A higher resolution for camera sensors has several advantages, including the higher information density of photos from such sensors. For phones, the limit is currently 108 MP sensors, but Samsung would work hard to market 600 MP sensors in the future.
Samsung’s ‘megapixel race’
Samsung was at the forefront of the very first 108 MP sensor and wants to hold the crown in this megapixel race by unveiling the very first 600 MP sensor for smartphones. Samsung first introduced its customers to its 108 MP sensor on the Galaxy S20 over the past year – a low point for the South Korean manufacturer: this 108 MP sensor was plagued by autofocus issues.
Samsung is really doing 600MP sensors! pic.twitter.com/vGgsfxsGGh
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) December 5, 2020
Nevertheless, Samsung wants to go up with the megapixel numbers, according to a presentation slide that rumor-maker Ice Universe has shared on Twitter. Samsung would like to immediately switch from the current 108 MP resolution to a 600 MP resolution, a resolution that is almost six times as high. With the higher resolution of the camera sensor, it will be possible to zoom in on 4K or 8K video, without any loss of quality.
Such a higher resolution can also have advantages when taking photos. Sensors with a high resolution apply a technique called ‘pixel binning’, in which several megapixels are combined in a photo. On a 48 MP sensor, this often means that you get photos with a 12 MP resolution. A higher resolution ensures that – even after ‘merging pixels’ – you end up with a higher resolution and therefore see more details in the photos.
Not ready yet
Yet consumers should not expect phones with 600 MP sensors in 2021 , according to the leaked presentation slide. Currently, the camera sensor simply takes up too much space: about 12 percent of the back of the phone, for one sensor. A camera setup with multiple sensors would therefore become virtually impossible without sacrificing battery capacity.
Another problem with the 600 MP camera sensor developed by Samsung’s ISOCELL division is its thickness: currently about 22 millimeters. The vast majority of phones are less than 9 mm thick. Unless Samsung plans to make its phones considerably thicker, this sensor will not swap the laboratory for the housing of a phone for the time being. Samsung also sells the sensors to other manufacturers: it is possible that they have shown interest, despite the thickness.