Check out the scheme below explaining how the new stacked chip design layers image sensors on top of supporting logic. It is also interesting that the imaging circuitry is produced independently of the supporting logic, allowing Sony to outsource the logic portion to third parties. The benefits for Apple would be many. For starters â€”and this is crucialâ€” the new design and manufacturing process behind Sonyâ€™s image sensor should help engineer a thinner iPhone due to less space used by the Sony chip. Additionally, the Japanese giantâ€™s new manufacturing process is cheaper and image quality is better, which are both important feats from Appleâ€™s standpoint. The camera module is said to be faster, consume less power and sport higher pixel numbers.
The key is keeping the pixels on the image sensor the same size while packing more in. Or maintaining the same number of pixels (eight in the iPhone 4S) but making each pixel bigger. The new BSI image sensor from Sony makes both scenarios possible. I would, of course, prefer the later. For a less readable version of the announcement check out Sony.