Samsung's new 64 MP and 48 MP camera sensors look set for next year's flagship phones
Your 2020 smartphone upgrade could bring with it a substantial boost in camera quality, with Samsung unveiling new 64 megapixel and 48 megapixel camera sensors designed for use in mobile devices.
The Isocell Bright GW1 (64 MP) and Isocell Bright GM2 (48 MP) sensors make use of Samsung's existing 0.8-micrometer pixel sensor technology – currently the smallest pixel size on the market – but ramp up the resolution from the previous high of 20 MP.
Traditionally, bigger pixels have meant better photos because they can capture more light. However, improvements in image processing and efficiency have meant sensor makers like Samsung can safely ramp down pixel size to get more detail in a shot – and squeeze cameras into tighter spaces inside smartphones.
Behind the scenes, Samsung utilizes what it calls Tetracell technology to intelligently merge light captured from adjacent pixels, to effectively create larger pixels on the fly. Light sensitivity is the equivalent of a sensor pixel twice the size, Samsung says.
In addition, the new 64 MP sensor comes with real time HDR processing – it's rated at a 100 decibel (dB) dynamic range, whereas most conventional sensors have a dynamic range of about 60 dB, so should allow plenty of detail to be retained in the final images.
"Over the past few years, mobile phone cameras have become the main instrument for recording and sharing our everyday moments," said Yongin Park from Samsung Electronics in a press statement.
"With more pixels and advanced pixel technologies, Samsung Isocell Bright GW1 and GM2 will bring a new level of photography to today's sleekest mobile devices that will enhance and help change the way we record our daily lives."
We're seeing all the major players in the market – including Apple and Google – trying to make progress in image processing and optimization on the software side, as the physical limitations of a smartphone chassis start to restrict what can be done with the actual lenses and sensors.
One way around these physical restrictions is to introduce multiple lenses and sensors on the back of phones – something the compact GW1 and GM2 should help with.
Samsung says the sensors are going to be ready for mass production in the second half of the year, so it doesn't look as though they'll be ready in time for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10. They might well make it into the Galaxy S11 phones next year though, as well as phones made by manufacturers that source their camera sensors from Samsung.