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

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)

Related phones

Galaxy S7 edge
  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3600 mAh(36h 3G talk time)

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46 Comments

1. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

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

14. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I agree.

22. uggman

Posts: 58; Member since: Feb 01, 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.

24. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Its also seem to have a bit less detail. Nothing major.

33. vincelongman

Posts: 5695; Member since: Feb 10, 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)

2. cdm283813

Posts: 424; Member since: Jan 10, 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.

3. tyrionTheWise unregistered

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

4. Skimshaddy

Posts: 126; Member since: Feb 23, 2016

Looks the same to me.

5. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

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).

19. Hoggington

Posts: 356; Member since: Feb 23, 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.

6. Marduch

Posts: 81; Member since: Feb 04, 2015

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

7. Luckyguy

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 11, 2016

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

21. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 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.

8. jack123

Posts: 278; Member since: Jan 07, 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.

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.

28. Nibbler1

Posts: 40; Member since: Apr 03, 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.

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.

29. Genza

Posts: 576; Member since: Mar 12, 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

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.

39. Genza

Posts: 576; Member since: Mar 12, 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.

36. sceamgid

Posts: 25; Member since: Nov 12, 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.

9. photo3

Posts: 13; Member since: Mar 11, 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.

12. MrMiyagi

Posts: 41; Member since: Feb 27, 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.

34. Hypergy

Posts: 54; Member since: Feb 24, 2016

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

38. kent-gaga

Posts: 609; Member since: Apr 10, 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?

13. MrMiyagi

Posts: 41; Member since: Feb 27, 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.

15. milos

Posts: 68; Member since: Oct 29, 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.

25. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

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

16. Clars123

Posts: 1078; Member since: Mar 16, 2015

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

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