Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 200MP camera leaks reveal possible strengths — and weaknesses

Image of leaked renders of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
(Image credit: OnLeaks/SmartPrix)

The top Samsung Galaxy S23 model's photography abilities have come further into focus as two leaks from Ice Universe tell us about the Galaxy S23 Ultra's main camera resolution and performance.

As we've heard rumored several other times, Samsung's supposedly adding a 200MP main camera to the Galaxy S23 Ultra. However, the default resolution for photos according to Ice Universe will be 12MP, rather than 12.5MP like other 200MP phones. It's common for large sensors to use 'pixel-binning' to take high resltuoon photos and render them down into a more manageable size, by allowing the sensor to combine its pixels together and capture more light for improved brightness and color.

Ice Universe claims there will also be 50MP and 200MP modes available in the camera. Together, these three options should give the user a nice range of flexibility depending on whether they want the awesome detail of 200MP, or the improved brightness and color of pixel-binned 50MP or 12MP shots.

The tipster also claims that the Galaxy S23 Ultra's main camera will use a wide f/1.7 aperture. For comparison, the Galaxy S22 Ultra's 108MP main camera has an aperture of f/2.2 (higher numbers mean a smaller opening), the iPhone 14 Pro's main 48MP camera has an f/1.8 aperture and the Google Pixel 7 Pro's 50MP main snapper is f/1.85.

A wider aperture means more light hitting the camera sensor, and hopefully brighter and more colorful images as a result. Let's hope this is reflected in the final shots produced by the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and that it could score a top spot on our best camera phones guide.

There may be one thing holding it back though. Another revelation from IU says that HDR photography on the Galaxy S23 Ultra is an improvement on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but is not as good as what the Pixel 7 Pro can achieve, based on images posted to IU's Weibo page.

A screenshot from Ice Universe's Weibo account, showing photos from the Galaxy S22 Ultra (left), Galaxy S23 Ultra (center) and Google Pixel 7 Pro. The post has been machine translated for clarity.

A screenshot from Ice Universe's Weibo account, showing photos from the Galaxy S22 Ultra (left), Galaxy S23 Ultra (center) and Google Pixel 7 Pro. The post has been machine translated for clarity. (Image credit: Ice Universe/Weibo)

Cameras capture shots in HDR (high dynamic range if you want to be formal) by photographing the scene at different exposure levels and merging the information together, making a single image with more prominent highlights and richer shadows. It would be a shame for Samsung to lose out to Google on HDR performance, since the Pixel series is a big rival for the Galaxy S series. But we'll happily take an improvement over the previous Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Other leaks for the Galaxy S23 Ultra claim there will be a slightly altered body shape and a new chipset joining the new main camera, but not much else. The standard Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus will get a bit more according to the rumor mill, such as a redesign to look more like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, larger batteries and a new front camera as well as the same upgraded chipset.

While we don't know for sure when the Galaxy S23 series will arrive, chances are that the reveal day will be between January and March of next year. That's a bit of a wait, but hey, that means there's still plenty of time for more rumors to appear and fill out the gaps in our knowledge.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, 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.