The Korean tech company has released details of a new camera module that will allow for thinner smartphones and better photos in low light.
Samsung has revealed the world’s first 1.0 micrometer 16 megapixel CMOS image sensor, which is a significant advance in the field and could be used on the company’s new Galaxy S7 smartphone. Previous Samsung smartphones such as the Galaxy S6 and Note 4 are thin handsets with a camera module which bulges out the back, an unwieldy design which will be ended by the new module.
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Samsung releases groundbreaking camera module
Kyushik Hong, vice president and head of S.LSI marketing at Samsung, said: “As a trendsetter in the mobile image sensor business, we are pleased to be the first to deliver the most advanced 1.0?m-pixel imager, which meets high-resolution and slim design requirements for smartphone cameras.”
It appears that the new sensor is just the beginning of Samsung’s groundbreaking work in the field. “Starting with a 16MP sensor, Samsung plans to further expand the 1.0?m-pixel product category and lead the image sensor market for high-performing slim mobile devices,” Hong continued.
Tech heads are more excited about the “1.0 micrometer” specification, which means that the sensor will feature individual pixels which are much larger than on previous models. As a result the camera will receive more light, theoretically improving the quality of its shots when light levels are low.
Samsung explains that the use of “ISOCELL technology dramatically reduces colour crosstalk of neighbouring pixels by adding physical barriers between each pixel. This substantially increases light sensitivity and effectively controls the collection of photons, resulting in higher colour fidelity even in poor lighting conditions.”
Smaller module should allow thinner Galaxy S7
Another significant advance is the dimensions of the module. Measuring just 5 millimeters tall, the new module will end the need for the aforementioned camera bulge, and allow manufacturers to design even slimmer smartphones. Samsung claims that the overall height of the module is 20% less than conventional 1.12 micrometer modules.
Samsung announced that the module is fully functional today, but we may not see it on a mass-produced smartphone for a little while yet. There has been speculation that it may make an appearance on the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, which is scheduled for launch on August 13, but promotional materials still appear to show a bulge on the smartphone.
If the new module is not used in the Galaxy Note 5, it will almost certainly be introduced in Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S7. The new technology will allow the new smartphone to be even thinner than its predecessor, the S6, which was just 6.8 millimeters thick.
New module may be included in Galaxy S7
The company announced that it will allow other companies to use the sensor in their devices. This should lead to improved camera performance on smartphones from rival brands, which will shake up a sector currently dominated by Sony and its CMOS business.
Speculation about the Galaxy S7 is already building. In addition to the new sensor, it is thought that the new smartphone will include Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 chip, USB Type-C port, and an Edge variant will also be released.
Rumors are spreading that Samsung may also release a foldable version of the S7, which would use the flexible screen technology first seen at CES 2013. Such an innovation would be important for Samsung in order to attempt to win back customers from Apple.
Recent Samsung smartphones have lost ground to their Apple rival, and many analysts believe that the S7 will be a crucial device for Samsung.