Teardown shows the crazy engineering inside the Galaxy S9’s camera

Chris Mills

In terms of design, Samsung definitely played it safe with the Galaxy S9. There’s no iPhone-esque notch, no zany new materials — there’s even a headphone jack, that’s how straight-laced Samsung went. But the Galaxy S9 is far from boring, and that’s mostly thanks to the camera.

The primary camera (there’s a secondary telephone lens as well) on the back of the Galaxy S9 has a physical dual aperture, a feature that we haven’t seen on a smartphone camera for over a decade. It adjusts from f/2.4 to f/1.5 depending on the lighting, something that lets the camera vary exposure of an image without messing with the shutter speed or ISO. Installing a variable aperture helps capture sharp images in daylight while also having industry-leading low-light performance, something that shone through in our review.


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Of course, variable apertures are nothing new to the photography industry. The impressive thing is how Samsung managed to miniaturize the physical mechanism necessary for a variable aperture and put it in something the size of a fingernail. JerryRigEverything tore down the camera (and the entire phone) on YouTube, and I highly recommend watching the video to fully understand how the aperture works.

Surrounding the camera sensor is a mechanical aperture unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Unlike the iris-style aperture that DSLR or mirrorless camera owners are used to, the Galaxy S9’s camera has two plates, actuated by a lever, which slide across the camera to limit the available light. There’s no in-between setting: you get your pick of f/1.5 and f/2.4, but that’s it. You might expect some kind of clever electronic system in a smartphone, but it seems that Samsung simply installed a mechanical system with a lever, actuated by a servo, which presumably turns a shaft and pushes the plate. At the scale we’re talking about, that kind of engineering is simply incredible.

 

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See the original version of this article on BGR.com