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Sony's about to strap an Alpha lens to your smartphone

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Rumored QX1 attachment has a big image sensor that works with E-mount lenses

Sony's Smart Lenses were a delightful surprise at last year's IFA trade show in Berlin. The idea of transforming a smartphone into a capable camera by strapping a high-quality lens and sensor to it was immediately appealing, however Sony's execution with the actual hardware and software was less thrilling. Now the company is trying again, it seems, though with a slight rethinking of the concept.

Sony Alpha Rumors has the first images of a purported QX1 smartphone accessory. It's said to be splitting up the image sensor from the lens, making it possible to attach any one of Sony's growing range of E-mount lenses that are used on its Alpha series of mirrorless cameras. Previously known under the NEX brand, those APS-C shooters are among our favorites for high-quality imaging in a compact size, and SAR indicates that it expects the latest A6000 sensor to figure in this new QX1 part. Pricing was another of the hurdles that held back the original QX range and this year's model seems to be no different: buying just the sensor without any lens would cost you €300 (about $393), while including a 16-50mm lens bumps that price up to €450. A hefty fee for a wireless accessory, but it might be one worth paying if you happen to have a smartphone with a mediocre camera (hello, HTC One) and a few NEX lenses lying around.

Update, September 2nd, 8:27AM ET: The Xperia Blog has gotten ahold of similar images, which — as a bonus — include a first tantalizing glimpse of what's expected to be the next flagship phone for Sony, the Xperia Z3.