Samsung had its big “Unpacked” event today, where it revealed a fancy new folding phone and not one, not two, but three versions of the Galaxy S20. And for photographers wanting the most advanced camera tech in a smartphone, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is worth a very close look.
All three of the S20 models offer three main cameras—ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto—with the S20+ and S20 Ultra adding in a special depth camera as well. But where the S20 and S20+ both use 12MP sensors for the Wide and Ultra-Wide cameras, a 64MP sensor for the Telephoto cam, and a 10MP sensor for the front-facing camera, the S20 Ultra kicks it up more-than-a-notch.
On the rear, you’ll find a 12MP Ultra-Wide camera, a 108MP Wide-Angle camera, a 48MP Telephoto camera with folded optics, and a whopping 40MP front-facing camera. The infographic below breaks down all the specs (click for full res):
The main features worth calling out for photographers here are resolution, zoom, and video capability.
The 108MP sensor used on the Wide-Angle camera sits behind an f/1.8 lens and can capture either full-res 108MP photos for the most possible detail when there’s plenty of light, or 12MP photos that gather much more light when things are dim.
This is achieved using “nona-binning” technology that “combines nine pixels into one at the sensor level” in what we assume is a souped up version of the quad-bayer and “remosaicing” technology we’ve seen in other phones.
Using a combination of optical zoom and AI-enhanced “Super Resolution Zoom,” the Galaxy S20 and S20+ can use their 64MP telephoto cameras to produce up to 30x zoom—though we can’t say how usable that will be. The S20 Ultra takes that a big step further by using folded optics and a different sensor to deliver an incredible 100x maximum zoom.
Yes, it’s partially digital—the folded optics offer 10x optical, with digital picking up the rest—but that’s an incredible feat no matter how you slice it.
Finally, the Galaxy S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra can all shoot 8K video thanks to the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (or Samsung’s own Exynos, depending on where in the world you are). For stills shooters, that means being able to grab a very high-resolution still frame (over 33MP) from your video footage.
Finally, in addition to the camera features above, all of the Galaxy S20 lineup supports 5G, features 3200 x 1440 AMOLED displays that are HDR10+ certified and can run up to 120Hz (if you drop the resolution to 1080p), and come with up to 16GB or RAM and 512GB of built-in storage.