Report: Samsung working with Olympus on implementing IBIS in upcoming smartphones

Seemingly, every phone manufacturer wants to partner up with an established, well-respected camera company. Around the smartphone industry, this is already seen with OnePlus and Hasselblad, Vivo and Zeiss, and Huawei and Leica. According to Sammobile, rumors suggest that Samsung is getting in on this trend by working with Olympus on upcoming Galaxy smartphones.

Huawei has a partnership with Leica, as seen here with the P30 Pro smartphone. OnePlus works with Hasselblad. Vivo works with Zeiss. Is Samsung the next major player in the smartphone industry to team up with a camera brand?

Reports suggest that Samsung is working on adding sensor-shift image stabilization to its smartphones, like what Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max does with its wide-angle camera. Like many other manufacturers, Samsung uses optical image stabilization technology in its smartphone lineup, but the Korean company wants more.

Olympus E-M1X

Sensor-shift image stabilization, often referred to as in-body image stabilization, works by making very slight, precise adjustments to the image sensor to compensate for camera shake. It’s a common feature among many interchangeable lens cameras, especially among enthusiast and professional cameras. Many Olympus cameras have employed excellent in-body image stabilization over the years. The Olympus E-M1X Micro Four Thirds camera, for example, has a 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization system rated to compensate for up to 7.5 stops of camera shake. If Samsung wants IBIS in its smartphones, Olympus makes sense as a partner. By the way, Olympus as a brand is now under the purview of OM Digital Solutions. If you’d like to learn more about OM Digital Solutions, this week, we published an interview with Aki Murata, COO of OM Digital Solutions.

As of now, a possible Samsung and Olympus collaboration is mere speculation. However, this isn’t the first we’ve heard about the two companies potentially working together. Last week, 43 Rumors posted about a leak from China pointing toward a Samsung and Olympus collaboration. Multiple leakers are confident, and where there’s smoke, there’s often fire, but not always. Until a product is official, it’s all ultimately just rumors.

Olympus E-M5 Mark III

For the sake of discussion, let’s suppose the rumors are accurate. What would a Samsung x Olympus smartphone look like? In terms of camera features, IBIS is the obvious inclusion. However, as we’ve seen with other ‘co-engineered with X’ smartphones, software and image processing often play a role. Despite financial troubles in recent years, Olympus is a well-known and well-respected name in the photography industry. Olympus color science and camera app branding would be a valuable addition to Samsung’s smartphone lineup.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra camera specs are impressive. A rumored S22 with sensor-shift image stabilization would be even more impressive.

This brings up an interesting point, though, unlike Hasselblad, Leica, and to a lesser extent Zeiss, Olympus’ camera offerings have been significantly hurt by the advancement of smartphone camera technology. A Micro Four Thirds image sensor is not very large, so it’s much more difficult for a company such as Olympus to differentiate its product, at least in terms of image quality, from the best smartphones on the market. That said, when asked, ‘What can dedicated camera manufacturers do to compete with smartphones?’ OM Digital Solutions COO Aki Murata answered, ‘That’s a question we question we ask a lot, and frequently discuss, internally. We don’t see a need to compete with smartphones, because smartphones are different devices, with different characteristics…’ Perhaps OM Digital Solutions can continue to differentiate its camera offerings from smartphones while also profiting from the ever-growing popularity of smartphone photography.

What might a Samsung x Olympus smartphone actually look like? Let’s Go Digital in the Netherlands made a very cool render of a Galaxy S22 concept with Olympus camera branding. You can see additional renders here.

A Samsung Galaxy S22 render with rumored Olympus camera branding. Image credit: Let’s Go Digital

Jaron Schneider at PetaPixel notes that, beyond the obvious caveat that rumors are just rumors (at least until they aren’t), Samsung is reported to be working on a new processor that is codenamed ‘Olympus.’ That’s quite a coincidence. It’s possible the Samsung and Olympus rumors result from mixing up a new processor’s codename with the camera brand.

That said, Samsung’s rivalry with Apple’s iPhone lineup suggests that Samsung probably is working on implementing sensor-shift image stabilization into at least some of its upcoming smartphones. Will Olympus be involved? Only time will tell.