May 28, 2024

Samsung’s Ambitious Pursuit: A 432MP Camera for Galaxy S27 Ultra

Back in July 2022, we let you know that Samsung had petitioned for a brand name for “Hexa²Pixel.” This would suggest that a camera sensor using “Hexa²Pixel” technology would offer 36:1 pixel binning. Hexa equals six, and when squared, it results in 36. Pixel binning is a technique where the data from neighboring pixels is combined into one, resulting in improved photos with less noise.

When Samsung filed for the brand name, it was showcasing post-binning images that ranged from 12MP to 12.5MP, utilizing the 108MP sensor on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, for instance. Multiplying both by 36 led to a range of 432MP to 450MP. Therefore, it was our belief that Samsung was working on a camera sensor that would support a range of 432MP to 450MP.

According to X insider Revegnus, Samsung is developing a new ISOCELL HW camera sensor series. The initial two HW sensors would be nearly 1-inch sensors, with the HW1 offering a resolution of 432MP with a sensor size of 1/1.05″ and a pixel size of 0.56 micrometers. The HW2 will also feature a 432MP resolution and a size close to 1-inch, at 1/1.07″ and a pixel size of 0.5 micrometers.

The insider also mentioned that the Galaxy Z Fold 6 will continue to use the 50MP GN3 image sensor found in the Galaxy Z Fold 5. On the other hand, the Galaxy Z Fold 7, as Revegnus claims, will employ a 200MP ISOCELL HP5 with a sensor size of 1/1.3-inch and a pixel size of 0.5 micrometers. Back in August, the same insider revealed that the new Samsung ISOCELL image sensors, which are expected to be mass-produced in late 2024, include the 200MP HP7 with 0.6μm pixels, a 50MP GN6, and a 440MP HU1.

It’s fascinating how a simple mathematical calculation, based on the trademark filing, perfectly predicted a 432MP resolution image sensor. What remains uncertain is when Samsung will start advertising a 432MP camera for the Galaxy S2x Ultra. The Galaxy S24 Ultra seems to have already been launched, so the earliest we could see such a camera on a Samsung smartphone would be with the Galaxy S25 Ultra in 2025. More likely, the Galaxy S26 Ultra or the Galaxy S27 Ultra would be the first Samsung System phone to feature a 432MP camera sensor.

The “Hexa²Pixel” Trademark: A Clue to Samsung’s Ambitions

Back in July 2022, eagle-eyed observers noticed that Samsung had filed a trademark application for “Hexa²Pixel.” While trademark filings can sometimes be cryptic, this one seemed to hint at something significant in the realm of mobile photography. The “Hexa” in Hexa²Pixel clearly suggested the number six, but what did it mean in the context of camera technology?

This trademark application set off a wave of speculation and anticipation among tech enthusiasts and Samsung fans. It was clear that Samsung had something intriguing in the works, something related to pixel technology and photography. But the exact nature of this innovation remained shrouded in mystery.

The Quest for Higher Resolution

The pursuit of higher resolution in smartphone cameras is a relentless journey. Smartphone manufacturers are in a constant race to outdo each other in terms of camera capabilities, and one key battleground is resolution. Higher resolution images allow for more detail, sharper photos, and greater flexibility in post-processing. They enable users to crop, zoom, and edit photos while retaining high quality.

Samsung has been at the forefront of this megapixel race. The company’s flagship smartphones have consistently pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in mobile photography. From the early days of single-digit megapixels to the era of 108MP sensors, Samsung has demonstrated its commitment to delivering cutting-edge camera technology.

However, the trademark filing for “Hexa²Pixel” hinted at something even more ambitious. While 108MP sensors are impressive, the prospect of a camera sensor with six times that resolution was nothing short of groundbreaking. It left many wondering how Samsung planned to achieve such a feat and what it could mean for the future of smartphone photography.

The Role of Pixel Binning

To understand the significance of “Hexa²Pixel,” it’s essential to grasp the concept of pixel binning. Pixel binning is a technique used in camera sensors to improve image quality, particularly in challenging lighting conditions. It involves combining the data from multiple adjacent pixels into a single pixel. The result is a “binned” pixel that can capture more light and produce better image quality.

In the context of smartphone photography, pixel binning has become increasingly important. It allows smartphone cameras to capture more light, reduce noise, and enhance low-light performance. This, in turn, leads to better-looking photos and improved overall camera performance.

Pixel binning is typically represented as a ratio, such as 2:1 or 4:1. The first number indicates how many pixels are combined, while the second number represents the resulting “binned” pixel. For example, in a 2:1 pixel binning process, data from two adjacent pixels is combined into one pixel. This results in a larger, more light-sensitive pixel that can capture better-quality images.

The ISOCELL HW Camera Sensor Series

Now, let’s delve into the details of Samsung’s ISOCELL HW camera sensor series. According to the insider Revegnus, Samsung is working on a new series of camera sensors under the ISOCELL HW branding. These sensors are expected to bring significant advancements in resolution and image quality, pushing the boundaries of mobile photography.

The initial two sensors in this series are particularly noteworthy. Both of these sensors are nearly 1-inch in size, a significant leap from the standard smartphone camera sensors. Here’s a closer look at these two sensors:

  1. ISOCELL HW1:
    • Resolution: 432MP
    • Sensor Size: 1/1.05″
    • Pixel Size: 0.56 micrometers
  2. ISOCELL HW2:
    • Resolution: 432MP
    • Sensor Size: 1/1.07″
    • Pixel Size: 0.5 micrometers

These specifications are nothing short of remarkable. A 432MP camera sensor is unprecedented in the world of smartphones. It represents a significant leap in resolution, promising the ability to capture astonishingly detailed photos.

The larger sensor size also plays a crucial role in improving image quality. A larger sensor can capture more light, resulting in better low-light performance and dynamic range. Combined with the advanced pixel binning technology implied by the “Hexa²Pixel” trademark, these sensors have the potential to redefine smartphone photography.

The Future of Samsung’s Foldable Devices

While the ISOCELL HW camera sensors are undoubtedly exciting developments, it’s essential to consider where these sensors might find their home. Samsung’s Galaxy S series is known for pushing the boundaries of mobile photography, but there’s another line of devices that could benefit greatly from these advancements: the Galaxy Z Fold series.

Samsung’s foldable smartphones have garnered attention for their innovative designs and capabilities. With larger form factors and versatile folding displays, these devices offer unique possibilities for both productivity and multimedia consumption. However, they have also faced challenges in terms of camera performance, primarily due to the constraints of their form factor.

The Galaxy Z Fold 6, as suggested by Revegnus, is expected to stick with the 50MP GN3 image sensor used in the Galaxy Z Fold 5. While this sensor is capable and has been well-received, it may not fully leverage the potential of the ISOCELL HW sensors.

However, the Galaxy Z Fold 7 could be a game-changer in the world of foldable smartphones. If it indeed adopts the 200MP ISOCELL HP5 sensor with a larger sensor size and smaller pixel size, it could mark a significant leap in camera capabilities for foldable devices. This could make the Galaxy Z Fold 7 a compelling choice for users who demand top-tier camera performance in a foldable form factor.

The Path Forward: What to Expect

As exciting as these developments sound, it’s important to remember that the timeline for the introduction of these camera sensors into Samsung’s smartphones remains uncertain. The smartphone industry is highly competitive, with companies constantly vying to outdo each other. Samsung is likely to carefully plan the integration of these high-resolution sensors into its flagship devices.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has already been launched, which suggests that we may not see a 432MP camera in a Samsung smartphone until 2025 at the earliest. The Galaxy S25 Ultra or subsequent models, such as the Galaxy S26 Ultra or S27 Ultra, could be the ones to feature this groundbreaking camera technology.

It’s also worth noting that while higher resolution is a significant advancement, it’s not the only factor that determines camera performance. Sensor size, pixel size, image processing capabilities, and software optimization all play crucial roles in delivering exceptional photos.

Closing Thoughts: Redefining Mobile Photography

Samsung’s pursuit of a 432MP camera sensor underscores the company’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of mobile photography. While it may be some time before we see this technology in consumer devices, the implications are profound.

Higher resolution sensors open up new possibilities for photography, from capturing intricate details in landscapes to enabling advanced digital zoom without compromising quality. They also have applications beyond consumer smartphones, such as in the fields of medical imaging, surveillance, and professional photography.

As Samsung continues to innovate in the realm of camera technology, it’s clear that the future of mobile photography holds exciting prospects. The “Hexa²Pixel” trademark was a glimpse into Samsung’s ambitions, and the ISOCELL HW camera sensor series is a testament to the company’s dedication to redefining the possibilities of smartphone cameras.

In the coming years, we can expect to see these innovations translate into real-world benefits for users, allowing them to capture moments with unprecedented clarity and detail. As Samsung and other manufacturers continue to raise the bar, mobile photography is set to enter a new era of creativity and excellence.