Samsung 600MP camera sensor to rival human eye, but why?

A release from Samsung this morning suggested that the company was hard at work aiming for a 600 megapixel camera sensor for smart mobile devices. But why? When we've got smartphones right this minute with camera sensors that capture photos better than even the most fantastic point-and-shoot cameras from only a few years ago. Do we really need to put more work into something that already works more-than-good-enough?

In the here and now

Per Park's sources, human eyes "are said to match a resolution of around 500 megapixels." This, he says, means we (as an industry) have a long way to go to be able to "match human perception capabilities." Given Samsung's jump in the past couple of years from 12MP to 64MP all the way to 108MP, it'd be surprising if they DIDN'T reach post-500MP in the next half-decade.

Beyond phones

The suggestion from Samsung is that they'll soon create image sensors for mobile devices that rival the visual power of the human eye. "Most cameras today can only take pictures that are visible to the human eye at wavelengths between 450 and 750 nanometers (nm)," said Yongin Park, EVP, Head of Sensor Business Team, System LSI Business for Samsung. "Sensors able to detect light wavelengths outside of that range are hard to come by, but their use can benefit a wide range of areas."

"For example, image sensors equipped for ultraviolet light perception can be used for diagnosing skin cancer by capturing pictures to showcase healthy cells and cancerous cells in different colors," said Park. "Infrared image sensors can also be harnessed for more efficient quality control in agriculture and other industries. Somewhere in the future, we might even be able to have sensors that can see microbes not visible to the naked eye."

The implication is that Samsung's pushing the limits – but for smartphones? It's not entirely clear just yet. Once Samsung reaches the upper limits of what a consumer will pay for in a smartphone, it might just make sense to move on to a different product.

See what's up today

If you take a peek at our Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Review, you'll find that such a massive image sensor and powerful array of sensors and lenses might already be too much. Too much for the average user – too much power, too many capabilities, more than what most people could possibly need on a daily basis. This results in extraordinary costs for the end user – and it might be the limit at the moment for what makes sense to produce. Take a peek and let us know what you think.