The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra was always likely to rank among the best camera phones, and now we’re even more sure of that, as leaked camera samples, reportedly shot on the phone, show impressive photography skills.
First up, night photography. For this, Urbina posted two photos taken in presumably the normal mode, alongside ones in night mode (or perhaps astrophotography mode).
The normal shots are incredibly dark, giving an indication of how little light there was in the scene, while the night mode shots are impressively bright, and packed with detail.
They’re far from perfect – there’s a bit of noise, some mushy details, unnatural color on the foliage, and they aren’t perfectly focused. But given how little light there seemed to be to work with the results are still strong.
Now we come to the zoom shots, with photos apparently taken at 1x, 3x, 10x, and 30x zoom.
@TopesdGama @MARCIANOPHONE @TecnonautaTV #s23ultra pic.twitter.com/kFQ38i5GgtJanuary 22, 2023
The Ultra line always excels at zoom shots, so it’s no surprise that these look good – particularly the first three, as the phone can probably optically zoom to those distances. However, the 30x zoom also looks fairly detailed – if not quite as sharp as the others, and given that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s optical zoom probably tops out at 10x, that’s impressive.
Indeed, leaker @UniverseIce claims that this shot looks as good as a 20x zoom shot on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, so even though the optical range might not be any better this year, the overall quality of zoom shots – and particularly digital zoom – could be improved.
Of course, these are just a few photos, we can’t be certain that they’re genuine, and we don’t have side by side comparisons with the Galaxy S22 Ultra or other phones. So don’t read too much into them, but they look promising regardless.
With the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra expected on February 1, we'll know exactly how good its cameras are soon.
Opinion: zoom looks great, but next year it needs to be much better
From everything we’ve seen and heard so far, it seems likely that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra will take the crown as the best camera phone, replacing the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, which currently sits in the top spot.
With a new 200MP primary sensor and improvements to both night and zoom photography, there should be a reasonable number of photographic upgrades here – but next year the company should focus even more on zoom improvements.
Samsung is arguably in the lead for zoom photography right now, as rival handsets don’t offer 10x optical zoom, but they might soon catch up. Google is gradually closing in, with 5x optical zoom offered on the Pixel 7 Pro, and Apple will reportedly put a periscope camera on the iPhone 15 Ultra.
Meanwhile, Samsung has done little to push zoom photography forward in the last few years. The software has improved but hardware improvements have been minimal, and there’s been no change to the maximum optical zoom distance on the Ultra phones.
So, if the company wants to maintain its lead then we might need more than 10x optical zoom on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra – or some other tricks, like the continuous optical zoom offered by the Sony Xperia 1 IV.
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.