Next year’s Q1 mobile phone image sensor prices will fall by about 5%

Affected by the price increase of semiconductor chips and the Huawei incident, brand manufacturers have been actively pulling in image sensors (CIS) from the second half of 2020. The market has frequently exceeded expectations for stocking, but the overall market’s terminal sales have been in a relatively weak state. Superimposed on the impact of the overseas epidemic in the second quarter of this year, the inventory of the terminal (complete machine and channel inventory) has been at a high level, which in turn affected the demand for image sensors of brand manufacturers in the third and fourth quarters, and the overall peak season was not busy.

Towards the end of the year, the supply of low-end capacity in upstream fabs will continue to shrink, while the supply of high-end pixel capacity will continue to grow. At the same time, it is expected that there will be no obvious signs of recovery in mobile terminal demand next year . Some chip vendors have begun to actively adjust their price strategies, especially for new tender projects, and the quotation plan is relatively aggressive.

According to the latest survey data of Qunzhi Consulting in December, in terms of low-pixel products, 2M pixel products are affected by the strategic reduction in capacity supply. It is expected that prices in the first quarter will show a flat trend. 8M pixel products, affected by the previous price increase factors, the terminal demand will continue to be sluggish in the first quarter. Qunzhi Consulting predicts that the price will show a 3-5% decline in the first quarter.

In terms of high-pixel products, for 64M pixel products, upstream head chip vendors continue to increase their production capacity for high-pixel products, and the industry's high-pixel component inventory continues to increase. Inventory clearing has become a priority strategy for chip vendors in the current period, Qunzhi Consulting predicts, The price will show a decline of about 5% in the first quarter.

In recent years, driven by headphone manufacturers, the resolution of CIS has been continuously improved, the pixel size has been continuously reduced, and the frame size has been continuously expanded. Technologies such as multi-pixel integration, fast focus, and superimposed high dynamic range HDR will continue to increase the ASP of mobile CIS chips.

The trend of multiple cameras on smartphones will continue in the future. However, due to the diminishing marginal effect of the increase in the number of cameras on the improvement of photo effects, and the increase in the cost of mobile phones brought about by 5G, mobile phone manufacturers have slowed down the upgrade of cameras. It is not difficult to see from some of the mainstream models recently released that sensor specification upgrades and imaging technology innovations have replaced the number of cameras stacked.

According to Omdia's prediction, the proportion of three cameras in the rear camera of mobile phones will continue to increase. In 2020, the proportion of rear three cameras will account for 30% of all mobile phone shipments. It is expected to exceed 35% in 2021, and the proportion of three cameras in 2025 Will exceed 60%. The four-camera mobile phone will maintain a relatively stable market share due to its complex module structure and high cost. The front camera of the mobile phone is still mainly single-camera, and the proportion of dual-camera is only 4%. With the increasing demand for short video shooting, more and more mobile phones support 4K high-definition shooting, and the requirements for high-resolution and anti-shake front cameras are becoming more and more significant.

From the perspective of the mobile phone's rear camera, the demand for 48~64MP will be greatly increased. High-pixel CIS continues to sink to mid-priced mobile phones. Sensors with 48MP, 64MP, and even 108MP pixels are increasingly appearing in mobile phones with a price tag of 2000+. In addition, the design of dual main cameras and multiple main cameras has emerged in flagship models. The ultra-wide-angle and telephoto lenses use high-pixel sensors comparable to those of the main camera to improve image quality.

Omdia predicts that the market share of rear cameras with a resolution of 40MP and above will be close to 20% in 2021, and this ratio is expected to exceed 30% in 2025. The 12~13MP rear camera still occupies a large market share, because the rear camera selection of Apple mobile phones and some Android mid-range models is still 12MP. The new crown epidemic that has continued from last year to the present has weakened the purchasing power of end consumers, leading to an expected increase in shipments of low- and medium-end models. It is expected that 12~13MP resolution will occupy about 26% of the post-photographic market in 2021, and the proportion will decrease in 2025. To about 20%. Because of the unclear positioning and price advantage of 20~32MP products, the shipment volume has gradually decreased, and it has now withdrawn from the selection of mainstream mobile phone brands. At this stage, the depth of field and macro cameras of mobile phones basically use 2~5MP resolution, and 8MP still occupies a place in ultra-wide-angle and telephoto lenses, so low-pixel CIS will still maintain a certain proportion in the rear camera of mobile phones.

From the perspective of mobile phones, the proportion of 5MP to 8MP has dropped significantly, from 78% in 2016 to 33% in 2021, and is expected to drop to about 24% in 2025. Thanks to the release of Apple's iPhone 11, the demand for 12-13MP pixels surged in 2019. In 2021, 12-13MP will account for 26% of proactive shots. Since 2019, 16MP has gradually increased in the Android camp, and its proportion will be close to 20% in 2021, and then it will increase slightly and remain at about 25%. The demand for 32MP and 48MP front cameras in high-end models will continue to increase. At the same time, in addition to some 3D face recognition cameras, 2MP resolution will gradually withdraw from the proactive market.

Omdia believes that the current differentiation of smartphones depends largely on the optical performance of the phone. In addition to upgrading the specifications of the sensor chip, functions such as ultra-high frame rate, high dynamic range HDR, full PDAF, anti-shake, and similar optical zoom are also the focus of various manufacturers. The main camera lens solution has evolved from 5P and 6P to 7P and 8P. Applications such as periscope lenses, free-form wide-angle lenses, continuous zoom lenses, and variable aperture lenses continue to broaden the technical boundaries of camera module factories. The competition of mobile phone cameras has become a competition for the strength of the camera supply chain.

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