Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra just tipped for surprise camera downgrade

A concept render of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing the cameras
(Image credit: Technizo Concept)

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra may ditch one of its signature features according to new leaks, and one that could severely impact the fate of the whole Galaxy S24 series.

According to respected leaker IceUniverse, the Galaxy S24 Ultra won't feature a 10x telephoto camera, but a 10MP 3x zoom and a 5x 50MP zoom instead. This would be the first Ultra-branded Galaxy to move from a 10x zoom camera, with the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Galaxy S21 Ultra all offering a similar telephoto camera. 

The leaker also notes that these specs would give the Galaxy S24 Ultra weaker telephoto camera performance than the Xiaomi 13 Ultra, a phone with two 50MP telephoto cameras. However, this phone isn't sold outside of China, so it likely would not be part of your smartphone shortlist.

Samsung going backwards against iPhone 15 Pro Max?

The 10MP 10x zoom camera is one of the most unique cameras on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and one that helped it secure first place on our best camera phones guide. While other leading Android phones use periscope cameras for 5x zoom capabilities, Samsung's dual telephotos still keep the Galaxy S23 series beyond their reach.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 5x tetraprism lens, which performed well in our testing but it's 25x digital zoom is way less than the 100x Space Zoom on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. 

Losing zoom range therefore sounds like loss for the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Not only would the lack of 10x zoom be felt on the new phone, but so would the likely knock-on effect of potentially losing the 100x Space Zoom mode too. This level of zoom wasn't always useful for photography but was certainly impressive when shooting the moon.

However, perhaps the alleged 5x telephoto camera could still match up thanks to its increased 50MP resolution. Having more pixels to play with could be why Samsung decides to ditch the more powerful optical zoom, as a higher native resolution could mean a greater lossless digital zoom range that will satisfy users just as much as a smaller sensor with a more powerful lens.

It's worth noting that other rumormongers have told different stories about what's going on with the Galaxy S24 Ultra's cameras. One account claims the 50MP sensor is for the 3x camera, with the 10MP periscope camera sticking around, with another suggesting that Samsung could use a new variable zoom lens on the S24 Ultra for greater versatility. It's very unlikely that all of these statements are true at once, so we'll have to wait for further rumors to appear to back up the claims.

There's still time for more Galaxy S24 rumors to fly, since we're not anticipating Samsung to launch it until February of next year. It'll have to hit the ground running whenever it does launch though, as it'll have the capable iPhone 15 Pro and the incoming (but also likely excellent) Google Pixel 8 Pro to contend with from launch.

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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.