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Credit Suisse on Mobile Imaging Market

IFNews: Credit Suisse report on mobile phone market analyses the market trends:

"The CIS business continues to see a shift toward higher resolutions and multi-camera phones. Multi-camera phones accounted for 65% of iPhone and 44% of Android phone production in Jul–Sep 2018 in an indication that the trend is accelerating. We now assume a multi-camera weighting of 40% (previously 35%) for 2018 and 50% (45%) for 2019, including an increase from 7% to 10% for triple-camera phones in 2019. This represents a tailwind for profits at Sony (6758), as do improvement in the sales mix accompanying the shift toward higher resolutions and larger sensors.

While the smartphone market is looking sluggish overall, we expect continued profit growth for Sony's CIS business in 2H FY3/19 and out as the number of sensors per smartphone increases, the sales mix improves (higher resolutions, larger sizes), and the company gains market share in supplying Chinese smartphone makers. We think the business could continue to drive companywide profits in FY3/20 and remain generally expectant of its potential.

TOF sensors: In our report on the previous survey, we said that some module makers think the 2019 models are likely to incorporate rear time-of-flight (TOF) sensors, but some device makers regard this as unlikely. However, based on the current survey, we now think TOF sensors will probably be first adopted in the 2020 models rather than the 2019 models.

We said in our previous survey report that Samsung was targeting a multi-camera weighting of 50% (triple camera 20%, dual camera 30%) in 2019, but our latest survey indicates a growing possibility of a 70% target triple/quadruple camera 20%, dual camera 50%). Samsung appears to be currently planning for around 10 triple- or quadruple-camera models as well as phones with 5x zoom folded optics cameras and pop-up cameras. The company is considering megapixel combinations of 48MP-16MP-13MP and 48MP-10MP-5MP for triple camera models while also looking at 48MP-8MP-5MP, 32MP-8MP-5MP, and 16MP-8MP-5MP.

In CY19, we think the smartphone manufacturers will adopt triple-camera and triple/quadruple-camera systems on a full scale, mainly in their high-end phones, and we expect them to also build large 48MP sensors into their phones. We believe companies like Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi will consider adopting 5x-zoom folding optics systems. Regarding OISs, we project that the smartphone manufacturers will use CIS technology in their main cameras and shift to shape memory alloy (SMA) OISs and away from VCM type OISs in response to the increase in lens size.

Sony will likely be the sole supplier of 48MP sensors for the spring models. Samsung LSI 12MP/48MP-sensor re-mosaic technology is lagging, and we project that it will be mid-CY19 at the earliest before it is adopted in high-end phones. Consequently, we think Samsung LSI CISs that are 48MP in the catalog specs but 12MP in actual image quality will probably be used in midrange spring models. We think that in China, demand for 24MP CISs, mainly for phones with two front-side cameras, has reached around 100mn units per year. We think that in CY19, demand for 48MP CISs for rear-side cameras could increase to roughly 150mn units.

CIS supplies remain tight, particularly for 2/5/8MP CISs manufactured using an 8-inch process. Tight supplies of CISs for high-end models in CY19, owing to the transition to large 48MP sensors, are a concern.
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