Samsung System LSI was developing direct ToF, however
Samsung Electronics will not apply 3D ToF (Time of Flight) modules for the Galaxy S21 launching next year, people familiar with the matter told TheElec on Friday.
The feature was absent as well in the recently launched Galaxy Note20 series.
ToF has been touted as a feature that can support augmented reality and virtual reality contents in a 5G environment. Samsung applied the technology on its Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note10 launched last year and the Galaxy S20 series.
Low usability was one of the reasons why Samsung decided to remove the feature as there was no so-called “killer contents” that uses ToF.
Samsung is thought to have put in ToF on to its flagship smartphones in the first place so that it doesn’t look like it falls behind rivals Huawei and Apple.
Technology also posed a problem for Samsung. It uses indirect ToF, unlike Apple that uses direct ToF through LiDAR sensors on its iPad Pro tablets.
Samsung’s ToF modules measure distance by calculating the phase differences of the light sine waves when they are sent out to the object and when they bounce back. The difference in widths of the two waves are used to measure the time.
The range of such a method requires strong light with large wave widths, but accuracy drops in long distances. Samsung’s ToF had a range of 3 meters.
In contrast, Apple’s ToF has a range of 6 meters. The company’s ToF method measures the time it takes for the light to bounce off an object.
Sony is the only company that makes these direct ToF image sensors and has an exclusive deal with Apple. Samsung can’t use these sensors due to this and instead purchased the indirect ToF image sensors from the Japanese company through the S10 to S20 series.
Cupertino is planning to apply ToF on the iPhone 12 series launching later this year.
However, Samsung’s System LSI business was developing a direct ToF module. The South Korean tech giant will likely reconsider applying ToF depending on how this development pans out and how the market receives the ToF modules of the iPhone 12 series.