Samsung 108 Mp sensor raises bar in smartphone imaging

Samsung Electronics' ISOCELL Bright HMX achieves 108 megapixels, providing resolution equivalent to that of a high-end digital SLR camera. (Samsung)

Driven by an insatiable consumer appetite for higher quality smartphone cameras, smartphone makers are scurrying to incorporate higher resolution imaging sensors in their products. Perhaps not surprising, one of the largest suppliers, Samsung Electronics, has broken the 100 million pixel barrier with the introduction of its 108 megapixel (Mp) Samsung ISOCELL Bright HMX.

With the latest addition, Samsung will expand its 0.8μm image sensor offerings from its recently announced ultra-high 64Mp to 108Mp, a resolution equivalent to that of a high-end DSLR camera. Samsung ISOCELL Bright HMX was developed in collaboration with Xiaomi Corp.  

The ISOCELL Bright HMX is designed to take high-quality photos, even in extreme lighting conditions. Being the first mobile image sensor to adopt a large 1/1.33-inch size, the HMX can absorb more light in low-lit settings than smaller sensors. The sensor’s pixel-merging Tetracell technology allows the sensor to imitate big-pixel sensors, producing brighter 27Mp images.

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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. The mechanism uses a high ISO in darker settings that helps reduce noise, resulting in clearer pictures. For advanced filming, the HMX supports video recording without losses in field-of-view at resolutions up to 6K (6016 x 3384) 30-frames-per-second (fps).

“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, in a statement. “As we continue our partnership, we anticipate bringing not only new mobile camera experiences but also a platform through which our users can create unique content.”

Mass production for Samsung ISOCELL Bright HMX will begin later this month.

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