With the scope for differentiation decreasing in other areas, cameras have become the main battleground for smartphone manufacturers. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the flagship sector where Apple, Samsung and Huawei are going toe-to-toe to produce the best, biggest and most spectacular lenses as a way to stand out.
Samsung’s current flagship range is the S20 which consists of 3 models, the entry level S20, the bigger S20+ and the top of the range Ultra. Although they share some camera elements, all 3 models have their own particular setup. So, let’s have a look at them one at a time.
Samsung Galaxy S20
As the entry level model, the S20 has the least number of cameras. As a result its black casing is smaller than the other 2 models. The 3 cameras in the S20 are:
- 12MP f/1.8 26mm wide with OIS
- 64MP f/2.0 29mm telephoto with OIS and 3X optical zoom
- 12MP f/2.2 13mm ultrawide with Super steady video
The main 12MP sensor now produces 1.8µm pixels as compared to the 1.4 on the previous generation of phones. The big 64MP telephoto actually provides 30X magnification but a lot of this is done with cropping and the phone software to achieve the effect. This array is capable of capturing both 8K and 4K video (the former at 24fps and the latter at 30 or 60fps) as well as 1080 & 720p.
One new feature worth mentioning here, that is available across all 3 handsets, is Single Take. This captures images and short clips from all of the phone’s cameras at the same moment. It then presents you with an album of all these with gifs and stylised images included for you to choose which you want to use. A nice touch!
On the front, the selfie snapper is a 10MP f/2.2 26mm wide lens that will also capture 4K video at either 30 or 60fps and 1080p video at 30fps.
Samsung Galaxy S20+
The Samsung Galaxy S20+ has the exact same rear array as the S20, but with the addition of a 0.3MP f/1.0 TOF depth camera. This is marketed as a “Depth Vision Camera” that improves portraits and bokeh performance. Even the selfie camera is the same as the S20. So not a lot more to report here.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
On to the top of the range Ultra, and this is certainly reflected in the price. Like the Plus it has 4 rear cameras but two of these are unique to the Ultra. These cameras are:
- 108MP f/1.8 26mm wide with OIS
- 48MP f/3.5 103mm periscope telephoto with OIS and 4X optical zoom & 10X hybrid zoom
- 12MP f/2.2 13mm ultrawide with Super Steady Video (same as for the S20 and S20+)
- 3MP f/1.0 TOF depth (same as for the S20+)
The main 108MP camera combines nine pixels into one to produce a 12MP image, this should give you a better HDR output. The sensor for this camera is also physically large, which is good for gathering light in dark situations – making it excellent for night shots.
The periscope telephoto with its advertised 100X zoom produces good images up to about 10X magnification (the optical magnification stops at 4X, after that it is digital). Images taken at 100X are very grainy and blurred, making it a bit of a gimmick and make it difficult to understand where it could be used effectively.
This combination of cameras is very impressive and produces great images and videos in most light conditions – which to be honest is what you would expect from a phone costing more than £1000!
On the front, the selfie is a bigger 40MP f/2.2 26mm wide lens that captures both 4K and 1080p video.
Which S20 would you choose?
So, there you have it, 3 phones with different camera setups. Currently, the Plus costs about £50 more than S20, the Ultra will add another £400 or so onto that, so the model you choose will depend on how big a phone photographer you are. Personally if the decision was just based on photography alone, I’d go for the base S20, it still produces great pictures and videos with most of the features you get on the 2 more expensive phones.