Will Samsung get super slow-motion video recording right on the Galaxy S9 and S9+?

With the official unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ inching closer and closer—we're expecting to see the flagships at MWC—the torrential rain of leaks regarding the two phones is finally showings signs of abating. However, despite the leaks slowing down to a trickle, we are still learning interesting bits of information about Samsung's 2018 S-line of smartphones. Recently, an allegedly official retail box for the Galaxy S9 made the rounds online, providing some insight into the flagship's biggest stand-out features.

And, as one would expect these days, a bunch of the ten-or-so highlights listed on the back of the box had to do with the phone's cameras, both front- and rear-facing. The Galaxy S9 will apparently sport a 2-step variable aperture (f/1.5 at the widest, down to f/2.4), which, in theory at least, should improve the camera's performance for stills both during the day and in low light scenarios, but the wider aperture should also provide better video recording at high speeds. When recording video at high frame rates, the camera needs to operate at an extremely high shutter speed, which results in less light reaching the sensor, than, say, when recording at 30fps or 60fps. This makes shooting slow-mo videos in darker environments an exercise in frustration, especially when it comes to smartphone cameras and their tiny sensors.

Of course, recording in the standard for many smartphone cameras slow motion modes—which vary between 120fps and 240fps depending on resolution—is not nearly the same as shooting at something like 480fps or 960fps. This sort of frame rate necessitates a much, much higher shutter speed, which in turn requires a lot more light to actually capture a useful video. This is why having the wider aperture is so important – it lets more light in. But if you want to learn more about the variable aperture and how it could affect the camera performance of the Galaxy S9, check out our post on why the Galaxy S9 may have a game-changing camera.

Pixel size and optical format

Now, let's talk about sensor size and slow motion video recording, which Samsung brands as "Super Slow-mo" on the S9. Many people were somewhat concerned—me included—when they learned that the Galaxy S9 may feature a variable aperture. But why, that's a good thing, right? Well, it is, to an extent, but since we didn't know anything about the camera sensor in the S9, there were concerns that Samsung may have opted to implement a slimmer sensor with smaller pixels, in order to fit in the variable aperture mechanism and DRAM chip that's in charge of image buffering when recording videos at high frame rates, without increasing the thickness of the phone.

After all, in October of 2017, Samsung unveiled the 0.9μm ISOCELL Slim, which would be a prime candidate, considering that Samsung is claiming that it offers "the highest quality images ever built on a smaller camera module, delivering exceptional flexibility for slimmer designs."

However, in hindsight, that was never an option—and neither is the newer ISOCELL Slim—because it's a 24MP sensor and the Galaxy S9 will have a 12MP camera. So, what's left? Well, we have the ISOCELL Bright, which has improved low-light performance through pixel merging and exposure stacking, but it's not that either, since the ISOCELL Bright has a 13MP resolution. This leaves us with the 1/2.56", 12MP ISOCELL Fast sensor, which has a 3-stack FRS (Fast Readout Sensor) that enables it to capture high frame rate videos in FHD.

Super Slow-mo

Seeing as how Samsung is touting the new "Super Slow-mo" video recording, it is very likely that the ISOCELL Fast is, indeed, the sensor that will be used in the Galaxy S9. Furthermore, a teaser image shared by Samsung yesterday sheds more light on the possible duration and resolution of slow-mo videos, so let's take a look at that:

The image showcases recording a 13-second clip, in FHD, at 480fps. And that could be just one of the options. Theoretically, it might also be capable of recording 720p clips at 960fps, or shorter, FHD videos at a higher frame rate. The problem is, right now, we don't know much about the DRAM chip in the ISOCELL Fast, that's in charge of temporarily storing data when recording high-speed videos, and the logic chip that's tasked with calculations. All we know thus far, is that Samsung is using a different bonding method than Sony—and a more expensive one, at that—possibly to avoid patent infringements. The 3-layer sensor that Sony used in the Xperia XZ Premium allowed for capturing 720p videos at close to 1000fps, but only for a fraction of a second as a trade-off, which many people found gimmicky and inconvenient. Whether Samsung has the technology to offer longer recordings at FHD, and at this high of a frame rate—or whether it's limiting the frames per second to allow for FHD recording—remains to be seen. Of course, there's also the possibility that the time stamp in the teaser image is completely random, and that the slow-mo effect itself is available for just a few seconds. Fingers crossed, it isn't, though. 

At any rate, longer 1080p videos at 480fps are going to be more useful than what the XZ Premium has to offer, in my opinion at least, since I found it rather difficult to capture spontaneous action on the XZ Premium with the split-second window you have at your disposal to record in super slow motion.

The official unveiling of the Galaxy S9 and S9+ is just around the corner, so soon enough, we'll get to test all the new features for ourselves. I sure can't wait! What about you?

Related phones

Galaxy S9
  • Display 5.8" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2800 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(31h talk time)
Galaxy S9+
  • Display 6.2" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2800 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh(35h talk time)



1. bucknassty

Posts: 1365; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

will it matter if they have to restrict their SOC because snapdragon is slowing everyone down

5. So-min

Posts: 55; Member since: Dec 07, 2017

Well you don't judge it. Let the truth be uncovered and praised. The Galaxy line up has been awarded the best in class in photography for a decade. And in will continue to do so forever for sure.

8. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

I dont know about that but the first Galaxy was released in 2009, do the math and you can't come to a decade; and the camera was mediocre up until the S6. Don't get me started on the S5 ISOCELL performed worse than the Sony IMX sensors present in several S5 units.

6. Madmax

Posts: 110; Member since: Aug 19, 2016

Let's just accept the fact that it was inevitable.. PA would have always called 960fps gimmick when sony was using it, as is the case of a 4k display, until Samsung or Apple adopts it.. So here we are.. The next big thing in smartphone cameras.. Super Slow mo video.. . But.. IMO S9 would max out at 480fps! Why? Well it is because Sammy boy here uses sony sensors for half of the S flagship units.. Even if they come up with 960fps sensor of their own, it's very unlikely that sony would compromise their most important smartphone camera feature.. So unless Sony thinks of sensor profits rather than smartphone profit, we might just only get 480fps slow mo in Samsung..

15. Milen_Y

Posts: 115; Member since: Jun 09, 2016

No, the problem with the XZ Premium is that it can do 720p/960fps but just for a split second. It's incredibly hard to get the moment right when you have such a tiny window to react and you're trying to capture a fast moving object. I'd much rather have 1080p/480fps and a longer recording time. But hey, that's my opinion.

10. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

I doubt. Samsung wont be able to make all sensor they need for S9, S9+ and N9.

11. adecvat

Posts: 652; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Snapdragon 845 support only 720p480. Cry.

12. Ciro1900

Posts: 591; Member since: Dec 17, 2017

my 835 have 960 fps 720 p, the one you'll have to cry will be you if xamxung only have 480 fps

13. izim1

Posts: 1604; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

I didnt think any company, yes including THAT company, has gotten new tech used right, the first time around. I dont expect the s9 to be the first, and i still expect it be a beast.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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