Samsung announced the Galaxy S23 this past Wednesday (February 1), with most of the attention going toward the Galaxy S23 Ultra. There's good reason for that — the newest top-tier Galaxy S handset rocks a lot of camera upgrades.
Of course, the biggest deal is the 200MP main camera sensor, capable of some impressive feats from what we've seen so far. Going off of our first impressions as well as what Samsung talked about at Unpacked, I've found five standout Galaxy S23 camera features that have me the most excited about these new camera phones. Yes, the Ultra's 200MP main sensor is impressive, but I think other enhancements and additions deserve some attention as well. So here's what I'm most excited to see and test out for myself with the Galaxy S23 cameras.
Update: See our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review to see how well the cameras perform.
Whether it's the Galaxy S23 Ultra or regular Galaxy S23, Samsung is laying into each phone's high resolution primary sensor. With the Ultra's 200MP sensor, you'll be able to shoot images in the full 200 megapixels, or combine four pixels into one in the 50MP mode, or a whopping 16 pixels into one for the 12.5MP mode.
The latter mode will prove most beneficial for low-light scenes, where additional pixel data will, theoretically, drastically improve how much light the camera brings in. But for ideal scenarios, Samsung said that the full 200MP will capture incredible amounts of detail.
It seems to me that the 50MP mode will be the most ideal for everyday use, and it's what I plan to use most of the time when I have the Galaxy S23 Ultra in hand. For most situations, 200MP is excessive, not to mention that it'll likely create images with massive file sizes.
Of course, the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus will work in two of those three modes, with a 50MP main camera of their own. The major difference is that the 12.5MP mode on the Galaxy S23 will combine four pixels in one versus the Galaxy S23 Ultra's 16.
Focus on Expert RAW
Samsung has really leaned into its Expert Raw app recently, and for the Galaxy S23, the company put a strong focus on it. Not only will you be able to access Expert Raw a lot easier going forward now that it lives in the camera app, but the Korean phone maker has made the app very accessible for photographers of all levels.
The appeal of shooting in the RAW format is that you can enjoy a lot more room for edits after the fact. You usually get a lot of the phone's processing algorithms stripped out, making for images that are ripe for creative editing. I shoot many of my photos in RAW and play with them later on my own.
And with Adobe's Lightroom designated as the Galaxy S23 Ultra's official photo editing app, you'll have a lot of tools at your disposal when you snap that 50MP RAW shot. (The Galaxy S22 Ultra limited you to 12MP.)
Better video recording
Samsung placed a heavy emphasis on the Galaxy S23's video recording power, specifically the Ultra. While I'm not a videographer, especially not with a Samsung phone, I'm still excited to see the S23's low-light performance since I like moody, atmospheric videos.
Thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and some software tricks, the Galaxy S23 Ultra can process multiple frames at once, which effectively makes for less noise. There's better exposure control, as well — something the Galaxy S22 Ultra struggled with significantly — which all should combine into low-light videos that look great.
Could the Galaxy S23 Ultra be the best phone for video capture? It sure looks like it might earn that crown.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not big on taking selfies. I find the practice to be rather pointless for most circumstances, but Samsung's improvements to the Galaxy S23's front-facing camera sure have me interested for those times when I do take a picture of myself.
With the new 12MP front sensor on all three phones, the autofocus, larger pixels and AI systems should make for some great self-portraits, especially in low-light. In fact, we've already seen some samples of the Galaxy S23 Ultra's front-facing camera in comparison to its predecessor and the difference can be rather staggering.
As noted, the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus share the 12MP sensor, so it stands to reason that they'll prove to be some of the best selfie phones around.
Samsung seems to have caught up with Google on the astrophotography front, as the Galaxy S23 now includes this feature in the default camera app. Before, it lived in Expert RAW.
This might seem like a niche feature, and to a certain extent it is, but I've had several circumstances where I wish my iPhone was better at photographing the stars. The most recent of these was my trip to the Great Sand Dunes in my home state of Colorado. Having a Pixel with me would have been awesome for this, even though I still managed to get some beautiful pictures of the night sky.
So I'm excited that the Galaxy S23 will have this feature. It might make me bring Samsung's phone along on my next camping trip.
Galaxy S23 camera outlook
Although the Galaxy S23 Ultra sports the most camera upgrades, I think the whole Galaxy S23 line could gun for a high spot on the best camera phone list. While the jury is still out, from what I've seen so far, I think Google and Apple will really need to step up their game later this year with the iPhone 15 and Pixel 8 if they want to compete with the S23 models.
I look forward to getting my hands on the Galaxy S23's cameras when the phone arrives later this month. (The Galaxy S23 lands in stores February 17.) Then I'll get to see if these five camera features are really worth getting excited for.