Samsung’s new Galaxy S23 Ultra phone comes with a 200-megapixel camera, the first time a major manufacturer has included a resolution size normally reserved for giant photography devices.
The device is one of the company’s updated Galaxy phone range, alongside the base S23 model and the S23 Plus. Samsung has also updated its laptop range, with a new 16-inch high-end Galaxy Book 3 Ultra as its flagship.
All of the phones and laptops were unveiled in Samsung’s ‘Unpacked’ series of announcements on Wednesday.
In addition to the new 200-megapixel camera system, the S23 Ultra has a newly modified chip from Qualcomm that Samsung claims is faster than the speediest processors available to any other Android-powered smartphone. While it declined to specify metrics or speed measurements, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy appears to place Samsung in a special relationship with the world’s biggest mobile chip firm as Android phones chase Apple’s silicon lead.
It is also claiming to be one of the most durable flagship smartphone ranges, being the first smartphone to incorporate Corning Gorilla Glass Victus to glass.
Samsung’s S23 and S23 Plus have the same-sized 6.1-inch and 6.6-inch displays of the S22 ranges last year.
Most attention will inevitably fall on the company’s top flagship model, the S23 Ultra
Both lower-tier models include some significant improvements of their own, including better selfie cameras (12-megapixels) and bigger batteries (by 200mAh). Super HDR is now applied on the selfie cameras of each phone, with 60 frames per second. And users can now also record clearer sound by pairing any of the devices with a Galaxy Buds 2 Pro earphones.
But most attention will inevitably fall on the company’s top flagship model, the S23 Ultra.
Physically, Samsung has made some notable changes to its top phone. Even though it still has echoes of the discontinued Galaxy Note series, it now has a larger flat surface area than the S22 Ultra, courtesy of a newly shaved curvature on the display’s edge.
Other than the chip setup, most of Samsung’s investment appears to have gone into the device’s camera and video upgrades. The phone has been redesigned to be better in low light, both for ordinary photos and night sky photography.
The handset’s new adaptive pixel sensor, Samsung says, processes 16 pixels into one larger pixel to improve lighting. There’s a beefed-up night portrait mode on the selfie camera that measures sense of depth and creates an “enhanced” bokeh effect by analysing the distance of objects and separating the subject from backgrounds.
For video, the S23 Ultra can now film in 8K at 30 frames per second with a wider angle (from 57 to 80 degrees) and a bigger pixel size for a more cinematic effect.
There are a lot of computational photography updates under the hood
Image stabilisation technology, which has lagged the top iPhones for some time on video, has been improved virtually, while optical image stabilsation (OIS) angle has also been updated. There are a lot of computational photography updates under the hood, with noise reduction technology apparently enhanced using multi-frame processing and enhanced artificial intelligence that, because of the more powerful processor, can detect and deal with noise in low light situations. This, Samsung says, will help to create “crisp” videos at night.
Meanwhile, the phone has a new Astro Hyperlapse feature to capture star trails and night sky patterns without any additional equipment or complicated settings.
But can a 200-megapixel camera actually provide clear, noiseless images on a sensor system this small? Samsung says it can. It claims that the new system uses a technique that examines each of the 200 million pixels to bring subjects into a sharp focus by “using four adjacent pixels” to detect differences from left to right and top to bottom.
All three S23 models come in four colours – black, cream, green and lavender.
Separately, Samsung has updated its range of laptops. The Galaxy Fold 3 Pro comes in either 14-inch or 16-inch sizes and they are the thinnest and lightest laptops in Samsung’s arsenal. There’s also a convertible Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 with a touchscreen.
But in its laptop range, most attention is likely to focus on Samsung’s new 16-inch Galaxy Book 3 Ultra, with its dynamic Amoled 3k display. Samsung says that this 120hz display is aimed at both gamers and graphics editing.
However, it is also claiming that the Galaxy Book Pro is a high-end device.
All three new laptops have the latest 13th generation Intel processors. All three are being positioned as part of Samsung’s “multi-device connected experience” ecosystem that aims to allow Samsung phones, tablets and laptops seamlessly work with each other for productivity purposes.
Its multi-control system aims to let users directly control a Galaxy smartphone or Galaxy tablet using the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra or Pro series keyboard and trackpad. You can also copy, paste or drag and drop between the devices, even across different operating systems.
At the time of writing, Samsung had not disclosed pricing for any of the new devices.