The spec race continues, Samsung is not content with current pixel count on camera modules of its flagship devices and wants to increase it to 20 megapixel. The 20 MP sensors are planned to go into production some time after second quarter of 2014. According to Korean ET News, Advanced Development Team of the Wireless Business Division of Samsung Electronics has already begun development for 20 MP camera modules. However we might not see flagships equipped with 20MP sensor until 2015. Samsung recently ordered for more than 180 million 16 MP sensors for its flagship devices launching next year.
Samsung is currently the top smartphone manufacturer in terms of sales and plans to ship around 360 million smartphones in 2014. Almost 25% of total units shipped will contain 16MP sensors. With this there will be increased demand for camera module parts such as Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductors (CMOS), image sensors, auto-focus (AF) actuators and lenses. To solve supply issues Samsung recently contracted SONY to supply CMOS sensors for its camera modules.
Samsung's System LSI Business division is also working on ISOCELL technology to increase low light performance of CMOS image sensors with 8MP, 13MP and 16MP pixel count. ISOCELL camera modules are known to produce better color accuracy and have better dynamic range. Also they are smaller in size and enable slimmer handsets.
Most manufacturers have left the camera spec race and have shifted focus on producing camera modules which offer better picture quality instead of more detail. Most other manufacturers have implemented Optical Image Stabilisation(OIS) for shake free images or used Ultra Pixel sensors with larger pixels for capturing more light and allow better low light photography. However, due‚ to high volume of sales of Samsung flagships and lack of supply of parts like autofocus actuators, it is not able to put‚ Optical Image Stabilisation features in its devices. Samsung had plans to introduce OIS in Galaxy Note 3 but it was postponed until next year. In order to compete with other flagships, Samsung is trying to continue the spec race by increasing the pixel count.