No OIS in Note 3 due to supply problems. Galaxy S5 could get it first

August 26, 2013
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Korean media reported that Samsung gave up on equipping the Galaxy Note 3 camera with optical image stabilization due to supply problems. Instead, the first Samsung phone with OIS could be the Galaxy S5.

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With ten days left to the official debut of the Galaxy Note 3, expectations for Samsung’s next big thing are running high. But there is one area where the Note 3 might disappoint fans – camera technology.

A new report from ETNews, a generally reliable Korean technology website, claims that, contrary to earlier rumors, the Galaxy Note 3 will not feature optical image stabilization. Samsung had reportedly considered equipping the Note 3 with the technology, but scrapped its initial plans faced with components supply issues. Instead, the first flagship device from Samsung to feature OIS should be released in March 2014.

Optical image stabilization (OIS) is a technology that cancels sudden movements of the camera, allowing for clearer pictures and smooth video. Nokia opened the way for the utilization of OIS on smartphone cameras with its Lumia line, while Samsung used OIS in the Galaxy S4 Zoom camera-phone hybrid. Other manufacturers that use OIS are HTC on the One and LG on the G2.

The reason why Samsung postponed the implementation of optical image stabilization on the Galaxy Note 3 is the limited supply of OIS-enabled auto focus actuators, reports ETNews. Only three companies in the world can fabricate the needed components, and in limited supply. With the Note 3 expected to sell in tens of millions of units, Samsung could not afford to risk running into component shortages.

16MP cameras with OIS will be the standard in 2014

However, AF actuator suppliers are expected to increase their production capabilities to levels that would allow the deployment of OIS technology in bestselling phones early next year. While the report doesn’t specify the Galaxy S5 as the first device to have OIS, that’s highly likely, judging from the way Samsung has rolled out new technologies in the past. Moreover, the 16MP module with OIS is expected to become the standard for new devices in 2014, just like the 13MP sensor has been the standard for high-end Samsung devices in 2013.

Instead of a 16MP OIS camera, the Galaxy Note 3 will ship with a 13MP sensor, probably similar to that on the Galaxy S4.

While the release date of the Galaxy Note 3 isn’t officially known yet, all signs are pointing a global release to occur at the end of September. We expect to learn everything about the new Galaxy Note 3 at a Berlin event on September 4, when the device will be unveiled alongside the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. We’ll be there to bring you all the details.

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