Samsung announced a new smartphone camera sensor boasting faster and more accurate autofocus thanks to a feature called ‘Dual Pixel Pro.’
Samsung’s new ISOCELL GN2 sensor uses Dual Pixel phase-detect technology to split each sensor pixel into two photodiodes. This allows the sensor to focus faster by comparing subtle differences in the light detected by each diode. Further, this type of autofocus uses every pixel in the sensor, which helps improve speed and sensor performance compared to other autofocus methods that only use some pixels for autofocus (and those pixels can’t detect colour).
However, what sets the new GN2 sensor apart is that Samsung split some of the pixels diagonally instead of horizontally. The South Korean tech giant says this approach allows the sensor to compare light coming in from the top and bottom as well as from the left and right. In some cases, this could help the sensor focus faster than before, such as when turning the camera sideways.
GN2 also features tech Samsung calls ‘staggered HDR.’ Staggered HDR can improve the GN2’s dynamic range when taking shots in mixed-light environments, such as a sunset or a photo taken indoors with light coming through a window.
Staggered HDR uses a rolling shutter to capture multiple frames in short, middle and long exposures. Although it may result in users need to hold the camera still for longer, it should improve mixed-light performance. Plus, Samsung says the staggered HDR mode uses 24 percent less energy than Samsung’s real-time HDR mode.
Samsung’s GN2 sensor also has ‘Smart ISO Pro,’ which effectively uses multiple ISO settings per shot to reduce motion artifacts. Samsung says it can help improve night photography as well.
Finally, Samsung says the GN2 sensor can produce 100-megapixel images using an intelligent re-mosaic algorithm. The process creates three individual layers of 50-megapixel frames in green, red and blue. Then, it upscales and merges the frames to produce a single 100-megapixel photo.
Samsung says it’s already mass-producing the ISOCELL GN2 sensor. That means it’ll likely start showing up in phones soon — perhaps even in a Galaxy Note, or if Samsung kills that line, next year’s Galaxy S22.