Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Plus camera leak just put iPhone 12 on notice

Samsung Galaxy Note 20
(Image credit: Windows United)

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 could be getting a serious camera upgrade over the Galaxy S20 Ultra and possibly over the iPhone 12, too.

Reliable tech leaker Ice Universe tweeted that the Galaxy Note 20 Plus will feature the 108-megapixel HM1 camera found on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. Just as important, Ice Universe reckons Samsung will add a new sensor that will "completely solve" the autofocusing problems the Galaxy S20 Ultra had, which we experienced in our review of the phone. 

This means the rear-camera array of the Galaxy Note 20 Plus could completely blow away that trio of cameras its predecessor had. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus used a 16-MP ultra-wide camera for its main phone photography duties, so if Ice Universe is right — and the leaker has got it right on numerous occasions —  the 108-MP lens on the Galaxy Note 20 Plus could be a dramatic step up. 

So far all the rumors are pointing towards the Galaxy Note 20 Plus having a quad-camera array that’s similar to the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Ice Universe has previously pointed out that the Galaxy Note 20’s hardware will not be significantly improved over the Galaxy S20 phones, and that includes the cameras.

Galaxy Note 20 Plus camera: New focus sensor

However, a lot can be done with a new sensor, as better autofocus can make all the difference when it comes to quickly snapping a photo at an opportune moment. With the Galaxy S20 Ultra, we found that the phone had trouble locking onto subjects and keeping focus, especially when shooting video.

Samsung subsequently released an update to address the focusing problem in late March. And the overall reaction seemed to be positive to this fix. But having a dedicated sensor to aid in focusing is better than a software Band-Aid. 

While the Galaxy Note 20 Plus might offer an improvement over the Galaxy S20 Ultra, its true challenger will be the upcoming iPhone 12, especially the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The iPhone 12 Pro series is expected to feature a quad camera array of its own, including a new 64MP main wide camera, along with a 3x telephoto lens, an ultra-wide camera and a new LiDAR depth sensor.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Plus vs iPhone 12 Pro 

So, on paper, the Galaxy Note 20 would have the iPhone 12 beat on resolution (108MP vs 64MP), but we know from experience that megapixels don't necessarily equate to higher quality. But having a sensor dedicated to better focusing could give the Note 20 an edge over the iPhone 12 in low light and when shooting fast-moving subjects. 

The Note 20 could have another edge over the iPhone 12 Pro on the zooming front. Assuming the Note 20 adopts the Space Zoom from the Galaxy S20 Ultra, it would offer a 4x optical zoom, 10x lossless zoom and up to 120x digital Space Zoom. Based on our testing, the S20 Ultra's Zoom worked pretty well all the way up to 30x before getting shaky. 

It's not clear what camera features Apple has in store for the iPhone 12, but its Night Mode introduced on the iPhone 11 was a game-changer for its phones, and its Smart HDR (for better details in shadows) and Deep Fusion (for bringing out fine details) pushed the iPhone 11 ahead of the Galaxy Note 10.

So a camera upgrade for the Galaxy Note 20 Plus is essential if it’s going to beat the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.