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Samsung’s New 108MP Sensor Powers the S20 Ultra’s Camera

by Jeffrey Mathews | 2月 19, 2020

Recently Samsung made an announcement for its new 108MP image sensor along with the launch of the Samsung S20 series, signifying its intent to drive innovations in smartphone imaging.  

The ISOCELL Bright HM1 is the second generation 108MP sensor that succeeds the 108MP ISOCELL Bright HMX image sensor launched last year. This new image sensor has been introduced in one of the recently launched S20 series of smartphones from Samsung Electronics.

Image Source: Samsung

Key features

  • The Bright HM1 is a 108MP image sensor with a large optical format of 1/1.33” and a pixel size of 0.8μm. The image sensor is designed to produce highly vivid and crystal clear photographs in high-resolution.
  • The sensor uses Samsung’s new Nonacell Technology which is an improved version of the Tetracell Technology (used in the Bright HMX sensor). Nonacell uses a 9-to-1 pixel binning mechanism in a 3x3 color filter array to amplify 0.8μm pixels into one large 2.4μm pixel, improving the light absorption capabilities of each pixel and delivers a bright image in low-light conditions. The resulting output will be a detailed 12MP high-resolution binned image.
  • The sensor supports capturing 8K resolution videos at 24fps which is a first in the industry
  • The sensor continues to use the same Smart ISO feature to automatically adjust the ISO magnitude with respect to the illumination of the environment for optimal results under any lighting conditions
  • The HM1 sensor is capable of capturing 3x lossless zoom images of the subject along with preserving the details. The sensor also supports key features such as support for real-time HDR, Super-Phase Detection, EIS and Auto-focus.

Sony and Samsung Image Sensor design wins in the S20 series

Samsung’s new S20 series of smartphones have been all about camera capabilities, boasting a whole new set of image sensors that promises a massive leap in smartphone photography. The camera system used in the S20 series can be considered as its biggest selling point apart from the display and memory capabilities.

Samsung Electronics uses a mix of Samsung ISOCELL (From Samsung LSI) and Sony IMX (From Sony Semicon) image sensors in the S20 series.

  • We note that the S20/S20+ uses a Sony IMX sensor in the Rear Wide-angle Camera, the Front Camera and also for the Depth Vision Camera system. The S20 Ultra uses a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor for the Space Zoom Camera. This is Samsung’s version of a Periscope Lens.
  • Samsung’s ISOCELL Bright GW2 sensor is being applied for the Telephoto Camera in S20/S20+ series while ISOCELL Bright HM1 and GH1 image sensors are being used as the Rear Wide-angle Camera and Front Camera respectively in the S20 Ultra series. Samsung ISOCELL sensor is being used for the Ultra-Wide Camera across all S20 models.


Image Source: Samsung

S20 Ultra

Image Source: Samsung


With the introduction of the Bright HM1 and HMX image sensors, Samsung has now two major 108MP sensor product offerings for its Smartphone OEM customers. We saw the application of the 108 MP Bright HMX sensor in Xiaomi’s Mi Note 10 and Mi Mix Alpha 5G launched last year and also in the newly launched Mi 10 series. This year we are seeing Samsung Electronics adopting the upgraded ISOCELL Bright HM1 in its S20 Ultra series.

Samsung has continued to focus on High Pixel sensors and is pushing its imaging capabilities as key value proposition not only for its OEM customers but also towards the consumer audiences. An increased branding and marketing play is part of its strategy to grow its share in the Smartphone Image Sensor Market.

Key Questions

  • The recent trend of the application of the 108MP sensor as the main rear camera for flagship smartphones is a huge opportunity for Samsung LSI to leverage upon. Can we expect smartphone vendors apart from Samsung Electronics and Xiaomi, to adopt this trend for its camera features?
  • High Pixel sensors are capable of Lossless Zoom evidently seen in the S20 series. Will we see significant adoption of High Pixel sensors for telephoto applications in smartphone cameras?
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