Samsung's latest smartphone sensor promises DSLR-like focus speeds

It's got large pixels for better low-light capability, too.

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Samsung 50-megapixel ISO cell sensor dual pixel

Samsung has unveiled a new smartphone sensor showing that more megapixels may not always be better. The ISOCELL GN1 is “only” a 50-megapixel sensor, but at a 1/1.3-inch size, it has relatively large 1.2-micron pixels to help cameras perform better in low light. It also has dual pixel autofocus not unlike the system found on Canon cameras, offering “DSLR-level auto-focus speeds” even in dimly-lit situations, Samsung wrote.

If you need even better low-light performance, the new sensor also uses Samsung’s Tetracell tech that merges four pixels into one. That shrinks the effective resolution to 12.5-megapixels — still plenty for most photos — but multiplies the light-gathering power by four times. Combined with the dual pixel AF, the “GN1 is able to focus on an object quickly even in extreme low-light environment to deliver both brighter and sharper results,” Samsung wrote.

Samsung already has a 108-megapixel sensor used on the Galaxy S20 Ultra, and is busy working on even higher resolution cameras. A 50-megapixel sensor might not sound as impressive, but it’s much more useful for typical shooting scenarios in bars, concerts and barbecues (remember those?). On top of that, Samsung had to deal with complaints around autofocus for its 108-megapixel sensor when the Galaxy S20 first launched.

The new sensor will compete with Sony’s IMX 689 model used in the OnePlus 8, and could first appear first in a Vivo phone according to a leak. Production is slated to start later this month.

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