Galaxy S6 features either ISOCELL or Sony image sensors, here’s the difference

by: Robert TriggsMay 5, 2015

samsung galaxy s6 vs s6 edge aa (25 of 39)

The Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge come sporting cutting edge camera technology, which was believed to be based on the Sony sensor found in the Note 4. However, it turns out that Samsung is also supplying the sensors in some of its S6 smartphones itself, but it’s pot-luck as to whether you’ll end up with a Samsung ISOCELL camera or a Sony IMX240.

Naturally, potential Galaxy S6 customers might be concerned that one sensor performs worse than the other or that there are glaring differences between the two. Fortunately, SamMobile has managed to get its hands on phones with both sensors and has taken them out for a test to have a look at any differences. Auto Mode was used to test the phones in all but the last comparison, which forced HDR mode to on. Interestingly, the IMX240 results produced larger file sizes than pictures captured using the ISOCELL sensor, but there doesn’t appear to be a noticeable gap in quality. Here’s a sample of the comparison snaps (ISOCELL, Sony, then 1:1 crop comparison).

Isocell-3 IMX240-3Samsung-vs.-Sony-01



Looking at the 1:1 cropped images, there’s very little difference in image clarity and noise in the well-lit environments. Samsung’s software seems to provide a very close output here. However, in low light conditions we can see a little more noise creep in to both pictures, which manifests slightly differently in each sensor.

Perhaps more noticeable is the slight color differences between the two sensors. In daylight this can be seen as an ever so slightly warmer tone for the Sony sensor, while darker environments show a significant blue tint compared with ISOCELL. However, this tint appears significantly reduced in low light by forcing HDR mode to on, suggesting that the sensors and software aren’t quite perfectly matched up. Remember that ISOCELL is specifically designed for enhanced low light sensitivity and less leakage. Overall, very close results can be obtained with either sensor, but there are some noticeable differences when you pair them side by side.




It’s an interesting comparison, with the Sony IMX240 perhaps providing a little more vibrancy than Samsung’s ISOCELL in daylight conditions, but with ISOCELL performing better in low light scenarios, at least as far as auto mode goes.

As for why Samsung has opted to use two difference sensors in its Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones, we can only imagine that a component shortage is the culprit. Previously we’ve seen Samsung opt for different processing packages in different regions to meet demand. What’s odd is that Samsung didn’t see it fit to inform consumers about the different components this time around.

For consumers, I don’t imagine that anyone will have complaints about either sensor, but it appears that not every Galaxy S6 is built quite the same.

  • Very interesting…. My GS6 64GB “Proper” has the Sony sensor but honestly, the ISOCELL from what I can tell looks just about as good. No harm no foul I say.

    • fay

      Pix taken by the Sony sensor shows more details and vivid colors, while Samsung sensor has higher color accuracy. Most people prefer Sony, because of the higher detailed.

  • Not a huge difference, Sony one seems more accurate.

    • Martin Lane

      It’s not, the author who took the shots commented the Sammy sensor was more accurate.

      • KingofPing

        …and the author is always right. Especially when discussing highly subjective things like image-quality.


        • Martin Lane

          Yes actually because he took the pictures, he was there.

          We were not.

          • KingofPing




  • Dato Alavidze

    Sony sensor is better

  • Skimshaddy

    Thank you AA. They both looks great. I can see the Sony is a bit slightly warmer color in daylight. That make me like the Samsung sensor more but not sure about night shots.

    • Wjdzm

      Agree with your comment 100%

  • Rick_Deckard

    That’s the thing… Why didn’t Samsung use only the ISOCELL that supposedly performs better in low light condition?

    Although, I prefer the IMX240… If I would have bought the S6, and finding out the ISOCELL instead… I would return the S6 for sure…

    • Hans Pedersen

      If they project to sell tens of millions and isn’t able to make more than maybe a few hundred thousand per month at launch? I think the answer is pretty easy on that one.

  • My Galaxy Prime

    How can I find out which sensor mine has?

    • Javad

      using this code:

      • My Galaxy Prime

        I guess I’m doing something wrong. I entered it into the dialer and hit send and my phone was trying to call the number instead

        • Bluff.Master

          Just wanted to add, try it on stock dialer if you have 3rd party dialer installed.

          • My Galaxy Prime

            I’m doing it on the stock dialer. I think I’m just gonna try to find a video on youtube to find out what I’m doing wrong. Thanks for the help tho.

          • My Galaxy Prime

            After doing research, I found that Verizon prevented the S6 from doing this. At least that’s what it says online. Verizon Wireless, taking the “open” out of Android.

          • Bluff.Master

            Glad that you finally figured that.. Sorry it didn’t work but at least you know why it didn’t. I tried on my T-Mo Note 3 and that worked. Obviously, nothing fancy to see there, but just tried to check what it does.

          • My Galaxy Prime

            Yeah. I’m a bit disappointed. It’s not like know would change anything but it would’ve been cool just to know. My camera still takes amazing photos so whatever.

        • Javad

          dont copy and paste it, enter it manually

          • My Galaxy Prime

            I entered it manually and still nothing. I think I’ll just look up a video on how to do it on YouTube because I have to be doing it wrong if I’m the only one who can’t do it.

  • Ray Duncan

    Is there any way to determine which type of camera prior to buying and opening the box? Making it unreturnable? Maybe the SKU? ESN? Other???

    • Marlon Jasper Jamandre Badiola

      Yes. This is a good question.

    • Hans Pedersen

      A lot of components comes from various suppliers. It’s not a valid return argument, especially when you read the article above, the differences are negligible, probably because we are a t the state where the lenses and software makes the biggest difference in smart phone photography…

      Furthermore, no store in the world would drag all their stock out from their storage to let you check each and every SKU.

    • xapoliz

      That’s the big problem… close to each other or not, the consumer should be able to choose! This bingo thing that is unaceptable

    • hung2900

      My iPad 3 screen was the LG one, and worse than my friend’s iPad 3 Samsung panel.
      My iPhone 6 has quite greenish green.
      But so what?

  • Cole C

    I heard it was because of apple ordering so many from Sony for the iPhone 6c

    • Hans Pedersen

      And I’ve heard that you’re wrong.

      I’m guessing Samsung always wanted to make all the sensors for each and every GS6, but they probably didn’t have time to get the production ramped up for launch. In a few months all GS6’s (and the Note 4’s?) will use in-house ISOCELL.

  • Jose Villanueva

    It may be a sensor by Samsung but I don’t think its an ISOCELL because ISOCELL doesn’t have OIS because of the way it captures. What do you guys think?

    In terms of picture quality, I agree. The images do look as good and in some cases the white balance is better than the Sony sensor.

    • Brian Dong Min Kim

      Maybe Samsung figured out a way to include OIS with ISOCELL?

      • Jose Villanueva

        If they did then they are in the wrong industry and should switch to performing magic at a las Vegas club. In theory, an ISOCELL sensor cannot have any moving parts because of how it captures light. Look it up, ISOCELL is an amazing innovation but it has it weaknesses just like everything else in technology innovation.

        • xapoliz

          Wtf?! Who are you genius?
          Samsung already confirmed it: that’s IsoCell! And yes, the IsoCell one’s also have OIS, it’s not a hipothesys

  • _X_

    The blue S6 looks amazing! The more I look the more I want! Definitely the best looking phone to date!

    • Wjdzm

      It’s actually black… it turns into blue when the light hits it.

      • Chris

        there is actully a blue s6…..but I know what you mean..

  • Jose Villanueva

    Sony’s sensor has the white balance a little off. Some of the cloudy images are a little too blue, just look at the sky.

  • Martin Lane

    To sum up

    Samsung sensor has more accurate colours and is slightly better in low light conditions, Sony sensor captures more detail.

    Not sure which I would want to be honest but I would lean towards the Samsung sensor,.

    Link Below

  • JY

    Both amazing the Sony sensor seemed warmer in day shots and colder at night, Samsung’s sensor seemed to be better at low light and performs equal in day light in terms of quality

  • ShadowVlican

    Can you do some shooting speed comparison?

  • Ali Reza

    sony imx240 aberration is awful !!!
    isocell optic performance is really better

    • Stanley Anthonymuthu

      isocell optic???
      You know that ISOCELL is a sensor r8?

    • Svnjay

      Actually, the Sony sensor is more vibrant and has more depth.

  • David Onter

    I actually prefer the Isocell one…

  • Roland Delhomme

    How about Camera2 API support? Not versed on the GS6 yet, but it would be a deal breaker if manual focus (still unsupported on at least AT&T S5’s, and potential future camera iterations go unsupported. That being said, the S5 can certainly punch above its weight, especially if braced to kill vibration. Side by side with some pro level DSLR gear last week, one of my best shots was actually a (non zoomed) shot of a parked F-22 Raptor. Braced the S5 for stability and let it get the first shot, then used the DSLR across a range of different modes and settings. For a non-zoomed image in a well lit location, it sure did produce a knockout picture. The extra precision afforded by manyal focus, as found in the Camera 2 API compatible Nexus and others, would be a welcome addition.
    Note, this is true manual focus, where you dial it in, on a slider, vs manually tapping a point for the autofocus to nail. If you love the convenience of a great camera that doesn’t require a neck strap and all the trimmings, these smartphones can do surprisingly well in good light.

  • Bilal Mahmood

    This is going to cause problems with customs roms etc.

  • EvenInTheDarkestHour

    They don’t look similar enough, especially in situations where sensor quality matters. Isocell pictures look better overall to me. I’d be disappointed.

  • Chris

    well that was stupid. samsung trying to be hip or cool here?

    in the end its still a better camera then the m9. thats for sure.

    • Norris

      *than the M9

  • Chris

    ISOCELL isnt have OIS?

    • The-Sailor-Man

      It has.

  • Túlio Leal

    Sony: a bit more sharp, and a bit more purple
    Samsung: White balance a bit more pleasant/accurate.

  • Azurpha

    I wouldn’t judge the colours, the photos are shot in auto mode, which means settings are not going to be the same. Some pictures are exposed a little longer or have iso at a bigger number. Its probably true one is more vivid and so on, but its probably more similar than the above.

  • Robin Mhel Nelson

    So what is better.. isocell or sony sensor?

  • Eugen M

    its clear that the isocell suffer from noise issues especially visible in HDR as the phone has to take 2 picture which makes the noise more apparent, its also clear that isocell suffers from edge blurring issues where the image is cripsy smooth in all areas on the sony sensor, the colors of sony sensor are off, but so are the colors for the isocell (isocell applies an annoying yellow tint to every picture possible) so i can say that theres no gain from this isocell except for the company because they made a cheaper sensor which is “almost” as good as the original sensor.

  • John

    Isocell is crap. Choose Sony sensorif you can