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Samsung Galaxy S23 cameras: What you need to know

200MP is only the start...
By

Published onJanuary 17, 2024

As expected, Samsung brought its photography A-Game for the early 2023 edition of Galaxy Unpacked. It announced the flagship Galaxy S23 series on February 1, 2023, and there are some key changes to dig into. Samsung emphasized massive megapixels and next-level night photography in the run-up to the event, but what does that all mean? Let’s dig into everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S23 cameras.

We originally based our information on a series of leaks and rumors, but it’s all official now. Officially official. We’ll start with the specs before moving into the overall camera experience. Ready? Let’s go.

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 cameras specs

Samsung Galaxy S23Samsung Galaxy S23 PlusSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Primary camera
Samsung Galaxy S23
50MP
f/1.8
1/1.56-inch sensor
1.0μm pixels
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
50MP
f/1.8
1/1.56-inch sensor
1.0μm pixels
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
200MP
f/1.7
1/1.3-inch sensor
0.60μm pixels
Ultrawide camera
Samsung Galaxy S23
12MP
f/2.2
1/2.55-inch sensor
1.40μm pixels
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
12MP
f/2.2
1/2.55-inch sensor
1.40μm pixels
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
12MP
f/2.2
1/2.55-inch sensor
1.40μm pixels
3x Telephoto camera
Samsung Galaxy S23
10MP
f/2.4
1/3.52-inch sensor
1.12μm pixels
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
10MP
f/2.4
1/3.52-inch sensor
1.12μm pixels
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
10MP
f/2.4
1/3.52-inch sensor
1.12μm pixels
10x Periscope camera
Samsung Galaxy S23
N/A
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
N/A
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
10MP
f/4.9
1/3.52-inch sensor
1.12μm pixels
Selfie camera
Samsung Galaxy S23
12MP
f/2.2
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
12MP
f/2.2
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
12MP
f/2.2
Video capabilities
Samsung Galaxy S23
8K at 30fps
4K at 60fps
1080p at 120fps
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
8K at 30fps
4K at 60fps
1080p at 120fps
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
8K at 30fps
4K at 60fps
1080p at 120fps

What to know about the Samsung Galaxy S23 cameras

samsung galaxy s23 ultra cameras
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

As you can see in the spec sheet, there are some key changes to the Galaxy S23 cameras, but nothing that ultimately reinvents the wheel. Both the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus carry the same setup as the generations that came before — 50MP primary, 10MP telephoto, and 12MP ultrawide sensors — with their only real changes coming on the front. We’ll circle back to the selfie swap in a minute, but let’s tap into the Galaxy S23 Ultra first.

Samsung Galaxy S23 camera hardware

If there’s one thing the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera has, it’s megapixels. It features Samsung’s new Isocell HP2 sensor as its main camera, complete with a whopping 200MP. As expected, the main camera will pixel bin by default, but you can tap into the full resolution if you want to. The change marks the first major update to the Ultra camera since adopting the 108MP sensor in 2019.

Outside of the massive megapixel count on the main sensor, the Galaxy S23 Ultra follows some pretty familiar cues. It still carries a pair of telephoto lenses — one 3x and one 10x — and the 12MP ultrawide sensor found on the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus. You can still tap into up to 100x Space Zoom, and the results remain impressive even if you might not share a 100x snap all that often.

The Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus might be business as usual, but it's impossible to ignore the Ultra's 200MP main camera.

As for the selfie camera, Samsung has taken a major step to unify the sensor across all three models. It means an increase from 10MP to 12MP on the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus but a drop from 40MP to 12MP on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Of course, megapixels don’t tell the entire story, so the reduction might not come with a drop in quality. If anything, the low-light quality may improve as the new sensor offers larger megapixels.

As for the cameras’ design, the Contour Cut bump is no more. We quite liked it as a design trend, giving the previous Galaxy S21 and S22 series something to set the camera apart from the rest of the glass back, but we don’t make the decisions. Now, all three models sport camera housings reminiscent of the Galaxy S22 Ultra or even the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. No bump, just vibes.

Samsung Galaxy S23 camera software

samsung galaxy s23 ultra camera app
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

As for features, we can’t skip night photography. The massive 200MP sensor should be even better at what Samsung calls Nightography, as backward as that sounds. Pixel binning will play a vital role, dropping the 200MP resolution to a much more manageable 12.5MP (16:1 binning). Samsung’s Expert RAW also gives the Galaxy S23 lineup a boost in manual controls and post-processing, provided you know your way around Lightroom.

The Galaxy S23 series also offers improved video specs, including 8K resolution at 30fps. The previous Galaxy S22 series was already able to shoot 8K at 24fps, but the upgrade offers a little more flexibility and slightly smoother video. Of course, if you’re not worried about 8K, the Galaxy S23 series can handle 4K with no issue. It’s staying put at 60fps, but that’s still plenty smooth for most users.

Samsung Galaxy S23 processing and updates

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 placed on a table
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Samsung’s use of the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset factors into much more than just the camera, but it’s impossible to ignore its impact. Qualcomm’s latest flagship chipset features a new Cognitive ISP, allowing faster semantic segmentation — identifying objects within your image. Qualcomm also previously revealed that it’s working with Samsung to get the best results from its high-megapixel sensors, lending further support to the 200MP claim.

Since launch, Samsung has rolled out some important updates to make its Galaxy S23 cameras even better. Perhaps the most important (and largest) tweak came in March and April in the form of a nearly 1GB update. This update improved the autofocus and shutter speed so that you can capture images often before the camera has had time to focus. Samsung also boosted the stabilization when capturing Full HD video at 60fps. You can read even more about the Samsung Galaxy S23 camera update here.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera samples

As always, our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review will be loaded to the brim with camera samples across all of the lenses. We’ll dig deeper into some of the highlights and flaws over there, too, but there’s no reason we can’t give you a preview while you’re here. Check out the gallery below for some of our early images.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus camera samples

Samsung Galaxy S23 camera samples

We’ve got some fresh Galaxy S23 samples to share now, too. The smallest member of Samsung’s Galaxy trio might not have the same megapixel might, but it refines the already excellent setup from the Galaxy S22. Check out the gallery below for some quick snaps.

Samsung Galaxy S23 cameras vs the competition

Apple iPhone 15 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra cameras
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

As expected, the Galaxy S23 series puts up a pretty good fight against its top smartphone competition. The previous Galaxy S22 Ultra was one of the best camera phones to buy, and the Galaxy S23 Ultra doesn’t lose a step. After all, small improvements are all it really needed in order to stay at the top

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 hangs onto its edge in terms of flexibility, with three rear lenses compared to the two you get from the Google Pixel 7 and Apple iPhone 15. While the primary and ultrawide sensors might not provide much difference, the Galaxy S23’s telephoto lens continues to give a little extra punch in terms of zoom. Likewise, the Galaxy S23 Ultra outnumbers the competition with four lenses to the three you’ll find on most flagships. However, there are a few competitors out there with the lenses to make Samsung sweat. The Xiaomi 13 Ultra, for example, acts more like a camera with a smartphone strapped to the back thanks to not one but four 50MP sensors.

Samsung's Galaxy S cameras are already some of the best, so it won't take much to keep them there.

While advanced hardware can carry you pretty far, software and post-processing are equally important. The Google Pixel might hold onto the crown in terms of processing and special features, but the Galaxy’s manual controls are some of the best around. You’ll still be able to control everything from your exposure to your ISO to fine-tune your images.

Google’s Pixel 8 is a juggernaut in the night mode arena, but the pixel binning on a 200MP sensor offers just enough hardware muscle to keep Samsung in striking distance. Right now, the Pixel 8 tends to deliver a brighter night mode shot thanks to some post-processing magic, but brighter isn’t always better. No matter what, the Galaxy S23 and Pixel 8 remain the best Android devices for night photography, it just depends on what you prefer in your final image.

Scene detection is increasingly important on smartphone cameras, especially as lenses take on extra duties. Many flagship ultrawide cameras double as macro shooters and take over automatically when they sense an object is close to the lens. The Galaxy S23 switches quickly and accurately when trying to capture a macro image, and we expect the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 plays a key role. It factors into identifying low-light scenes, too, somewhere that Samsung already excelled when compared to the iPhone.

Oh, and if you’re interested in Samsung’s latest and greatest, the Galaxy S24 series has arrived. We’ve given its cameras a similar treatment, digging into everything you need to know about the new telephoto sensor and the potential for Samsung’s AI processing.

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Frequently asked questions

The Galaxy S23 Ultra will stick with four cameras — a primary camera, an ultrawide, a telephoto, and a periscope telephoto.

No, all three Galaxy S23 models carry the Infinity-O selfie camera at the top of their displays.

The Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus offer 50MP primary cameras while the Galaxy S23 Ultra is confirmed to carry a 200MP camera.

Despite its increased megapixel count, the Galaxy S23 Ultra does not offer further than 100x zoom.

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