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  • Spot the S7 edge version differences: Sony IMX260 vs Samsung ISOCELL camera sensor samples

Spot the S7 edge version differences: Sony IMX260 vs Samsung ISOCELL camera sensor samples

Samsung sensor
Sony sensor
Samsung sensor Sony sensor
If you have been wondering what exactly is the sensor in the intriguing new 12 MP camera unit that can be found on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, wonder no more, as it's actually two sensors - Samsung is using either its own S5K2L1 ISOCELL unit, or a custom-made piece by Sony, coded as IMX260.

The fact that we hadn't heard about both of these models before, vouches for the premise that they are brand new pieces, developed specifically for the S7 and its larger S7 edge sidekick. No wonder, as Sony often does custom orders for huge clients like Apple or Samsung, and then the phone makers create the optics packaging and image processing on their own, for a completely individualized experience.

This time around, Samsung uses a camera with 1/2.5" sensor size, largish 1.4-micron pixels, and wide f/1.7 aperture, allowing the company to boast that this setup can collect 95% more light than those in the Galaxy S6 or S6 edge. Moreover, Samsung has embedded a Dual Pixel system in the sensors for incredibly fast focusing times, too, so those are definitely brand new custom-made unit. 

Are there any differences in photo quality from a Galaxy S7 edge with the Sony or Samsung pieces, though? Well, you be the judge, as the pics you see below are taken with two S7 edge units that have the different camera sensors in them - there are indeed subtle deviations in color saturation and contrast, but nothing really striking, it seems. Be patient, as these are the full-size unretouched photos straight outta S7 edge, so they might take some time to load.


source: Taskumuro (translated)

46 Comments
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posted on 11 Mar 2016, 07:32 18

1. nebula (Posts: 614; Member since: 20 Feb 2015)


ISOCELL seems to have a slightly warmer image reproduction and a tad a very tad brighter.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 08:30 1

14. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 2706; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


I agree.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 09:34 6

22. uggman (Posts: 56; Member since: 01 Feb 2013)


As a photography amateur both sensor look fine in detail abd exposure, the samsung sensor got a little yellowish greenish hue to its images, the exposure on the sony sensor its just a hair under, still both sensors look great and take exelent pictures which it will be just fine for most or the mayority of people.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 10:09 2

24. marorun (Posts: 3908; Member since: 30 Mar 2015)


Its also seem to have a bit less detail.

Nothing major.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 14:05 3

33. vincelongman (Posts: 4569; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)


It would be interesting to see a comparison of 5x IMX260s or 5x ISOCELLs
Due to imperfections in silicon fabrication, there is probably similar minor differences between an IMX260 vs another IMX260 (or an ISOCELL vs another ISOCELL)

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 07:36 4

2. cdm283813 (Posts: 385; Member since: 10 Jan 2015)


I can't tell the difference at least when looking at them on my iPad Air 2. A good picture is a good picture.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 07:46 20

3. tyrionTheWise (unregistered)


Just as I predicted. Images are very similar as both are same sensors, just fabbed by different manufacturers.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 07:47 5

4. Skimshaddy (Posts: 56; Member since: 23 Feb 2016)


Looks the same to me.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 07:52 6

5. rd_nest (Posts: 1602; Member since: 06 Jun 2010)


Another low light test:

http://forum.xda-developers.com/s7-edge/how-to/samsung-galaxy-s7-britecell-vs-sony-t3332806

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 08:11 5

10. tyrionTheWise (unregistered)


Thanks. The post you shared displays the differences a lot better. Seems like the only difference is white point, which can be due to older firmware on the model on IMX260 variant( since the red on the ISOCELL looks so much better than the yellow tint on IMX).

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 09:19 5

19. Hoggington (Posts: 317; Member since: 23 Feb 2016)


Hey Phonearena.... I know you're looking for new employees. You may want to contact the guy who did the comparison on XDA, as his test was way more conclusive than your guys test.

I have the Sony sensor, but it does seem from the XDA test, that Britecell may have the edge.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 07:54 4

6. Marduch (Posts: 80; Member since: 04 Feb 2015)


Sony senzor is more Xperia, means a bit bluuuiiishh. I prefer Isocell definitely.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 08:04 4

7. Luckyguy (Posts: 1; Member since: 11 Mar 2016)


If you zoom in both pictures you will find sony sensor have more zoom power than samsung

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 09:29

21. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 10618; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


Which ones...because I'm using a Surface with a high resolution display and I zoomed as far as the page let me and they look 99.9% identical.

What I did notice is the Sony sensor seems to bring the shot in closer vs Samsung doing a slightly wider shot. You can see this especially with the photos with the locks.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 08:06 2

8. jack123 (Posts: 194; Member since: 07 Jan 2013)


Is it only me or others too, Is Samsung doing these on purpose to promote their ISOCELL to other OEMs? Because their a lot of OEMs using Sony camera sensors.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 08:15 8

11. tyrionTheWise (unregistered)


Not at all. This is done as Samsung can't fab enough sensors. So it offloads some to Sony to meet with the demand. IMX 260 is not an Exmor RS sensor, it's a Sony fabbed ISOCELL sensor.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 13:30 2

28. Nibbler1 (Posts: 32; Member since: 03 Apr 2015)


Our lab staff have completed the initial cross-sectioning work for our IMX260 project and we have a substantial update to share: the Sony IMX260 is, in fact, a stacked chip CMOS image sensor! As mentioned, we had expected to find through silicon vias (TSVs) consistent with Sony’s Exmor RS technology platform. Our early teardown results revealed what appeared to be a conventional Sony non-stacked back-illuminated (Exmor R) chip. After going deeper inside, we see that Sony is leading the digital imaging sector into an era of hybrid bonding. It’s not currently known if Sony considers this an extension of its Exmor RS platform, or if the IMX260 marks the first of a new (as of now unannounced) family of back-illuminated image sensors. For now we consider the IMX260 to be a 3rd generation Exmor RS chip.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 13:40 1

31. tyrionTheWise (unregistered)


Yeah, that's exactly what I was referring to. It isn't a conventional exmor RS sensor. Also there is no official announcement of IMX 260.

This can very well be a Sony fabbed Samsung sensor design.

So here's what we can see. Since this is a 'good sensor', obviously other manufacturers will try to have it in their phones. If no one uses it, then we can be certain that this is a custom work for Samsung.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 13:31 1

29. Genza (Posts: 540; Member since: 12 Mar 2014)


Sorry dude but IMX260 is the 3rd generation of Exmor RS sensor not ISOCELL this is the Chipworks official confirmation from image Sensor World Blogspot.

Ray F. ChipworksMarch 10, 2016 at 8:38 PM
We can confirm that the stacked 12 MP camera chip from the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (Model SM-G935T) purchased in the US is sourced from Sony. This conclusion is based on our analysis results. The blog update we posted on March 8 related to the identification of the technology platform Sony used for fabrication. At first blush, these new chips appeared to be conventional Sony back-illuminated (Exmor R) sensors. As described in the blog update we now know Sony introduced a significant evolution to its chip-to-chip interconnect scheme. We’ve described these chips as 3rd generation Exmor RS. Anyway, the S7 12 MP camera chips we’ve seen to date are confirmed to be fabricated by Sony.

We’ve also heard the news that Samsung dual-sourced the S7 camera chips from its own group and from Sony (a strategy we also documented for the Galaxy S6). After our Galaxy S7 teardown Samsung announced its ISOCELL chip with a comparable specification (stacked CIS, full chip PDAF, 12 MP resolution, 1.4 µm pixel pitch). We’re currently tearing down phones from other regions and continue to document the different design wins for our clients. If and when we find an ISOCELL variant in an S7 camera we’ll update our blog accordingly (please register for updates, if interested).

http://image-sensors-world.blogspot.co.id/2016/03/samsung-announces-its-own-dual-pixel-af.html?m=1

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 13:40 1

32. tyrionTheWise (unregistered)


Read comment #31.

Chipworks called it the 3rd gen Exmor as it didn't fit any kind of Exmor Rs description. Which basically supports my theory.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 22:10

39. Genza (Posts: 540; Member since: 12 Mar 2014)


I don't think what said in comment #3 support your theory at all let me explain why.

First Sony never official announce or provide any documentation their latest and greatest image sensor to the public usually you'll see it after 6 months or ever a year after they released to the market just like what they have done with IMX220 in Xperia Z1.
You can't find any details about the IMX300 in the Z5 series or even 1" stacked image sensor in RX100M4 and Full Frame BSI in a7R II.

If the IMX 260 uses Samsung design they will still call it ISOCELL sensor and brag about it just like what Apple have done with their custom designed A series SoC.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 15:35

36. sceamgid (Posts: 24; Member since: 12 Nov 2015)


or more like it's sony exmor rs sensor licensed to samung fabricating it.there is no reason to label it as imx 260.
isocell isnt something special , marketing term, it's deep trench isolation tech used by another sensor maker's too.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 08:08 1

9. photo3 (Posts: 5; Member since: 11 Mar 2016)


Don't look alike at all to me. I am looking at them on a calibrated 23" monitor. Color is much more saturated on one. I would of thought they were two different phones.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 08:19

12. MrMiyagi (Posts: 41; Member since: 27 Feb 2014)


The ISOCELL variant seems to marginally eke out a win for me, seeing as it's a tad brighter and has better whites than its Sony counterpart.....Marginal tho, almost inseparable.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 15:04

34. Hypergy (Posts: 54; Member since: 24 Feb 2016)


I feel like Sony is now screwed. Samsung makes better sensors and software for the camera. Don't see Samsung needing Sony soon.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 21:20

38. kent-gaga (Posts: 505; Member since: 10 Apr 2012)


what if Samsung intensionally made the Sony sensor variant a little bit worse by altering the processing software so people, like you, think that they are superior?

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 08:19 3

13. MrMiyagi (Posts: 41; Member since: 27 Feb 2014)


The ISOCELL variant seems to eke out a win for me, seeing as it's a tad brighter and has better whites than its Sony counterpart.....Marginal tho, almost inseparable.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 08:36 8

15. milos (Posts: 59; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


Guys, Take a better look at images 5/6 and 7/8.( just click 100% , no need to pan.)
Look at antennas and thin lines such as ladder and poles.

Sony camera clearly has advantage in fine distance details. Straighter solid lines with better edge and better contrast.

Sony is clear winner for me. I hope I get it.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 10:11

25. marorun (Posts: 3908; Member since: 30 Mar 2015)


Colors seem better on the samsung sensor but detail better on sony yes.

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 08:59 2

16. Clars123 (Posts: 787; Member since: 16 Mar 2015)


The differences are negligible....but off course watch people try to slam ISOCELL

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