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Samsung takes the smartphone camera megapixel race to a new level

by Jeffrey Mathews | 8月 13, 2019

The race for the highest smartphone megapixel count continues to see dramatic shifts in both technology and the pace of development. Just months after announcing the ISOCELL Bright GW1 64MP sensor for commercial use, Samsung yesterday announced the industry’s first 108MP sensor, the ISOCELL Bright HMX sensor with Tetracell technology that combines four small pixels into one large pixel, enabling the sensor to capture images at a default resolution of 27MP.  

                      

Image Source: Samsung


Key Features

  • One of the key highlighting features of the ISOCELL Bright HMX is the size of the sensor which is 1/1.33” making it one of the largest commercially available sensors today.The large size allows the sensor to absorb more light especially in poorly lit conditions to produce extremely bright images and capture details at the highest order even when cropped or zoomed.
  • The sensor supports lossless video recording at 6K resolution at 30fps
  • The sensor features a Smart ISO feature to auto adjust the ISO magnitude with respect to the illumination of the environment
  • The sensor has a pixel size of 0.8μm, similar to ISOCELL Bright GM1. For low light conditions, the pixel size can be amplified to 1.6μm at 27MP resolution with the Tetracell technology.
  • The sensor also offers a promise of photos with 12,032 x 9,024-pixel resolution that can be used in high quality photo printing use cases similar to some of the DSLR’s in the market.

Outlook

With this announcement, Samsung is leading the megapixel race among image sensor vendors. Already Samsung’s ISOCELL GM1 48MP and ISOCELL GD1 32MP sensors have seen strong demand among smartphone OEMs.

One of the key OEMs driving this is Xiaomi. The Chinese smartphone OEM has exclusively partnered with Samsung for the launch of the ISOCELL Bright HMX 108MP sensor. Xiaomi and Samsung have worked together for the production of this sensor. This partnership is centered around Xiaomi becoming one of the first smartphone OEMs to utilize the sensor in one its upcoming smartphones, possibly be the MI MIX4.

Smartphone makers today are increasingly looking to differentiate their devices with superior technological improvements. One of the key areas of focus for them has been the smartphone camera. Samsung’s latest announcement would certainly drive interest from a few of the top smartphone OEMs as they plan to adopt the sensor technology within their devices.

Key Questions

  • The availability of 64MP and 108MP based sensors offers an opportunity for smartphone OEMs to plan their product portfolio and market to the consumers. But there is still some uncertainty around the widespread adoption of high megapixel sensors in the near future given how some of the OEMs are still adopting 48MP and 32MP sensors within their devices.
  • The ASP of this sensor should be one of the highest in the industry, so is likely to be seen in flagship devices only for the foreseeable future.
  • Can Sony announce a competing product offering to challenge Samsung’s growing prowess? If not then Samsung is in a strong position to gain revenue market share in FY 2020.
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