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Samsung Galaxy S5 camera under the microscope: in-house Samsung sensors make fast auto-focus magic possible

After years of reliance on Sony camera image sensors in its flagships, this year, Samsung is finally ready to ship the Galaxy S5 with its own, in-house ISOCELL sensor that the company claims could be the next key breakthrough for mobile cameras after the arrival of backside-illuminated (BSI) sensors.

BSI camera sensors improved the sensitivity of the sensor hugely, paving the way for higher-resolution (most notably, 13-megapixel) mobile cameras with smaller, 1.1µm pixels. Now, ISOCELL technology builds up on BSI, as it claims to bring another leap in light sensitivity, while reducing noise, and capturing a higher dynamic range.

Chipworks put the 16-megapixel main and the 2-megapixel secondary camera sensor of the Galaxy S5 under the microscope to show what secrets ISOCELL hides, and the images it captured verify that we indeed have Samsung-made camera sensor in the S5.

Phase-detection pixels on the camera sensor

Phase-detection pixels on the camera sensor

The main, 16-megapixel camera sensor carries the model name ‘S5K2P2XX’ and features 1.12µm sized pixels. The front-facing 2MP camera has the ‘S5K8B1YX03’ model name, and it also comes with 1.12µm pixel pitch. Chipworks has already showed us a vertical X-ray image of an ISOCELL sensor showing how Samsung is the first to combine advanced features like front deep trench isolation (F-DTI) and Vertical Transfer Gate (VTG) in a mobile camera sensor.

What’s particularly interesting, though, is that Samsung is also one of the first companies to implement phase detection auto-focus pixels that allow the AF mechanism to lock focus in just 0.3 seconds. Indeed, pairs of phase detection pixels are positioned almost entirely throughout the sensor pixel array. 

This is indeed an impressive technological breakthrough - Samsung is the first company to implement phase detection on a 1.1µm pixel array, and moreover - on a BSI sensor. Phase detection pixels are also half-masked, which suggests that Samsung is using a back aperture grid, another first for the company. You can see the images of the brand new Galaxy S5 sensors up-close in personal in the gallery below. Let us know what you think about the Galaxy S5 camera, and stay tuned for our forthcoming full-on Samsung Galaxy S5 review!


source: Chipworks

44 Comments
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posted on 04 Apr 2014, 09:28 4

1. MarkArigayo (Posts: 240; Member since: 18 Dec 2013)


Yeah, it sounds good. But overall camera performance still left behind the G2.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 09:37 33

3. PapaSmurf (limited) (Posts: 8300; Member since: 14 May 2012)


The S4 camera is better than the G2. The S5's camera is miles ahead thanks to the 801 and ISOCELL tech sorry.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 10:09 5

9. geordie8t1 (Posts: 101; Member since: 18 Feb 2014)


i heard that some of the s5 samples were actually worse then the s4 in certain conditions, that being said the samples were a pre production unit, will be looking forward to seeing proper comparisons on a final retail model

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 10:39 4

15. The-Sailor-Man (Posts: 848; Member since: 25 Mar 2014)


" heard that some of the s5 samples were actually worse then the s4 in certain conditions"

Lie!!!!
It was said " some were not better then the s4 in certain conditions"

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 11:20 2

20. nk_blu (Posts: 8; Member since: 26 Jul 2012)


I would have to agree to this. I had a chance to play with S5 demos at Samsung roadshow. While it did capture impressed amount of detail in low light, there was just too much noise. I'm pretty sure they can tweak the software side of things by retail launch or future updates.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 10:15 1

12. gabrielvoica (Posts: 54; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)


and you used the G2 so much that you got to this conclusion,right!?
as a former owner of both the S4 and the G2 i can tell you that the G2 is better in everything....waaaay better...
use them first and then spread misleading info if you still can...
and in the android realm,the Z1 is for now the camera phone to get...using it right now and it's nothing less than spectacular...
use them first...

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 10:47

17. jeeta444 (Posts: 131; Member since: 24 Mar 2014)


yes very true,,, any unbiased person could result Z1camera as the best in android...and Z2 has even improved camera over Z1...The Sony G lens 1/2.3" 20.7 mp sensor quality is unmatchable...

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 10:55 4

19. Jason2k13 (Posts: 642; Member since: 28 Mar 2013)


i think you are misleading the info... saying G2 camera is 'way better' than the S4 already proved it. Maybe show us some camera samples and explain to me how the G2 camera is 'way better'?

And yes i tried both phones, even the Z1 and in my opinion the Z1 is the worst, because alot of shots turns out blurry when compared to the G2 and S4.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 11:23 6

21. Ashoaib (Posts: 2016; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


I have tried note 3 and z1 together, note 3 is a better performer over all... z1 is not consistant in photo results

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 14:33

30. gabrielvoica (Posts: 54; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)


just google it...ok..
and trying is not the same with owning and using them day by day...and to say that the Z1 is the worst demonstrates me how much knowledge you have in these things...the Z1 has the biggest sensor put on any android phone ever and it's a Gsensor you know,like in Cybershots with a BionZ image processor and Exmor RS. ...and so on...have you heard of depth of field,bokeh,focus!?!?to say that the S4 is better than this is just a bad joke.
i bet that the S4 that you praise so much is even better than Lumia 1020 or 808PW...am i right?!
and about the G2,just check reviewers on Youtube if you don't believe my words...or with the users of that phone...
fanboys...gotta love'em!
so long,'cause i dont have time for these useless discussions...

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 12:01 1

25. TylerGrunter (Posts: 910; Member since: 16 Feb 2012)


In the blind testing the G2 camera came on top:
http://www.phonearena.com/news/Nokia-Lumia-1520-tops-our-blind-camera-comparison-while-Nexus-5-ends-up-last-HTC-One-M8-finishes-sixth_id54561
About the S5, I would tend to thing it´s going to be better, but I´ll wait for the reviews

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 14:40

31. gabrielvoica (Posts: 54; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)


thank you...good link provided for the fanboys...+1

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 15:06

33. SayMobile (Posts: 29; Member since: 29 Jan 2014)


rightly said

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 18:34

36. cheetah2k (Posts: 813; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)


This is what I call innovation! Good work Samsung!

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 19:13 1

37. MarkArigayo (Posts: 240; Member since: 18 Dec 2013)


Lol. Even SD 805, 850, 855, 890 or whatever will never help TouchWiz from massive lags. Speed on autofocus doesn't mean the S5's camera is better than its competitors.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 20:26 2

38. WilliamC937 (Posts: 16; Member since: 07 Sep 2013)


Lol TouchWiz on S5 never lag.... tried

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 09:54 2

5. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3222; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Thats absolutely like a troll and hater comment i love to hear.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 12:20 2

26. Astoni (Posts: 505; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)


As much as i like G2.. no. The camera is not better.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 09:31 21

2. Desmortibus (Posts: 58; Member since: 04 Apr 2014)


Best ever display for a smartphone, best battery life ever, best groundbreaking camera technology... Wow, Samsung is getting serious and all of this without any overstated advertisement about it... Cool and classy !...

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 09:54 1

6. fireblade (Posts: 694; Member since: 27 Dec 2013)


LG G3 camera is better

http://www.phonearena.com/news/Purported-first-photo-sample-from-LG-G3-surfaces-you-be-the-judge_id53431

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 10:15

13. sergiobr (Posts: 417; Member since: 25 Feb 2013)


LG G3 sounds good ! But lets wait for the Samsung K Zoom and production photos from S5. I want something better than my Note 3 , and in pair with my Nokia 808 to upgrade.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 11:48

24. kryme (Posts: 140; Member since: 24 Oct 2013)


i hope they patent the crap out these breakthrough i know samsung is not that company that love to sue.....

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 09:43 14

4. phljcnth (Posts: 265; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


I'd take this over the dual 4 Ultrapixel cam and run-of-the-mill 20.7MP shooter.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 09:55 2

7. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3222; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Its still no match to the monstrous duo ultrapixel 4mp camera.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 10:09 2

8. Taters (Posts: 2960; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)


Yeah man. That set up is amazing. It even manages to make any phone that uses it as tall as a phablet. Pretty impressive stuff. Monstrous is a good way to put it. Lol

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 10:10 2

10. shuaibhere (Posts: 1428; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


Is that sarcasm or not???

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 11:26

22. Ashoaib (Posts: 2016; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


I dont think its a sarcasm... it is quite right... but the look of m8 is so beautiful that it doesnt matter

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 10:42 9

16. The-Sailor-Man (Posts: 848; Member since: 25 Mar 2014)


ALUMINUM!!!!!!!!!!
We don't want best camera, best displey ever, best Wi-Fi , best SoC, best battery life, best dust proof....

We Want ALUMINUM

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 13:07 4

28. MrKoles (Posts: 319; Member since: 20 Jan 2013)


*sarcasm on*
Personally, I just want huge bezels...because bezels are so, hmm, thick and comfortable.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 14:51

32. ecmedic4 (Posts: 198; Member since: 02 May 2013)


How does the S5 have the best wifi? It and the HTC One M8 both have the same wifi 802.11 a,b,g,n,ac 2.4 and 5 ghz. They both also use a Snapdragon 801 processor.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 17:11 1

35. The-Sailor-Man (Posts: 848; Member since: 25 Mar 2014)


S5 use the better version of S801(not only overclocked). Check it out.
Check also what Wi-Fi tech use S5.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 20:43

40. Arte-8800 (Posts: 4392; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)


"We want the very best of everything in a all in one device"

"We are willing to pay the extra"

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 10:13 2

11. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3222; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Havent you read my htc fanboy pissing comments. Its absolutely sarcasm.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 10:38

14. shuaibhere (Posts: 1428; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


I think you should have replied me there....btw good one...

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 10:50 5

18. The-Sailor-Man (Posts: 848; Member since: 25 Mar 2014)


There are not much HTC fanboys here .
Those are mostly iboys pretending to be HTC "lovers", to fight against Samsung, and to promote the aluminum "suprimacy" .

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 11:27

23. Ashoaib (Posts: 2016; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


But iphone5/5s rather feel cheap in hand unlike 4/4s

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 12:22

27. Astoni (Posts: 505; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)


That exactly how i fell Ashoaib :p. 4/4s had a really nice buildquality :) 5/5s feels cheaper.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 13:22

29. antonioli (Posts: 174; Member since: 08 Sep 2013)


It's not even better than S4 or Note 3. Imagine G2.

The samples that I saw showed very noise pictures and some pictures with excessive bright. In the theory, even HTC has a beautiful one but only in the paper. When we see the pictures we see the results.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 16:17

34. marbovo (Posts: 644; Member since: 16 May 2013)


Thanks Victor H. but I didn't understand anything you´ve said

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 20:27 1

39. gigaraga (Posts: 932; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)


So basically the GS5 has the best of everything for a smartphone: Best camera, battery life, display and performance. It IS the best smartphone, maybe until the Note 4 comes out.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 20:45

41. Arte-8800 (Posts: 4392; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)


"Except those disgusting cheap plastic"

posted on 05 Apr 2014, 15:56

42. rangoj (Posts: 24; Member since: 29 Mar 2014)


Really incredible, I can't believe they manage to put "Phase detection autofocus" system in mobile camera!!!! O_o - this is really breakthrough!!

I don't like samsung devices because of crappy Touchwiz, but this is something special!
Still, I wouldn't love to own a S5, but I would like to try this camera for few days. :)

To bad they didn't put OIS in camera :/

posted on 05 Apr 2014, 16:03

43. rangoj (Posts: 24; Member since: 29 Mar 2014)


G2 camera have terribly slow focus, and it is blurry in low light. It is great in perfect conditions. Nexus 5 can take better photos with HDR+ (in the low light)... So G2 is more marketing then real useful camera... I have try it.

And when I say that nexus 5 HDR+ is much better then any g2 mode, I mean this link: :)

plus.google.com/u/0/b/113972598262899933011/explor​e/nexus5photography

posted on 05 Apr 2014, 23:40

44. Zack_2014 (Posts: 45; Member since: 25 Mar 2014)


The Galaxy S4 trumps the G2 anyday in day light and brighter conditions.. It has been proven that the GS4's camera still lives up to today's smartphone standards and in no means inferior.
Talking about dimmer conditions, the G2 may provide a brighter image overall but the S4 isnt behind, it takes comparable pictures to the G2.

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