Samsung may be mulling a 12 MP camera with big sensor size for the Galaxy S7

Samsung may be mulling a 12 MP camera with big sensor size for the Galaxy S7
Hot on the heels of yesterday's tip that Samsung is in talks with Sony about the camera sensor that can be found in the Xperia Z5 trio, testing the waters to fit it in the upcoming Galaxy S7, now comes a rather contrarian rumor. A blog post on Weibo, from an account with an already established track record, mainly about upcoming chipsets and other hardware components, claims that Samsung is mulling a rehash of its phone camera strategy.

Instead of chasing an ever-increasing pixel count - the Galaxy S6 has a 16 MP camera, while the S7 is rumored to have a 20 MP one - Samsung is apparently planning to bet on much larger sensors with smaller resolution. We can only applaud such a decision, if the rumor turns out credible, as larger sensors with smaller resolutions mean larger pixels and/or more space between pixels, which on theory will be able to collect more light with less crosstalk and signal distortion.

In fact, the source claims that Samsung has one specific resolution in mind - 12 MP - which will be fitted on a largish for a mobile camera, 1/2" sensor area size. This means that the individual pixels which be much bigger than the puny 1.12 micron dots on current 20 MP or 16 MP phone camera sensors. Google took a similar approach with the new Nexus 5X and 6P phones, outfitting them with 12 MP cameras that sport a large 1/2.3" sensor size with pretty good camera sample results. 

The source claims that this new Samsung sensor is nearing mass production, and might end up in the Galaxy S7, though the only rumors we've heard so far about the camera on the S7 are for a 20 MP unit, and it might be a bit late in the game to swap sensors at this point, unless Samsung is testing the upcoming flagship with both sensor sizes. The large 12 MP sensor is said to be with a dual-PD (dual-photodiode) technology, too, so we can't wait to hear more info on if and when this thing will make it to Samsung phones, and to which ones.

source: IIceUniverse (Weibo) via G4Games

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48 Comments

48. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Whatever they go with, their NX team knows what they are doing, hopefully they are helping like Samsung display helps.

47. FrankUnderwood2

Posts: 243; Member since: Oct 01, 2015

They should have put this sensor in Galaxy Alpha 2 (if there is any planned sequel to the otherwise underrated Galaxy Alpha), and introduced a bigger and higher resolution sensor in Galaxy S-7.

45. mixedfish

Posts: 1574; Member since: Nov 17, 2013

LOL 1/2" sensor, someone seriously thinks this is real? Samsung phones already have a jarring hump using the small 1/2.4" sensor, how would they explain it using the 1/2" sensor.

44. AZNHA unregistered

samsung galaxy s7 = wishlist :] #teamcrispy

39. SonyOwner unregistered

Hahah so Sony offered the sensor found on the Iphone 6s? They will never give the Z5 sensor to samsung right now. Maybe 2 years from now after Sony develep new excellent sensor for their flagship. Great move Sony.

37. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Samsung isn't going to drop a 12MP sensor into the S. Because for people who know nothing about cameras, will say; last years model had 16MP and why did they go down, not understand camera optics and how you can get a better camera that is smaller. I can the 12MP being used on maybe an S Mini or something. But not the S or Note. I just don't see it.

43. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

I don't think Samsung has to play it that safe anymore. They won't lose too many sales by the mp decrease and even if they did, it doesn't matter. They are losing sales regardless. The GS7 isn't going to be all out again like the GS6 so I don't see them maintaining their 10 million in a month regardless. They can probably use a 1 mp camera and I won't have that big of an impact. Market is already too saturated.

36. Deaconclgi

Posts: 405; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

"12MP 1/1.8 Carl Zeiss Lens and Xenon flash for the win!!!!!"* *Says the 2010 Nokia N8. Remember, we are talking about camera specs right now. :p

33. ameran

Posts: 344; Member since: Dec 04, 2013

As everyone knows, HTC tried the same system in their previous handset, but it was not successful. It sounds great on the paper but in the real world isn't the best way to improve the quality of the images. If this was a good technology, Canon and Nikon would have done it way before. I would say, increase the size of the sensor and the pixel counts. This would be a better solution.

35. kkmkk

Posts: 699; Member since: May 06, 2013

htc method used 4 megapixel this is 3 times more with much better image processing .

42. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Um Canon and Nikon already have. Why do you think some compact cameras have way less zoom and cost like $600? Those are the compacts with the large sensors.

32. DnB925Art

Posts: 1168; Member since: May 23, 2013

16MP or 12MP. Doesn't matter to me. As long as I can still upload unlimited photos to Google Photos at full size (Google Photos up to 16MP don't count toward your total Drive allotment).

23. Quantify

Posts: 9; Member since: Apr 12, 2015

Our Lumia 1020s were the end of an era...I doubt we'll see that sort of sensor on a smartphone in the future. Nobody needs a 38MP image from a smartphone. If you can get a really nice 12MP, that will be the sweet spot. I'll hang onto my 1020 (with xenon flash) for as long as it works, but I'm under no illusions that it will eventually join my N8 and Pureview 808 in my nightstand drawer.

26. rsiders

Posts: 2068; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

I agree we don't need it but it was so much fun having a sensor like that in our pockets that wasn't overly bulky(the Lumia 1020 at least). The zoom technology and the sheer quality was only limited by a weak processor and less popular OS. I think if Windows 10 Mobile gains momentum, Microsoft should at least revisit the beast one last time with the capabilities of a Snapdragon 820, updated specs and MicroSD expansion. And imagine if the crossover apps from Android and iOS are populating the Windows Store by that time. What a time to own the best camera phone ever.

30. Quantify

Posts: 9; Member since: Apr 12, 2015

I still take my Lumia 1020 on vacations...I get images that are so much better (dynamic range, color, noise) than my wife's Moto X 2gen and my kids iPhones. the 1020 was underrated for video as well. The OIS on that beast is incredible, it's like having a steadycam in a smartphone.

22. plasteek

Posts: 265; Member since: Jun 07, 2015

Like the N8 12mp but bigger sensor(and pixel) size !

19. rsiders

Posts: 2068; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

I'm still waiting on a 41 megapixel sensor part 2 running on a Snapdragon 820 with blazing fast performance in a Lumia 1040 with a mature Windows 10 Mobile ecosystem.

29. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I could care less about the cpu, give me 2 dedicated image processors that offload the need for any heavy cpu task. I don't need 41MP but perhaps a true 1" 24MP sensor that can do 120fps 4k video?

18. NonFanBoy

Posts: 180; Member since: May 28, 2015

The non-techie masses normally have the opinion, more the pixels, better the camera. So it won't be a great decision from marketing point of view. But it would be a bold move by Samsung, something that many people would welcome.

15. Andrewtst

Posts: 697; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Increasing sensor size is great idea. 12MP is enough and not too small like what HTC did.

10. darkkjedii

Posts: 31805; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Hope they find a way to stay at 16, and do it.

11. mattkl

Posts: 255; Member since: Feb 01, 2010

Yep +1

16. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

This! They already added the hump, make it a bit bigger and more streamlined. Done.

9. vuyonc

Posts: 1094; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

16 MP 1/2" sensor makes more sense IMO. Decently sized pixels, high number of OSPDAF focus points rivaling that of the Xperia Z5, high detail under low light as well. The iPhones and Nexuses are great but were losing to the Xperia Z5 and Note 5 because of the difference in resolution!

8. Shocky unregistered

Dropping down to 12MP is fine so long as the benefits are worth it, low light performance has improved this year but there is still a long way to go.

7. Odeira

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 29, 2012

I'd wanted Samsung to increase sensor size AND maintain a high resolution, instead of SHRINKING the resolution - small resolutions are a nightmare for advanced image editors (over 4K UHD iMacs and PC's.) Samsung CAN maintain the 16MP resolution and increase the sensor size,...

6. tango_charlie

Posts: 347; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

LG is also rumored to use a 1/2" sensor on the G5. Increasing sensor size and megapixel is the way to go. Hopefully this will be a new trend along with bigger batteries.

4. hung2900

Posts: 966; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

I begged Samsung for this for so long. 12-13MP with big sensor size. 16MP is too much needed

3. TyrionLannister unregistered

My ideal phone camera will have 8.3 MP with 1/2" sensor. 8.3 MP is more than enough for even watching on a 4K monitor. And 8.3 MP(3840x2160) means you can shoot 4K too. And that 8.3 MP sensor will have humongous pixels; so better dynamic range, sensitivity and general quality. HTC had an amazing approach with ultrapixel, but the execution was just poor with pathetic lens and dismal post-processing. This one is pretty close to my ideal camera.

12. hung2900

Posts: 966; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

I can still see the difference of 13MP Note 3 vs 8MP Note 2 on my FHD monitor. Should leave room for cropping also.

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