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

Some S6s are more equal than others, even among the golden ones

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 is no way of knowing which you are going to get before you leave the shop.

Tests by Samsung fanboi site Sammobile show the homegrown sensor to be more vivid, while the Sony sensor gives more realistic results. The Sony produced sharper images too. Files saved using the Sony powered devices were a shade larger than those using the Samsung technology.

It’s not unusual for manufacturers to second-source components but quality control usually dictates that there are no substantial differences. And it’s not the first time Samsung has done this. Tear-downs of the Galaxy Note 4 found similar image sensor differences.

The company gave us a canned statement saying:

“The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge utilize camera sensors from several different vendors. Like all of the technology used in our products, they meet our strict global quality and performance standards.”

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

Samsung is working hard to improve the company margins, and last year significantly reduced the number of models of phones it planned to make. Switching to an internally produced component will help margins but using two different parts leads to overheads in managing inventory.

The chopping and changing of camera sensors might well be due to the S6 doing really rather well. Samsung is crowing about the bling “Gold Platinum” version selling out, saying that 23 percent of users wanted that colour, and citing “Lifestyle Psychologist” Donna Dawson as saying:

“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.”

Which might be seen as an incautious comment to be making a day ahead of a general election. The phone is not available in blue.

Indeed in a long press release, Samsung manages to say a lot about the kind of people who like the colours white, black and gold (all in best cold-reading style) but nothing about the phone or how it plans to address the shortage of phones or components. ®

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