Galaxy S23 Ultra, ready with a 200MP camera based on a completely new sensor

Available since last year, the first 200MP smartphone photo sensor has only made it into devices shipped by other manufacturers, with Samsung developing a new 200MP sensor for the Galaxy S23 Ultra with much improved performance.

As with Samsung’s first 108MP sensor, the photo results achieved with the ISOCELL HP1, Samsung’s first 200MP sensor, aren’t quite up to par, with the extremely small pixels capturing enough light to deliver the promised detail only in ideal lighting conditions under clear summer skies. The rest of the time, cameras with fewer megapixels prove more capable of delivering good quality images. Attempts to compensate for this shortcoming using technologies such as Pixel Binning and software optimisations can’t completely solve the hardware limitations either.

Returning to the ISOCELL HP1, the first 200MP photo sensor appears to have been developed by Samsung solely as a product to sell to smartphone manufacturers caught up in the megapixel race, with no real intentions for setting a new benchmark in performance. As proof, the ISOCELL HP1 has not been included in any of Samsung’s top phones. According to the specs provided by Samsung, the ISOCELL HP1 uses 0.64 μm pixel size and includes a low-light mode that delivers high-quality 12.5MP resolution photos, simulating a pixel size of 2.56 μm, with greatly increased light sensitivity. At the same time, Samsung also announced a new technology called ChameleonCell, basically a configurable pixel-binning implementation, supporting 2×2, 4×4 or native resolution modes, depending on ambient lighting conditions. So, in its most “low-end” mode, the ISOCELL HP1 can group 16 adjacent pixels to make it easier to take pictures under artificial light, or even at night. As for shooting modes, the ISOCELL HP1 supports up to 8K/30fps resolution, but is more purposeful for 4K mode, being able to shoot at 60fps, with the 200 million pixel sensor leaving considerable margins for compensating for inadvertent hand movements by applying optical, digital, or hybrid stabilisation.

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Meanwhile, Samsung also released the ISOCELL HP3, a 200MP sensor with even smaller physical dimensions, optimized more for cost savings than for noticeable improvements on the image quality side.

Fast forward to the not-too-distant future, the “real” 200MP photo sensor could be the ISOCELL HP2, with industry sources showing that Samsung is its main customer, with up to 70% of production reserved in advance for future Galaxy phone models, while 30% will go to privileged OEM partners willing to pay the South Korean manufacturer’s asking price.

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According to rumors so far the Galaxy S23 Ultra will also have a periscope camera in its “arsenal” capable of delivering 10x optical zoom photos at 10MP resolution.

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