The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra's main camera just had new details leaked thanks to Twitter tipster Ice Universe. And it's sounding like the next Samsung flagship phone will have an enormous main sensor to go up against the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.
In the first tweet on this topic, IU adds further weight to the rumor that the S23 Ultra will use a 200MP main camera. He adds that he's "almost 100% sure" that the sensor will be "an unreleased HP2", referring to the ISOCELL HP series of 200MP sensors that Samsung Semiconductor makes. Samsung has already produced HP1 and HP3 sensors in this line, but as IU says in response to another user, the HP2 will be the best of the bunch.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra, like the Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy S20 Ultra before it, uses a 108MP camera, already one of the highest resolution sensors you can find on a smartphone. Going up to 200MP would allow for even more detail in shots, or enhanced brightness by using pixel-binning to combine pixels' light data together, as the 108MP S22 Ultra's camera does by default.
By comparison, the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are tipped to include a new 48MP main sensor along with 8K video support. Clearly, that resolution is well below the 200MP Samsung may offer for the S23 Ultra, but megapixels aren't everything.
And this is where things get interesting. IU's second tweet about this camera hints that the S23 Ultra's 200MP sensor will use 0.6μm (micrometer) pixels. Looking at an earlier tweet from IU, this puts the HP2's pixel size between that of the HP1 (0.64μm) and HP3 (0.54μm). These are only very slight size differences, but sitting between the two extremes will hopefully allow the HP2 to balance total sensor size with the amount of light it's able to capture.
We have seen what camera sensors of this resolution can do thanks to the Motorola X30 Pro/Edge 30 Pro, which uses the HP1 sensor for its 200MP main camera. It'll be interesting to see how Samsung manages to build on this with the updated HP3 sensor, its own powerful camera processing and effective pro-grade camera apps like Expert RAW.
We just hope that if Samsung is upgrading the Galaxy S23 Ultra's main camera, we don't see the teething problems that the Galaxy S20 Ultra experienced. Samsung's clearly learned from that experience with more recent 108MP camera phones, but new hardware could cause other problems that would jeopardize the Galaxy S22 Ultra's high position on our best camera phones guide.
Where Samsung really needs to step up against the iPhone 14 Pro is computational photography and image processing. In our Galaxy S22 Ultra vs iPhone 13 Pro Max face-off, we found that Samsung's camera did not perform as well. The iPhone delivered crisper and brighter images, especially indoors, and portraits also looked better through Apple's camera.
We're probably going to have to wait until January for Samsung to launch the Galaxy S23 series, including the Ultra model. Take a look at our rumor hub linked above if you want to know what's been rumored so far, including, a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset worldwide and improved selfie cameras for the base and Plus models.
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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.