Samsung announces 200MP smartphone image sensor with extremely small pixels

by Jeremy Gray

published Thursday, June 23, 2022 at 3:30 p.m. EDT

Samsung has announcement a new smartphone image sensor, the ISOCELL HP3. The 200-megapixel image sensor features the smallest pixels in the industry at just 0.56 micrometers. Compared to its 200MP ISOCELL HP1 image sensor, Samsung’s latest sensor has 12% smaller pixels, resulting in a 20% smaller camera module area. With a smaller module area, manufacturers can make smaller and thinner smartphones.

Samsung has a lot of experience with high resolution smartphone sensors having first released a 108MP sensor in 2019. Last fall, Samsung announced the ISOCELL HP1, a 200MP sensor with a pixel size of 0, 64 micrometer. It’s quite a different approach compared to a company like Apple, which continues to use 12-megapixel image sensors in its smartphones. To deal with low-light issues, Samsung’s ISOCELL HP3 sensor uses Tetra 2-pixel technology. This allows the sensor to combine 4 or 16 pixels into 1, creating a 50MP or 12.5MP sensor respectively. These sub-megapixel pixel arrangements offer pixel sizes of 1.12 micrometers and 2.24 micrometers respectively.

To deliver extended dynamic range performance, the ISOCELL HP3 uses an enhanced version of Samsung’s Smart-ISO Pro feature. The technology merges image information from two conversion gains in low and high ISO modes to create an HDR image. The improved Smart-ISO Pro feature includes a new triple ISO mode that further extends dynamic range performance. Additionally, Smart-ISO enables the sensor “to express images in over 4 trillion colors (14-bit color depth), 64 times more colors than the predecessor’s 68 billion (12-bit)”.

“Samsung has continuously led the image sensor market trend with its technology leadership in high-resolution sensors with the smallest pixels,” said JoonSeo Yim, Executive Vice President of Sensor Business Team at Samsung Electronics. . “With our latest upgraded ISOCELL HP3 0.56μm 200MP, Samsung will strive to deliver epic resolutions beyond professional levels for smartphone camera users.”

ISOCELL HP3 can record 4K/120p video and 8K video up to 30p. There will be a slight crop factor for 8K video, although precise specs have not been disclosed. The sensor incorporates Super QPD autofocus technology. Samsung writes: “Super QPD uses a single lens on four adjacent pixels to detect phase differences in the horizontal and vertical directions. This paves the way for more accurate and faster autofocus for smartphone camera users.

The Samsung ISOCELL HP3 sensor will begin mass production later this year.

Michael C. Garrison