Galaxy S23 Ultra first impressions: zoom in on its 200 megapixel sensor

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra is getting its biggest picture update in years. The high-end smartphone is now available a 200 megapixel photo sensor, which is almost double its predecessor, the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It debuted at the Samsung Unpacked event on Wednesday, with pricing starting at 1419€. It is available for pre-order until February 16.

The Galaxy S23 lineup, which also includes the Galaxy S23 Plus in the 1219€ and the Galaxy S23 on 959€, is Samsung’s latest effort to encourage people to upgrade as the smartphone industry struggles. The addition of a 200-megapixel sensor to the Galaxy S23 Ultra isn’t surprising since Samsung announced its new image sensor last month.

But it does suggest that the company sees the camera as the most important part of a phone – and it’s one we’d expect to pay top dollar for. With the Galaxy S23 Ultra, Samsung is clearly targeting photographers who want a big screen and great camera gear. We’ll have to wait until we test the phone to see if it lives up to its promises.

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Otherwise, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is included traditional updates such as a new processor, new colors, additional storage space for the base model as well as more parts made from recycled materials.

The new Galaxy S23 Ultra camera

Samsung Galaxy S23

The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s camera equipment. Bobby Oliver/CNET

On paper, the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 200-megapixel camera seems like a big step up. This is Samsung’s biggest step in this area in years, as the last three generations of Galaxy S Ultra phones have featured a 108-megapixel main sensor, since the Galaxy S20 Ultra in 2020.

But megapixels alone don’t tell the whole story. Sensor size, speed and image processing algorithms also affect the camera’s image quality, so we need to test the smartphone before deciding if it’s really an upgrade. monumental.

These algorithms play an important role with improvements to the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s camera. Joshua Cho, head of Samsung’s visual solutions team, said AI has a say in everything from night mode to how the camera captures high dynamic range.

“As soon as you press the camera button, the artificial intelligence kicks in”said Cho in an interview with before Samsung’s Unpacked event.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra takes pictures 12 megapixels by default, combining 16 megapixels to form one giant megapixel. This allows the sensor to capture more light, which can be useful when shooting in dark environments. You also have the option to shoot 200-megapixel photos, which Samsung says is perfect for people who want to get large prints of their photos or crop. If you want something in between, you can shoot 50-megapixel photos.

The front cameras of all Galaxy S23 are composed an improved 12-megapixel sensor. The S22 and S22 Plus rely on a 10-megapixel camera and the S22 Ultra, on a 40-megapixel module. Samsung says the front camera uses AI to improve object recognition to optimize images accordingly instead of prioritizing meaning. This means it should be more accurate at identifying people from their background more accurately.

Samsung Galaxy S23

The Galaxy S23 Ultra in Lavender. Bobby Oliver/CNET

The Galaxy S23 Ultra inherits the same zoom capabilities as its predecessor, offering 3x or 10x optical zoom and up to 100x digital zoom. Like the S22 Ultra, the S23 Ultra uses two 10-megapixel telephoto lenses to achieve this. Although night mode is a highlight of the Galaxy S22 lineup, Samsung claims to have further improved the way the Galaxy S23 Ultra takes photos in the dark.

Video recording gets a bit of a change in the range, with the S23 family supporting it 30 frames per second when shooting in 8K. This is an increase over the S22 Ultra’s 24fps. According to Adobe, 30fps is generally preferred over 24fps for streaming live footage, which makes sense given Samsung’s efforts to appeal to social media influencers, streamers and gen consumers. Z. It is also possible to shoot 1080p video at 120 frames per second instead of 60 frames per second, which should improve the quality of slow motion.

Samsung is hinting at that too the correction angle of its optical image stabilization is doubled. We wonder what the difference is.

However, Samsung doesn’t seem to have added any new shooting modes for the Galaxy S23 lineup. Since the S23 Ultra emphasizes camera quality, we hope to see some new tools and features that can make better use of this new hardware.

But Samsung is doing something interesting with its external camera apps, Expert Raw and Camera Assistant. After downloading these apps for the first time, the additional camera settings provided by these apps will be integrated directly into the native camera app. This can make it easier for photographers who want more control to customize the look of their photos without having to switch between apps.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a new chip and a familiar design

Samsung Galaxy S23

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra is green. Bobby Oliver/CNET

Samsung’s new smartphones are powered by the processor Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 from Qualcomm optimized for the new Galaxy S23 line, which Samsung says should result in faster performance. We’ll have to test the phone to see if it lives up to expectations.

But if so, it will help set the Ultra apart from other phones featuring Qualcomm’s new chip, like the OnePlus 11 5G. The satellite connectivity option is missing from Samsung’s new line of smartphones, after Apple added the ability to contact emergency services via satellite to its iPhone 14 lineup. Qualcomm also announced a similar feature , which will launch later this year.

Like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung’s new Ultra phone features 5000mAh capacity battery and comes with S Pen. The smartphone is available with storage capacities of 256 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra isn’t that different from last year’s Galaxy S22 Ultra. It has the same design but with a new selection of colors: black, cream, green and lavender. Samsung also claims to have increased the use of recycled materials in the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s design by using ocean-sourced plastics on the phone’s exterior for the first time.

The screen always scales 6.8 inches like last year’s model, making it one of the biggest phones you can buy. (Apple’s Google Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max each have a 6.7-inch screen.) This phone is also protected by Gorilla Glass Victus 2, a new version of glass from Corning that, according to the company , offers better drop resistance on surfaces like concrete. The screen also features an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz to enable smoother scrolling and animations.

Samsung is launching the Galaxy S23 line as it becomes increasingly difficult to convince smartphone owners to update their devices. Economic challenges slowed smartphone shipments throughout 2022, according to estimates from The International Data Corporation, Canalys and Counterpoint Research.

In his report, Peter Richardson of Counterpoint Research, however, describes the high-end smartphone segment as being “more resistant” than the entry-level and mid-range phone market. Perhaps customers are more inclined to invest in more expensive phones in the hope of not having to renew them as often. Samsung is present in all three markets, but the Galaxy S23 Ultra at €1,419 and the Galaxy Z Fold 4 at €1,799 are summarized in the eyes of the giant in what should be a high-end terminal.

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