The name of the game when it comes to gargantuan smartphone camera sensors is pixel binning. It seemed like all the component makers had a 48MP unit on offer last year because we saw them pop up everywhere. And by "everywhere," we mean everywhere. Now, Samsung is taking it another step further with a new 64MP ISOCELL sensor.
The company is actually debuting two ISOCELL products today, the 48MP ISOCELL Bright GM2 and the 64MP ISOCELL Bright GW1.
Both of them feature 0.8-μm pixels and Tetracell technology to merge four pixels into one for clearer 12MP or 16MP images, respectively, in low-light conditions. Color data, according to AnandTech, is collected in a 4x4 subpixel arrangement, meaning that the effective RGB output comes to 12MP or 16MP. Samsung, however, uses a remosaic algorithm to interpret more information for the full field.
The sensors also feature Dual Conversion Gain, which allows the sensor to take in light information in bright conditions up to its saturation point. Each sensor also gets a high-performance phase detection auto-focus engine.
The 64MP sensor will be able to record 1080p footage at 480 frames per second — not as quick as the 960fps on a few other sensors, but there's give and take going on here. It is also touted to showcase up to 100dB of dynamic range in real time, a wider range than any other smartphone sensor and close to what Samsung says is the human-perceptible limit of 120dB.
The GM2, at 1/2", and the GW1, at 1/1.76", will be hefty parts that may get stuffed into devices that already packed full of other features. Consumers may end up seeing hardware design compromises and a heavier emphasis on software image stabilization as a result.
Samsung is sampling the sensors now and hopes to start mass production in the back half of the year.
As a side note, in a company teleconference, chipmaker Qualcomm said that it expects manufacturer partners to debut smartphone camera sensors greater than 100MP in resolution this year.