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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra tipped for big camera upgrade to fight iPhone 13 Pro

A rendered lifestyle image of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, showing the back panel and display. A gold Galaxy S22 and a kettle are in the background.
(Image credit: LetsGoDigital/Technizo Concept/Snoreyn)

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra will be receiving some camera upgrades, while the base and Plus models will be getting a build quality boost, according to several box-fresh leaks about Samsung's next flagship phone. 

Let's start with the Galaxy S22 Ultra's cameras. Looking at previous rumors, it would appear that nothing's changing for the Ultra's cameras compared to the Galaxy S21 Ultra. That's because while the camera resolutions aren't thought to be changing, the specific sensors and the software behind them are. These upgrades will be needed if the Galaxy S22 Ultra is to challenge the mighty iPhone 13 Pro Max and Google Pixel 6 Pro for the top spot in our best camera phone list. 

One possible example of such software is what leaker Ice Universe (opens in new tab) describes as a "AI picture quality enhancement mode." They claim that this mode "can make 108MP [photos] better in detail, color and brightness," compared to taking default images with the 108MP main camera that the Galaxy S22 Ultra is thought to use. It's something they've mentioned in a previous tweet in more general terms, but now they say they have seen samples of images using this enhancement mode. Sadly, they won't be sharing these.

Meanwhile, Korean site ITMaterial (opens in new tab) has found code referring to a "detail enhancer" feature. While it provides the strings containing this name in its article, it doesn't say where it got them from. Our guess would be a newly updated Samsung camera app or similar. But without a more specific claim, we should be careful in believing this rumor.

It's possible that both ITMaterial and Ice Universe are talking about the same feature in different wording. But ITMaterial also suggests Detail Enhancer could in effect be a macro photography mode, like we see on the iPhone 13 series' ultrawide lenses. Either way, it would make for a good use of the oversized resolution of Samsung's 108MP camera.

Galaxy S22 glass back comeback

Ice Universe wasn't done with S22 leaks though. They've now since claimed that all three Galaxy S22 models will have glass backs (opens in new tab)

That's not a surprise for the range-topping Galaxy S22 Ultra, but it wasn't expected for the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus. The Galaxy S21 controversial move to plastic backs, something that make the phone lighter and cheaper but arguably it feels less premium than it should for a flagship phone.

Previous Ice Universe tweets speculated that the Galaxy S22 Ultra could use a new "bio-based" material for its back panel. However, since making their most recent claim, these tweets have now been deleted.

There's plenty of other interesting rumors concerning the Galaxy S22 aside from those above. The chipset powering the phone may be either the recently-debuted Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or a new Exynos 2200 from Samsung itself, depending on the market where you buy the phone. 

The Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus are believed to be getting slightly smaller bodies and screens than their S21 counterparts, while the S22 Ultra is thought to instead be getting wider and squarer. That's possibly in aid of the Ultra model's tipped built-in S Pen stylus, a move that would make the Galaxy S22 Ultra a full-on replacement to the currently dormant Galaxy Note series.

We've probably not got long to wait until the official announcement of these phones. The most specific rumor says February 8 is the day we'll see these phones presented on stage. If that's not soon enough for your liking, we'll apparently see the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, the company's new entry-level flagship phone, in January, taking the event slot we'd normally have expected the Galaxy S22 to occupy.

Richard Priday
Richard Priday

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.