Samsung has announced a new advanced pixel technology for CMOS image sensors called ISOCELL that it promises will get higher color fidelity in poor lighting conditions. This new technology has currently been developed for use in an 8MP camera, and it's scheduled to enter mass production in Q4 2013. We can reasonably expect this advancement to appear in future Galaxy products down the road.


The flower on the right shows more yellows than the one on the left, a detail that makes more of a difference once you pan out to view the entire image (an option we unfortunately don't have with the one picture Samsung provided). The photo obviously doesn't capture all of the flower's details, but it highlights the industry's steady march in that direction.

The competition here is tough, and the various contestants are quickly making progress. While the Nokia Lumia 1020 is packing enough to win in any megapixel-measuring contest, most phones would rather make the trade off for smaller cameras. The new iPhone 5S has the same number of megapixels as its predecessor (eight), but Apple improved the quality of each pixel in order to create a better camera. Before that, HTC put the ruler down and decided it wasn't going to push megapixels at all, instead releasing an image sensor that took lower-resolution images capable of pulling in more light. The Galaxy S4 has a 13MP camera, but it looks like the next model could also move in the opposite direction.

For all the details, here's the press release in full:

Samsung Launches ISOCELL: Innovative Image Sensor Technology for Premium Mobile Devices

September 24, 2013 | 2 Comments | Tomorrow Works

Samsung Electronics announced its new advanced pixel technology for CMOS image sensors, ISOCELL. This new technology substantially increases light sensitivity and effectively controls the absorption of electrons, resulting in higher color fidelity even in poor lighting conditions. ISOCELL improves the image quality and enhances the user experience of premium smartphones and tablets that integrate sensors with this exciting new technology.

The quality of an image sensor is determined by the amount of light that is accurately captured by the individual pixels within the sensor array. With the market pressure to increase camera resolution and image quality, without growing the camera size, the pixels have had to shrink, while improving their performance at the same time – a challenging task.

To meet this challenge, previous sensor technology developments focused on improving the light absorption of each pixel, and have progressed pixel technology from FSI (Front Side Illumination) to BSI (Back Side Illumination) which places photodiode at the top to maximize photoelectric efficiency. While being very effective at the time, this BSI technology also faced limitations in improving image quality as pixel sizes continued to decrease.

Building on these past advances and continuing the push toward higher quality image sensors for mobile devices, Samsung has developed ISOCELL the next generation of pixel technology, which is patent pending. ISOCELL technology forms a physical barrier between neighboring pixels – isolating the pixel. This isolation enables more photons to be collected from the micro-lens and absorbed into the correct pixel’s photodiode minimizing undesired electrical crosstalk between pixels and allowing expanded full well capacity (FWC). 

Compared to conventional BSI pixels, the ISOCELL pixels decrease the crosstalk by approximately 30 percent which results in higher color fidelity to reproduce the original color with sharpness and richness, and increase the full well capacity (FWC) by 30 percent which leads to greater dynamic range.

Additionally, an imager designed with ISOCELL can feature a 20 percent wider chief ray angle (CRA), reducing the height of the camera module. This makes it suitable for slim and small form factor mobile devices with challenging low z-height requirements. 

As the first Samsung image sensor to adopt this new technology, the S5K4H5YB 8Megapixel imager utilizes a 1.12um ISOCELL pixel and has a 1/4inch optical format. The S5K4H5YB is currently sampling to customers with mass production scheduled for Q4 2013.

According to market research firm Techno System Research, in 2014, approximately 66 percent of smartphones will feature image sensors with 8Mp or higher resolution.

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • http://www.virtuaniz.com/ Akshat Mittal

    I don't see much difference...

    • my95z34

      Basically, it's decreased the clipping. So the whites aren't blown out like they are in the left hand picture.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

    Both pics are crap. Hopefully they'll come out with a better example pretty quick.

    • my95z34

      Keep in mind, that photo is zoomed in.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

        I am. I shoot macro photography all the time, and that isn't a good crop.

        • my95z34

          True, but it's still not bad for a cell phone.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

            I'm not really griping about the camera, I'm griping about the photo. I just think they could have come up with something that better showed the features they're wanting to show. I can see the point of the camera, I just wouldn't have chosen that exact example.

        • Pierre Gardin

          Nice to know about your life, but Samsung's pic is not macro photography.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

            Nice to know you're a snot. Thanks for the arrogant answer.

  • Pratik Holla

    Dont care if they reduce the MP count. I cant remember the last time i printed a pic out. Just give me better pictures, not bigger pictures

    • Matthew Fry

      The S4 camera only makes ~10"x15" (4128x3096x300dpi) prints. I need billboard size prints of my lunch. Bring on the 41MP Newkia Android phone!

      • Pratik Holla

        Heck if they can manage that, good for them! But I dont want them putting some mediocre tech and branding it as though its some kind of revolution. Something Moto and HTC are doing, Only camera specific phones worth buying right now are the 1020 or LG G2

    • LikesBigPhotos

      Why not both?
      I like the ability to crop and reframe an image and you lose a lot of that ability with smaller photos. Of course, there is no point if the much larger image is poorer quality!

  • Cherokee4Life

    Yeah.. I can't tell a difference.

    • darkNiGHTS

      Look at the blown out portions of the image on the left. It handles the extreme light differences much better.

      • Cherokee4Life

        okay yes I see that there is white on the pedals on the picture on the left and on the right its all yellow. But blowing a picture up that much a stupid way to show off the camera in my opinion. If you are blowing up pictures that much where you could tell a difference then you shouldn't be using a smartphone camera anyways.

    • Mr. Mark

      the one on the left has a lot of oversaturation (almost white) on the yellow portions of the flower.

  • Matthew Fry

    I'll take this + Ultrapixel please.

  • AphexTwin

    Dear IDIOT,

    Not sure why you blog at all when you can't even accurately describe relevant technologies.

    ..."releasing a 'lens' that took lower-resolution images capable of pulling in more light."

    You mean a "sensor" that is capable of pulling more light, a lens merely focuses the light. The HTC phone had a sensor with a lower pixel count in order to have larger photon capture area per pixel.

    Quit While You're Ahead

    • my95z34

      Apparently you don't understand aperture.

      • spydie

        aperture in an aim-and-shoot? our aperture never changes physically, only in software... it all about the sensor

        • my95z34

          True, but my point was at his statement "You mean a "sensor" that is capable of pulling more light, a lens merely focuses the light." I was stating that a lens does more than just focus the light. The aperture opens and closes to let in more or less light. Not necessarily in a cell phone, but in general.


    I find this promising inovation,
    If I understand this will limit the hugely effect "against the light". which is hugely use case of the average person.
    During Holiday Photo, we will take a photo with the sea behind or monument, we always have the choice of position relative to the sun.
    And often finds himself with a blackened silhouette.
    it is likely that it will equip the galaxy s5