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Crazy Galaxy S22 Ultra leak suggests one zoom camera to rule them all

The Galaxy S21 Ultra offers two zoom cameras, but Samsung apparently has some DSLR-inspired tech in mind for the S22 Ultra.

Published onMay 6, 2021

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra camera 2
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • A new rumor points to Samsung adopting a continuous zoom camera for the S22 Ultra.
  • This would allow for a variety of zoom factors and consistent quality with one camera.
  • The source also claims Samsung will bring an under-display selfie camera and AMD GPU to the phone.

Samsung is inevitably working on the Galaxy S22 series, as the company has offered a Galaxy S flagship in the first half of each year for ages now. This year’s Galaxy S21 Ultra follows in HUAWEI’s footsteps by offering two telephoto cameras (3X and 10X), but a new rumor points to Samsung upping the ante in a big way.

According to frequent tipster Ice Universe on Weibo (h/t: SamMobile), Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra will offer a camera capable of continuous optical zoom. Ice asserts that Samsung Electro-Mechanics and Samsung Semiconductor are working on the tech.

Ice Universe Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Weibo
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Continuous optical zoom is available in many dedicated cameras, moving components inside the camera module to enable a variety of native zoom factors with consistent image quality. This means you don’t need to use hybrid zoom, digital zoom, and other software-based techniques that tend to deliver lower quality results. A phone with a 3X telephoto camera, for example, still uses hybrid zoom and other inferior processing techniques for zoomed images below 3X and above 3X as it lacks these moveable components.

One zoom-focused camera better than two?

Even Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra, which offers a 3X telephoto camera and a 10X periscope camera, still uses hybrid zoom and image fusion tech to deliver zoom for anything other than 1X, 3X, and 10X. And images taken at these intermediate zoom levels usually see a drop in quality. So continuous zoom would theoretically deliver improved, consistent results across the board here too.

Aside from delivering better quality at these intermediate zoom factors, a continuous zoom camera that reaches all the way from 2X/3X to 10X would theoretically allow Samsung to drop the S21 Ultra’s 10X camera or swap it out for a different camera altogether (e.g. 20X).

Would you buy a phone with a continuous zoom camera?

1806 votes

Samsung’s apparent continuous zoom tech would differ somewhat from the approach seen by Sony’s recent Xperia 1 III and 5 III. The new Sony phones offer a periscope camera with variable zoom, but this camera is only capable of switching between 3X and 5X. In other words, it’s still reliant on hybrid zoom and software processing for zoom between 3X and 5X. But it does mean Sony doesn’t have to offer a separate 3X and 5X camera on the same phone.

The tipster also reports that Samsung’s 2022 device will offer an under-display selfie camera and a Samsung processor with an AMD GPU. The latter isn’t surprising, as Samsung Semiconductor previously confirmed to Android Authority that its next Exynos flagship processor would offer AMD graphics. We’ve also seen a leak that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 could have an under-display selfie camera, so it stands to reason that an S22 series device would offer it too if the foldable has it first.

It’s worth noting Ice Universe has a solid but not 100% reliable track record, and they occasionally indulge in baseless speculation. So we’d advise you to take their leaks with a bag of salt. Nevertheless, this zoom tech or Sony’s approach does seem like a logical next step after the S21 Ultra.