The most dramatic changes between Samsung’s S10, S20, and S21 lineups are in their camera. Upon the release of the Galaxy S20 line, users flocked to Samsung stores to get their hands on the latest Galaxy smartphone – specifically for the cameras. But what makes the Galaxy S20 cameras so unique, and how do they compare to the previous models?
In this Samsung Galaxy S20 Camera review we’ll explain the pros and cons of choosing a Samsung phone for photos and videos. Keep reading to learn why the Samsung S20 photo and video usability isn’t as good as you might expect – 108MP camera and 8k video capability included.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Flopped – Why?
By the end of 2020, Samsung’s marketshare in the U.S. was half what it was at the beginning of the year. A 16% plummet, especially as Apple’s iPhone grew by the same amount, is clearly concerning, but why did it happen? And, can Samsung rebound with the Galaxy S21 lineup? Let’s find out.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Camera vs Samsung Galaxy S10 Camera
Let me start off by saying that the Samsung Galaxy S20 camera significantly improved on the S10 camera in a technical sense. For one, the S20’s telephoto lens, which is responsible for those zoomed-in shots, comes with a massive 64MP sensor that supports up to 3x optical and 30x digital zoom (or does it?). For comparison, the S10 only has a 2x optical zoom and 12MP – the same as the iPhone 11 Pro.
The Galaxy S20 comes with special built-in native app functions to include both Live Focus and Live Focus Video. These functions allow you to modify the background of your photos and videos sort of like you can do on Snapchat or Zoom. The Galaxy S20 also comes with several other improved modes, such as slower slow-motion video and improved background blur for portraits.
Another significant difference between the two series comes in the form of videography specs. The Samsung Galaxy S20 has the capacity to record 8K videos compared to S10’s 4K videos. If you’re a vlogger or are keen on mobile filmmaking then the S20 may be for you. That being said, a one minute video file in 1080p is roughly 130MB whereas a one minute video file in 4k is roughly 375MB – that’s almost 3x the size! As a result, one has to assume that a one minute video file in 8k will take up almost a full gigabyte of storage. That means that without anything else stored on the phone you can record just over 2 hours of video and I haven’t even mentioned that the 8k video causes the phone to heat up to the point of ending your recordings. So, the moral of the story is that 8k video on a smartphone just isn’t viable right now. That’s ok because 4k is sufficient but what you should take from this explanation is that tech specs aren’t everything.
There isn’t any significant change in S20’s front selfie camera from the S10 – both feature 10MP. Don’t let this dissuade you from the S20 though as the other major camera improvements are impressive, albeit not as useful as Samsung may have you believe.
Compared to its predecessor, the Galaxy S20+ has taken things up a notch when it comes to camera specs. As with the S20, though, those impressive technical camera specs don’t deliver a similarly impressive user experience. Now, it’s definitely worth noting that if you snap a few photos and record a 45 second video clip every once and awhile that you will not experience the issues I’m noting because the phone has to be pushed to the point of overheating.
That being said, both models offer quad rear cameras, but Samsung introduced a new 12-megapixel main camera and a fixed aperture, while the S10+ features a Dual Aperture. This means more precise, more detailed pictures and better color contrasts.
Similar to the S20, the S20+ comes with a 64-megapixel sensor compared to the 12-megapixel found on the S10+. A 64MP camera has the capacity to take an image of 9216 x 6912 resolution, whereas a 12MP camera can only take a photo of 4032 x 3024 resolution. The better the resolution, the more detailed and crisp the result but the larger the file size. You could always consider a mobile-compatible external hard drive, though.
The zoom function is another feature worth noting. The S20+ has a Hybrid Optic Zoom that allows users to zoom in up to 3x and a Super-Resolution Zoom that gives you the chance to zoom up to 30x.
In terms of the front camera the S10+ offers a dual 10MP camera with a 3D Depth Sensor, while the S20+ did away with 3D Depth Sensor. The result of the change is darker and more contrasty selfies.
When it comes to pictures, the S20+ undoubtedly captures color tones better than the S10+. It also performs several much better in low-light scenarios, offering a more credible color representation and detail quality.
The S20 Ultra has the most impressive features of the S20 series. Its most significant selling points are its 108-megapixel camera, its capacity to zoom up to 100x, and that 8k video capability.
While impressive, most S20 Ultra users admitted that they rarely ever used the 100x feature. Furthermore, the resulting image is usually grainy and unusable at the full 100x zoom, making the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 100x zoom more of a novelty than anything.
Regardless, when you compare Samsung Galaxy’s S20 and S20+’s 30x zoom to the Ultra’s 100x zoom, there’s no compare.
The S20 Ultra’s 108MP camera does a great job at capturing highly detailed shots in daylight and low-light, though those resulting files will result in running out of storage fairly quickly. That means that the Samsung S20 Ultra is great for the fair weather occasional shooter but not for someone wanting to do more extensive photo and video shoots. Because there’s so much computation happening when you’re using the Galaxy S20 Ultra camera to make those technical specs work the phone can become laggy and overheat.
On a non-camera note, the S20 Ultra is bigger and comes with a higher battery capacity. Keep in mind that the S20 Ultra costs much more than the S20+, so it really comes down to whether or not you’ll use the 108MP camera and 100x zoom found in the S20 Ultra.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Camera – Surprisingly the Best of the Bunch
Why are people saying Samsung is saved? Well, the Samsung S20 FE delivered – perhaps more than any other Galaxy S20 model released. For a price point of $700 as opposed to $1400 you get the same cameras albeit with less megapixels. That being said, these megapixel mad phones take forever to render the massive image files and don’t even get me started about the time it takes to render the 8k video (which the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition has at 60 fps).
So, the fact that the Galaxy S20 FE lacks megapixels isn’t overly concerning. While it does shoot 60fps video at 8k, which is better than the other Galaxy S20 phones, the S20 FE doesn’t get as bogged down processing and as a result is more pleasurable to shoot with.
Final Thoughts – Is the Samsung S20 Camera Good?
Technically, yes. Samsung’s Galaxy S20 cameras have significantly improved since their S10 predecessors. For the price, it’s certainly one of the best camera phones in 2021 as far as specs go. Samsung’s newer S21 lineup is more slightly more impressive than the S20 but honestly doesn’t offer much more in terms of usability.
If you have the extra dollars to spend, it may be worth picking up the the Samsung S21 Ultra if for no other reason but to say you have the very best Samsung has to offer. Otherwise, the Samsung S20 FE is a great choice if you’re looking for a great camera at an even better price. If you want to learn about how all these phones compare to the whole Galaxy lineup, then check out the evolution of Samsung phones.