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Report: Samsung Galaxy S30 Ultra could gain two telephoto cameras

We've seen several phones offer two telephoto cameras in recent months, and it looks like Samsung could be next.

Published onSeptember 14, 2020

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra camera module
  • Samsung is reportedly going to introduce two telephoto cameras on the Galaxy S30 Ultra.
  • This would allow for better image quality across zoom factors.

One notable trend we’ve seen in the past 12 months has been the move to two telephoto cameras, offering short-range and long-range zoom capabilities. Now, it looks like Samsung could offer this on its early 2021 flagship.

According to South Korean outlet The Elec (h/t: SamMobile), citing industry sources, the top-end Galaxy S30 or Galaxy S21 model will have a quad rear camera setup featuring two telephoto cameras. More specifically, the outlet says the Galaxy S30 Ultra model could pack a 10MP 3x zoom camera and a 5x periscope lens.

It’s also believed that the Galaxy S30 series will ditch 3D ToF sensors, as we saw on the Galaxy Note 20 range, to make way for the extra telephoto lens. The rest of the cameras are said to be the same shooters seen on the S20 Ultra, namely a 108MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide camera, and a 40MP selfie shooter.

How could two telephoto cameras benefit users?

One challenge with having only one telephoto camera is that image quality above or below the native zoom factor tends to suffer. For example, the HUAWEI P30 Pro has a 5x periscope camera only but combines images from the main camera and the periscope shooter for zoom shots below 5x. One side effect of this solution is that there’s often less detail at the edges of a picture when shooting below 5x. So while 5x zoom shots should look great, anything below that sees a drop-off in detail.

We’ve also seen phones with only a 2x or 3x telephoto camera use hybrid zoom and other software tricks to deliver better 5x or even 10x zoom. Image quality at this zoom factor is better than normal digital zoom but still isn’t quite as good as having a second 5x or 10x telephoto or periscope camera.

So it’s for that reason that we’ve seen phones with two telephoto cameras emerge in recent times, essentially filling a gap in zoom coverage. The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 was among the first (packing 2x and 3.7x sensors), and it’s since been joined by the HUAWEI P40 Pro Plus (3x and 10x), the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro (2x and 3.7x), and the vivo X50 Pro Plus (2x and 5x).

Next: Don’t believe what smartphone manufacturers tell you about zoom