Smartphone camera technology is moving faster than ever and in recent times we have seen two new developments on a variety of mid-range and high-end devices. More and more rear cameras come with secondary modules with longer focal lengths, usually a 2 or 3x zoom factor when compared to the primary shooter. At the front the latest trend are "hole punch" cameras that are pretty much hidden underneath the display and only peek through a tiny hole.

Both these trends require small sensors to enable designers and engineers to maintain the slim form factors of current premium devices. Samsung has today launched its new ISOCELL Slim 3T2 20MP 1/3.4" sensor which comes with a 0.8μm pixel pitch and is Samsung's smallest 20MP sensor, making it ideal for such applications.

'The ISOCELL Slim 3T2 is our smallest and most versatile 20Mp image sensor that helps mobile device manufacturers bring differentiated consumer value not only in camera performance but also in features including hardware design,” said Jinhyun Kwon, vice president of System LSI sensor marketing at Samsung Electronics. “As the demand for advanced imaging capabilities in mobile devices continue to grow, we will keep pushing the limits in image sensor technologies for richer user experiences.'

In addition to tiny dimensions the new sensor offers, when used in front facing cameras, Samsung’s Tetracell technology, which merges four pixels to work as one for brighter exposures and less noise in low light conditions. Samsung claims Tetracell increases the color filter array’s light sensitivity to that of a 1.6μm-pixel image sensor at 5MP resolution.

For applications in rear cameras, for example in a tele-module, the sensor uses an RGB color filter array instead of Tetracell. Samsung says the sensor's small dimensions reduce the height of the tele-camera module by around seven percent when compared to the company's current 1/3-inch 20MP imagers. Compared to the existing 13MP sensor with the same module height, the 3T2 offers, thanks to the higher pixel count, better performance when digital zoom is thrown into the mix.

The Samsung ISOCELL Slim 3T2 is expected to be in mass production in the first quarter of this year.