Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra leak points to a camera sensor upgrade

Samsung Galaxy S20
(Image credit: Future)

With the Samsung Galaxy S21 expected to arrive as early as January, the leaks and rumors are ramping up – and the latest tip to reach our ears points to a minor rear camera upgrade for the Galaxy S21 Ultra model.

According to the usually accurate @UniverseIce on Twitter, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra will pack in a 108MP main sensor in its rear camera – specifically the Isocell HM3 sensor, with a pixel size of 0.8μm (micrometers).

While the megapixel resolution and pixel size remain the same as on the Galaxy S20 Ultra, the key difference is that "HM3" version. We haven't seen a phone appear with this sensor yet, and it's reportedly going to improve light capture and low light photography.

Based on information from the same source, it would appear that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra will drop the time-of-flight (ToF) sensor found in its predecessor released earlier this year, which may mean depth sensing and augmented reality performance takes a hit.

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While we're always eager to pore over every leak that comes our way, this particular update isn't a hugely surprising one. Several previous rumors have suggested that a 108MP sensor will once again lead the way, though we're not sure yet how many rear cameras there will be in total.

As for the ToF sensor, we heard back in August that the component may well be dropped as it wasn't performing as well as intended – and the Galaxy Note 20 series of phones skipped it too. It looks as though Samsung is putting its faith in a laser autofocus setup instead, which supports some of the same features.

The end result should be a Galaxy S21 Ultra camera that takes better pictures than the Galaxy S20 Ultra that came before it. Samsung is likely to launch at least a couple of other configurations of the Galaxy S21 as well, possibly with different camera systems.

We originally thought that the first Samsung flagship phone for 2021 would be called the Galaxy S30, but it now appears that the Galaxy S21 is the name that's been settled on. Apparently, January 14, 2021 will be the day of the big unveiling.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.