Earlier today at the company’s “Images of the Future” conference, Xiaomi dropped a bombshell. According to a tweet on the official Xiaomi account, they’ve teamed up with Samsung to develop a smartphone with a 108MP “ultra-clear” image sensor!
Xiaomi actually made two announcements today. The first is that it will be using Samsung’s ISOCELL GW1 64MP image sensor in an upcoming Redmi phone. That, in and of itself, is a big deal. The GW1 uses “tetracell” technology (read: a quad-bayer array) to shoot 16MP images in low light, but thanks to a “remosaic” algorithm, it can still spit out full-resolution 64MP images in bright conditions. It’s the highest resolution smartphone image sensor available… for now.
That’s because this announcement was overshadowed by the news that Xiaomi and Samsung have teamed up on an even higher resolution “100MP” camera:
This just in! Two big pieces of news from Xiaomi’s Images of the Future Conference:
Redmi and Samsung Electronics jointly announced a 64MP camera
Xiaomi and Samsung Electronics teased an upcoming 100MP ultra high-resolution camera
RT if you’re excited for this new era of cameras! pic.twitter.com/f88OpJfdIS
— Xiaomi #FortuneGlobal500 (@Xiaomi) August 7, 2019
The teaser says “100MP” but claims a total resolution of 12032 by 9024, which comes out to just over 108MP when you do the math. Following in the GW1’s footsteps, we would guess that this, too, uses a quad-bayer array to produce 27MP images in normal shooting conditions, relying on the same remosaic algorithm to reconstruct full-res 108MP files when there’s enough of light to go around.
No additional details were shared, so we don’t know when this image sensor will be officially revealed, or if it will be any physically bigger than the ISOCELL GW1. The 64MP sensor already uses relatively small 0.8µm pixels compared to the 1.4µm pixels found in the iPhone XS and Google Pixel 3 sensors, so a further drop could mean an increase in noise for the “tetracell” technology to deal with.
That said, it’s exciting that Samsung and Sony continue to innovate in the sensor department—whether those sensors are meant for full-frame cameras, or the smartphone in your pocket.