Samsung Just Made a 108MP Camera for Phones

Posted on August 12, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Hardware with 13 Comments

Samsung is announcing a new image sensor for phones that breaks records. Built-in partnership with Xiaomi, the new Samsung ISOCELL Bright HMX is the world’s first mobile image sensor that goes beyond 100 million pixels.

At 108MP, the new sensor allows for higher quality pictures in different light conditions. The resolution, which Samsung says is equivalent to DSLR cameras, allows for “extremely sharp photographs rich in detail”, according to the firm. It’s the first mobile image sensor to adopt a large lens size of 1/1.33-inch that allows the lens to absorb more light, leading to better quality pictures in low-light conditions. There’s also an intelligent Tetracell technology that uses a pixel-merging method to “imitate” big-pixel sensors, allowing phones to produce brighter 27MP images.

“In bright environments, the Smart-ISO, a mechanism that intelligently selects the level of amplifier gains according to the illumination of the environment for optimal light-to-electric signal conversion, switches to a low ISO to improve pixel saturation and produce vivid photographs,” Samsung says. The mechanism also allows the phone to reduce noise in pictures in darker settings.

The image sensor is built to tackle video recording as well, with Samsung claiming no loesses in field-of-view when recording videos at resolutions up to 6K at 30fps.

“For ISOCELL Bright HMX, Xiaomi and Samsung have worked closely together from the early conceptual stage to production that has resulted in a groundbreaking 108Mp image sensor. We are very pleased that picture resolutions previously available only in a few top-tier DSLR cameras can now be designed into smartphones,” said Lin Bin, co-founder and president of Xiaomi. It’s not clear how Xiaomi will benefit from this apart from the usual manufacturing profits, though Samsung is advertising the sensor as a Samsung image sensor.

Samsung’s new image sensor could allow for some really good pictures on the company’s future phones, and on other phones. But at the end of the day, a good phone camera comes down to the software and how good the image processing mechanisms are. We have seen companies boast large numbers like this in the past, and they were still not very good at producing pictures better than phones with lower megapixel cameras.

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Comments (13)

13 responses to “Samsung Just Made a 108MP Camera for Phones”

  1. wp7mango

    A good camera also requires good optics, regardless of software, image processing, or megapixels.

    • siv

      In reply to WP7Mango:

      I think the one thing that phones can currently do that as far as I know DSLRs don't is apply AI. I have recently bought a Huawei P20 Pro and I have to say the images that produces in daylight and in darkness beat the images I get on my Canon DSLR because the AI makes the image look like what your brain sees rather than what is really there.


      All my cameras in the past have taken pictures that are sharp and in focus (most of the time) and yet when I view them on screen (which is where nowadays I view all photos) they just look dull and not as I saw it in real life. However the P20 Pro boosts the colours and the light and shade and somehow comes up with an image that I am sure is artificial but too me looks much more like what I was seeing in my head.


      I just don't bother with my DSLR any more, the phone is more convenient always with me and less bulky to carry around and frankly produces images I am much happier with.

  2. wright_is

    Now all they need are decent lenses to go with it. I won't hold my breath until we get a decent 500mm lens on a phone.

  3. MikeGalos

    Cool, and similar in concept in sensor design to the Nokia Lumia 1020's 41MP sensor from 2013. Now add in the other camera features from the 1020 that have been missing for years like excellent optics, a mechanical shutter, a xenon flash, good ergonomics including a dedicated shutter release and we might actually have a decent camera in a phone again rather than pretending that software can make up for horribly limited hardware.

    • paradyne

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      I still miss my 1020 (lost in a river-kayak-rapids-rock-upturning incident). The xenon flash let m take photos at dance events with low lighting and moving people. We keep getting steps forward with phone cameras but after the 1020 we seemed to go 10 steps back and still haven't quite caught up again!

  4. lvthunder

    This is going to make the storage companies very happy. Who needs 27MP from a phone?

  5. glenn8878

    I wish camera phones will solve the dark object in bright background problem. The picture will often be underexposed and overexposed at the same time.

  6. bluvg

    Can the optics really resolve to 108 MP--or even 27 MP, for that matter--though? While smartphone cameras are impressive in many ways, resolving power hasn't been one of them, at least in what I've seen.

  7. jreuter

    A year or two ago Canon announced they had developed a 250MP (APS-H) sensor, but there was no point putting it in consumer products because they could not produce affordable lenses that would be good enough for the sensor. So I really do not expect great things from a phone just because the MP count is huge.

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