Seoul (Korea) - Samsung engineers managed to squeeze a fully functional CMOS module providing 8 megapixels of image resolution or cellphone cameras in an area measuring just 28 x 15.3 x 8.5mm. Samsung said cellphones using this chip may surface by the end of the year, but we are not holding our breath, especially not for U.S. availability.
CMOS modules for cellphones have not been able to match the image quality that is delivered by much larger CMOS versions or CCDs in digital cameras. The simple fact that this chip can output more pixels does not really change the circumstance that sensors on the chip are exposed to significantly less light. So don't expect much more than snapshot capability from such a chip, even with that monster resolution.
However, aside from that, there are some interesting features included in this chip - such as a sensitivity of ISO 1600 and a focal length of F2.6 to make the device more usable in low light conditions.
Samsung Korea said it will use the sensor in its own phones by the end of the year and, as always, the company is always interested in licensing its technology to other parties. Cellphones are typically designed in an 18-month design/development cycle, so there is a good chance that we will see 8 megapixel phones in 2009, if the technology is adopted. As a side note, this 8 megapixel capability would perfectly fit to Nvidia's upcoming System-on-Chip (APX2500) and STMicro's SoC that is based on ATI technology.
We have some doubts that we will actually see 8 megapixel phones here in the U.S. this year, as mainstream and even higher-end phones in this country seem stuck at the 1.3, 2 or 3.2 megapixel point (yes, we know, there are exceptions such as the outrageously expensive Nokia N95). 5-megapixel CMOS sensors have been available for several years and they still have trouble making their way to the consumer. Once Blackberrys and the iPhone have a 5 megapixel camera, we will be more optimistic that 8 megapixel cellphones are actually on their way.