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In Numbers: The Evolution of Image Sensors

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Today, camera quality is an important criterion when choosing a smartphone. Image sensors are the eyes of digital devices, and are a type of semiconductor that convert light entering a lens into digital signals. The image quality of a camera is decided by its image sensor. Today, smartphone cameras are on the verge of creating high-resolution images on par with the human eye. How far along are Samsung Electronics’ image sensors? Let’s take a look at some numbers.
In Numbers: The Evolution of Image Sensors
In Numbers: The Evolution of Image Sensors

The ‘ISOCELL Bright HMX’ 108 million pixel mobile image sensor We used to say no camera is as good as the human eye… The key words here being “used to”. Samsung Electronics introduced the 108 million pixel ‘ISOCELL Bright HMX’ in August, the first mobile processor to break through the 100 million pixel barrier. With a pixel count 1.6 times that of the 64 million pixel ‘ISOCELL Bright GW1’ and ‘ISOCELL Bright GW2’ image sensors revealed in May, the HMX boasts the largest pixel count in the mobile image sensor industry. The image sensor enables ultra-high-resolution images with detail never before possible with conventional mobile devices, which translates into premium DSLR-class image quality on our small and thin smartphones. ‘ISOCELL Slim GH1’: Breaking through the pixel size barrier With the recent smartphone trend toward bezel-less designs (punch-hole displays and notches) with the display taking up as much front panel real estate as possible, smaller camera module size is essential. Mounting cameras in limited space requires smaller sensors, and often this leads to reduced pixel count and lower-resolution images. Samsung’s new ‘ISOCELL Slim GH1’ provides some 43.7 million pixels each just 0.7㎛ (micrometer; one millionth of a meter) wide, and is capable of a professional-grade 4K (3,840 x 2,160) resolution video capture at 60 frames a second - the first time in the industry. Samsung Electronics’ ongoing pixel technology innovation The pixel is the basic unit that forms images on computer, TV, and mobile device screens. At pixel sizes under 1㎛ (micrometer; one millionth of a meter), individual pixels become difficult to distinguish from neighboring pixels. This has long been a technological barrier for the industry. Samsung Electronics’ ‘ISOCELL’ technology was developed to minimize pixel interference, and completely isolates each cell with an insulating layer. The technology has been used to create 0.8㎛ ultra-fine pixel image sensors ranging from 20 million to 32 million, 48 million, 64 million, and now 108 million pixels. The latest 0.7㎛ pixels were also made possible by ISOCELL technology. Samsung also incorporates ‘Tetrapixel’ technology into its latest products. Here, four pixels function as one large pixel in low-light environments, enabling cameras to take brighter images in the dark, and more detailed images in good light. Samsung Electronics’ image sensor innovation is set to realize true ‘as the eyes see it’ ultra high-quality images in the near future. We’re just as curious as you to see just how close to - and may be even beyond - the human eye image sensors will get. Samsung Electronics is committed to continued innovation in advanced image sensors to further enrich our daily digital lives. * Technological term of 'Tetrapixel' was updated in July 2022

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