Despite all the fancy bezel-less trends, notches, and sliding or elevating parts, the smartphone market these days is still largely driven by mobile photography. Once Apple’s domain, other companies have stepped up their game to claim the crown in that department. Although not exactly at the top, Samsung’s smartphones are still rated as some of the best, in no small part to its ISOCELL image sensors which are now welcoming two new members boasting 48 and 32 megapixels.
Having that many pixels is already a huge deal considering you’re cramming such a sensor inside the body of a smartphone, not a DSLR. That’s possible thanks to Samsung’s use of 0.8-micrometer (μm) pixels to squeeze in as many in such a small die. The only other image sensor manufacturer who has made such an achievement is Sony with its 48 megapixel IMX586, which has yet to be found on any smartphone.
Megapixel count, however, is not enough. Such small pixels run the risk of performing poorly in low light. To counter that, Samsung has employed its ISOCELL Plus pixel isolation and its Tetracell technology to increase light sensitivity by merging 4 adjacent pixels into one. In practice, Samsung says that even at 12 megapixel and 8 megapixel resolutions (for 48 and 32 MP, respectively) the sensors will have the light sensitivity equivalent to that of a 1.6μm sensor.
Both the 48 megapixel ISOCEL Bright GM1 and 32 megapixel ISOCELL Bright GD1 feature gyro-based EIS (electronic image stabilization) at their most basic. As if to make up for its lower pixel count, the 32 megapixel GD1 also gets real-time HDR.
Samsung says that production of these sensors will start fourth quarter this year. That’s just in time for the production run of the Galaxy S10 where one of these two sensor could debut. Given their size, there might even be a chance that both will make it but we’re betting on the HDR-capable 32 megapixel ISOCELL Bright GD1 being Samsung’s choice for next year’s flagship.