Samsung introduces ISOCELL HP2, the new 200MP sensor developed for the Galaxy S23

Unveiled just before the Galaxy S23 launch, the ISOCELL HP2 is the newest 200MP sensor in Samsung’s offering, with 0.6µm pixels and a 1/1.3″ footprint, similar to the old 108MP sensor still shipped on mid-range phones.

Announced a year ago, the first 200MP smartphone photo sensor has only made it into devices shipped by other manufacturers, with Samsung developing a version with improved performance for the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Like other sensors with very high pixel density, the ISOCELL HP2 “skirts” the problem of low light sensitivity by relying on a technology called Tetra Pixel, which allows up to 16 adjacent pixels to be grouped together. Simulating a sensor with 2.4 μm pixels, light sensitivity is greatly improved, at the expense of resolution which drops to 12.5MP. And if ambient light is at a sufficient level, resolution can be increased to 50MP (pixels grouped in 4-to-1 mode, with effective size of 1.2 μm). As for the native 200MP resolution, this will most likely be accessed via an optional setting in the capture app.

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As for shooting modes, the ISOCELL HP2 supports up to 8K/30fps resolution, but is rather more intentional 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 stabilization.

ISOCELL HP2 – main features

  • With Samsung Tetra pixel technology, when in low light environments, the sensor transforms into either a 1.2 μm 50 MP or 2.4 μm 12.5 MP image sensor by combining four out of 16 neighboring pixels.
  • Supports 8K/30fps shooting, approximately 33MP per frame, using 1.2μm 50MP mode to maximize image quality and angle of view captured
  • Samsung’s new Dual Vertical Transfer Gate (D-VTG) technology can significantly reduce “detail washout” in images captured in brightly lit environments
  • Super QPD technology, which allows the sensor to use all 200 million pixels for focusing in dimly lit scenes.
  • Samsung brings for the first time the DSG function in 50MP mode, which applies two separate conversion values to the incoming analog signal at pixel level for better HDR performance.
  • The Smart-ISO Pro HDR solution combines different ISO readout levels from a single exposure, allowing the camera to shoot 12.5MP images and 4K video at 60 fps in HDR.
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Interestingly, Samsung also already offers 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.

As for the ISOCELL HP2, industry sources indicate 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.

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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