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.

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

Related phones

Galaxy S5
  • Display 5.1" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 2.1 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2800 mAh(21h 3G talk time)



1. MarkArigayo

Posts: 240; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

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

3. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

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

9. geordie8t1 unregistered

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

15. The-Sailor-Man

Posts: 1095; Member since: Mar 25, 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"

20. nk_blu

Posts: 9; Member since: Jul 26, 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.

12. gabrielvoica

Posts: 67; Member since: Mar 05, 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...

17. jeeta444

Posts: 154; Member since: Mar 24, 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...

19. Jason2k13

Posts: 1462; Member since: Mar 28, 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.

21. Ashoaib

Posts: 3282; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

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

30. gabrielvoica

Posts: 67; Member since: Mar 05, 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 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...

25. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

In the blind testing the G2 camera came on top: About the S5, I would tend to thing it´s going to be better, but I´ll wait for the reviews

31. gabrielvoica

Posts: 67; Member since: Mar 05, 2013

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

33. SayMobile

Posts: 157; Member since: Jan 29, 2014

rightly said

36. cheetah2k

Posts: 2254; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

This is what I call innovation! Good work Samsung!

37. MarkArigayo

Posts: 240; Member since: Dec 18, 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.

38. WilliamC937

Posts: 17; Member since: Sep 07, 2013

Lol TouchWiz on S5 never lag.... tried

5. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

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

26. Astoni

Posts: 649; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

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

2. Desmortibus

Posts: 66; Member since: Apr 04, 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 !...

6. fireblade

Posts: 717; Member since: Dec 27, 2013

13. sergiobr

Posts: 718; Member since: Feb 25, 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.

24. kryme

Posts: 469; Member since: Oct 24, 2013

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

4. phljcnth

Posts: 556; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

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

7. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

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

8. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 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

10. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

Is that sarcasm or not???

22. Ashoaib

Posts: 3282; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

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

16. The-Sailor-Man

Posts: 1095; Member since: Mar 25, 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

28. MrKoles

Posts: 368; Member since: Jan 20, 2013

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

32. ecmedic4

Posts: 520; Member since: May 02, 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.

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