Intensifying competition among Chinese smartphone makers over high-pixel cameras is pushing up the adoption of Samsung Electronics' image sensors. Chinese smartphone makers want to attract customers with low-price, high-performance products.
Samsung Electronics aims to ramp up its share of the image sensor market. In particular, it aims to become the global No. 1 in image sensors by overtaking Sony of Japan.
Xiaomi of China announced on Aug. 7 that it would adopt Samsung's latest image sensor GW1 in its flagship Redmi series. GW1 is the industry's first 64-million pixel image sensor. It reduces a light interference between pixels and enhances color reproduction through Isocell Plus technology while using ultra-small 0.8 µm pixels. Oppo, the fifth-largest smartphone maker after Xiaomi, also decided to use the same Samsung sensor for its smartphones.
An image sensor converts light from a camera lens into a digital signal, acting like the eye of a smartphone. Samsung Electronics is the world’s second-largest producer of image sensors with a 17.8 percent share after Sony, which controls 51.1 percent of the global market. Yet Samsung is rapidly expanding its market share, especially in the mobile sector. Samsung is betting on image sensors, along with the foundry business, in its bid to become the world’s largest non-memory semiconductor producer.
Chinese smartphone manufacturers’ adoption of Samsung’s high-pixel image sensors is expected to boost Samsung’s market share. Chinese smartphones are using high-pixel cameras as a marketing tool to publicize their smartphones. Xiaomi also announced plans to apply an 18-million pixel image sensor developed by Samsung Electronics to its next-generation Mi Mix Smartphone.
Samsung Electronics is increasing its image sensor production capacity by converting an old DRAM production line at Hwaseong Plant into an image sensor line. As the cost of Samsung’s image sensors dropped sharply, Sony loaded Samsung’s image sensors onto its flagship smartphone Xperia 1.