Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+, the two new flagship smartphones from the South Korean company, has the most interesting camera setup seen on a mobile device in a long time. The Galaxy S9 duo include a mechanical aperture option where the primary sensor can be switched from faster f/1.5 aperture to slower f/2.4 aperture. Now, it seems that dual aperture system is not the only unique aspect of the camera system on Galaxy S9.
According to TechInsights, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ may have image sensors sourced from Sony or its own imaging division, depending on where you buy these smartphones. The report details that the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ may deploy either Sony IMX345 or a Samsung-designed S5K2L3 ISOCELL Fast image sensor. At a microscopic level, these sensors have been identified to feature a different design.
Technically, both these sensors have a 3-layer stacked design – a CMOS sensor with the image pixels, another for the image signal processor (ISP) and a DRAM chip for shooting those 960fps super slow-motion videos. However, the organization of this whole setup is different for both the sensors.
The Sony IMX345 sensor is said to be similar to IMX400 in terms of design, which was introduced with the Xperia XZs a year ago. The IMX400 was the first to include a DRAM chip in between the CMOS sensor and the image signal processor. The Samsung S5K2L3, on the other hand, uses a design seen on a traditional 2-layer sensor with a CMOS bonded to an ISP but adds an additional DRAM chip connected to the bottom. TechInsights notes that this is an LPDDR4 chip measuring 3.17 x 5.33 mm in dimensions or having an area of 16.9 square millimeters.
The analysis by TechInsights paints a clear picture that Samsung is catching up with Sony, the leader in the mobile imaging department. Sony was the first to introduce a 2-layer design in 2014 and Samsung followed up with its own version in 2016. Sony made a 3-layer design last year and Samsung has caught up within a year.
Watch: Samsung Galaxy S9+ Video Review
The report further details how Sony experimented with a copper direct bond interconnect between the CMOS and the ISP layers in the 2014-2016 period, which allows for higher density chips compared to the approach used in the 2017-2018 image sensors. There is now even an app named AIDA64 if you are curious to check which particular sensor is used on your Galaxy S9 smartphone.