Samsung Galaxy S22 cameras could finally beat Apple and Google – here’s how

When Samsung showcases its new Galaxy S22 phones at this Wednesday’s Galaxy Unpacked event, expect a number of features to compete for stage time. Samsung’s latest flagships are expected to be powered by new silicon – the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 – and sport brighter displays. In the case of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung’s high-end phone should invite comparisons to the Galaxy Note, right down to the S Pen included.

But whatever features Samsung is spending time promoting this week, it’s a safe bet the phone maker will return to one topic again and again – the cameras in the new Galaxy S22 models. And that’s important, because the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Google Pixel 6 Pro edge out Samsung in our best camera phone rankings.

It’s no secret why phone makers focus so much on the cameras of their latest devices. Outside of battery life, the quality of photos produced by a phone’s camera is usually its most talked about feature. Mobile photography – from taking selfies to capturing Instagram fodder – is an important part of the mobile lifestyle, so naturally smartphone buyers want camera phones that will help them produce memories to share with others. .

You can bet Samsung spent the months leading up to this week’s product reveal working on ways to make the Galaxy S22’s cameras potentially surpass Apple and Google. Here’s a look at what’s changed with Samsung’s main competitors since the release of the Galaxy S21 last year and how the new camera features in the Galaxy S22 line could help Samsung leapfrog the competition.

Assessing the Galaxy S22 Competition

To understand the challenge Samsung is facing with the launch of the Galaxy S22, it’s important to review some of the major camera phones that came out last year, led by our pick for the best current camera phone, the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

pixel 6 pro vs iphone 13 pro max: both phones laying face down on a hardwood floor

The iPhone 13 Pro Max (left) and Pixel 6 Pro (right) currently dominate camera phones. (Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

With the two iPhone 13 Pro models, Apple has increased the size of the main and ultra-wide sensors, adding autofocus to the latter lens. In addition to wide-angle shots, the Pro models’ ultra-wide-angle shooter can also double as a macro shooter for extreme close-ups. The telephoto camera of the iPhone 13 Pro models has also been appreciated, adding support for 3x zoom. And Apple has beefed up its camera software by adding real-time filters in the form of Photographic Styles.

The end result is that the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max offer higher quality zooms – long an area where Samsung dominated – and overall images are better than ever, especially in low light conditions. .

Google has also taken big steps forward with its Pixel 6 lineup, upping the main sensor in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro to 50MP after sticking with a 12MP camera for many years. Spring for the Pixel 6 Pro and you also have a telephoto lens, once again giving Samsung more competition in an area where it was once miles ahead of its rivals.

Even OnePlus, not exactly known for producing high-end camera phones, has stepped up its game lately. The OnePlus 10 Pro has yet to debut outside of China, but this device continues the phone maker’s partnership with lens specialist Hasselblad. When it arrives in the US and other countries, the OnePlus 10 Pro should give Samsung’s next flagship another potential rival.

What Samsung has planned: Galaxy S22 Ultra cameras

So how is Samsung responding to this increased competition? If the Galaxy S22 Ultra camera rumors are accurate, this will refine many of the features already introduced with the Galaxy S21 Ultra while also introducing a few new features.

Doing the best with the Galaxy S22 Ultra is pretty critical for Samsung. Not only is it the centerpiece of the S22 lineup, the Ultra is also the model most potential S22 buyers say they’re likely to get, according to a investigation by trade-in site

Rumored Galaxy S22 Ultra camera features include:

Super clear lens: Probably the most anticipated feature of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the super clear lens is also the most mysterious, although some recent leaks have shed some more light on what Samsung might add. Supposedly, the Super Clear lens will cover the main camera, and it’s meant to reduce glare and reflections.

A piece of leaked Galaxy S22 promotional material showing the Galaxy S22 Ultra with its S Pen in green

(Image credit: Evan Blass)

It’s a common problem, even on the best camera phones, and the super clear lens seems to be Samsung’s attempt to eliminate lens flare from the photos you take. We’ll no doubt hear a lot about it at the Samsung Unpacked event on February 9.

AI Enhancement Mode: It looks like the Galaxy S22 Ultra won’t feature upgraded hardware specs over the Galaxy S21 Ultra, with the new phone expected to feature a 108MP primary lens with a 12MP ultrawide camera and a pair of 10MP telephoto lenses. But that primary sensor would see some improvements, including a new AI enhancement mode.

This could be Samsung’s answer to computational photography that propelled phones from Apple and Google to the top of the camera phone charts. Reports on the AI ​​enhancement mode claim that it will show detail, color, and brightness in shots captured by the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 108MP sensor.

Samsung cameras can get a bit too aggressive when it comes to highlighting colors in photos. It’ll be interesting to see if this AI mode handles color a little more consistently for better-balanced photos than what Samsung phones have produced in the past.

Low light characteristics: Reports around the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s cameras have referenced the dual-pixel phase-detection autofocus technology. This is supposed to help the phone capture clear and crisp images, probably even in low light conditions.

We say likely, because Samsung’s few public statements about its next phone have promised a camera that can “shatter the night” and “break the rules of light”. That last sentence may refer to the previously mentioned Super Clear lens, but references to night seem to be related to low-light photography.

“The next generation of Galaxy S is here, bringing together the greatest experiences of our Samsung Galaxy into one ultimate device,” said TM Roh, President and Head of Mobile Business at Samsung in a blog post teasing a launch of telephone in February. “With it, you’ll own the night – taking the best, brightest photos and videos you’ve ever captured with a phone.”

What Samsung has planned: Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus cameras

The Galaxy S22 Ultra might get a lot of attention at this week’s Unpacked event. But it’s not the only one of Samsung’s phones that needs a camera update. The Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus are also rumored to be live for some changes.

Larger main sensors for both phones: The Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus are expected to feature a 50MP wide camera, which would be an upgrade from the 12MP sensor used in the Galaxy S21. This resembles the move Google made with its Pixel 6 phones, down to the Samsung GN5 sensor that will likely be used in the S22 lineup.

The main camera upgrade will not be limited to megapixels, according to rumours. A rumor has it that the Galaxy S22 Plus offers an “adaptive pixel” feature where the sensor will combine pixels into larger virtual pixels for improved brightness and color in photos. It’s unclear if this feature would extend to the Galaxy S22 or just be limited to the Plus.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (left), S22 Plus and S22 lying side by side on a table.

(Image credit: OnLeaks)

An Optical Zoom: The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus both featured a telephoto lens, but it relied on hybrid zoom for 3x shots beyond the 1.1x optical zoom. Several reports claim that the S22 and S22 Plus will get true 3x optical zoom for clearer and more detailed images.

Wider openings on the front cameras: The front cameras of the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus will not see a change in resolution from the 10MP sensor used by their predecessors. But Samsung could opt for wider apertures on these selfie cameras which would let in more light when taking self-portraits. Such a move would certainly be in line with Samsung’s stated goal of improving low-light photography, although the rumors here are more speculative.

If this change took place, it wouldn’t be limited to the S22 and S22 Plus – the Galaxy S22 Ultra might also get a wider opening for its front camera.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Camera Outlook

We won’t have to wait long to see which of these rumors pan out. The Galaxy Unpacked event is just days away from February 9 starting at 10 a.m. ET. We’ve got a guide on how to watch the Galaxy Unpacked live stream so you can see all of Samsung’s announcements first hand.

Whatever Samsung ends up announcing – and there’s plenty of news coming out of Unpacked – expect cameras to take up a significant chunk of the spotlight.

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