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Samsung's new 50 MP sensor bests the 108 MP sensors on the Galaxy S20 Ultra and Mi 10 Pro

The S20 Ultra's 108 MP sensor just isn't as good. (Source: Samsung)
The S20 Ultra's 108 MP sensor just isn't as good. (Source: Samsung)
Samsung recently unveiled its newest CMOS sensor, the ISOCELL GN1 with a 50 MP resolution, 1/1.3" physical size, and 1.2μm native pixel size. While one could assume that the 108 MP sensors on the Galaxy S20 Ultra and Mi 10 Pro are better, that couldn't be farther from the truth.
Ricci Rox, 🇷🇺
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Yesterday, Samsung unveiled its newest piece of hardware: the 50 MP ISOCELL GN1 camera sensor that will be used on a variety of devices, starting with the Vivo X50 Pro. While one could easily assume that this new 50 MP sensor is worse than the vaunted 108 MP sensors Samsung has made, they'd be wrong.

The new 50 MP sensor has a 1/1.3" physical size, as opposed to the slightly smaller 1/1.33" ISOCELL Bright HMX and ISOCELL Bright HM1 used on the Mi 10 Pro and Galaxy S20 Ultra. The bigger the sensor size, the more information it can collect. 

A 50 MP resolution over a 1/1.3" surface translates into a native pixel size of 1.2μm. This is impressive, especially considering that the 12 MP sensors used on the Google Pixel 4 and iPhone 11 only have a 1.4μm pixel size. Slightly bigger pixels, with a quarter of the resolution. On the other hand, the 108 MP sensor on the S20 Ultra offers just a 0.8μm pixel size. This is a particularly important bit, as the GN1 should deliver much better images when shooting in native 50 MP mode, relative to the 108 MP sensors.

Both the 50 MP GN1 and the 108 MP HM1 can use pixel-merging technology to output 2.4μm pixels, but the GN1 does it with a less complicated 4-to-1 binning process versus the 9-to-1 process used by the HM1. The new 50 MP sensor also supports 8K video recording at 30fps versus [email protected] on the 108 MP HM1. 

Most importantly, though, the 50 MP sensor delivers Dual Pixel Autofocus. Current-gen 108 MP sensors only offer Phase Detection Autofocus, which is typically a bit worse. It's the major reason for the Galaxy S20 Ultra's focusing issues, for example.

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Ricci Rox
Ricci Rox - Senior Tech Writer - 1884 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2017
I like tech, simple as. Half the time, you can catch me writing snarky sales copy. The rest of the time, I'm either keeping readers abreast with the latest happenings in the mobile tech world or watching football. I worked as both a journo and freelance content writer for a couple of years before joining the Notebookcheck team in 2017. Feel free to shoot me some questions on Twitter or Reddit if it so tickles thine fancy.
contact me via: @riccirox, LinkedIn
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 05 > Samsung's new 50 MP sensor bests the 108 MP sensors on the Galaxy S20 Ultra and Mi 10 Pro
Ricci Rox, 2020-05-20 (Update: 2020-05-20)