Samsung unveils new 200-megapixel image sensor for smartphones

Samsung announcement a new 200-megapixel ISOCELL HP1 image sensor, which the company says is the first for mobile devices.

The image sensor has 200 million 0.64μm pixels and the silicon is already small enough to fit in mobile hardware. However, while 200 megapixels might seem like a lot, it’s worth bearing in mind that like most high megapixel sensors, the HP1 will make heavy use of binning.

Pixel clustering, for those unfamiliar with the term, means combining multiple pixels into one larger pixel. It is often used in phone cameras to extract more detail in low light scenarios.

What’s particularly interesting about Samsung’s HP1 sensor is its ‘ChameleonCell’ technology, which can adjust the amount of binning depending on the light. In low light, the sensor can be divided by 16 to become a 12.5 megapixel sensor. Samsung claims that in this mode it can produce much brighter and sharper images.

However, when shooting in bright light, the sensor can bin by four to deliver a 50-megapixel image. In this mode, the sensor can also record 8K video at 30 fps. Additionally, higher resolution images will allow users to crop or resize freely without having to worry about losing image sharpness.

For example, if I take a photo with a smartphone camera and then zoom in or crop a smaller section of that image, it doesn’t look as sharp. But if I do the same with my much higher resolution mirrorless camera, it retains a higher level of sharpness thanks to all the extra pixels. This is indeed what Samsung offers with this sensor.

Although the HP1 sensor sounds really good on paper, it will be interesting to see how well it performs in real-world tests. Samsung says samples of the HP1 are now available, and Engadget points out that the company’s Exynos 2100 chip already supports sensors up to 200 megapixels, suggesting we could see the HP1 in a future Galaxy flagship.

Source: Samsung Going through: Engadget

Michael C. Garrison