A look at the Samsung Slim 3T2 camera sensor.

  • Samsung has announced a new camera sensor designed for punch-hole displays and notches.
  • The ISOCELL Slim 3T2  is a 20MP sensor capable of delivering 5MP pixel-binned shots.
  • Samsung’s sensor is expected to go into mass production in Q1 2019.


Samsung has announced the ISOCELL Slim 3T2, a 20MP camera sensor that’s made for punch-hole displays.

Punch hole displays represent the next phase in the move to proper full-screen smartphones, as a smaller display cutout makes for a less intrusive experience. But a smaller cutout also means the camera sensor has to be small and slim to actually fit into the hole. Enter Samsung’s solution to the problem.

“In order to support smartphones with the latest display features such as the ‘hole-in display’ or ‘notch design,’ front-facing image sensors need to minimize their size while being able to capture high-quality images. The 1/3.4-inch 3T2 snugly fits into a tiny module making more space for the display,” the South Korean company noted in a press release.

More than just a tiny sensor?

Samsung is also taking cues from its GM1 48MP camera sensor, using the same 0.8 micron pixel size on the 20MP sensor. And much like the 48MP shooter, the manufacturer is using pixel-binning to get the most out of the sensor. This process essentially combines the data from four adjacent pixels into one pixel, delivering better quality snaps at the expense of resolution. In fact, Samsung says the phone takes pixel-binned photos that are equivalent to that of a 5MP 1.6 micron pixel sensor.

We’re glad to see the company take the pixel-binning approach, because a 20MP camera with those tiny pixels seems like a recipe for disappointing low-light results.

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Samsung also says this sensor can be used for telephoto rear cameras, claiming it’s able to retain “60 percent higher effective resolution at 10x digital zoom” compared to similarly sized 13MP sensors. Low-light performance is a different story though, and one would think a traditional 13MP telephoto camera with a larger sensor is still the better option in this situation.

The Korean brand says the ISOCELL Slim 3T2 is set to be in mass production in the first quarter of the year. So you shouldn’t have to wait too long to see phones with this technology.

Could we see this on the Galaxy S10 though? We’ve certainly seen an industry trend to implement high resolution cameras and/or pixel-binning on the front. However, Samsung specifically mentions that the sensor is made for “today’s sleekest mid-range smartphones.”

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