The smartphone world is crazy about the increase in megapixels in the rear cameras, especially with the recent launches of the Galaxy S20 and Huawei P40. However, the iPhone 11 Pro and Google Pixel 4 continue to make a splash with 12MP sensors! Why?
In truth, no one needs 48MP, 64MP or 108MP… In fact, in reality, none of these sensors will offer this resolution, it is simply impossible. So… Why do we have so many phones with sensors above 40MP? Why do we have the Mi Note 10 from Xiaomi and Galaxy S20 Ultra with 108MP?
The answer is simple … Most consumers in the smartphone market don't know much about photography! So they immediately think that more is better.
There is a reason that for several years, Google, Samsung, Apple and other manufacturers have insisted on 12MP sensors. Let's try to understand.
What are many megapixels for, if in reality, we still haven't run away from 12MP? Now read!
So there is a technical reason to explain why we have so many image sensors out of the blue with high MP counts.
If you don't know, image sensors cannot identify colors, they can only do it through filters. Interestingly, the most popular color filter in the photography world was created by Bryce Bayer in his days at Kodak, when the first digital cameras began to appear.
So, from its name Bayer filter, we are talking about a mosaic that organizes RGB color filters in a square array of photo-sensors. Working a little like the image below:
An example, let's buy the Sony IMX586 (48MP) and IMX363 (Pixel 3 and 4 12MP) sensors.
The size of a 2 × 2 pixel block on the IMX586 – all of the same color – is only slightly larger than a single pixel on the IMX363. Basically, only pixels are cut into groups 4.
In fact, we are talking about a clever technique in which brands only grab the largest number of pixels to form 12MP sensors with slightly larger individual pixels, to allow for greater lux input. That is, this 48MP sensor … It is not really a 48MP sensor! It's complicated, I know, but let's move on.
But is it possible to take pictures with the 48MP? Yes, but this is a problem.
This way, instead of making just a 12MP matrix, the smartphone will first have to make the matrix, and then 'leave' it. The problem is that these pixels are small, even very small. Therefore, filters that typically lower image resolution by 20% will have even more impact on these sensors with higher resolutions.
In addition, to give life to a sensor of this size, it is necessary to have quality lenses, which need space! Something that doesn't abound inside a smartphone. It is for these and other reasons, that these phones do not offer real 48MP, yet still offer more resolution than the old 12MP sensors.
Larger sensors? Cool! Larger smartphones? No!
One of the problems with increasing the size of the sensors, is the fact of having to make smartphones bigger and thicker. And as you may know, thick smartphones don't sell as well. In fact, we have already had some tests on smartphones with large lenses and sensors, while increasing the thickness of the device… Authentic market failures.
That's why all high-end smartphones have a thicker rear module than the rest of the phone. Which curiously seems to pass more or less well on the market, but that users do not love.
Furthermore, what do you think about all this? Share your opinion with us in the comments below.
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Since I was very young I became interested in computers and technology in general, I had my first PC at 10 and at 15 I built my first tower, since then I never stopped. Whatever technology is, I'm in the front row to find out more.