Samsung shipping both ISOCELL and Sony sensors in the Galaxy S7…again

by: Kris CarlonMarch 9, 2016

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge photos-14

Remember the uproar last year when it was discovered that the the Galaxy S6 was shipping with two different camera sensors? Some shipped with a Sony sensor – which turned out to be the slightly superior option – and others shipped with Samsung’s ISOCELL sensor. Well, Samsung is at it again, with both the Sony IMX260 and Samsung’s own ISOCELL sensors being used in the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge cameras.

Samsung-Galaxy-S7-Edge-19See also: New Samsung Galaxy S7 image sensor explained17

Now, this might not be such a big deal if the sensors performed equally well, but as we saw last year, when side-by-side photos were taken with both cameras there was a general preference for the Sony results. While this isn’t to say the ISOCELL sensor is bad, when customers are paying for a top-of-the-line flagship they don’t want to think they might have a worse camera than their neighbor with the exact same phone.


From what has been posted on the web already, it looks like most U.S.-bound Galaxy S7 and S7 Edges equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 tend to use the Sony sensor. In the UK, several S7s are packing the ISOCELL but our five British Exynos-equipped Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edges all have the Sony IMX260. We’re tallying up the scores with our US devices too and will let you know the result.

Of course, which sensor you think is “better” is a matter of personal preference, as the main differences last year were that the Sony sensor produced slightly warmer tones in daylight, a blueish tint in low light conditions and slightly larger image sizes compared to the ISOCELL sensor.

If you’re wondering why Samsung would make this decision, it boils down to the supply chain. It’s not always possible to produce sufficient stocks of one sensor to use in all Galaxy S7 variants globally. If there’s a shortage in one supply chain you simply backfill it with the other, ensuring continuity of production. The same is true for the use of two different SoCs in Galaxy flagships.

Samsung Galaxy S7 camera sensor AIDA64 Sony ISOCELL

If you want to find out which sensor your Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 uses, just install an app called AIDA64 and check the top line under Devices. The Sony IMX260 will be listed as such as the Samsung ISOCELL sensor will be listed as SLSI blah blah for System LSI, the Samsung division responsible for producing the ISOCELL sensor.

We’ve contacted Samsung for clarification on sensor usage in the S7. As with last year’s “scandal”, Samsung will likely admit that different sensors are used in different Galaxy S7 devices and claim that all vendor components meet their strict standards of excellence and so on. However, this is really the kind of thing that should have been disclosed in the official press release on the Galaxy S7 camera which only mentions the ISOCELL sensor.


Do you care about the use of two different sensors? Which do you prefer?

  • Nallaikumaran

    This article seems to lack research. Xda-developers is a Samsung haters. KRIS CARLON is an Apple fanboy. Thanks to the writer for showing us how dumb Apple supporters really are and how easily it is to fool them. Androidauthority, Checkout ur New S7, and tell the truth. Are you so foolish? The news that’s going on is a rumor. I think all this fake just a propaganda.

    • Marc Perrusquia

      XDA isn’t a Samsung hating group at all. They dislike Samsung’s exynos chips because they don’t release the source code or do anything to help make it easier to develop roms and other modifications on exynos hardware.

      • 1213 1213

        I recall reading a lengthy rant that urged people to boycott all Samsung products at one point lol.

        • Marc Perrusquia

          Well I must have missed that. I’m still not sure if they’re really Samsung haters, there’s a lot of love for the Note line over there. I just think their disdain for exynos might manifest itself in some odd ways sometimes.

          • SeanPR11

            The Sammy fanbois are out already! This is Another reason to distrust samsung.

          • Daggett Beaver

            Oh, put your nose in your ear and sneeze. Some people like Samsung phones. Some people prefer other OEMs. It’s just a phone. Get the one you like.

          • Hans Pedersen

            Their senior members has often called to boycott Samsung over anything from Knox to Exynos. So yeah, if they’re not Samsung haters, they’re really showing their unbiased views in mysterious ways… :D

          • Andreas Larsson

            I agree with them in their critic against samsung though,from their point of view being a custom romantic community an do all.
            But as Samsung is the only phones I don’t feel the need to root and flash anymore I still think they are the best right now :)

      • seattle tech

        XDA in general are samsung haters.

        • Andreas Larsson

          I think everybody who loves to flash and customise their phones are exynos haters in general

  • And now doxmark will make the same mistake of testing phones with different sensors like they did with the Note5 and S6 edge+ and rate one of the two flagships higher than the other even though they are exactly the same phone!!!!!

    • Dxomark tested only Sony sensors. They never bothered to go find an isocell version.

  • Damon

    Well mines the ISOCELL one and my s7 also comes with the Exenose chip well all i can say is mines a pure produced Samsung phone.

    • Thomas Veith

      Yes, but doesn’t it bother you to know that other people received the SD 820 and Sony sensor when they paid the same price as you? This would infuriate me.

      • Phil

        That would absolutely piss me off. I’m not a Samsung fan nor a hater, but people have a right to know what there paying for. I would never buy the S7 or the Edge now.

      • saksham

        the exynos processor competes equally with the SD 820 . not to mention the terrible overheating issues on last years SD . sony sensor just produces warmer colour in images thats it

        • AMDefunct

          Nope, benchmarks point to 820 being considerably faster. Also does not run hotter this time.

          • saksham

            i srsly think u shud investigate about that and come back

          • prasanth

            exynos is better in CPU, 820 better in GPU.
            i would vote for 820 because its CPU is still good enough(~10% lower than exynos) for any high-end app or workload you can throw at it.

            its the new and upcoming games that are hungry for graphics. if you are not a fanboy of gaming you need not worry about the chipset within.
            (though people claim 820 overall quality, reliability, power efficiency, etc are better)

      • seattle tech

        This happened with the s6 and a year later no one is complaining about the camera. In fact it’s still considered the best

      • Damon

        Not really as both chips seem to have there advantages and i’d say in reality u probley can’t notice the diffrence. Plus there will be software updates which will iron out performance issues. Plus when i went on AIDA64 it said my 7th and 8th core was sleeping.

        • Damon

          And plus u also need to consider most people upgrade ever year or 2 so even when games try and take advantage of either chip the s7 will have be replaced by one or 2 phones after it or even 3.

  • Rick_Deckard

    Seriously, worse than this is LG having 2 different processor in different regions with the Snapdragon 820 and 652 on the LG G5 for the same price… It’s ridiculous….

    • Kukujiao

      if samsung did that everyone goes crazy

  • Thomas Veith

    The underlying issue here is “DISCLOSURE”. When purchasing a $1000 flagship phone, either outright or on contract, consumers want to know what is inside their phone. Bad enough we got screwed in Canada with the Exynos chip, but now we get a sensor that may be slightly below par. Last year the Exynos swap didn’t bother me due to the overheating issues with the SD 810 (also, both chips were fairly equal in CPU and GPU). This year, according to recent benchmarks, there may be serious performance drops in GPU speed with the Exynos processors. Once I receive my S7 Edge, hopefully Friday, I’ll check the sensor. If I’m not pleased with overall performance of the phone and camera after a few weeks, I’ll return it to Telus and stick with my LG V10 for another year.

    • Avi Seth

      Last year S6 did not have a Snapdragon variant

      • The-Sailor-Man

        He is iTroll

    • The-Sailor-Man

      If you get ISOCELL consider yourself lucky.
      With Exinos you are already lucky.
      Samsung is shipping only with SDradon in US because they know that US propaganda will support SDragon(US company Qualcomm), no matter what.(remember last year ? lol)
      BTW both chips are made by Samsung, and Samsung was helping Qualcomm to avoid the heating.

      • Thomas Veith

        I don’t consider myself lucky, particularly with the recently revealed GPU performance drops on the Exynos processor. I’d prefer the SD 820.

        • Hans Pedersen

          This has been a practice in IT since the first OEM computer. You never get to know who manufactured the storage, memory, motherboard and many other things in a PC. It’s always the lowest bidder who meets the manufacturers requirements. Comparisons I saw between the ISOCELL and Sony sensors in the S6 from last year was completely inconclusive as to which was the better.
          The reason why Samsung does this is simply because they can, while not really affecting the desired quality of the products they’re selling. The important thing is to have enough supply to meet the current manufacturing demand. The S7 will after all not be the hottest thing in the business next year. And we all know the standard for Samsung’s Galaxy S camera is as high as it gets in the industry.

        • seattle tech

          Recent reports and tests are showing the exynos is better. I have the snapdragon and I would like to pick up an eyxnos one

        • TheMysteryMan

          There is a downside. Publications who have both are reporting significant battery life differences between the two version with Exynos outlasting SD820 by as much as 1 hour SOT with similar usage.

          Not the ideal choice. Personally, I would rather have better battery life as both chips are more than powerful enough to handle anything thrown at them.

          • Thomas Veith

            Can you tell me which publications? I’d like to read the articles.

          • robertkoa

            Yes. I have the Exynos Alpha and it has better Audio ( much fuller speaker Wolfson Chip clarity)and longer battery life than qualcomm AT&T Version.
            But I carry two batteries anyway.
            BUT I was afraid to “upgrade” to S6 due to small battery.

            Now the battery is larger-they slightly screwed up the S7 Camera for well lit situations -or does this depend on SONY vs Isocell Sensor ?

            And I would like an extra hour of SOT – maybe 6 hours SOT at 30% Brightness on LTE with Sync OFF and Location mostly OFF would be nice.

            Where do we read about Exynos versus Qualcomm differences and which Camera Sensor has less noise in good lighting ?

            You have to go to Egypt then Canada to get the best Sensor and Battery Life to buy the Phone …for USA use …lol.

      • Jonathon Rios

        I think you misused the term propaganda.

        • The-Sailor-Man

          No I didn’t.
          They will try to make SD look better choice than Exinos.
          No matter that Samsung is making SD too, and helled Qualcomm to fix the heating issue there. And yes, Exinos is still better.
          But bashing Samsung must go on. Right?
          Even here in this article , no matter that ISOCELL is not worse than Sony(if not better)

    • Cakefish

      The GPU is hard to base firm conclusion on with just short benchmarks. Anandtech will do their usual deep dive into both SOCs and measure GPU throttling. It could be that while the Adreno 530 can perform really well in bursty workloads, it throttles down after a few minutes to match the Mali T880 in performance, which might throttle much less over the long term.

    • saksham

      vulcan API

    • dragoon

      Yo’re a moron. The exynos chip is so much better than the snapdragon one. The snapdragon has multiple issues with video recording, laggy video, and keyboard lag.

      • Thomas Veith

        Yes, I’m a moron because my opinion is different than yours. Can’t stand idiots like you who troll behind a keyboard. Jack*ss.

        • dragoon

          Lol you’re a moron not because you have an opinion. You’re a moron because you can’t get the facts straight. Dumb pieces of shit who plug your ears to facts and go “LALALA” like you really shouldn’t breed for the sake of humanity.

          • Thomas Veith

            Haha, I just love when uneducated pinheads try to form a sentence.

          • dragoon

            Awww, the moron is trying so hard not to rage. Of course, virgin trash like you will never breed because no woman would ever want an ignorant shit like you.

          • Thomas Veith

            haha loser.

    • oplix

      You have an extensive opinion on something you know nothing about

  • Lik-chung Li

    Cool, I got the Sony sensor in mine!

    • The-Sailor-Man

      Actually ISOCELL is better.
      Sorry man!

      • le_lutin

        How do you know?

  • Realisy

    Funny how people think one would be better because some internet guru favors warm tones and whatever traits that floats his boat. I’ve seen those sony vs isocell comparisons tòo but truthfully it is something minute as how old sigma lenses threw yellowish cast. Can be made to look same with some jpeg engine tweak or post production. I prefer the look of isocell personally? Does that make me feel i got the worser phone when my phone has imx sensor? No its just what it is. Nobody is doing color critical work and manipulating raw on these phones anyways. Most of online shit is just online shit and i know some of these so called comparison is not even done on color calibrated 10bit+ panel lcd anyways. It’s called manipulating perception and creating hype so people writing these things can make a living… didn’t want to end this negative lol. But yeah, just sayin it’s a way smaller deal than what people make it out to be. Oh.. and i miss the old android authority. It was real news updates back then, now seems like more than half of the new and article seems like page fillers. And the lag and all the ad system built in… painful to navigate.

  • The-Sailor-Man

    AA did it again! LOL

  • My Galaxy Prime

    I just got my S7 Edge last night and the camera is ok. Very similar to the S6, which is not to say the S6 was a bad camera at all. Still got more testing to do.

  • Cakefish

    My S7 apparently has the Sony sensor. It’s the unlocked Exynos model in the UK.

    Is Sony better or worse than Samsung ISOCELL?

    • droidtomtom

      Hard to say. I have never seen a test that takes into consideration manufacturing tolerances. Though these tolerances are usually small. Meaning you will get two different results from two identical Sony sensors. Same with the CPU even if came from the same wafer. We also don’t know to what degree Samsung is binning the sensors. Suffice to say they are probably extremely close.

  • seattle tech

    Well this was in the s6 and it was not a problem at all.

  • Jose

    why is it that I only have 3.5 G of RAM when samsung says the galaxy s7 edge has 4G RAM?

    • droidtomtom

      Is that from AIDA64? What does it list for “Installed RAM” and “Total Memory”?

      • Skybij

        Mine shows the same too
        Installed RAM: 3.5 GB
        Totall memory: 3422 MB

        • droidtomtom

          This is interesting. Makes me curious if the phone is using 32bit or 64bit memory addressing. Much like 32bit windows only shows 3.5GB of RAM. Also makes me curious if Chipworks and iFixit took Samsung at their word or if they confirmed it through their own investigations of the chip numbers. They did say the phones will have either Samsung or Hynix memory.

  • Marty

    Glad I’m not getting an S7. Going to stick with my S6. The S7 isn’t compelling enough to buy in replacement for the S6. Would hate to buy an S7 and find it has a lower brand camera chip.

    • EasyCare

      What do you mean by lower brand? Does brand matter in the resulting photo after all? I’m sure both will beat your S6 anyway.

      • Marty

        So the Sony chip isn’t better?

        • EasyCare

          In theory, both should be equally good, since the specifications are the same as Samsung requires. Even then there might be differences, though not significantly much.

  • Dhruv Halwasiya

    I had a question about the camera and I was hoping you could enlighten me.
    The S7 uses two cameras in various models, a sony exmor and an isocell.
    Do both of those sensors have the dual pixel focus feature inbuilt or only samsung?
    I haven’t heard of any such announcement from Sony so was just wondering.

    • EasyCare

      My wild guess would be both have it.