Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 200MP camera could be dead — but that’s good
Samsung’s plan to overwhelm us with megapixels on next year’s Galaxy S22 flagship may be scrapped before the phone even sees the light of day. And that’s fine by me.
Earlier this spring, a rumor surfaced that Samsung was eyeing a 200MP sensor for the main camera on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. That would be quite a bump up from the already eye-catching 108MP sensor at the heart of the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s rear camera array, and it would certainly mean sharper pictures from next year’s high-end Samsung phone.
Leaker Ice Universe was one of the sources of that original Galaxy S22 Ultra tip, but now they’re backing away from that claim via a post on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo.
“It is almost 100% confirmed that Samsung S22 Ultra will not follow up with 200 [megapixels] and will polish the third-generation 108MP sensor,” a translated version of the Weibo post reads.
On the surface, that would seem like disappointing news, especially if you took that 200MP camera rumor at face value. Instead of featuring a main camera with a much bigger sensor, the Galaxy S22 Ultra — Samsung’s ultimate phone — is just going to have a tweaked version of the current sensor.
Ultimately, though, this is probably good news for a number of reasons, chief of which is that megapixels aren’t everything.
Look at the handsets on our list of the best camera phones. The Galaxy S21 Ultra and its 108 main camera on the list, sure, but it’s ranked alongside phones like the iPhone 12 Pro Max and Google Pixel 5, both of which make do with a 12MP sensor. That’s because Apple and Google have put a lot of emphasis on software-driven computational photography for better color balance, detailed portrait shots and other features that aren’t megapixel-dependent.
Another top ranked camera phone, the OnePlus 9 Pro, offers a 48MP main sensor, but we’d argue that it’s the phone maker’s partnership with Hasselblad to improve the post-processing on photos is the reason the OnePlus device ranks so highly.
Even Samsung’s current phones illustrate that there’s more to life than megapixels. The 64MP telephoto lenses on the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus certainly impress, but we’d argue that it’s the software-powered Zoom Lock feature, which relies on AI to identify the subject and steady the shot, is just as critical as Samsung’s hardware.
It also appears that Samsung is doing more than just focusing on camera hardware for the Galaxy S22, at least if other rumors about the phone’s cameras carry any weight. For example, one rumor suggests that Samsung is working on a continuous zoom feature that will let the telephoto lens on the S22 models move continuously from 3x to 10x, reducing the need to make digital adjustments. That should mean even better quality zoomed shots than what the Galaxy S21 produces now.
Call us crazy, but those are the kind of changes we’d welcome in the Galaxy S22. Bigger megapixels are nice, but it’s the software and other hardware enhancements that tell a more complete story about the quality of a camera phone.
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