back to article Samsung S6: You might get a Sony camera in it - or you might not

When you buy a Samsung S6 you might get the impressive Sony IMX240 camera sensor ... or you might get the Samsung Isocell unit. In the published specifications for S6 and S6 Edge, Samsung doesn’t give any details on the camera sensor, saying just “16MP OIS(rear), 5MP (front)” but the two sensors are pretty different and there …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Meh

    Psychobabble

    “The colour ‘gold’ represents wealth, abundance, high ideals, optimism and wisdom. After years of recession and tightening our belts, we are now beginning to see some economic improvements and we dare to hope for a better future.”

    No, it's because people in Asia like their bling gold and Samsung is selling well in Asia.

    The Eurozone is still heading lemming-like towards the cliff.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get a Sony sensor...

    Buy a Sony phone.

  3. joeW

    How to tell?

    "Tear-downs of the Galaxy Note 4 found similar image sensor differences"

    I'm a happy Note 4 owner - if I wanted to check what image sensor I've got, is there a way to do it without cracking the thing open?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: How to tell?

      Does it matter? What would you do if you found out it's not the one you want?

      just move along and enjoy life.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. joeW

          Re: How to tell?

          @1980s_coder

          You're assuming way too much about me there mate. Shouldn't a 1980s Coder, of all people, understand wanting to know the little ins and outs of ones hardware?

          To clarify - the serial number of the chip will not change how happy or otherwise I am with my phone. I asked because I'm a geek, and therefore like knowing things about the electronics I use. That alright with you?

      2. joeW

        Re: How to tell?

        "Does it matter?"

        Not in the slightest. I just like knowing the specs of my tech is all, plus if my Note4-owning colleague at the next desk has a different sensor we can experiment with settings and stuff to pass a bit of time during our lunch break.

    2. theblackhand

      Re: How to tell?

      From http://forum.xda-developers.com/note-4/general/note-4-variants-camera-sensor-t2901512

      "If anyone is interested in checking/verifying the sensor then open the dialer app and type the following number *#34971539#, choose ISP Ver Check. "

      Samsung sensor:

      http://forum.xda-developers.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=2966981&d=1412983672

      Sony sensor:

      http://img.tapatalk.com/d/14/10/14/aju9evu7.jpg

      I don't have a Note 4 to check this with.

      1. Shrimpling
        Thumb Up

        Re: How to tell?

        I have a Note 4 and can confirm this does work.

        Mine has the Sony sensor.

        1. NBCanuck

          Re: How to tell? @ Shrimpling

          Sony here on my Note 4 also. Would be curious to know if anyone can confirm they have a Samsung camera.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: How to tell?

        "I don't have a Note 4 to check this with."

        I do and mine has a Sony_IMX240 in it.

      3. David Neil

        Re: How to tell?

        Works with most Samsung phones iirc

    3. codebeard

      Re: How to tell?

      I've done a bit of research into this myself, and what I found was that apparently the string from the "ISP Ver Check" is actually hard-coded into the kernel, so it's neither probing the hardware nor necessarily telling you the truth. The best info I can find is actually that all the Note 4s use the same camera hardware, but some have different image processing chips.

      The only certain way to know would be a tear down, but to date I've only seen a tear down of one regional variant the Note 4, not the other regional variants.

  4. Sandtitz Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Yeah, right...

    "It was however unable to tell us of a way, tracking IMEIs or otherwise, to know which sensors are in which phones."

    The models with the Sony sensors were obviously produced first. After the first teardown articles from iFixit and other reviews they should have been able to evade detection of this change in materials.

    1. Ralph B

      Re: Yeah, right...

      Yeah. It does sound rather like a bait-and-switch to me. Did the reviewers all get the Sony-equipped devices, and the general public get landed with the cheap substitute components? If so, then they can doubtless expect a US class action lawsuit heading their way before too long.

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Yeah, right...

        No, it sounds more like almost any manufacturer, using second sources if they're equivalent or close enough and cost effective - assuming there's no exclusivity arrangement with the first supplier.

      2. IceRide

        Re: Yeah, right...

        This is not even remotely close to a bait and switch because technology companies are always sourcing from multiple companies. This is not a new thing. Take a laptop you own for instance, and it's hard drive could very well be from a different manufacturer than someone else who has the "same" laptop model as you.

        Anyway, as long as I have Samsung's ISOCELL tech, I wouldn't care since it's known to be technologically more advanced than Sony's.

        But if I don't have it, at least in this case, it fortunately seems Sony's sensor is almost on par, so the difference will probably be not that noticeable.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More component lotteries...

    "Like all of the technology used in our products, they meet our strict global quality and performance standards"

    Dunno how others feel, but I don't believe all components are made equally.... Certainly not TV's and Cameras anyway.... It shouldn't be this hard to shop and know what you're getting... I've stopped buying tech at the high-end after all these kinds of revelations, this and spying- no thanks!

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R32G9D1HHDBR45

    1. tekHedd

      Re: More component lotteries...

      One thing is certain: whenever they send one of the Samsung TVs to a reviewer, it has the Samsung part in it. Equal, yeah right. :) I can't imagine this will be any different.

    2. tekHedd

      This is why I don't own a Samsung TV

      One thing is certain: whenever they send one of the Samsung TVs to a reviewer, it has the Samsung part in it. Equal, yeah right. :) I can't imagine this will be any different.

  6. James Hughes 1

    Samsung do actually have very very strict quality control and testing for their cameras (I know, I've been on the receiving end of it), down to nitpicking about individual pixel differences between two cameras or ISP's

    So its surprising that there is any real noticeable different between these sensors. I wonder if they are relaxing the rules a bit.

    They also dual or more source components, and are on a constant search for cost reduction.

    Which all in all makes them a PITA to work for.

    1. ez2x

      Election

      I think there isn't a general election coming up in China, where all these gold phones are sold.

      Mrs K

  7. DonaldDwain

    Sensor != Module

    I think you're mistaking 'sensor' for 'module', with the latter including the image signal processor; and affects the resulting image to a far greater degree than the sensor alone.

    1. mad physicist Fiona

      Re: Sensor != Module

      No, it is what passes for a sensor these days - the A->D stuff and basic processing are on the sensor chip itself, it makes sense to do the conversion from low level analog signals as soon as possible and on a chip already doing analog processing at any rate since it is a poor match for digital-optimised processes. A camera module will include the lens and focuser in addition to the bare sensor.

  8. Martin Summers

    Samsung Target Market

    These days it seems Samsungs target market is for those whose phones are smarter than they are.

    1. Shrimpling
      Trollface

      Re: Samsung Target Market

      So they are targeting iPhone owners?

      1. Martin Summers

        Re: Samsung Target Market

        Yes, yes they are.

        I take it my downvoter took exception to my comment as they probably have a Samsung phone and completely missed my point. I don't want a phone that chavs parade around with and haven't got the faintest how to use them properly, but that seems to be who I see Samsungs phones with so often and who Samsung seem to want to market to. Of course, no one who reads The Reg is a chav.

  9. Jason Hindle

    Does it matter?

    I think it does. The small differences in output make a difference, to me, and I'd prefer to have a Sony sensor.

  10. Lennart Sorensen

    Looking at the pictures in that test, the sony sensor does appear to have a tendency to make things quite purple in some cases that the samsung does not, but is perhaps a tiny bit more detailed in some of the shots.

    The summary of the difference does appear quite accurate.

    Now of course it is a cell phone. What are you doing taking pictures you care about with a cell phone anyhow? Get a proper camera.

  11. Frederick Tennant

    I think its easy to tell...

    All the phones which was sent out for test and reviews have Sony parts and the general public will get whatever is left.

  12. Kernel

    Don't be silly

    " If so, then they can doubtless expect a US class action lawsuit heading their way before too long."

    There's a reason why virtually all manufacturers state in the manual that they reserve the right to make design changes without notification.

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