Samsung is almost certain to be the first commercial vendor of a mobile imaging sensor with a resolution of more than 200 megapixels. So far, reports have suggested that Samsung is developing a 200-megapixel smartphone camera and that Xiaomi could be the first OEM to license it for its upcoming flagship phone series, the Mi 12. While the above may still be true, according to a new report, Samsung is unlikely to include this 200MP camera in its upcoming outright flagship device, the rumored Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Samsung is considering not using the upcoming 200MP camera sensor on its next-generation flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, according to a post on Twitter by fairly reliable tipster Ice Universe. While the exact reasons for this may not be known until Samsung unveils the latter next year, there are a few we can speculate on. The most popular reason is that with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung may choose to focus on larger pixel sizes rather than megapixel count. This would be an interesting move because a phone with a 200MP camera is certainly a compelling marketing hook.
Smartphones, on the other hand, have very limited space due to the physics of camera sensors and are required to adhere to a certain form factor in terms of slimness, length, and breadth. This limits the size of the camera sensor that can be housed in a smartphone alongside its other components, while also ensuring that the device does not become unwieldy or difficult to hold. This size limit acts as an engineering barrier in the sense that the sensor size remains constant even as the megapixel count increases. As a result, the only way to accommodate more pixels is to reduce the pixel size.
Reducing pixel size, in turn, has a significant impact on low-light photography – and while Samsung has promoted software-based technologies such as HDR enhancements and its own Dual Pixel Pro, the image quality will still suffer. This is likely to lead Samsung to revert to older sensors with larger pixel sizes. While Samsung sparked rumors by teasing 200MP and “six cameras” in an Exynos teaser post on Twitter, the latter could simply be a demonstration of the new SoC’s capabilities, rather than a prediction of what the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra will have.