Samsung Galaxy S22 will probably miss this big smartphone camera upgrade

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Olympus
(Image credit: Technizo Concept/LetsGoDigital)

Update (May 10): News of Samsung's latest 200MP sensor has just appeared, and it's now tipped for the Galaxy S23 next year.

We're hoping the Samsung Galaxy S22 will come with a camera upgrade, but it might not get the very best smartphone camera tech Samsung has just shown off; the highest resolution phone camera sensors it's ever made.

Samsung's new ISOCELL cameras will bring enhanced photography capabilities to the smartphones that end up using them. While that may not include the Galaxy S22, many other companies who buy cameras from Samsung will be able to put these sensors to good use in the future. Expect future smartphones to come with some impressive rear camera sensors in 2022. 

The ISOCELL HP1 sensor is primarily a 200MP sensor. Yet it's also capable of pixel-binning — synthesizing information from multiple pixels into one virtual "super pixel" — either four pixels at once to take 50MP images, or 16 pixels at once to take 12.5MP images for improved low-light photography. This feature goes by the dramatic-sounding title of "ChameleonCell." 

Samsung ISOCELL HP1 and GN5

(Image credit: Samsung)

The HP1 can also record 8K video at 30 frames per second using the 50MP mode. Samsung noted that this only reduces the field-of-view minimally, meaning it should be easy to capture all the action you want to record.

Joining the HP1 is the ISOCELL GN5, a 50MP sensor that uses larger 1-micrometer (μm) pixels (the HP1 has 0.64μm pixels). These big pixels should also be handy for taking low-light images. But the GN5's main new feature is its Dual Pixel Pro autofocus, which Samsung promises will make taking sharper images super-fast.

What does this mean for Samsung Galaxy S22 and other phones?

Samsung Galaxy S22 renders cameras from LetsGoDigital

(Image credit: LetsGoDigital)

It may be a few months yet before we see these new sensors fitted to phones you can actually buy. Aside from Samsung's own phones, Samsung cameras can be found in phones from Xiaomi, Motorola, Vivo, ZTE and other smaller brands. Look out for one or both of these sensors appearing on these companies' phones in the next 12 months.

It was rumored a while back that the Galaxy S22 Ultra would use a 200MP camera sensor, presumably referring to this one. However, more recent rumors assert that Samsung will again be using a 108MP camera, but a more refined model than the one used in the Galaxy S21 Ultra, Galaxy Note 20 Ultra or Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Even at just 108MP, Samsung offers the highest megapixel count you can get on any phone, along with a few other phones that use the same sensor. Yet, while taking one of the top spots on our best camera phones, none of Samsung's Ultra phones have made it to the number 1 spot yet thanks to Apple's fantastic iPhone 12 Pro Max cameras.

We expect to hear more about the Galaxy S22 over the next few months leading up to the expected January launch period. So far however, we've heard rumors about the phone gaining a more powerful Snapdragon 895 chipset, an under-display camera (like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3), but also possibly smaller-sized displays. Hopefully all these features together will make for a series of phones capable of taking on the upcoming iPhone 13 and Google Pixel 6, and turn around Samsung's disappointing flagship sales over the past year.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.