Samsung introduces smartphone camera sensor with smallest ever pixel size
Samsung has announced a new camera sensor for smartphones, called the ISOCELL Slim GH1. The new sensor has the smallest pixel size of any smartphone camera sensor at 0.7 micrometers, making it an “optimum solution for slim full-display devices.” It’s unclear if Samsung means full-display devices like the Galaxy A80 and OnePlus 7 Pro, which have pop-up cameras that hide inside the body of the phone, or just regular modern phones with slim bezels and notched designs, but it does suggest the sensor is meant to be used inside front-facing cameras.
The Slim GH1 is a 43.7-megapixel sensor, a far cry from the 108MP sensor Samsung announced a month ago. A small pixel size means low-light photography can be a challenge, but Samsung says its pixel-merging Tetracell tech will enable light sensitivity equivalent to sensors with a pixel size of 1.4 micrometers. In simpler words, the sensor will combine multiple frames of the same scene at different exposures and merge them together to form a bright image, a process that is generally called pixel binning and is used in almost every smartphone today.
Samsung is also touting the new sensor’s ability to capture 4K videos with a minimal loss in field of view. If you regularly capture videos on your phone, you would have noticed how the field of view in video recording is narrower than the field of view in still photos, and the ISOCELL Slim GH1 gets around this by capturing videos at a resolution of 3984×2740 pixels and then cropping it down to 4K resolution, or 3,840×2,160 pixels. The sensor can shoot 4K videos at 60 frames per second.
Other features of the ISOCELL Slim GH1 include Dual Pixel autofocus, gyro-based electronic image stabilization, and real-time HDR. It will go into mass production by the end of this year; it remains to be seen which devices will use the sensor, but we can expect it to debut on a Galaxy A series phone in Samsung’s lineup alongside devices from some Chinese OEMs.