High megapixel count does not automatically make a camera system good, but it is useful in certain applications. Case in point: Samsung’s brand new 108MP camera sensor. Dubbed Samsung ISOCELL Bright HMX, it’s a sensor made for mobile devices, which is said to be an industry’s first.
While the possibility of capturing 108MP images on a smartphone sound impressive, that’s not the big selling point here. Rather, the high pixel count is used to create high quality – and more practically sized – 27MP images via pixel binning. In retrospect, it’s a similar implementation used by current crop of smartphones with 48MP sensors.
It’s worth noting that the Bright HMX sensor is “the result of close collaboration between Xiaomi and Samsung.” That’s right, Xiaomi plays a part in the development of this camera sensor. Chances are, the Bright HMX will be found in upcoming smartphones from Samsung and Xiaomi.
In fact, rumours are suggesting that the Mi Mix 4 will feature the new 108MP sensor, though there are no concrete details yet. In fact, both Samsung and Xiaomi have not announced which phone will use the new sensor, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
As for the ISOCELL Bright HMX itself, it’s quite an impressive sensor. As mentioned, it combines four pixels into one, which reduces the image output from 108MP to only 27MP. Not only is it a much more practical resolution for smartphones with limited amount of storage, there are a couple of benefits too.
For one, by combining information from four different pixels into one, you will get a much, much brighter image. This, in turn, would dramatically improve low light performance – in theory, anyway. At the end of the day, the camera performance would still depend on the image processing algorithm of each individual phone maker.
According to Samsung, the Bright HMX is also the first mobile camera sensor to adopt a 1/1.33-inch size. This large size allows the sensor to capture more light in less than ideal lighting conditions, which should (again) improve low light performance.
Beyond that, the HMX sensor can capture lossless 6K (6016 x 3384) videos at 30 frames per second too. On top of that, depending on the lighting condition, the “Smart-ISO mechanism” of the sensor will automatically adjust the level of ISO accordingly.
Mass production for the Samsung ISOCELL Bright HMX camera sensor will begin later this month, so we should see the sensor debut on a Xiaomi or Samsung smartphone in the coming months. Given that Xiaomi’s next big flagship smartphone is the Mi Mix 4, there’s a very good chance it will feature the HMX sensor.