Samsung has announced a brand new mobile camera sensor, the ISOCELL Slim GH1. The 43.7-megapixel sensor is designed to step down the amount of bulk and space required for front-facing cameras. It's also an industry first, as the world's sole 0.7μm sensor.
Samsung says it will help device manufacturers slim devices down without sacrificing screen real-estate. The end goal is to help OEMs produce "sleeker and more streamlined designs" while continuing to whittle away the bezel devices require. That should ultimately equate to slimmer devices as well.
Where will OEMs use the new Samsung GH1 camera sensor?
Samsung points out that its new sensor can be used in essentially any role within the confines of a smartphone. The sensor will work with Android tablets as well but they're especially well-designed for selfie snappers.
That's because the sensor is able to take 4K video with a bare minimum of loss in terms of field of view. The resolution of the sensor starts out at 7968 x 5480 and is converted down to 3984 x 2740.
That is slightly higher than the standard 4K resolution at 3840 x 2160. Samsung indicates that means users will be able to capture more detail in backgrounds while recording videos or selfies. The sensor can capture those at "60T frames per second."
That's enabled by the fact that the ISOCELL Slim GH1 camera sensor utilizes pixel-merging technology. The merging is similar to what's already found in Quad Pixel cameras. In this case, the trimmed back pixel size of Samsung's new sensor outputs the equivalent of a 1.4μm-pixel image sensor.
Aside from Samsung's pixel-isolating technologies, the sensor also supports gyro-based EIS and phase detection auto-focus technology called Super PD. That enables quick focusing that's accurate as well as real-time HDR features for better color saturation and contrast.
In effect, the new Samsung camera sensor incorporates nearly all of the attributes users now expect from a primary camera. The fact that it does that via a much smaller sensor, in terms of pixel size and sensor size, means that selfie cameras can incorporate those features without adding bulk and in some cases while trimming bulk back.
Finally, the company already has a slew of sensors and hardware beginning to saturating the market for primary cameras. So these will undoubtedly be used in selfie snappers above all else.
Don't expect to see this soon
Samsung plans to begin mass production of its new ISOCELL Slim GH1 camera sensor sometime before the year is out. But it hasn't specified exactly when that will be.
Given that smartphone OEMs will need time to adapt their builds for the sensor, place orders, build devices, and test them, that puts the timeframe for devices using the sensor quite a ways out.
More directly, consumers probably shouldn't expect new smartphones or tablets using Samsung's sensors any time soon. The devices most likely won't launch until late next year at the very earliest.
It may take longer still if manufacturers that build new form factors to take advantage of the new sensor's characteristics.
Samsung hasn't provided any details regarding partners who will use the new sensor yet.