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Galaxy S20 Ultra’s 108MP camera confirmed by Samsung Nonacell patent

Galaxy S20 Ultra backside and rear camera
A leaked render of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. (Image credit: WinFuture)

The Samsung Galaxy S20, specifically the S20 Ultra, is going to feature the most advanced camera technology ever seen on a smartphone, if the rumors are to be believed. But if you don't believe in leaks, today's Galaxy S20 news comes from an official filing with the UK government.

LetsGoDigital’s Mark Peters (via IceUniverse) tweeted about his discovery of this patent, filed in the UK on February 5 by Samsung, for a technology named “Nonacell”. The name may not give much away, but previous Samsung features can help us figure out its purpose.

Older Samsung phones have used “Tetracell” technology, which lets a camera sensor combine four pixels together (known as "pixel binning") to record light information as one big pixel. This means you have the option of better low-light performance and sharper images at a lower resolution, or maximum possible quality at the sensor's maximum resolution.

Since “nona” is a prefix meaning “nine”, and we know that the Galaxy S20 Ultra is strongly hinted to be coming with a 108MP main sensor, we can therefore deduce that Nonacell will work by binning nine pixels together to give you a 12MP image. And this is exactly what IceUniverse said in his retweet of Peters’ tweet.

The Nonacell tech should condense the images from the S20 Ultra’s mammoth camera sensor, as well as help users make the most of the phone's available storage space. You don’t need 108MP for every shot, and keeping the quality at 12MP also means you can use digital zoom without losing much detail.

If it’s telephoto pictures you’re interested in, you’d be better off using the 48MP  “Space Zoom” camera that’s also going to be on the S20 Ultra, which is expected to offer a 10x hybrid zoom and 100x digital zoom. There should also be an ultra-wide camera, a time-of-flight sensor and a 10MP selfie camera on the front.

If you’re curious about what else lies in store for next week’s Galaxy Unpacked event, check out our Galaxy S20 page, where we have all the news, leaks and rumors relating to the newest Samsung flagship phone.