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The most expensive Galaxy S20 variant doesn't offer real 960fps super slow-mo

Samsung has supported native super slow-motion recording for a while now, but the $1,399 S20 Ultra is an exception.

Published onFebruary 13, 2020

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra camera module

Samsung is one of the few smartphone manufacturers offering native 960fps super slow-motion capabilities, being joined by Sony in this regard. Unfortunately, the company has silently confirmed that while the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus support native super slow-mo, the $1,399 Galaxy S20 Ultra does not.

Samsung posted the disclaimer at the bottom of its Galaxy S20 series spec sheet on its website (spotted by XDA‘s Max Weinbach), detailing the different takes on the mode.

Read: Samsung Galaxy S20 hands-on — Out-featuring the competition

“Super Slow-mo on Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus supports FHD resolution and HD resolution on Galaxy S20 Ultra. On Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus, users can record approximately one second of video captured at up to 960 fps with approximately 32 seconds of playback,” reads an excerpt of the disclaimer.

“On Galaxy S20 Ultra, users can record approximately one second of video captured at 480 fps and digitally enhance the video to 960 fps with approximately 32 seconds of playback.”

This means that the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s take on 960fps super slow-motion is technically inferior to the native options on the S20 and S20 Plus. This is because half the frames in the S20 Ultra’s slow-mo clips will essentially be duplicates, and could result in noticeable ghosting and judder (depending on Samsung’s processing).

Why is this the case?

samsung galaxy s20 ultra camera 100x zoom 1

The most likely reason for the Galaxy S20 Ultra taking the software-enhanced route is because the phone’s 108MP sensor (dubbed ISOCELL Bright HM1) doesn’t have the DRAM required for native 960fps recording. The ISOCELL Bright HM1 website doesn’t list DRAM support, and notes that the sensor tops out at 240fps recording at 1080p quality (presumably 480fps at 720p). Meanwhile, the other two Galaxy S20 variants offer 12MP sensors that ostensably have the fast memory required.

Check out this stunning 8K video clip recorded on a Snapdragon 865 phone
A screenshot of an 8K video sample by Qualcomm.

Word of this limitation also comes after Qualcomm announced that its Snapdragon 865 chipset supports essentially “unlimited” 960fps video recording (regardless of the image sensor being used). It would appear that the Exynos 990 doesn’t support this capability though, and Samsung therefore may have ditched it on all Galaxy S20 variants.

This wouldn’t be the first time Samsung ditched video recording options on its flagships to maintain parity between Snapdragon and Exynos variants though.

The company’s Exynos 9820 series supported 8K recording last year, but the Snapdragon 855 series didn’t, so we didn’t see this feature on any S10 series phones. Going back even further, 2017’s Exynos 8895 (seen on the Galaxy S8 series) offered 4k/60fps capabilities but the Snapdragon 835 lacked this feature. This meant the feature wasn’t available in any official capacity on the S8 series.

What do you make of the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s super slow mo capabilities? Give us your thoughts below.

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