It seems Sony is serious about taking the smartphone crown this year in terms of having the best phone overall at least, and not necessarily in sales (could be a while until that happens).
The rumored Sony Honami flagship is supposed to have a 2.3 Ghz Qualcomm S800 processor, a "WhiteMagic" 1080p IPS-NEO display with a 2000:1 contrast ratio, 2 GB of RAM, and a metal, glass and carbon fiber chassis, along with a new design.
All of that sounds great, but perhaps the most exciting part about this phone is the camera. We learned before from leaks that it would have a 20 MP camera, possibly with pixel-binning/oversampling for "noise-free" images (resulting image with much lower resolution than 20MP, though), and Xenon flash, or a dual-LED flash that is 10x stronger than the standard smartphone flash.
Now we get even better news, which although expected with such a high resolution, it's nice to have it confirmed. The camera will have a large (by smartphone standards) 1/1.6" sensor, which has a surface area that is about 4x larger than the standard sensors we see today in smartphones. That means 4x bigger pixels (compared to the same resolution on a 1/3" sensor).
You might be worried that this will make the phone too thick, just like it did for the Nokia Pureview 808, which had a 1/1.2" sensor and was 18mm thick at its thickest point. With such thickness, it's going to be pretty hard to sell a lot of them, because at that point it looks more like a camera than a smartphone.
But technology has improved a lot since then. Plus, Nokia has never been that good at packing components in a very slim package. Even their latest flagships were very thick by modern standards (Lumia 900 – 11.5mm, Lumia 920 – 10.7mm). But Sony managed to put this sensor in under 10mm it seems. That's just about what I expected from today's technology, and from a manufacturer that can make slim devices. A 10mm thickness with such a larger sensor is really a great result from Sony, if the rumor is true.
The phone will also use high quality lens from the Sony G line-up of cameras, and it will be using new and superior image processing algorithms from the same Cyber-shot cameras.
I think Sony has realized that sooner or later smartphones are going to kill the point and shoot market, and instead of continuing with a declining market, while staying behind in smartphones, it's best to take control of the situation, and put the point and shoot technology in their smartphones, so they can at least be leaders in the growing smartphone market, regardless of what happens to the point and shoot market. I believe that's exactly what Sony needs to be doing.
The Sony Honami smartphone is going to be launched in August or September, according to rumors, so around the IFA event.