Common sense in digital photography says that megapixels aren’t everything. To some extent they matter, but smartphone manufacturers have a long history of relying too heavily on these numbers as a kind of shorthand for camera quality. In other words, they play an important role, but they have to work together with a number of other key elements to really deliver on their promise.
The good news for the upcoming Galaxy S23 Ultra is that Samsung has a solid track record of building camera ecosystems at both the hardware and software level. In fact, the company did make a 200-megapixel system, which appeared in the Xiaomi 12T Pro flagship late last year. The company hasn’t confirmed whether the S23 Ultra uses the same chip (only uselessly saying they call it a “200-megapixel adaptive pixel sensor”), but I’d say that if it’s not 1-to-1, it’s probably very, very close.
I suppose it makes some sense that Samsung doesn’t want to flaunt that its own brand is a second device using this component. But again, the ecosystem and implementation is important here. Even with the same sensor on two phones, the experience and resulting images can vary greatly.
The use of such ultra-high resolution sensors has evolved over the years, and in the case of the Ultra, this means using binning to combine information from multiple pixels to create a kind of larger superpixel, able to collect much more light for a clearer image. image with less noise.
Honestly, camera upgrades are, unsurprisingly, the main thing here. This has long been the last major smartphone battlefield, and these days Samsung and Google Pixel phones go toe-to-toe in the Android space. I’ve been carrying around the Pixel 7 Pro for the last heavy months to take pictures. Let’s see if that changes the S23 line. The Ultra gets improved optical image stabilization, designed specifically for low-light video to reduce blur.
All three phones — the Ultra, S23 and S23+ — get “enhanced” 8K video capture at 30 frames per second with a wider viewing angle, combined with new object-oriented artificial intelligence that Samsung claims will analyze human characteristics, such as eyes and hair, in every single frame. “carefully reflect human dynamic characteristics.”
In addition to the 200-megapixel wide-angle camera, the Ultra has a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera and two 10-megapixel telephoto lenses with 3x and 10x optical zoom, respectively. The 12-megapixel front camera gets many upgrades – “because selfies are more important than ever to the way we communicate today” – including faster autofocus, 60fps video recording and what Samsung calls its “first Super HDR” selfie camera.
On the top line, the S23 Ultra supports the Note selection feature, a built-in S Pen (the other two don’t support the stylus at all). On that front, the biggest news is probably the partnership with Google, which makes Samsung Notes work together with Meet, a kind of mini mobile whiteboard app.
The S23, S23+ and S23 Ultra have 6.1-, 6.6-inch (both FHD+) and 6.8-inch (QHD+ Edge) displays, respectively, with refresh rates up to 120 Hz. The phones will be the first on the market to feature Gorilla Glass Victus 2, Corning’s latest product, which promises improved protection against drops and scratches compared to the original Victus announced back in 2020.
The Galaxy S line joins a growing number of devices produced by Qualcomm’s latest flagship, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Samsung claims that the new chip, combined with a large 5,000mAh Ultra battery, will extend battery life by about one-fifth. Meanwhile, the S23 and S23+ have 3,900 and 4,700 mAh batteries, respectively. Samsung is once again pushing mobile gaming here. The company claims the new Snapdragon chip offers 40 percent faster graphics and 40 percent better artificial intelligence performance. The Ultra has 8GB or 12GB of RAM combined with 256GB to 1TB of storage. It has 5G (naturally) and Wi-Fi 6E support.
The S23 costs from $800, the S23+ from $1,000 and the Ultra from $1,200. Color options include black, cream, green and lavender, as well as exclusive online options like lettuce, graphite, sky blue and red. Samsung has also just announced a trio of laptops aimed at the creative professional market, who are currently grooming MacBooks and Microsoft Surface devices.