Is Samsung Faking Its Galaxy S23 Ultra Moon Photos? Here’s What We Know

Is Samsung Faking Its Galaxy S23 Ultra Moon Photos? Here's What We Know


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The so-called ‘Space Zoom‘ feature in the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is known to take amazingly detailed photos of the moon, but an investigation done by a Redittor now suggests that those images might be fake. The ability to photograph the night sky in stunning detail is one of the stand-out features of some recent high-end smartphones, including Google’s Pixel lineup and Samsung’s Galaxy series. While the former offers the so-called ‘Astrophotography‘ mode for the purpose, the latter offers the ‘Nightography‘ and ‘Space Zoom‘ functionality that also allow users to take highly detailed images of the night sky.

Over the weekend, a Redditor accused Samsung of faking its S23 Ultra moon shots as part of the device’s ‘Space Zoom‘ functionality that allows users to take extremely detailed photos of the moon at night. According to u/ibreakphotos, the moon images from the device look stunning, but they’re simply not real. To prove their point, the Redditor downloaded a high-res photo of the moon from the internet, and then downsized it to 170 x 170 before applying Gaussian blur to it. They then put up the photo on their computer monitor, switched off the lights in the room, and zoomed in on the monitor with their Samsung phone.

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Is Samsung Faking The Moon Photos?

As it turned out, they got a perfect photo of the moon, with all the craters and other details visible in all their glory. As seen from the side-by-side image, the source photo has virtually no details in it, while the image clicked by the Samsung phone has all the minute details expected from a high-end DSLR camera. The Redditor believes that the only way to explain the anomaly is that Samsung is using a smart algorithm to enhance the details in the moon shots. “In the side-by-side above, I hope you can appreciate that Samsung is leveraging an AI model to put craters and other details on places which were just a blurry mess,” the Redditor wrote.

To further prove their point, the Redditor did another experiment. This time, they photoshopped one blurry moon photo next to another to see if this would fool the AI into correcting only one of the photos while leaving the another untouched. As it turned out, that’s exactly what happened, with one of the moon photos coming out razor sharp, while the other remained blurry. The experiment seemingly leads further credence to the Redditor’s allegation that the moonshots are engineered by software rather than the work of great hardware. The Redditor doesn’t say which particular Galaxy phone they used for the moon shots, but Samsung uses the same Space Zoom technology in all of its flagships over the past four years.

This is not the first time that Samsung is being accused of faking moon shots with AI. A few years ago, similar allegations were made against the S20 Ultra as well, with some users questioning the phone’s unrealistically detailed photos of the moon. Back then, Samsung claimed the enhanced images are only due to its ‘Super Resolution AI‘ rather than fake overlays: “At one push of the shutter, up to 20 frames are captured and processed at instantaneous speeds. Advanced AI then evaluates and corrects thousands of fine details to produce detailed images even at high magnification levels.”

While Samsung is already openly admitting to using AI to enhance the photos, it is not any different from the computational photography in the Pixel or iPhones. Good HDR photography would also not be possible without AI image processing, which is offered by most high-end smartphones circa 2023. However, the key question is whether these images are actually “AI-enhanced,” as Samsung claims, or outright fake, with an overlay of an entirely different photo of the moon. The answer remains up in the air until Samsung clarifies the situation once and for all.

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Source: u/ibreakphotos/Reddit