Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra tipped for a 200MP main camera — but there's a new catch

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

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra's 200MP main camera could be the most impressive rumored feature coming to the Galaxy S23 family. But according to leaker Ice Universe, it may be less flexible than other phones using the same sensor.

As IU tells it, the Galaxy S23 Ultra's rumored 200MP main camera will be able to shoot 12.5MP and 200MP images, but not the 50MP shots that other phones using this camera are capable of. The Xiaomi 12T Pro and the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra and X30 Pro, which use the same camera, all offer 50MP photo modes as well as more efficient and more detailed 12.5MP/200MP standards.

In case you're confused about why a 200MP camera can take shots with a smaller resolution, that's thanks to a common camera feature called "pixel binning." Put simply, it turns multiple adjacent pixels within the sensor into virtual "super pixels," which can capture more light in a scene for brighter photos but at a lower resolution.

In a way, only offering two camera resolution options on the Galaxy S23 Ultra would be a smart decision by Samsung. Doing so would make things simpler for users who simply want either the most efficient or most hi-res photos their phone can produce. However, it does mean advanced users will miss out on one way to adjust their photos to their liking, and that there's apparently no option for Galaxy S23 Ultra owners wanting to balance having more detail with not losing out on the full brightness and color benefits offered by pixel binning.

If the rumors are accurate, Samsung's likely to focus a lot of the Galaxy S23 Ultra's marketing on this new camera since the other rumored changes for the Galaxy S23 series aren't that dramatic. All models are expected to get new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 or Exynos 2300 chipsets, and the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus models are believed to get a new design to match the look of the Galaxy S22 Ultra (which the S23 Ultra will also inherit) and some larger batteries, but there are no alterations currently tipped for charging, cameras or displays on the cheaper models.

If you're interested in the Galaxy S23, mark your calendar for mid-January, which is the earliest rumored date we've heard for the reveal of the new Samsung flagship phones. Even if this doesn't come true, we're likely to still see these phones debut by the end of February judging Samsung's past Galaxy S release dates.

Next: Leaked benchmarks of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra show that it could trail behind the iPhone 14 Pro. And here are the 5 biggest rumors so far on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.

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.