Putting aside the 200-megapixel main camera for a moment, at first glance there’s not a huge amount of camera upgrades for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
It sports pretty much the same rear camera setup as its predecessor, the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which held a high spot on our best camera phones list. And given that the older phone takes great smartphone photos, it’s no surprise Samsung hasn’t messed with the formula too much.
But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that there are some solid camera upgrades, be it in hardware terms of some improvement on the software side and Samsung’s computational photography chops. So read on for 7 of the biggest Galaxy S23 Ultra camera upgrades.
A 200MP main camera
OK, let’s start with the biggest and most obvious upgrade: the 200MP main camera. That’s a jump up from the 108MP camera on the Galaxy S22 Ultra and now means the Galaxy S23 Ultra can capture more detailed and higher-resolution photos. And that also means more scope for editing and less of a loss in clarity when you crop into an image.
Unless you’re using a pro mode, the Galaxy S23 Ultra will deliver 50MP images by default, using a pixel binning process. But these will be higher resolution images than the 12MP shots provided as standard by the S22 Ultra. And with more details, and thus more information captured initially, the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s main camera should deliver crisper and clearer shots out of the box. Of course, we’ll need to test this for ourselves.
Improved low-light photography
Samsung has improved the low-light and night photography shooting for the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Thanks to the new 200MP Adaptive Pixel sensor, the main camera can now combine 16 pixels into one larger one to improve the amount of light that the camera captures, to make for brighter and more detailed low-light photos.
By doubling the optical image stabilization (OIS) angles in all directions, the Galaxy S23 Ultra can take better low-light videos with less noise; this boost in OIS also helps in daylight in situations where blur can be a factor, like traversing rough ground. Multi-frame processing during low-light conditions also helps remove noise from videos.
And around the front, there’s a new night portrait mode for the selfie camera, which delivers an enhanced bokeh effect at night.
Better Astrophotography mode
Improvements to low-light photography also benefit the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s Astrophotography mode, which is now in the phone’s camera app by default rather than just being a feature of the ExpertRAW app.
Thanks to the improvements in main camera resolution and OIS, as well as image processing, Samsung says you can capture shots of the Milky Way and the movements of the stars — when used in an Astro Hyperlapse mode — with no specialist equipment; we do suspect you’d need a tripod unless you have extraordinary steady hands and a lot of patience.
ExpertRAW gets Lightroom editing powers
With the ability to snap high-resolution photos on the 200MP camera comes the scope for more editing. And rather neatly, Samsung’s ExpertRAW app on the Galaxy S23 range now has Lightroom baked in.
That means you’ll be able to snap 200MP RAW photos on the Galaxy S23 Ultra with all the extra controls enabled by the ExpertRAW app (which is a free download but has a lot of its features now in the Galaxy S23 camera app, like the ability to capture multiple exposures), and edit that image in Adobe’s Lightroom by default. This should make editing images into the photo you want a more seamless and powerful experience.
New selfie camera
Around the front of the Galaxy S23 Ultra you’ll find a 12MP selfie camera. At first, this would seem like a downgrade from the S22 Ultra’s 40MP one. But the camera uses Super HDR (also available on the rear cameras), which should deliver brighter and more colorful selfie snaps, as well as video up to 4K at 60 frames per second; that’s up from 30 fps on the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Combined with an object-based AI that analyzes each detail in the frame, even down to minute facial features such as hair, eyes, and skin tone, Samsung says the camera should capture photos that are more “true to you.”
The image stabilization upgrades and Super HDR should make the Galaxy S23 Ultra a rather good video recording device.
But the standout feature is the ability to capture 8K video at 30 fps, the latter some consider to be the best frame rate for video. But by making use of a wider camera angle and bigger pixel size, Samsung reckons the videos the Galaxy S23 Ultra will capture will be more cinematic than before.
It might be overkill for some, given 8K is hardly a widespread standard in TVs. But 8K at 30 fps is an added extra over the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which was limited to 8K at 24 fps and only in the 16:9 aspect ratio (not that you’d likely want very high-resolution videos at a different ratio). But 4K at 60 fps with Super HDR could be the sweet spot to deliver more colorful and dynamic videos than the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
360-degree audio recording in videos
For people looking at making cinematic or more immersive videos, the Galaxy S23 Ultra can be used with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro to capture 360-degree audio by using the earbuds’ microphones as well as those on the phone.
As 360 Audio Recording was a feature introduced with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, you’ll need to use these earbuds specifically. But it’s a smart example of Samsung better tying together its whole Galaxy product ecosystem. And it could result in some impressive directional audio in videos that the likes of the iPhone 14 Pro Max can’t match.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera upgrades outlook
These camera upgrades all look good on paper, but we’d need to test them out ourselves before rendering any in-depth judgments. So be sure to check back for our full Galaxy S23 Ultra review.
But given the Galaxy S22 Ultra put in some impressive photography and video results, we’d be quietly confident that the Galaxy S23 Ultra will build upon it, likely seeing the flagship phone enter the upper echelons of our best phones list, especially if the 200MP camera really delivers the photography goods.