Featured Video Play Icon

Sensor Size of Smartphone Camera

Intro

In photogrammetry is essential to know the dimensions of the photographic sensor of our camera. This feature will greatly affect the quality and definition of our reconstructions. So I decided to write a post because it is more and more confusing and when you buy a digital camera often you are enchanted by the Megapixels, but it is not they, contrary to what you think, to influence the quality of an image .


Definition of photographic sensor

The sensor is the element that is exposed to light when the shutter is activated and allows you to capture an image. But you have to be careful of the exposure time, because the longer we leave the shutter open, the more light will enter and therefore we could risk overexposure.Digital cameras use one of these two types of sensors: the CCD and CMOS sensors. The CCD sensor is the most classic and unlike the CMOS sensor, it works well even in low light conditions. The Charge Coupled Device (CCD) sensor is however less used in smartphones, because it is more expensive and consumes the battery soon. For this feature, the Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) sensor, which will guarantee greater autonomy, is now the most used on mobile devices.


The dimensions of the sensors

There are different phones but cell phones are notoriously equipped with smaller sensors than digital cameras.

Currently the phones that have the largest sensor size are as follows (units of measurement in inches):


The number one phone with the largest sensor to date is the Panasonic Lumix CM1 2014 with a 1-inch sensor.

In 2019, the largest sensor is 1 / 1.7 “and can be found in the Huawei P30 Pro and Mate 30 Pro.

We compare the most popular brands with the smartphone we used for our reconstructions (Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite10), last in this ranking.

Smartphone model Primary Camera
Sensor Size Pixel Size Megapixel
Huawei P30 Pro 1 / 1.7 1 um 40
Huawei Mate 30 Pro 1 / 1.7 1 um 40
Honor View 20 1/2 0.8μm 48
OnePlus Pro 1/2 0.8μm 48
Zoom Oppo Reno 10x 1/2 0.8μm 48
Xiaomi Mi 9 1/2 0.8μm 48
iPhone 11 Pro max 1 / 2.55 1.4μm 12
iPhone XS / XS Max 1 / 2.55 1.4μm 12
Galaxy S10 + 1 / 2.55” 1.4μm 12MP
Galaxy Note 9 1 / 2.55” 1.4μm 12MP
Google Pixel 4 1 / 2.55” 1.4μm 12MP
Moto G7 Plus 1 / 2.6” 1.22μm 16MP
Sony Xperia 1 1 / 2.6” 1.4μm 12MP
Nokia PureView 9 1 / 2.9” 1.25μm 12MP
iPhone X 1/3” 1.22μm 12MP
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite10 1/3.2” 1.4μm  8MP

The quality of the image

The main responsible for the quality of an image is the camera sensor; in recent years, larger sensors have also been installed in mobile phones, so this progress is certainly due to their technological growth, which allows us today to take spectacular photos.

If we think of megapixels as a container, the larger the sensor, the more megapixels will be collected by our camera.

In photogrammetry, having many megapixels, however, is not necessarily an advantage because the parameter we normally use for calibrating the camera is the “pixel size” in millimeters. Pixel size = sensor with mm / image with pixels.

So the ranking that interests us is this and we will notice that the pixel size of our mediapad is in fifth place compared to the top of the range smartphones. This is definitely an excellent compromise, considering for example the cost of an Iphone X which is currently € 818,78 .
Our tablet instead only costs 199,00 .

So in reality what interests me is that this ratio is as small as possible because the smaller the pixel, the more information we can collect in a single shot. On the contrary, with a large pixel size it will be much more complicated and imprecise to “overlapping” between one photo and another having fewer pixels to match.

Smartphone model Primary Camera
Sensor Size Pixel Size Megapixel
Honor View 20 1/2 0.8μm 48
OnePlus Pro 1/2 0.8μm 48
Zoom Oppo Reno 10x 1/2 0.8μm 48
Xiaomi Mi 9 1/2 0.8μm 48
Huawei P30 Pro 1 / 1.7 1 um 40
Huawei Mate 30 Pro 1 / 1.7 1 um 40
Moto G7 Plus 1 / 2.6” 1.22μm 16MP
iPhone X 1/3” 1.22μm 12MP
Nokia PureView 9 1 / 2.9” 1.25μm 12MP
Huawei Mediapad M3 Lite10 1/3.2” 1.4μm  8MP
iPhone 11 Pro max 1 / 2.55 1.4μm 12
iPhone XS / XS Max 1 / 2.55 1.4μm 12
Galaxy S10 + 1 / 2.55” 1.4μm 12MP
Galaxy Note 9 1 / 2.55” 1.4μm 12MP
Google Pixel 4 1 / 2.55” 1.4μm 12MP
Sony Xperia 1 1 / 2.6” 1.4μm 12MP

survey – topografia – file csv – fotogrammetria – ortofoto – laser scanner – aerofotogrammetria – metashape – geomatica