Samsung has announced a new image sensor for smartphone cameras that it says has the smallest pixels in the industry. The ISOCELL JN1 is a 50-megapixel sensor with a relatively tiny 1/2.76-inch format, meaning its pixels are just 0.64μm in size. For comparison, Samsung already broke records in 2019 with the slightly larger ISOCELL Slim GH1, another 50-megapixel sensor with 0.7μm pixels.
Conventional camera wisdom says that smaller pixels usually result in worse image quality with higher noise, so why is Samsung doing this? According to the company, it’s about form factor versatility. The sensor’s smaller size means it can be used in ultrawide or telephoto camera modules — which are challenging to design when size is at a premium — or as a way to reduce the height of the primary camera bump.
As with other high-resolution camera sensors, the JN1 will make use of pixel-binning technology that combines multiple pixels into one for higher light sensitivity. In this case, Samsung says the sensor will capture 12.5-megapixel photos with the equivalent of 1.28μm pixels, and the company is also claiming a 16 percent boost to light sensitivity with its ISOCELL 2.0 tech.
Unusually, Samsung even held a full-on live-streamed launch event for this sensor, which you can watch here:
Samsung says the JN1 is currently in mass production, so it’s likely to show up in smartphones before too long.