This camera sensor had been rumored for quite some time, but today, Samsung made it official. It's the "world's first" 108-megapixel smartphone camera sensor and the company says that it will offer the same resolution as "high-end DSLR" cameras. It's also going to have the capability of recording at up to 6K video. This will be limited by the processor and RAM inside the phone though, so the first phone with this sensor may not actually be able to record in 6K. It sports a 1/1.33-inch sensor size. Other than that, Samsung has not mentioned a whole lot about this camera sensor just yet.
It might sound strange that Samsung is letting a competitor use this sensor first, but it's an interesting way for Samsung to get into the Chinese market.
Currently, Samsung's market share in China is about one-percent. It's a pretty competitive market, where home-grown companies like Xiaomi, Huawei and OPPO own the market. So instead of Samsung looking to compete with smartphones, it's competing with smartphone parts. Like this new 108-megapixel camera sensor.
Xiaomi, and most other smartphone makers, have been using Sony sensors on their smartphones. Very few use non-Sony sensors, and now that Samsung has this new 108-megapixel sensor available, it hopes that many will make the switch. Samsung smartphones have been using Samsung's own sensors (along with Sony's) for the past few years. Samsung is not new to camera sensors, it actually sells cameras. Though it's camera division is not as popular as Sony's yet.
OPPO is also using Samsung's sensors, though it's unclear when they will be using this new 108-megapixel sensor. It's likely that Xiaomi will use this sensor in the Mi MIX 4 that's due to come out later this year. And OPPO will release a phone in the early part of 2020 with the same sensor.
Counterpoint Research's research director, Neil Shah stated that "Samsung's market share in China is just one-percent. However, with its strong component business, it is gaining a foothold in China."
It's a smart way for Samsung to get into China and get a bigger part of the market. It has tried to compete directly with the smartphone makers in the country, but it just can't do it, without watering down its brand. That's something Samsung doesn't want (nor should) to do.
Samsung has already worked with various companies in China for other components. Like storage, RAM and OLED displays. All of which, Samsung is the largest manufacturer of. Samsung makes these components and they are found in almost every single smartphone that is sold around the world. Samsung is essentially admitting defeat in China, but not giving up entirely in the market. By selling its components to those that are doing well there – like Xiaomi – it can still cash in on the market, just in a different way.
It'll be interesting to see how Xiaomi uses this sensor later this year.