When Samsung announced the Galaxy Note 4 in the beginning of September, no one was surprised to see that it also had a 16-megapixel camera like the Galaxy S5. Traditionally Samsung shares camera sensors between devices in a given year, with the Galaxy S phone launching in the spring with a brand new camera sensor and the Galaxy Note following in the fall with the same sensor. This year Samsung broke tradition in more than one way, as in the spring they started using their own camera sensor instead of the traditional Sony sensor, based on a new kind of technology called ISOCELL. We found that colors were great on the Samsung sensor and it did things like HDR photos and video extremely well, and the video quality was just as good as we had seen on the Galaxy Note 3.
Samsung however did little to fix its biggest problem that’s been plaguing Samsung phones for a long time now: low light capabilities. If anything the Galaxy S5 was worse at low light situations than any other Samsung phone before it, often producing super muddy shots with lots of blur if you couldn’t hold your hand still. This time around with the Galaxy Note 4 it looks like Samsung might be returning to the drawing board with ISOCELL, as they’ve gone back to Sony sensors for the Note 4. They didn’t just use any old Sony sensor though, they’re using the latest and greatest, the Exmor IMX240 with OIS+, a method of keeping the lens moving with your hand to avoid those nasty blurry situations in any light. As we’ve seen with plenty of other phones using OIS, you generally get less blurry pictures, especially in low light, and significantly less shaky video.
The clarity of Sony’s new sensor also comes into play here, creating images with more detail than ever before and bringing the Note 4 into what could be the best photography category yet. Time will tell with the camera though, as using the phone in more situations helps identify its weaknesses, but preliminary test results are positive for the phone, which looks like the best camera Samsung has put out in years.