Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

In yesterday's headline, I introduced the more important cell phone image sensors in recent years in chronological order for our readers. Although the two years in the ultra-wide angle, telephoto end of the force, but consumers attach the most importance, so that manufacturers put the most effort or the main camera sensor, it is also the most powerful on the entire phone that image sensor. Therefore, this article will be more familiar to our readers through the cell phone manufacturers, one by one, respectively, to introduce each manufacturer's flagship models on the main camera sensor and the advanced technology behind it.

Steady rise in iPhone

Cell phone image sensor compared to cameras and other professional equipment sensors have a huge disadvantage in terms of size, only in the light into this aspect can not be compared with the camera. Therefore, cell phone manufacturers have long spent a lot of energy to improve the ability of cell phones to capture light, an important part of which is the use of higher quality image sensors. Apple as the leader in the field of cell phones, in this area of natural investment is also very huge.

On Apple's new generation iPhone 13 series, the main camera IMX603 of the previous generation flagship iPhone 12 Pro MAX was delegated to the base 13 series, while on the fist iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, Apple upgraded the lenses and sensors for their rear triple cameras respectively. The biggest upgrades are to their main camera sensors. While maintaining the same maximum pixel count of 12 million, the total size of the new IMX703 sensor has increased to 1/1.65" compared to the previous 12 Pro Max's IMX603, and the single pixel size has increased from 1.7 microns to 1.9 microns. The increase in single pixel size and the increase in the aperture of the main camera lens make this generation of iPhone 13 Pro Max's night photography ability greatly improved. According to the official website, the main camera is 2.2 times more capable of capturing light.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

The iPhone 13 Pro Max has a larger image module than its predecessor.

Of course, the increase in sensor size brought about by the improvement not only in the dark light shooting, in the imaging speed and stability, image quality, etc., this generation of iPhone also has a significant improvement. After replacing the IMX703, with the superb arithmetic assistance of A15 bionic SOC, this iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max further support recording [email protected] Dolby Vision video and Apple ProRes format video recording on top of the previous generation's support for Apple ProRAW format photos, while the new movie mode (currently only The new movie mode (currently only supports [email protected]) also improves playability. As you can see, the current generation of iPhone is undoubtedly more powerful shooting capabilities, ultra-wide angle support for macro shooting and the opening of the telephoto end of Super Night View also make up for the shortcomings of the previous generation.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲ Apple highlighted the improved night view capability of the iPhone 13 Pro

In addition to these features, the iPhone also has an exclusive implementation of "Sensor Shift Anti-Shake" technology. Unlike the traditional OIS anti-shake motor driven by the mirror group to move to compensate for the movement of the program, the sensor anti-shake is through the addition of flexure to make the CMOS sensor suspended way to achieve the anti-shake effect, this way to avoid the increase in the volume and weight of the lens to drive the motor to increase the problem, compared to driving a heavy lens to control a lighter sensor to achieve anti-shake, reduce the motor power consumption At the same time can also improve the camera to deal with high-frequency vibration anti-shake performance, can be a multi-benefit.

100 million pixels of Samsung

Globally, when it comes to Android image flagships, the brand that people tend to think of first is Android big brother - Samsung. At the beginning of the year, Samsung released a new generation of Samsung S22 Ultra with built-in S pen. compared to S21 Ultra, Samsung did not replace the S22 Ultra with a new main camera sensor, but chose to continue optimizing its own S5KHM3.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲ Samsung S21 Ultra and S22 Ultra both choose 100 megapixel ISOCELL HM3.

The S5KHM3 is 1/1.33" in size, with an exaggerated maximum pixel count of 108 million and a single pixel size of 0.8 microns, and supports a pixel nine-in-one to 12 megapixels and an increase in single pixel size to 2.4 microns. The HM3 supports Samsung Smart ISO Pro technology, which allows the pixels to be intelligently sensitized to capture both high ISO frames and low ISO frames, using the dark information captured by high ISO and the highlight information captured by low ISO to fuse, and after noise reduction, combine them into a high dynamic range image with 12bit color depth, while reducing artifacts and retaining more detail in the image.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲HM3 supports Smart ISO Pro technology, which can output pictures with 12bit color depth.

On top of that, the HM3 also supports Staggered High Dynamic Range technology (Staggered HDR), which utilizes the electronic shutter rolling feature to take the short exposure of the first line and the next line at the same time, achieving faster HDR shooting in the same unit of time, and being able to shoot high-contrast, high-light ratio scenes with ease. Compared to traditional multi-frame HDR compositing, this technology helps reduce the probability of dragging images and ghosting.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲Staggered HDR technology can simultaneously shoot photos with different exposure durations and combine them.

In terms of video, the sensor supports recording up to [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] specifications. With the combined power of Snapdragon 8 Gen1 next-generation ISP and optimized algorithms, the Samsung S22 Ultra's imaging levels at all focal lengths, especially the ultra-telephoto range, have been greatly improved over the S21U. It can be said that the Samsung S22 Ultra is still a strong contender for the throne of the camera in the first half of this year and throughout the year.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲The Samsung S22 Ultra's image system covers a multi-focal length from 13mm ultra-wide angle to 230mm ultra-telephoto.

Micro single with the bottom of the Sony

When it comes to cell phone photography, the most inseparable manufacturer is Sony. This is not only because of Sony's strength in the field of cameras and movie cameras, but also because Sony is the world's largest CMOS sensor supplier. In the cell phone products, Sony launched its own flagship image last year - Sony Xperia PRO-I. The biggest highlight of this product is its 1" main camera sensor, which is the same sensor from the black card digital camera RX100 Ⅶ (commonly known as the black card 7), and after the special optimization of the cell phone to the cell phone.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

The Xperia PRO-I main camera lens has a variable dual aperture design of F/2.0 and F/4.0.

Due to the limitations of the phone's size and lens height, the Xperia PRO-I can only utilize 60% of the image field (52.7% for video shooting) of this 21 megapixel sensor, which translates into an equivalent size of 1/1.31", with 12 million effective pixels and a single pixel size of 2.4 microns. The sensor has 315 phase-detection AF points covering 90% of the frame on the cell phone, and introduces "eye focus" and "object tracking" functions for fast and accurate AF in a variety of scenes.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

Sony has given the Xperia PRO-I a high specification lens module and the same type of outsole as the Black Card Microsofts.

To match the super sensor, Sony has paired it with a mobile version of the BIONZ X image processor and front-end LSI, while the lens adds a Zeiss aspherical glass lens to its six lenses and achieves a variable aperture of F/2.0 and F/4.0. The Xperia PRO-I has a good performance in all focal lengths, making it a stunning image flagship for Sony fans.

After looking at the performance of the major international manufacturers, we turn our attention back to the domestic. In recent years, the progress of domestic cell phones we can see, and the most progress is the image shooting strength. Next, let's see what domestic flagships have chosen the main camera sensor program.

Continued power of Huawei

As long as you are concerned about cell phone photography, you will not forget that the IMX600 on the Huawei P20 Pro brings shock to the industry and beyond. Since the Huawei P20 series, in the country's human perception, Huawei and good photography on the same sign. In the more difficult recent years, Huawei still launched the P40 series, Mate40 series and many other excellent products. Although Huawei is not the first manufacturer to use a non-traditional Bayer array CMOS sensor, its polishing of such sensors is truly unique.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲ Huawei Mate 40 series can be called the benchmark of the year in terms of design, performance and imaging.

The IMX700 on the Huawei Mate 40 Pro is replaced by a unique RYYB filter array by replacing the green filter on the RGGB array with a yellow one. Yellow is not a primary color, but is a combination of red and green, yellow pixels can absorb both light signals to reduce the amount of incoming light discount, to achieve a 40% increase in the amount of incoming light.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

The ▲RYYB solution can obtain an additional 40% of light intake compared to the conventional solution.

In addition to the filter array special, IMX700 with 1/1.28" large base, with 50 megapixels, support pixel quad output 12.5 megapixels, and support Dual PD-based all-pixel OCTA PD - all-pixel octa-core focusing (the technology is based on all-pixel dual-core focusing, and IMX700 for QuadBayer arrangement, the two multiplied by 8), placed in this year is also still the top cell phone image sensor. Of course, the large base and RYYB brought about by the low tolerance, image color bias and other problems in this sensor also exists, Huawei is also after three or four generations of cell phone iterations, only gradually solve the related problems.

The P50 Pro is a new flagship of Huawei, with the IMX766 main camera sensor, but Huawei has made up for the lack of hardware by adding a black-and-white lens that only records brightness information, multi-focal fusion, and other methods, combined with Huawei's own powerful computational photography capabilities, so that the P50 Pro's image capabilities are still the top flagship style. This also makes us look forward to the future performance of Huawei's flagship in the high-end market.

The courage to catch up with Xiaomi

In addition to Huawei, another domestic manufacturer Xiaomi has never skimped on customizing top sensors in recent years. Both the OV48C (48MP, 1/1.32") on Xiaomi 10 Ultra and the IMX707 (RGGB version IMX700) on Xiaomi 12 Pro have received good market response; but the most impressive one for consumers is the S5KGN2 that was unveiled along with Xiaomi 11 Ultra last year. The GN2 has a size of 1/1.12", 50 megapixels, and supports pixel quadruplex. The large sensor size brings superb signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) performance. In the SNR calculation process, we can deduce a general conclusion that the sensor SNR is basically proportional to the edge-length ratio, which is the reason why the large-bottom sensor has better dark-light shooting capability compared to the small-bottom sensor. In the same environment large bottom can get higher brightness and more pure image quality.

In the case of the GN2, its image quality at ISO 400 is on the same level as the IMX363 (1/2.55") at ISO 100. In terms of focusing, the GN2 supports Samsung Dual Pixel Pro technology, which can also be interpreted as Samsung's upgrade to full-pixel dual-core focusing. The Dual Pixel Pro technology is an upgrade to Samsung's Full Pixel Dual Focus, which uses a pixel to be divided into two photodiodes, one for the left and one for the right, and the difference in incident light caused by the difference in position causes the two diodes to receive different light. By comparing the information received by the left and right diodes of all pixels, the exact focus position can be known according to the corresponding algorithm. However, since all pixels are cut in one direction, the sensor can only detect phase differences in one direction, and the focusing performance in the other direction is rather mediocre.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲Xiaomi is the first cell phone manufacturer to use a 1/1.12-inch custom outsole.

This brings us to Samsung's Dual Pixel Pro solution, where Samsung cuts the two sets of green pixels diagonally in different directions to gain the ability to detect multi-directional phase differences and enhance sensor focusing performance.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲ Samsung Dual Pixel Pro technology schematic.


Among the many sensors mentioned in this article and the previous article, including the IMX800, most of them use multi-pixel synthesis technology, and most of them use QuadBayer arrays, so we will take QuadBayer as an example here to explain the imaging process using multi-pixel synthesis sensors.

Cell phone pixels could only record light and dark information, so the sensor can only record light and dark information, not color, at this time, the introduction of color filter array (CFA) can solve this problem.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

The addition of a color filter array gives the sensor the ability to record color information.

The most common Bayer array is composed of RGB optical three primary color filters arranged alternately, because the human eye is more sensitive to green, so the ratio of green blue red filter is 2:1:1, at this time with the addition of color filters sensor has the ability to record both brightness information and color information. The small size of the cell phone image sensor results in a small single pixel area. To solve this problem, CIS manufacturers introduced the QuadBayer array - a group of four pixels of the same color with each group of filters arranged alternately to form the QuadBayer array. However, since the image processing chip (ISP) of the mobile phone cannot recognize QuadBayer information directly, the QuadBayer information has to be converted into Bayer information that can be recognized by the cell phone.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲In the default mode, most of the models are output in all-in-one mode.

In the conventional mode (quadruple play), the sensor reads the same group of pixels in quadruple play directly, and outputs Bayer RAW with the combined large pixels to improve the signal-to-noise ratio for better dark light performance. While in high pixel mode, it is necessary to achieve the correct output of image information through pixel rearrangement. Most of the common sensors on the market today that support pixel all-in-one already have on-chip Remosaic function, which means that the process of converting QuadBayer information into Bayer information through linear interpolation is completed directly at the sensor side, and the cell phone ISP receives the processable Bayer information directly.

The process is as follows: four groups of 16 green pixels are taken from the 36 specific pixel groups under the QuadBayer array, and the information of the remaining 20 pixels is calculated by taking the average of these green pixels, so that the information values (green) of all 36 pixels are calculated, and the 18 pixels conforming to the Bayer array are left empty, and a large group of green sub-pixels conforming to the Bayer array is obtained. This results in a large set of green sub-pixels that conform to the Bayer array arrangement. The red and blue color calculation process is one step more than the green color calculation process, and the red/blue color is first calculated as a green-like pixel group arrangement by taking the average value. Bayer information. The process is the same for high pixel mode pixel rearrangement for sensors with more pixels in one, but it is much more computationally intensive. The principle of this process is slightly more complicated, so readers can understand it in conjunction with the accompanying image.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲ Under QuadBayer array, all red, green and blue pixels are arranged in this pattern.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲Green pixel of QuadBayer to Bayer process.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲Red/Blue pixel QuadBayer to Bayer process.

The glory of breaking and standing

Forced to separate from Huawei, after a year of hibernation, Glory released its new oversized cup flagship phone in March this year - Glory Magic4 to the perfect edition. It has received the most attention in the market for its strong image capability in its full focal length.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲ Honor Magic 4 to the best version debuts a dual free-form 64 million ultra-wide angle camera.

The main camera of the Honor Magic 4 Ultimate Edition uses a 1/1.12" 50MP mega-bottom custom sensor, reaching the same specifications as the S5KGN2, with a custom 8P F/1.6 large aperture high specification lens, achieving an equivalent 1" large base with F/1.8 aperture lens light intake. The ultra-wide-angle end is the world's first dual free-form ultra-wide-angle lens lens, in the case of the viewing angle of 126 ° can also better control the aberration; phone together with a spectral enhancement camera, 3.5 times the periscope telephoto, 8 × 8 dTOF and a Flicker sensor, and for this system alone with independent image chip and exclusive algorithm, to achieve full lens participation in the full focal length fusion The Magic4 is the first to be released on the DXOMark photo list. In other aspects, Magic4 to the perfect edition is also a comprehensive pull full, can be said to be a flagship phone in all aspects are no shortcomings.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

The newest edition of the company is a very comprehensive flagship phone.

In the May release of the glory 70 series, glory used Sony's new generation of 1/1.49" size 54 megapixel IMX800 large base sensor, in the photo level than the previous generation of digital series has a stronger strength.

The future is promising for vivo

Vivo phones have always been among the top sellers in China, but in the early days it wasn't too vocal online. But in the recent years, vivo's online attention has increased significantly. One of the major reasons for this is that Vivo's flagship phones perform quite well in the area of image capture. The recently released X80 series has plucked the shooting level of Vivo phones to a new height.

The standard version of the X80 is equipped with the IMX866 sensor for the first time, while the Pro uses a custom sensor, the GNV. The advantage of this is that the sensor can use as much of its own image field as possible while shooting video, avoiding the problem of narrower viewing angles caused by traditional sensor cropping during video shooting. Bring better viewing experience.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

The IMX 866 should use the QuadBayer-based RGBW scheme.

The exact arrangement of IMX866 pixels is known based on available information: it uses a new RGBW pixel arrangement based on QuadBayer, where two of the four same-colored pixels are replaced with white. The advantage of this is that the four-in-one mode improves the light intake without affecting the spatial resolution of the color channels, and incidentally solves the problem of the traditional RGBW arrangement of W pixels being prone to burst trap capacity, but it is also because of this that it is more difficult to reproduce accurate colors than traditional rgb at full pixel output. However, no matter what kind of RGBW array is used, the full strength of the array requires higher requirements for chip computing power and software algorithms.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

▲IMX 866 has a wider field of view for video shooting than conventional proportional sensors.

Vivo's self developed V1+ independent image chip for the whole X80 series can solve this problem very well. The series is also paired with Zeiss' T* coating and a top-notch lens set. Obviously, Vivo has high hopes for this generation of X80 series phones as a milestone work to open the next decade of Vivo.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

The Vivo X80 is fully equipped with Zeiss T* optical lens and self developed chip V1+.

Submerged OPPO

Similar to Vivo, OPPO has been dedicated to the development of imaging technology in China. A few years ago, OPPO relaunched the Find X series, which has received unanimous praise from both online and offline markets. In addition to actively exploring the future direction of cell phones, the Find X series has also shouldered the burden of exploring the future direction of flagship imaging development.

The first to win accolades for OPPO in terms of imaging is the Find X2 Pro, in which OPPO customizes a high quality main camera sensor IMX689 (1/1.43" 48MP) with top sensor technologies such as 2×2 OCL (on-chip microlens), dual native ISO, and 12bit sampling in 2020. 2×2 OCL technology, compared to 1×1 Compared to 1×1 and 2×1 OCL, it enables all four pixels to be under the same microlens, allowing all pixels to participate in focusing and achieving all-pixel omnidirectional focusing while significantly improving the sensor's dark-light focusing capability. The two generations of Find after the X2 series have practiced a dual-primary camera strategy, with two IMX766 sensors on the phone as the primary camera and ultra-wide angle respectively.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

The main camera module of Find X5 Pro is much bigger than Find X3 which also uses IMX766 because of the suspension anti-shake.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

The OPPO family of cost effective models are equipped with IMX766, making it possible for consumers with low budgets to use phones with good images.

The IMX766 (1/1.56" 50MP) must be no stranger to readers, it has 2×2 OCL, DOL-HDR and other technologies, which have been explained in the article before so I won't repeat them here. At present, OPPO has IMX766 to a large number of low-cost models to devolve, which will help promote the industry to focus on cost-effective models of shooting level, so that consumers with less than adequate budget can also feel the joy of cell phone photography.

Top specs - counting down the main camera sensors in flagship models

The actual size of the mainstream flagship image sensor is compared.

Future-oriented vision

As you can see, the head phone manufacturers are investing heavily in imaging. It can be expected that their investment in this area will continue to increase in the future, and the flagship will have a significant increase in imaging capabilities compared to today, which is of course good news for us consumers. Thanks to this, it will be easier for us to make the phone in our hands to take high quality photos and record the wonderful moments in our life more conveniently.

See here, I believe that the reader has a more in-depth understanding of the current development process and important technology of cell phone impact sensors. However, the paper is not shallow, the absolute knowledge of the matter to do. Only the paper strength of these phones to show you is far from enough, we will bring you a number of flagship phones in the future, so that you can understand the different hardware and tuning will bring how the performance. The top Android image flagships and iPhone, in the end, compared to which environment is better at shooting.