Samsung announces 200MP smartphone image sensor with extremely small pixels


posted Thursday, June 23, 2022 at 3:30 PM EDT


Samsung has announced a new smartphone image sensor, the ISOCELL HP3. The 200-megapixel image sensor features the industry's smallest pixels at just 0.56 micrometers. Compared to its 200MP ISOCELL HP1 image sensor, Samsung's latest sensor has 12 percent smaller pixels, resulting in a 20 percent smaller camera module area. With a smaller module area, manufacturers can make smaller and thinner smartphones.

Samsung has plenty of experience with high-megapixel smartphone sensors after first releasing a 108MP sensor in 2019. Last fall, Samsung announced the ISOCELL HP1, a 200MP sensor with a 0.64-micrometer pixel size. It's quite a different approach compared to a company like Apple, who continues to use 12-megapixel image sensors in its smartphones. To deal with issues in low-light, Samsung's ISOCELL HP3 sensor uses Tetra 2 pixel technology. This allows the sensor to combine 4 or 16 pixels into 1, creating a 50MP or 12.5MP sensor, respectively. These lower-megapixel pixel arrangements offer 1.12 micrometer and 2.24-micrometer pixel sizes, respectively.

To deliver expanded dynamic range performance, the ISOCELL HP3 uses an improved version of Samsung's Smart-ISO Pro feature. The technology merges image information from two conversion gains at low and high ISO modes to create an HDR image. The upgraded Smart-ISO Pro feature includes a new triple ISO mode that further expands dynamic range performance. Further, Smart-ISO allows the sensor to "express images in over 4 trillion colors (14-bit color depth), 64 times more color than the predecessor's 68 billion (12-bit)."

"Samsung has continuously led the image sensor market trend through its technology leadership in high-resolution sensors with the smallest pixels," said JoonSeo Yim, Executive Vice President of Sensor Business Team at Samsung Electronics. "With our latest and upgraded 0.56μm 200MP ISOCELL HP3, Samsung will push on to deliver epic resolutions beyond professional levels for smartphone camera users."

ISOCELL HP3 can record 4K/120p video and 8K video at up to 30p. There will be a slight crop factor for 8K video, although precise specs haven't been disclosed. The sensor includes Super QPD autofocus technology. Samsung writes, "Super QPD uses a single lens over four-adjacent pixels to detect the phase differences in both horizontal and vertical directions. This paves way for a more accurate and quicker auto focusing for smartphone camera users."

The Samsung ISOCELL HP3 sensor will begin mass production later this year.