The rumored Samsung Galaxy S22 might not get a bigger main camera sensor, as leaker Ice Universe has claimed the company will instead focus on improving the 108MP sensor found on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Ice Universe had previously claimed that the Galaxy S22 Ultra would get a 200MP sensor for the main camera. But now the leaker seems to be backing away from that claim.
- These are the radical upgrades the Galaxy S22 needs
- Can't wait for the Galaxy S22? These are the best Samsung phones right now
- Plus: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE specs possibly revealed
"It is almost 100% confirmed that Samsung S22 Ultra will not follow up with 200 [megapixels] and will polish the third-generation 108MP sensor," Ice Universe said in a Weibo post (translated via Google).
A big jump in megapixels would, on the surface at least, promise to deliver sharper images than even the stellar Galaxy S21 Ultra managed. So sticking with the 108MP sensor might be somewhat disheartening news for Samsung flagship fans.
Samsung Galaxy S22: Megapixels vs. software smarts
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 108MP 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 Samsung 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.
Furthermore, there's a rumor that Samsung might be working with camera giant Olympus, which could se it potentially use the camera maker's expertise to boost image processing at a software level. Though, this unconfirmed partnership could even extend to hardware; take all this with a pinch of salt.
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.
- These are the best unlocked Samsung phones to buy now
Get the BEST of Tom’s Guide daily right in your inbox: Sign up now!
Upgrade your life with the Tom’s Guide newsletter. Subscribe now for a daily dose of the biggest tech news, lifestyle hacks and hottest deals. Elevate your everyday with our curated analysis and be the first to know about cutting-edge gadgets.
Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.
More pixels on the same sensor size means smaller photosites. Less light gathering capability means more noise in low light. That requires binning pixels together to boost the area...Reply
200 Mpixels would be a useless complication, a solution in search of problems.