Why Use CMOS Instead of CCD Sensors in Mobile Phones


If I were designing a new state-of-the-art mobile phone, I would choose Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS). CMOS has several advantages over a Charge-coupled device (CCD), which I will explain below.

Processing Speed

In CCD, photosites are passive, whereas in CMOS they are not…leading to slower processing speed and information transfer.

A photosite is denoted as a single color pixel in a CCD or CMOS sensor. In a CCD sensor, light is captured and converted into a charge. The charge accumulates in the photosites, is transferred to a voltage converter, and is then amplified. This whole process happens one row at a time. This video below demonstrates this process. 

However, with a CMOS sensor, the charge to voltage conversion and the amplification of the voltage occurs inside each photosite. Because the work on an image happens locally, processing and information transfer is faster than a CCD sensor.

Space Requirements

CMOS enables integration of timers and analog-to-digital converters, which conserves space.

CCD is an older technology, and it is not possible to integrate peripheral components like analog-to-digital converters and timers on a single chip. CMOS does enable integration of these components onto a single chip, which conserves space. 

For a mobile phone that needs to be limited to a certain size, space must be conserved, which gives CMOS an advantage for use in mobile phones.

Power Consumption

CCD consumes more power than CMOS. CCD needs a variety of power supplies for the timing clocks. Also, it requires a voltage of 7V to 10V.

A CMOS sensor requires just one power supply and requires a voltage of 3.3V to 5V, roughly 50% less than a CCD sensor. This lower power consumption means extended battery life.

CMOS Prevents Blooming

In a CCD sensor, when an image is overexposed, electrons pile up in the areas of the brightest part of the image and overflow to other photosites, which creates unwanted light streaks. The structure of CMOS sensors prevents this problem.


CMOS chips can be produced on virtually any standard silicon production line, whereas this is not the case for CCD chips. As a result, production cost is lower for CMOS chips. These cost savings result in better profit margins for mobile phone companies.