Samsung drops hint about a Galaxy phone with its 108MP camera

Samsung announced three months ago that it had made a 108-megapixel smartphone ISOCELL Bright HMX camera sensor. Since then, many have been wondering if we’d see the company use the sensor for one of its smartphones.

It hasn’t done that yet but one of Samsung’s own apps has now dropped a hint that this sensor could be used in an upcoming Galaxy phone. That device doesn’t necessarily have to be the Galaxy S11, though there are some rumors in support of that theory as well.

Samsung may finally use its 108MP camera in a Galaxy phone

Samsung made this 108MP camera sensor in collaboration with Xiaomi. It’s the only manufacturer that has used the sensor in a couple of its smartphones. However, it appears that the sensor could now find its way into a Samsung smartphone.

XDA-Developers came across support for 108MP output resolution in the Samsung Camera app which shipped with the third One UI 2.0 beta released this week. The app now has support for 12,000 x 9,000 pixel resolution for a total of 108,000,000 pixels or 108MPs precisely.

There’s nothing in the app’s code to suggest that the Galaxy S11 will be Samsung’s first device with a 108MP camera. Rumors about the Galaxy S11 suggest that it’s going to have a 5x optical zoom lens in addition to a 108MP primary sensor for wide-angle photos. It could happen but it’s far from certain at this point in time.

If history is any indication, Samsung hasn’t just added support for this resolution without the intention of shipping the supporting hardware on a future device. The Galaxy smartphone that does come with this sensor is unlikely to output full 108MP resolution photos. In the interest of improving low-light photography, there’s a good chance that Samsung will make use of pixel binning technology. It’s a method to combine multiple pixels into one super-pixel in order to reduce noise.

The higher signal-to-noise ratio means that the camera can obtain higher brightness in low-light conditions. The default output could thus be 27MP or 12MP if 4 or 9 pixels are combined, respectively. Xiaomi’s Mi Mix Alpha uses this 108MP sensor with pixel binning and outputs 27MP shots.

Samsung hasn’t dropped any hints so far about when it’s going to use this sensor for its own smartphones. Many would expect the Galaxy S11 to be the obvious candidate. We have also seen Samsung introduce new camera tech to the upper echelon of its Galaxy A series first in recent years so this remains a possibility for some 2020 Galaxy A models as well.

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