To understand the new Clarity Plus, we have to first understand digital cameras. The sensor of a camera consists of pixels that by themselves can only capture the intensity of light, but not its color. That’s why, on top of the sensor, manufacturers place a color filter array. Thus, each pixel is covered with a color-sensitive mosaic, so that the sensor can record that color information.
All smartphones are now using the Bayer RGBG pixel filter where we have red, green (two of them) and blue filters on top of pixels. The Clarity+ is different. Instead of RGBG, it uses an RCBC filter. The C here stands for clear. Unlike red, green and blue filters, the C does not block any light.
So while in traditional Bayer each element of the filter mosaic corresponds to a particular color, in Clarity+ only 50% of the filter elements translate into color directly. That means the other half lets all light in, without filtering it, so we have double the amount of light sensitivity in a Clarity Plus module.
That has huge implications, of course. More light means better images in low-light and faster shutter speeds in good lighting conditions. The difference is dramatic. In practical terms Aptina promises that its 13-megapixel cameras with smaller 1.1µm pixels can match the light sensitivity of 8-megapixel 1.4µm-pixel sensors.