in 2022.

Meanwhile, the gap between Sony and Samsung is expected to narrow further as the latter will benefit from its first-mover advantage in providing cost-competitive super-high-resolution image sensors for mid-to-high smartphones and aggressive production capacity expansion.

OmniVision is also expected to see a big jump in CIS revenue in 2022, benefitting from a diversified product portfolio, breakthroughs in super-high-resolution sensors for smartphones and increasing demand from the automobile, surveillance and industrial segments.

Source: Counterpoint Research

Note: Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding

Although macroeconomic uncertainties, such as the resurgence of COVID-19 disrupting camera production, still pose a threat to the global CIS industry, the camera performance upgrade and CIS content enrichment in the smartphone, automotive and other applications is laying a solid foundation for the CIS industry to achieve multi-year growth ahead. We will continue to keep a close eye on the megatrend.

The comprehensive and in-depth ‘CIS Sensor Report’ is now available for purchase. Feel free to reach out to us at for questions regarding our latest research and insights.



Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

Alicia Gong



Ethan Qi



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Cameras In Focus as Smartphone Image Sensors Hit Milestone

Boston, Toronto, London, New Delhi, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul – November 18, 2021

Smartphone imaging systems will continue to see strong hardware upgrades this year, with Counterpoint Research’s latest Global Smartphone Camera Demand-Side Report highlighting CMOS image sensor (CIS) content per smartphone will expand to an average of 4.1. Despite the global components crunch, CIS growth is expected to grow by double digits to reach almost 6bn units in 2021.

“A big driver has been triple-and-above main camera setups, which accounted for two-thirds of all smartphones sold during the first half,” notes Tarun Pathak, Counterpoint’s director of smartphone research. “What’s really interesting is where a lot of that growth is coming from – Africa, Latin America, India and other emerging markets. As we move through post-COVID upgrade cycles, especially in Android heavy markets, we’re seeing OEMs offer increasingly sophisticated camera hardware to their customers across all segments.”

Counterpoint Research Average CIS Content Per Smartphone
Source:  Global Smartphone Camera Demand-Side Report, Oct 2021.

“High-resolution has also been an area of focus, with 48MP-plus becoming standard. Again, we’re seeing emerging markets lead in growth; and 64MP is starting to become a major segment too. High-res is very important for what is the most hotly contested price band globally – the wholesale $100-$399 category. During the second quarter, two-thirds of devices were high-res and we expect further share increases for the full year.”

During an upcoming webinar, Global Smartphone Camera Trends 2022: Innovation Talk, Counterpoint will discuss how camera systems are evolving, and how they have become critical for OEMs as consumers place increasing importance on image capture.

A confluence of factors like more powerful chipsets, breakthroughs in AI image processing and other hardware and software advancements are constantly delivering improved imaging experiences for consumers in all segments. Features that were once only available on ultra-premium devices are now emerging across OEMs’ broader portfolios – from contextual shooting, optical zoom and ultra-high res through to time-of-flight and macro capabilities.

“Whether it’s a regional leader like TECNO catering to Nigerian youth, or Apple delivering DSLR quality pics for SoCal influencers, imaging has become an even more core feature for all OEMs,” observes Yang Wang, Senior Analyst for Africa. “And the bar being set in terms of the camera only gets higher.”

“If you’re a product manager today delivering a quad cam device, then you’re probably thinking of configuring wide + ultrawide + macro + depth. But the playing field changes quickly, and we’re likely to see macro and ultrawide merge, leaving room for even more options like telephoto or time-of-flight. Increasing choice and complexity is why algorithm development has become such a critical factor in the success of camera systems,” states Ethan Qi, Counterpoint’s lead camera components analyst.

“At the end of the day it’s not about camera or mega-pixel counts or how powerful your processor is. It’s a combination of things:  How good is the integration? The AI algorithms? Is tuning tweaked appropriately for the market?  It’s the sum of parts that delivers the experience,” according to Neil Shah, Counterpoint’s Vice President of Research. “OEMs understand this, but it’s difficult to get right. It’s as much art as it is science.”


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.


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Triple Camera Penetration Among Smartphones To Cross 50% by 2021

The smartphone industry is highly dynamic. In 2018, more than half of the smartphones sold globally had two or more cameras. Counterpoint identified the megapixel war back in 2016 when OEMs were shifting from a single camera to dual cameras.

In 2019, OEMs are taking the battle a step ahead with a triple camera setup now becoming popular. Almost 6% of smartphones sold globally had three or more rear camera sensors in March 2019. This figure is likely to go up to 15% by the end of 2019 and 35% by the end of 2020. We expect that by the end of 2021, 50% of the smartphones sold globally will have three or more camera sensors.

More than 40 smartphones launched as of April 2019 had three or more cameras. Among these, 30 launches were in Q1 2019. The Huawei Mate & P series, the Samsung Galaxy A series, the new Galaxy flagships, and the Vivo V15/Pro are some of the existing models driving the triple (and more) camera sensor penetration. We expect other OEMs, including Apple and OnePlus, to join the bandwagon later this year.

Source: Monthly Market Pulse: March 2019

Similar to dual camera adoption trend, the triple camera fixture initially featured in the higher priced smartphones. However, towards the end of 2018 and early 2019, even smartphones in the affordable premium and mid-tier price bands featured three or more cameras. The triple camera setup enables new camera intensive features such as 50X zoom, AI-based photo optimization, and depth effect. Features such as bokeh, telephoto zoom, portrait mode, wide-angle photos, have now become standard. Overall, the focus on camera as a differentiating factor is likely to enhance the cooperation among camera lens, module, and AP manufacturers to achieve higher optimizations.

Key Highlights

  • We can expect smartphone OEMs to launch models with 64MP and more in H2 2019. In 2020, we expect smartphones with camera resolutions of 100MP and more.
  • Huawei and Samsung are leading the adoption. Samsung is a big adopter of the three or more camera setup, especially in its models in the affordable-premium price bands. Apple launches later this year are also expected to give a boost to the category.
  • Triple camera penetration in mid-premium (US$600-US$799) and premium (>US$800) price band is also expected to grow rapidly with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S10 series and the Huawei P30 series.
  • Google does not even have no dual cameras on its flagship Pixel phones and was relying on the stellar image quality through software. However, with the premium segment increasingly adopting dual camera sensors, Google will be under pressure to integrate this into their upcoming flagships.

Supply Side Insights:

  • 5MP camera image sensors (CIS) remain in tight supply as they’re essential for triple camera phones. This is likely to continue in case of 5MP and 8MP camera sensors.
  • SK Hynix is a key supplier likely to benefit from the adoption of three or more cameras. However, supply may remain a significant issue, creating room for other suppliers such as Samsung.
  • Sony is another key high-quality supplier for camera image sensors specializing in the 13MP camera setup, which is already going through capacity expansion in Japan. This is likely to suffice for the surging demand.

The latest Monthly Market Pulse report for mobile phones is published here.

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