The Galaxy S24 Ultra Camera | Features, Specs, and AI Madness

Explore the Galaxy S24 Ultra's features, including a 200MP AI camera, real-time translations, and innovative Generative editing for photo manipulation.

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In the ever-changing world of smartphone technology, Samsung continues on top. On January 17th, the tech giant unveiled its latest highlights in the popular Galaxy S series — the Galaxy S24, Galaxy S24+, and the highly anticipated Galaxy S24 Ultra. These additions to the S20 lineup are not just incremental upgrades; they represent a significant leap forward, especially with the AI advancements and camera system surpassing last year's models.

While our hands-on experience with these devices is still in its early stages, we are eager to explore their features, pricing, specifications, and overall impact.

The burning question remains — how will these new phones fare against competitors like the iPhone 15 Pro and Pixel 8 Pro?

Three camera system.
Three camera system.

1. Build Quality, Specs, & Features

Samsung's latest Galaxy S24 series comes in three distinct variations, each catering to different needs and budgets. The standard Galaxy S24 is priced at $799.99, but for those seeking more space or camera specs, the Galaxy S24 Plus is priced at $999.99. And for tech lovers who demand the absolute best, the Galaxy S24 Ultra stands at the pinnacle with a price tag of $1,299.99 — a slight increase from its predecessor but well justified by its numerous new sparkly upgrades.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra, the series star, shines bright (literally) with a 6.8-inch QHD+ display and is driven by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor. It's a photographer's dream, offering storage options of 1TB, 512GB, or 256GB, paired with a robust 5,000mAh battery. While its overall design echoes the S23 Ultra, the refined details in its more rounded edges and grippy one-hand-hold texture can make the difference.

Camera capabilities take center stage with the Ultra, featuring a 23-megapixel front camera and an impressive rear camera setup: a 12-megapixel ultra-wide, a groundbreaking 200-megapixel wide, and two zoom lenses of 10 and 50 megapixels. These specs are a clear step from the Samsung S23, setting a new benchmark in mobile photography for Android users.

The standard Galaxy S24 and S24+ models aren't left far behind. The S24 boasts a compact 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x FHD+ display, while the S24+ offers a larger 6.7-inch QHD+ screen. Both models have a 50MP primary camera, supporting 8K video recording and featuring 30x zoom capabilities, alongside 2x and 3x telephoto lenses.

Main Takeaway: The Galaxy S24 series follows a familiar pattern in flagship smartphones, where the most advanced features and premium build quality are reserved for the high-end Ultra model. It's a simple truth in the tech world: you'll need to spend more on the most cutting-edge innovations.

Attach mobile lenses.
Attach mobile lenses.

2. The Camera Setup

Low Light Capabilities, Zoom Telephoto Lenses, and Sensor Sizes

The Galaxy S24 Ultra's camera setup marks a significant leap from the S23, especially in its telephoto capabilities. Samsung has introduced a robust 50MP 5X periscope telephoto lens, a “downgrade” from the previous 10MP 10X model. This innovation predated even the iPhone 15 Pro’s huge periscope launch last September, only furthering Samsung's pioneering spirit in smartphone photography.

While it might initially seem like a step back, Samsung's switch from a 10x to a 5x lens is based on user feedback and behavior. Data indicates that most Galaxy Ultra users prefer shooting in the 5x zoom range. Thus, enhancing the quality in this range makes practical sense. Plus, Samsung claims that zooms beyond 5x will be augmented with AI technology anyway.

The main camera of the S24 Ultra is equally impressive, boasting a 200MP ISOCELL HP2SX sensor. Enhancements extend to the 12MP ultra-wide-angle and the 10MP 3X telephoto lenses, offering a diverse optical range from a 0.6x ultra-wide-angle to a 10x telescopic view. This versatility allows for rapid switching between Auto and Pro modes, accommodating various zoom levels like "0.6x, 1x, 2x, 3x, 5x, 10x." The telephoto lens, now touted as a "Quad Telephoto" feature, spans 2x, 3x, 5x, and 10x, with the 2x and 10x providing an even higher-resolution optical zoom.

While this all sounds promising, the real test will be its performance in challenging conditions and how its computational telephoto compares to lenses like our Tele 58mm Mobile lens.

Samsung's new "Nightography Zoom feature" in the Galaxy S24 Ultra aims to enhance distant subjects in low-light conditions. This is a crucial advancement for serious photographers who often struggle with low-light scenarios. However, the effectiveness of this feature remains pending. While many Galaxy users praise Samsung's low-light capabilities on platforms like Reddit, it's essential to see if this feature lives up to the hype or falls short, as has been the case with previous attempts at low-light smartphone improvements.

Is the ‘Nightography Zoom’, and all of Samsung’s telephoto jargon just another overhyped feature, or will it truly deliver on its promises? Only time and user experience will tell.

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An image without an alt, whoops

3. Mobile Filmmaker Capabilities

That being said — where do the video capabilities lie in all of this?

Regarding video recording, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is positioning itself as a “game-changer” powered by the formidable Snapdragon 8 Gen3 chipset. This technology enables seamless switching between all camera sensors, including the front camera, while recording in 4K at 60 frames per second. It's an impressive feat — but does it stack against the famous iPhone 15 Pro’s successful video features?

Moreover, the Galaxy S24 Ultra steps up its game by offering the ability to capture high-resolution 8K videos. This is not just in standard mode but also in 1x and 5x optical zoom modes, which is a huge advantage for mobile filmmakers requiring versatility between focal lengths.

4. AI Multi-Frame Processing

Samsung's ambitious AI integration is where I find myself the most skeptical.

As someone who values the tangible aspects of technology, like superior glass and sensors, the concept of relying heavily on computational fluff strikes me as a bit of a gimmick.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra boasting a 200-megapixel camera mode is impressive, but all the added AI technology it takes to recognize and optimize shots seems overkill.

Additionally, the Ultra introduces "Multi-frame Processing for All Zoom Ranges," an AI-driven feature that activates when the zoom exceeds 20x. It leverages deep learning algorithms to enhance image resolution across all zoom levels and across various subject matters. While this showcases Samsung's commitment to elevating the quality of zoom photography with AI, it leaves me questioning the necessity of such heavy AI reliance. And do we really need 20x zoom on a smartphone?

Despite my reservations, I'm open to being proven wrong. We'll thoroughly test these features because, while they may seem gimmicky on paper, the real-world results could indeed be a nice surprise.

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5. Real-Time Translations

The Ultra model will also leverage AI to enhance photo quality and improve web search efficiency. This move follows in the footsteps of Google's Pixel 8 phones, which are known for their extensive AI-based photo editing features.

And although not particularly camera-created — the phone offers real-time translation within messaging apps, supporting over 12 languages. This feature isn't directly related to photography, but it demonstrates inclusivity in the tech world, and we love that!

6. AI Watermarks and Metadata

The Galaxy S24 Ultra introduces yet another AI-powered feature reminiscent of the Google Pixel 8's Magic Editor. Named 'Generative Edit', this tool harnesses AI to perform dramatic image alterations with just a few taps and highlights. Users can effortlessly remove objects from photos, smartly fill in the gaps after repositioning elements, or even shift the subject to a different frame part. Again, I find this entirely silly — just learn Photoshop, for goodness sake! You don’t see camera brands, like Leica or Sony, doing this, so it’s a bit offhand for a smartphone company to take part, but that's just a personal opinion.

While this feature showcases interesting potential, it also raises concerns about image authenticity. The ease of creating highly altered photos could lead to issues with faked imagery. To address this, Samsung has taken a proactive step by automatically embedding metadata to indicate that AI edits have been applied.

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