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Sharp introduces super-thin camera module for smartphones

The Japanese component and TV maker says the module is 5.47 mm thick and can take 12.1 megapixel photos or record in full HD

Sharp on Thursday announced a camera module for smartphones that shoots 12.1 megapixels and is just 5.47-mm (0.22 inches) thick, which it says is the thinnest in the industry.

The Osaka-based electronics manufacturer made the announcement, as competition heats up in the market for advanced components used in smartphones. Like many electronic manufactures, Sharp sells its own line of handsets and TVs but has been retooling its factories to make touchscreens and other parts for phones and tablets.

Unconfirmed media reports have said Sharp is growing closer to Apple and will supply the company with screens for future devices. The latest camera could also be a candidate for future Apple devices, which already use technology from a Japanese peer. Teardowns of Apple's iPhone 4S are said to have revealed an 8-megapixel CMOS camera module manufactured by Sony.

Sharp's new CMOS module can also shoot full HD video and uses lens-shift for stabilization. It measures 11-mm square at the base and also has standard autofocus.

Sample shipments will begin Wednesday and cost ¥12,000 (US$150) per unit, with volume shipments scheduled to begin on Jan.10. Sharp said it will produce 100,000 of the devices monthly.

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