July 25, 2021

a 108 megapixel smartphone sensor

Samsung’s strategy in photo sensors is obvious: to offer models offering the highest definition. The Korean firm presented this summer the Bright HMX, a 108 megapixel sensor. Xiaomi should integrate it this year.

Samsung is not as well known in the field of photo sensors as Sony. But the ISOCELL range has been enriched in recent months with three daring sensors (not counting the dual sensor solutions). The Bright GM1 whose resolution reaches 48 megapixels. The Bright GW1 which reaches 64 megapixels. And, in August the Bright HMX which raises still (a little?) More the photographic definition. Indeed, the definition of this sensor is pushed to 108 megapixels. It is a record in telephony.

A very large sensor

Apart from this figure well above what we currently know, even at the top of the range, this new sensor is very astonishing, because it is extremely large. It measures 1 / 1.33 inch. Which translates to 0.75 inch. It will therefore need a much larger lens than the optics currently used, so that all of its photosensitive pixels receive light. This will require, of course, a small ergonomic adaptation on the part of the phone manufacturers.

By the way, speaking of photoreceptors, know that each of them measures the same size as those of the Bright GM1 and GW1 sensors. Or 0.8 microns. If this may seem small, especially vis-à-vis some 12 megapixel sensors at Sony (or even at Samsung), the Bright HMX is not really made to deliver 108 megapixel photos. And it makes sense. First, because the weight of the photo would quickly clutter up the internal storage of phones, even if the latter has grown significantly recently. Secondly, because no chipset, even the Snapdragon 855, is theoretically capable of supporting photos over 64 megapixels.

The same brightness with better definition

So what will it be for? To produce 27-megapixel photos with each pixel measuring 1.6 microns across. Because, like the Bright GM1 and GW1, and like the Sony Exmor IMX586 of 48 megapixels, the Bright HMX works in “Quad Pixel” mode, called here Tetracell. Information from four adjacent pixels is combined to form brighter, more contrasting images, even in low light conditions. At least that’s the promise. However, it would be possible to manually unlock the native 108-megapixel mode.

The 48 megapixel sensors (Sony or Samsung) currently integrated in smartphones offer better photographic quality in 12 megapixels (on the same principle of combining four adjacent pixels). By increasing the resolution to 108 megapixels, Samsung therefore hopes to offer the same quality offered with a 48 megapixel sensor, but with a higher definition (and therefore a finer resolution, at constant photo size). The promise is therefore twofold: as much brightness, but more finesse (and less noise in low light).

Very soon at Xiaomi

The first smartphone to be equipped with the Bright HMX will be signed Xiaomi, official information, since the firm of Lin Bin, the president of the Chinese brand is quoted in the press release. The mobile will be formalized before the end of the year. Rumors say that the smartphone in question could be the Mi MIX 4, expected sometime in the fall. A recent leak even claims that the Bright HMX could be integrated into several of the brand’s terminals. Let’s already wait until there is one.