Samsung’s new Isocell sensor isolates pixels for clearer, sharper images

by: Bogdan PetrovanSeptember 24, 2013

samsung isocell camera sensor

Samsung announced today Isocell, a new type of camera sensor that should, in theory, result in images that are clearer and more color accurate.

One problem with modern camera sensors is the ever shrinking size of pixels, caused when manufacturers increase the resolution of the sensor without increasing its physical size. A major problem with smaller sensor pixels is the fact that they can capture less light, which is especially problematic in low lighting conditions. Moreover, smaller sensors get saturated with light faster, causing excess light to bleed over to other pixels, causing noise and blurriness.

HTC and, to a smaller extent, Apple mitigate these problems by having larger pixels, at the expense of resolution.

Samsung chose a different approach – instead of increasing the size of the pixels, the company found a way to isolate them and thus to limit the amount of light that can hit each pixel without “overflowing” to neighboring pixels, a phenomenon called “crosstalk”.

According to Samsung, Isocell sensors “substantially increases light sensitivity and effectively controls the absorption of electrons, resulting in higher color fidelity even in poor lighting conditions”.

Compared to conventional BSI (backside illumination) sensors, Isocell should reduce the incidence of haze and noise, as shown in the comparison shot at the top of this post.

samsung isocell camera sensor 2

Samsung says Isocell decreases crosstalk by 30 percent and increases the full well capacity of pixels (the total amount of light absorbed) by 30 percent.

The first Isocell sensor is an 8MP model with 1.12 microns pixels and an optical format of 1/4inch. The S5K4H5YB sensor is now sampling and mass production is scheduled for the end of the year.

Samsung says the new technology will find its way to “premium” smartphones, though we can only speculate on the first device to come with an Isocell sensor.

We’ll wait for some actual hands-on samples taken with an Isocell-equipped device before we sing Samsung’s praises, but it’s encouraging to see the company focusing on improving the quality of its cameras, not just their resolution.

  • Av R

    Coming to the metal s5 ;)

    • MasterMuffin

      With a new Exynos hexadeca :D

  • Blowntoaster

    so it looks like it’s going to be:

    Metal chassis

    ISOCELL camera

    1080P 5 incher in even smaller chassis than S4 I Hope.

    quad or Octa core processor (A50 series)…

    “AMD GTX series” grade Mali T….GPU

    what about battery? 3000mAh at least but longer lasting.

    anyone have some thoughts on this?

    • jjordan

      Except for the battery I don’t think they will increase it that much maybe 2800mah they just didn’t bump the note 3 up much 100mah that’s it

  • Balraj

    March !!!

  • RaptorOO7

    That is INNOVATIVE, you hear that CrApple.

  • l3inad

    Note 3 here we come!

  • Androidslikebiscuits

    Haha backside illumination!
    So immature.

  • Jaun Lombard

    Me think S5 is going to be awesome…16mp camera with Isocell…Exynos hexadeca…Super AMOLED…Metal casing…64 Bit processor…maybe 4 RAM?

    And a version with a curved display!