Samsung unveils new 200-megapixel image sensor for smartphones

The ISOCELL HP1 can adjust its pixel binning based on light level

Samsung Galaxy S21 camera

Samsung announced a new, 200-megapixel ISOCELL HP1 image sensor, which the company claims is the first for mobile devices.

The image sensor boasts 200 million 0.64μm pixels and the silicon is already small enough to fit in mobile hardware. However, while 200-megapixels may sound like a lot, it’s worth keeping in mind that like most high-megapixel sensors, the HP1 will make heavy use of binning.

Pixel binning, for those unfamiliar with the term, means combining multiple pixels into one larger pixel. It’s often used in phone cameras to squeeze out more detail in low-light scenarios.

What’s particularly neat about Samsung’s HP1 sensor is its ‘ChameleonCell’ tech, which can adjust the amount of binning depending on the light. In low light, the sensor can bin down at a factor of 16 to become a 12.5-megapixel sensor. Samsung claims that in this mode, it can produce much brighter, cleaner images.

However, while shooting in bright light, the sensor can bin by four to offer a 50-megapixel image. In this mode, the sensor can also shoot 8K video at 30fps. Moreover, the higher-resolution images will allow users to freely crop or resize without needing to worry about losing sharpness in the image.

As an example, if I take a picture with a smartphone camera, then zoom in or crop a smaller section of that picture, it doesn’t look as sharp. But if I do the same with my much higher resolution mirrorless camera, it retains a higher level of sharpness thanks to all the extra pixels. That’s effectively what Samsung’s going for with this sensor.

While the HP1 sensor definitely sounds good on paper, it’ll be interesting to see how well it performs in real-world tests. Samsung says samples of the HP1 are now available, and Engadget points out that the company’s Exynos 2100 chip already supports up to 200-megapixel sensors, suggesting we could see the HP1 in a future Galaxy flagship.

Source: Samsung Via: Engadget