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Google Pixel 8 rumor suggests a major camera sensor upgrade

What you need to know

  • Google may introduce a new kind of sensor to the Pixel 7 series’ successor.
  • The Pixel 8 series is rumored to feature staggered HDR support, which leads to reduced ghosting in photos.
  • This suggests that Google’s upcoming flagship phone series may include Samsung’s Isocell GN2 sensor, which offers staggered HDR.

Google's existing method for capturing HDR shots with Pixel phones requires taking a series of short exposures, which can lead to longer processing times and potentially blurry photos. The next Pixel series may address this shortcoming.

According to leaker and developer Kuba Wojciechowski, the Google Pixel 8 may include support for staggered HDR (via Android Authority). It's a relatively new type of sensor that debuted with Samsung's ISOCELL GN2 last year, promising rich detail and vivid colors. 

In announcing the sensor, Samsung explained that staggered HDR increases the dynamic range when taking photos in mixed-light environments, which is ideal in high-contrast scenes. The technology “uses rolling shutters over the same pixel arrays to capture multiple frames in short, middle, and long exposures,” Samsung said at the time. 

While modern image sensors capture only one image, staggered HDR takes three images of a scene at the same time, preserving detail in both bright and dark areas. The result is an image with stunning dynamic range.

Staggered HDR is also more energy-efficient, with the South Korean tech giant noting that it's capable of cutting the energy consumption of a sensor by up to 24% when compared to the real-time HDR mode of the Samsung GN1. This means GN2 is way more advanced than its predecessor, which doesn't support staggered HDR, as per Wojciechowski.

Samsung GN1 is found in many of Google's best Android phones, including the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 lineups. If Wojciechowski's discovery pans out, we could be looking at a huge camera sensor upgrade for the Pixel 8 series.

The leaker also notes that staggered HDR “allows achieving the same effect as regular HDR but without the increased capture time,” implying that HDR shots will be processed faster and thus have remarkably sharper images.

In addition to the aforementioned enhancements, the Pixel 8 models may benefit from improved auto-focusing via Samsung's Dual Pixel Pro technology and more vibrant photos through Smart ISO Pro.

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