Samsung unveils world’s 1st 108-megapixel image sensor

Samsung has unveiled the world’s first 108-megapixel image sensor for mobile devices, ahead of industry leader Sony.

Samsung’s efforts to seek a breakthrough in the non-semiconductor sector has paid off as its memory chip business is facing growing uncertainty due to Japan’s export control on chip-making materials bound for Korea, company officials said.

Samsung said the 108-megapixel image sensor called ISOCELL Bright HMX has a resolution equivalent to that of a high-end digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera. It will begin mass production of the latest image sensor in August.

An image sensor is an electronic device that converts the light received by the camera into a digital image. Sony is currently dominating the market with about a 50 percent market share, while the No.2 Samsung has about a 20 percent share.

With the announcement of the ISOCELL Bright HMX sensor, Samsung is further widening the technology gap with Sony. The chipmaker previously announced the industry’s first 64-megapixel image sensor in May to compete with Sony’s industry-dominating 48-megapixel one.

As more phone manufacturers are adopting extra cameras for their smartphones, the device is increasingly being regarded as a lucrative endeavor.

Also, thanks to the growing demand from self-driving vehicles, machine vision in robots and security video cameras, the global complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor market is expected to grow to $19 billion by 2022, according to data from IC Insights.

Samsung said it used what it calls Tetracell technology that enables users to take clear photos regardless of light conditions. The latest image sensor can be used for films or TV shows as it supports 6K video shooting at 30 frames per second.

The company added it was able to develop the ISOCELL Bright HMX sensor thanks to close cooperation with Xiaomi. The world’s fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer announced recently that it will use Samsung’s 64-megapixel image sensor for its new Redmi smartphones and further said it plans to adopt the 108-megapixel image sensor for its upcoming high-end mobile devices.

“Many thought the 108-megapixel image sensor will be only available with premium DSLR cameras. To apply the 108-megapixel to small and slim smartphones for the first time, we have been closely cooperating with Samsung Electronics since the early development stage,” said Lin Bin, co-founder and president of the Chinese maker.

Park Yong-in, executive vice president of Samsung and head of the sensor business team, said the latest image sensor is the result of technological integration of the company.

“We have been working on developing a mobile image sensor that can perform like the eyes of humans and we are getting closer to the goal,” Park said. “With the ISOCELL Bright HMX, which is the result of technological integration of Samsung, we will be able to deliver more sophisticated image quality to consumers.”

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