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Samsung in hot soup over 'fake' moon shots (Updated: Samsung response)

Update: Samsung has officially responded to the controversy.

Published onMarch 16, 2023

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra space zoom 1
  • A Redditor has called out Samsung for misleading advertising and “fake” moon photos clicked using its 100x Space Zoom feature.
  • The user alleges that Samsung’s phones add additional textures and details to moon images clicked using flagship Galaxy phones.
  • Samsung has responded to the allegations.

Update: March 16, 2023 (12:22 AM ET): Samsung has responded to the controversy surrounding the “fake” moon images processed by its flagship phones. In a blog post, the company insists that it isn’t overlaying images in Moon snaps, but its use of the term “detail enhancement” seems fishy. You can read the detailed statement here.

Original article: March 13, 2023 (2:15 AM ET): Over the weekend, a Reddit thread made waves for pushing Samsung into a tough spot. It alleges that the company is misleading customers with “fake” moonshots captured using its 100x Space Zoom feature.

Samsung introduced Space Zoom with the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Since then, the company has touted it as a great tool for capturing the moon. Samsung has always maintained it uses AI to enhance these 100x digital zoom shots. A SamMobile report from 2021 called the feature a gimmick, explaining how Samsung overlays textures obtained from much higher-resolution images of the moon on the shots you take using the Space Zoom feature.

The latest Reddit thread also claims the same. From the testing carried out by the Reddit user, it seems Samsung uses AI to add textures like craters and other details to moon shots that would have otherwise been blurry. It isn’t additional processing to enhance the details in the image you initially clicked. It’s a trained neural network that has been fed countless moon images to be able to add additional information to the moon shots you take using your Samsung phone.

Another case of false advertising?

The post calls out Samsung for misleading marketing. The Redditor links to an MSPower article where the company is quoted saying that the 100x zoom feature on the Galaxy S21 Ultra captures multiple frames in a matter of seconds and uses AI to fine-tune the details. Contrary to the latest claims and the old SamMobile article, this makes it sound like the Space Zoom feature enhances details already captured by the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s camera.

However, Samsung goes on to explain the following facts about Space Zoom in the MSPower post:

AI will first start by detecting the scene/image at the preview stage by testing it from an AI model trained on hundreds of thousands images. Once the camera detects and identifies the image as a certain scene, for example, the Moon, then offers a detail enhancing function by reducing blurs and noises. The actual photo will typically be higher quality than the camera preview. This is due to the additional AI-based multi-image processing that occurs as the photo is captured.

So while Samsung has been pretty clear about using AI deep learning to deliver high-quality moon shots, Redditors are miffed with the company for not being open about adding textures and details where none exist. Huawei was also previously accused of not fully disclosing how its Moon Mode really works. Testing conducted by a user alleged that the Huawei P30 was actually placing pre-existing imagery of the moon into its moon shots.

Samsung hasn’t responded to the latest allegations.

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