With the iPhone 15 Pro Max already offering upgraded cameras and the Google Pixel 8 Pro stepping up its camera game, Samsung needs to advance its camera tech or get left behind. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is the top of our best camera phones guide at the moment, but Samsung won't retain that spot without pushing things forward.
Luckily, changes appear to be on the way for the Galaxy S24 Ultra's cameras, including a possibly much bigger main sensor. But there's also a controversial zoom rumor that seems like a downgrade. Here's everything we've heard about the Galaxy S24 Ultra cameras so far.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra cameras: Main
The primary rear camera of the Galaxy S24 Ultra is assumed to use a 200MP main camera again. This was an upgrade that the Galaxy S23 Ultra introduced, so going by Samsung's usual upgrade patterns, we're unlikely to see any major changes to this for another year or two.
That said, there have been claims that the precise 200MP sensor Samsung users could change. One big rumor says that this sensor could be an inch in size, which would be a big deal. A sensor of this size would be able to take in more light and output brighter and more colorful photos compared to a typically-sized smartphone sensor, giving the Galaxy S24 Ultra an advantage before any photo processing has taken place.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra cameras: Ultrawide
So far, there are no rumored changes to the 12MP ultrawide camera found on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, so we assume it'll be lifted in its entirety for use in the Galaxy S24 Ultra.
This is rather unfortunate since this camera has already received little attention for years, and another year without changes would be bad news for its performance. There's always the chance for more rumors to appear between now and launch though, plus software upgrades could still mean improved performance without any physical alterations to the camera.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra cameras: Telephoto
Here's where all the action might be for the Galaxy S24 Ultra's camera updates. After a few years of the familiar 10MP camera duo with 3x and 10x zoom, the Galaxy S24 Ultra seems set to change things, although possibly not in a way you'd want.
The 3x 10MP zoom seems set to stay. But instead of the 10x zoom camera, we may see a lower-powered 5x telephoto lens with a higher 50MP sensor resolution. The higher resolution should make for improved photos from the camera overall, but will impact one of Samsung's most unique camera features. A number of phones offer 5x zoom, but few offer 10x, but now Samsung looks set to throw it away.
We've also come across a less likely rumor that Samsung would offer a continuous zoom camera. This would allow you to infinitely alter the magnification between two extremes, similar to a telephoto lens on a proper camera. These are exceptionally rare to find on a smartphone though, with only Sony tending to use them, so we are quite skeptical of claims that Samsung will suddenly adopt one.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra cameras: Selfie camera
After changing out the old 40MP Ultra selfie camera for a new 12MP model last year, it seems like Samsung will keep the Galaxy S23 series' 12MP selfie camera the same for the whole S24 series, including the Ultra.
This could be a mistake on Samsung's part, since we didn't rate this new camera's performance particularly highly in our reviews or in our iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Galaxy S23 Ultra face-off. Fingers crossed that Samsung's made some changes to the way the camera behaves and processes its images to improve this.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra cameras: Outlook
We shouldn't expect a massive overhaul to the Galaxy S24 Ultra's cameras based on what's been rumored so far. However, that's not to say we shouldn't be looking out for upgrades and changes to parts of the phone's photography kit.
We're particularly interested in what Samsung's supposedly doing with its telephoto cameras on the S24 Ultra, since lowering the zoom will on its face sounds like a downgrade. But if the camera's resolution is going up, it'll still give Samsung an advantage over rival devices like the iPhone 15 Pro Max or Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Add in the other alleged change to the 200MP camera, and it's likely Samsung will have done enough to challenge Apple and Google's best for the best camera phones guide's top spot. We just have to wait until 2024 to find out.