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Samsung Galaxy S23 cameras: What you need to know

200MP is only the start...
By
8 hours ago

As expected, Samsung brought its photography A-Game for the latest edition of Galaxy Unpacked. It announced the flagship Galaxy S23 series on February 1, 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.

Related: Samsung Galaxy S23 series announced — what you need to know

We previously 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 what they mean for the overall camera experience. Ready? Let’s go.

$799.99 at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23
Samsung Galaxy S23
Compact size
Brighter screen
Larger battery
$999.99 at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Large AMOLED display
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 power
Bigger battery
$1,199.99 at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
New 200MP main camera
Beautiful display
S Pen functionality

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 lineup standing
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.

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, but we’ll have to see if the new Isocell HP2 has a major impact on the quality.

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.

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 will also give the Galaxy S23 lineup a boost in manual controls and post-processing, provided you know your way around Lightroom.

Read next: Galaxy S23 battery life — What to know

The Galaxy S23 series also offers improved video capabilities, 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’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.

Samsung Galaxy S23 cameras vs the competition

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Google Pixel 7 Pro camera
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

While we know what the Galaxy S23 series is rocking in terms of hardware, it’s still a mystery how it will compare to the competition in practice. The previous Galaxy S22 Ultra was one of the best camera phones to buy, so it seems safe to expect the Galaxy S23 Ultra to follow suit. After all, small improvements are probably all it takes to keep the premium flagship at the top.

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 should hang onto its edge in terms of flexibility, offering three rear lenses to the two you get from the Google Pixel 7 and Apple iPhone 14. While the primary and ultrawide sensors might not provide much difference, the Galaxy S23’s telephoto lens will continue 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.

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.

We’ll also have to wait and see how Samsung’s night photography upgrades stack up against the competition. Google’s Pixel 7 is once again a juggernaut in the arena, but the pixel binning on a 200MP sensor might offer just enough hardware muscle to seal the deal. Right now, the Pixel 7 tends to deliver a brighter night mode shot thanks to some post-processing magic, but brighter isn’t always better. Samsung’s Galaxy S22 was more capable of delivering accurate lighting, so the increased sensor size may bring a bit more detail into the equation. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how pixel-binning fares on the new sensor. No matter what, expect the Galaxy S23 and Pixel 7 to remain the best Android devices for night photography, it’s just a matter of if Samsung can overtake the Pixel’s crown.

Read next: Samsung Galaxy S23 specs — here’s what you need to know

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. We’ll have to wait and see how the Galaxy S23 compares to the Pixel and the iPhone in terms of macro switching, but we expect the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 to play a key role. It should factor into identifying low-light scenes, too, somewhere that the Galaxy S22 already excels when compared to the iPhone.

$799.99 at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23
Samsung Galaxy S23
Compact size
Brighter screen
Larger battery
$999.99 at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Large AMOLED display
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 power
Bigger battery
$1,199.99 at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
New 200MP main camera
Beautiful display
S Pen functionality

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, we don’t believe the Galaxy S23 Ultra will offer longer zoom.