Samsung has long been at the top of its game when it comes to camera performance and now its video performance could be about to get a whole lot more exciting for the Galaxy S and Note ranges.
According to a report this week in etnews, Samsung has designed a new image sensor capable of capturing up to 1,000 frames per second (fps), with mass production due to start in November. Such a sensor will allow for 40x slow motion video capture, as seen in Sony’s competing XZ Premium smartphone and faster than Apple’s new iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X.
Samsung’s sensor consists of a three-layer design with logic processing and fast memory built into the chip. The addition of on-chip memory enables the new sensor to store the video data locally at high speed before it is eventually saved by the camera app. However, this also means that the maximum duration of the slow-motion video is limited by the amount of memory built into the sensor and is therefore likely to span no more than a few seconds.
Samsung’s design is a little different from Sony’s (which also uses a three-layer chip) in that the memory is bonded to the rear surface of an existing two-layer sensor design rather than sandwiched between the image sensor and logic components.
According to the report, this change is simply a way for Samsung to avoid infringing Sony’s patents. The technique suffers disadvantages in terms of both productivity and cost, as a failure in just one of the three layers results in the whole chip being discarded. However, Samsung does have a competitive advantage in its ability to incorporate its home-grown memory chips rather than sourcing them from a third party.
Samsung’s new three-layer sensor is expected to debut in the next generation of Galaxy smartphones, although if previous Galaxy releases are anything to go by, Samsung is likely to use its sensors interchangeably with equivalent Sony versions with customers essentially taking pot luck as to which version they receive.
A 1000fps video capability in the Galaxy S9 would outpace the newly released iPhone 8 and iPhone X handsets, which are capable of 240 fps, but the limited recording time would restrict this advantage to very short clips which some will view as more of a gimmick than a serious video recording feature.