A recent Galaxy S9
camera teardown by TechInsights
reveals that, in some regions, S9 and S9+ models use Sony IMX sensors, instead of Samsung's in-house ISOCELL chips. The two types of sensors seem to have different designs, but no discrepancies in image quality have been recorded between the two. The respective models are the IMX345 for the Sony-made module and the S5K2L3 ISOCELL Fast for Samsung's in-house sensor.
The S5K2L3 is an upgraded version of the S5K2L2 sensor that powered the main cameras in the Galaxy S8
, S8+, and Note 8, while the IMX345 is similar to the IMX400 that debuted in the Xperia XZs
last year. Both have a 3-layer design that consists of a CMOS image sensor, an image signal processor (ISP), and a DRAM chip for buffering 960fps ultra-slow mo videos. The difference is that the IMX chip puts the DRAM between the ISP and the CMOS sensor, while the ISOCELL has the CMOS and ISP wafers conventionally bonded face-to-face, with the DRAM connected to the ISP face-to-back.
It's not clear yet whether there's a pattern to which markets are getting which sensor, but differences in image quality should likely be of no concern. If anything, this shows that Samsung can't satisfy the demand for so many imaging sensors alone.