I've been testing the Galaxy S23 Ultra's 200MP camera — and I'm blown away

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra cameras
(Image credit: Future)

I'm really starting to dig into my Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review in progress, and I wanted to share some early shots with all of you. The new 200MP camera is really good. Like really, really good.

In fact, Samsung could have what it takes to command the top spot on our best camera phone list. It's that impressive. Now, I still have more comparisons to do with the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Pixel 7 Pro, especially in low light, but I wanted to share some of the results from this camera system so far. 

200MP camera gives you amazing cropping capability

The above gallery shows what the 200MP camera on the Galaxy S23 Ultra can do. I snapped this photo at the full 200MP resolution before cropping in, but the above establishing shot is at 12MP because the 58MB image file is just too large for our system.

But as you flip through the gallery you'll see actual crops of the 200MP photo, and the Bryant Park sign and surrounding colorful yellow and red paper lanterns are remarkably crisp. Even when we zoom all the way in on four of the paper lanterns, the level of detail is quite solid. 

If you want to reframe your shot after the fact, the S23 Ultra gives you a remarkable amount of flexibility. 

Great photos in low light 

In general I've found that Samsung's Galaxy phones have been a step behind the 

 and iPhone 14 Pro, but the S23 Ultra really ups Samsung's Nightography game. 

Galaxy S23 Ultra review photo samples

(Image credit: Future)

In this photo of a fish market taken at night, the Galaxy S23 Ultra does a remarkable job capturing the neon red lobster up top. It's vibrating a bit but overall looks great. The text is also nice and clear on the top of the building and even in the windows. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra selfie at night

(Image credit: Future)

Another area of focus for Samsung has been the front camera, which is now at 12MP for the S23 Ultra. (That's a step down in terms of megapixels from the 40MP selfie cam on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but Samsung has added other capabilities like fast autofocus I took this selfie in Times Square, and the result looks pretty compelling, from the lights reflecting off my eyes to the one wayward hair at the top of my forehead. 

Stellar zoom

The Galaxy S23 Ultra's zoom capabilities aren't new but I really like how well the zoom works on this camera phone. I took these photos of The Empire State Building in the background and then worked my way closer with Samsung's Space Zoom.

At 3x you get a closer look at the steam coming off the top of a nearby building on a very cold day. At 10x you can start to make out the spire and other surrounding details with the steam more visible, and at 30x you can see the windows much more clearly along with the lights up top.

I'd argue the 100x result is a bit too blurry, but it's pretty amazing that you can get that close. 

Outlook: This is just the beginning

I'll be doing a lot more camera testing as we get closer to a final rating for the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but so far I'd say job very well done on the 200MP lens and all the other camera enhancements Samsung has been touting. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.