Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra could enjoy better-zoomed shots after all

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra render
(Image credit: Technizo Concept/YouTube)

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra’s specs appear to be largely undisputed by leakers, just a couple of weeks ahead of launch. But one regular bone of contention is whether the shift in camera specs will be a net positive or negative for long-distance photographers.

To recap, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra contained a 12MP, 10x telephoto lens, its successor is set to replace that with a 50MP, 5x sensor. The question is whether the megapixel boost makes up for the lack of range.

Now, Ice Universe — a leaker with a decent track record when it comes to all things Samsung — has weighed in on the issue. Claiming to have seen camera samples, he’s adamant that this is an improvement after all.

“Many people are pessimistic about the quality of 10x photos taken by S24 Ultra, and I was pessimistic before, until I saw the comparison of samples a few days ago,” he posted on X. “I can definitely say that taking pictures at 10x zoom, S24U is better than S23U.”

All very promising, but that does seem a hard square to circle with the follow-up post, where the leaker adds that the 5x camera might need “more time to optimize.” 

“But I want to point out that Samsung has not finished the camera software of S24 so far,” the post reads. “Maybe they are too busy. Maybe the new 5x camera needs more time to optimize.” 

How could 10x be better without a 10x sensor?

So, how exactly could a phone without a 10x telephoto lens be better at 10x shots than a handset with one? Two things spring to mind.

The first is that while the S24’s rumored new lens is only 5x, it does have a far higher megapixel count than the 10x sensor on the S23 Ultra: 50MP to 12MP. That extra detail may simply allow the handset to crop a 5x zoomed image with more detail — a trick Apple recently pulled off with great results on the telephoto-free iPhone 15.  

The other possibility is the presence of artificial intelligence, which we know Samsung is set to make a big deal about with the S24 Ultra. Computational photography already makes a big difference on many camera smartphones, and with the S24 Ultra’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset optimized for AI, the results here could be better than ever.

We should know pretty soon. Although invites haven’t been sent out yet, Samsung has long been rumored to launch the S24 family at an event in San Jose on January 17, so early adopters could have the new phones in their pocket before the month is out.  

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.