The HTC M7 is one of the most eagerly-awaited handsets of 2013, and will be the first phone to boast of a 1080p resolution display under 5 inches in size. But a new rumour suggests that won’t be the only headline-grabbing feature of the M7.

According to a report by Pocket-lint, the M7 incorporates a new camera sensor that won't be measured in megapixels, but in a new term the company has coined: “Ultrapixels.” Earlier rumours suggest that the new smartphone will use a 13 megapixel sensor, however, sources familiar with the company’s new flagship have told the website that the new camera will instead be made up of three 4.3-megapixel sensor layers. Image processing is done by combining the layers to produce one image.

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An earlier leak showing the HTC M7 running Sense 5.0

Three layers of 4.3 megapixel sensors add up to 13 megapixels, but instead of delivering one image at a 13 megapixel resolution, the sensor picks a pixel from each layer to represent one final pixel. The technique is similar to the one used by Sigma in the Foveon X3 sensor.

In layman terms, this means the data from the three sensors is combined to generate a crisper, cleaner image, and at least in the case of the Foveon X3, it delivers better colour accuracy.

Nokia handled image data in the 808 PureView’s camera in a similar fashion, but a more conventional sensor structure is employed; the 808 uses surrounding pixels to render one pixel in the final image. The multiple-layered structure that HTC is allegedly using is a first for mobile phones.

The 'ultrapixel' sensor is expected to be a core feature of the new M7 smartphone, the name of which was seemingly confirmed by an excited CEO Peter Chou last week. It seems possible that the ultrapixel name could be a marketing strategy to prevent consumers from assuming that the M7 will be launched with a 4 megapixel sensor.

HTC released an infographic on its site today, which showed the development of photography and, predictably, touted its cameras as being the best in the market when they were launched. It boasts about the camera on the HTC One X, which was released last year, and promises to bring a new sound and camera experience in 2013.

The M7 is expected to be launched on February 19 at two events in London and New York. The phone was shown off to HTC’s employees by Chou and other executives at the company’s year-end bash last week. A leaked video of the event suggests that the phone will have a physical camera shutter button, which, if true, should fall nicely in line with the company’s aim of positioning the M7 as a phone with a super camera.

The M7 is said to have a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and an LTE chip. The device is expected to have a dedicated amplifier designed by Beats, along with stereo speakers. The smartphone is expected to run Sense 5.0 over Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

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