Samsung has provided a number of ultra-high resolution smartphones in recent times, most of which offer relatively small 0.8 micron pixels while delivering pixel binding for better image quality. However, Samsung does not stop at 0.8 micron pixels as it has just announced that more image sensors pack lots of megapixels and even less 0.7 micron pixels.
Smaller pixels generally mean less impressive options for light collection and therefore less impressive images in low light, but Samsung believes that this approach will also provide slimmer designs and reduce the size of the camera bump. In fact, the company says that these sensors are up to 15% smaller than 0.8 micron pixel sensors with the same resolution, while also reducing the height by up to 10%.
In addition, all the new sensors pack Isocell Plus technology to prevent light bleeding and crosstalk between pixels, as well as its Smart ISO technology for enhanced exposure.
All the new Samsung sensors
The leading charge is the Samsung Isocell HM2, which is Samsung’s third 108MP sensor. Samsung adds that the new sensor is 15% smaller than its predecessors (1 / 1.52 inches), while offering previous features such as 3x lossless zoom and Super PD autofocus. Like the Isocell HM1 used on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra, you can also expect nonabinning technology on the Isocell HM2 by combining data from nine pixels into one and therefore cutting 12 MP shots. You also get support for 8K / 24fps and 4K / 120fps video recording.
The second camera sensor unveiled today is the 64MP Isocell GW3, followed by the 64MP GW1 and GW2. The company notes that this is optimized for “mainstream devices”, suggesting that we could see this sensor in much cheaper devices than flagships or intercoms. It adds that the GW3’s “optical size” is almost identical to its 48MP 0.8 micron pixel sensors (1 / 1.97-inches). You can also expect 4K / 60fps shooting support as well as gyro-based image stabilization.
Speaking of 48MP camera sensors, the Korean company is also launching a 48MP sensor with 0.7 micron pixels and a 1 / 2.55-inch sensor size. Named Isocell GM5, Samsung says that this sensor is made with ultra-wide cameras or periscope cameras in mind. In fact, users can expect a smaller camera bulge if the sensor is used for 5x periscope / folding zoom.
The last sensor on the list is the 32MP Isocell JD1, which Samsung says is the smallest 32MP sensor in the industry (1 / 3.14 inches). Samsung positions this sensor as being ideal for pop-up selfie cameras as well as selfie cameras under display. The camera sits “comfortably” under the screen with the module height corresponding to 16MP one micron pixel and 20MP 0.9 micron pixel cameras.
What else do you need to know?
Both the 48MP Isocell GM5 and 32MP Isocell JD1 also pack Samsung’s staggered HDR technology. The company says staggered HDR “speeds up image processing by sending a reading of long, medium and short exposures of each row of pixels to the mobile processor, respectively.” This is touted as a faster and more power efficient HDR solution. You should also get brighter and clearer images with less noise, as the HDR method is based on pixel-bound 1.4 micron pixels instead of the smaller individual pixels.
The new 108MP, 64MP and 32MP camera sensors are currently in mass production, while the 48MP Isocell GM5 is now available for sampling. There is no word on when we will see the first phones with these sensors. Nevertheless, we need to check the first phones to find out if it is worthwhile to go less.
However, Samsung confirmed that more 0.7 micron pixel sensors will come later in the year and that they will offer brand new Isocell 2.0 technology. The Korean company says the new technology should improve light sensitivity by up to 12% compared to the Isocell Plus technology currently used on its sensors.
Next: 108MP sensor versus calculation photography – Which winner?