Samsung releases fix for the Galaxy S20 Ultra's worst camera bug

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra rear camera
(Image credit: Future)

Samsung poured serious research and engineering into the sophisticated multi-lens camera systems inside the new Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 Plus and Galaxy S20 Ultra. Unfortunately, however, some annoying camera bugs — like an inability to quickly autofocus, and a softness affecting selfies — have held those cameras back from achieving their true potential.

Samsung promised an update to address some of these problems several weeks back and, fortunately, that fix arrived today (March 21). The company tells us it's begun to roll out a patch to all three Galaxy S20 models, and we can confirm that our T-Mobile-connected S20 Plus has received the new software.

While the 6.4-inch S20 and 6.7-inch S20 Plus were mostly spared from the worst of the camera bugs — that pesky slow autofocus issue — the 6.9-inch S20 Ultra was hit with the brunt of the glitches, due to its exclusive 108-megapixel primary wide-angle camera. That lens struggled to hone in on subjects, exhibiting a persistent jumpiness that you rarely see on smartphones at any price — even on devices that cost a fraction of the Ultra's astronomical $1,400 price tag.

While we can't personally test the update's efficacy on the S20 Ultra at this time, initial reports on social media from users seem positive. One S20 Ultra owner captured a short screen recording of the new camera software attempting to focus on a microphone and audio mixing console. The phone appears to get its bearings relatively quickly — at least, much more quickly than it did with the launch build of the software.

This update is surely good news for S20 Ultra buyers, who likely chose the most expensive model for that 108-MP shooter and 4x telescopic optical zoom lens that the other S20 variants lack. In fact, we recently compared the camera performance between the Plus and Ultra devices before this update took effect, and were surprised to see the Plus actually come out on top in a number of key shot comparisons.

In a statement announcing the update's availability, Samsung said it will "continue to provide ongoing software updates to improve the overall device experience" going forward. Sure, the company deserves kudos for moving relatively quickly to address those camera foibles — but sadly, the damage may have already been done.

The Galaxy S20 range simply isn't selling well (though, in fairness, a global pandemic is hardly helping that). Samsung's one ace in the hole was supposed to be the Ultra's crown-jewel quad-lens shooter, and it botched that critical first impression. Here's hoping it can pick up the pieces and get the S20 Ultra's camera in particular to where it needs to be with some more post-launch fine-tuning.

Adam Ismail is a staff writer at Jalopnik and previously worked on Tom's Guide covering smartphones, car tech and gaming. His love for all things mobile began with the original Motorola Droid; since then he’s owned a variety of Android and iOS-powered handsets, refusing to stay loyal to one platform. His work has also appeared on Digital Trends and GTPlanet. When he’s not fiddling with the latest devices, he’s at an indie pop show, recording a podcast or playing Sega Dreamcast.