In 2019, the smartphone market is expected to see negative growth, but the CMOS image sensor (CIS) market is predicted to experience an expected boom. This is because smartphones equipped with dual and even triple cameras, are expected to become the mainstream. Companies that lead the CIS market, such as Sony, Samsung Electronics, etc., are likely to carry out investment actively.
50% of smartphones shipped next year will be equipped with multiple cameras
According to Japanese media, such as Rimo, three cameras, the so-called "triple camera" type, are expected to become mainstream in flagship smartphones next year. The ratio of smartphone models equipped with multiple cameras this year was 35%, but it is expected to be over 50% next year.
Samsung Electronics, Apple, and Huawei have focused on pointing out and developing multiple cameras as a differentiating factor for their top-end smartphones. Samsung Electronics has already installed two or three cameras in its low- and middle-end models. The Galaxy S10 5G flagship model is expected to be equipped with four to six cameras.
Apple, which has been leading the camera pluralization in the industry by including dual cameras in the iPhone 7 Plus in 2016, plans to apply the triple camera to the new iPhone, anticipated to launch next year. Huawei is also expected to install multiple cameras to 80% of models to ship next year. The P20 Pro, launched this year, is equipped with three cameras and has settled as the big moneymaker for the company.
Expected active investment of Sony and Samsung CIS
With this trend, CIS will sell very fast even if smartphone shipments remain at a standstill or even decline next year.
Leading industries have rolled up their sleeves for investment. Sony plans to invest about 600 billion yen in the semiconductor field, centering on CIS, over the next three years. The company plans to increase its monthly production capacity from about 100,000 to 130,000 items by 2020 by maximizing existing plant production capacity.
Samsung also converted the Hwasung 11 line, which used to produce DRAM, into a CIS sensor production system. As of this year, 300mm wafer input capacity is about 55,000 sheets per month. It is expected that production will increase from 65,000 to 70,000 through conversion of production line next year.
"The annual demand is expected to increase by about 500 million CIS sensors," said Miwa and Hideaki, an analyst at Techno Systems Research (TSR), the market research company of Japan.