Samsung Galaxy S20 (Ultra) camera facts: the devil in the details

The cameras are perhaps the most interesting part of Samsung's new Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and especially the Galaxy S20 Ultra. In between the high megapixel numbers, there are quite a few striking details that deserve attention.

samsung galaxy s20 ultra camera facts

Galaxy S20 (Ultra) camera facts

Now that the dust around the new Samsung Galaxy S20 models is starting to increase, we can take a closer look at details. If you've read about the devices here and there in recent days – including our Galaxy S20 hands-on preview, of course – then you know that the expectation of the new cameras is sky-high. Only when we can get to work extensively with it later, will you read a true opinion of us. Until then there are a few details that are good, funny or dull.

Make video in normal Photo mode

Once you could take photos as well as record video in the standard mode of Samsung's camera app. Without extra action, that is. And then came Android 9 Pie and the One UI interface, in which Samsung housed the video recording in a separate camera position. Since then you have to change camera mode on Samsung phones to film. That is not very handy.

Fortunately, Samsung has resolved this problem on the Galaxy S20. You will not see a separate video button in the camera app. But if you keep the shutter button pressed, the device automatically starts recording video. If you want to film longer, the Video mode is still more convenient, but for shorter, spontaneous recordings this is fine. On other recent devices you could at most choose to make a GIF by holding down this key. Whether Samsung will bring this subtle-but-handy improvement to devices such as the Galaxy S10 or Galaxy A50 – et cetera – in the near future is not certain. We hope so, at least.

samsung galaxy s20 preview hands on 8

The shutter button, with which you also record video on the Galaxy S20

8K video: this is the point

Yes, with the different Galaxy S20 models you can record video with a resolution of 7680 × 4320 pixels. It's popularly called 8K video. Now it is easy to think that this is a superfluous function. After all, who has a screen with such a resolution to review the recordings?

Yet there are plenty of enthusiasts who can tell you that filming on 8K is an advantage anyway, even though the video is then edited and saved at a lower resolution. But that is quite a niche application. More fun – naja, in our opinion – is the fact that individual frames of an 8K video have a resolution of approximately 33 megapixels. As you may know you can easily save it on your Galaxy as a separate photo. So you can always take sharp photos out of your video – for example if you are shooting a thunderstorm, or something else where timing would be crucial if you tried to photograph it. Okay, it may still not be a super-mainstream application, but the enthusiast will know what to do with it.

And how much storage does 8K video take?

Of course, recording 8K video is the way to quickly fill the storage – 128GB or more, on the Galaxy S20 models. How fast? Well, one minute 8K video is around 600MB in size. A 5-minute video takes up 3GB. That is also the maximum duration of an 8K video – so that the data remains manageable, and / or the processor cool enough. By the way: the device records this kind of hi-res video at 24 frames per second. A higher frame rate is perhaps a bit too high for the telephone hardware and storage.

Galaxy S20 Ultra does not record 960 fps Ultra Slow-mo video

With its 108 megapixel sensor, it is of course the Galaxy S20 Ultra that throws the highest eye in the camera area. It is therefore quite surprising that precisely that model cannot record Super slow-mo video at 960 frames per second. The S20 Ultra captures "only" 480 frames per second, and turns it into 960 fps with software. The fact that the Super Slow-mo mode on this device does not offer a real 960 fps recording is perhaps not so bad at all – but the strange thing is that the S20 and S20 Plus can do this trick. Moreover: they work at a 1080p full HD resolution, while the S20 Ultra is limited to 720p HD.

galaxy s20 ultra 960 fps video specs

Samsung's own specifications with regard to the Super Slow-mo function in the Galaxy S20 series

It should also be noted that devices like the Galaxy S10 use the same trick as you use Super Slow-mo in the position where you capture 0.8 seconds. Only with the 0.4 second option used, does that device really capture 960 fps. But at least it does – and you can't say that about the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Although not officially known, we guess that the amount of data generated by the 108-megapixel sensor is simply too much to capture 960 times per second. Experts in the room can gladly explain in the reactions below 😉.

The secret of the S20 Ultra: the nonacell sensor

Before you drip disappointed, it might be nice to know that Samsung – after the unveiling of the S20 Ultra – also introduced the camera sensor itself. This 108-megapixel ISOCELL Bright HM1 actually uses a trick to take photos. Instead of simply using an exaggerated high resolution, the device combines nine pixels into one large pixel. The result: a 1 / 1.33 inch sensor and a pixel size of 2.4 micrometers. For comparison: the Galaxy S10 has a 1 / 2.55 inch sensor and 1.4 micrometer pixels.

isocell bright hm1 nonacell binning

The sensor of the S20 Ultra therefore has the largest sensor and pixels we have seen so far in Samsung's top devices. With that, for example, it captures more light than most other telephones. Samsung itself emphasizes that the S20 Ultra can vary the exposure per pixel in order to make HDR shots in real time. Moreover, the sensor can also be used to take 12 megapixel photos with 3x zoom, without losing details.

Anyway: the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Only when we can put our teeth into the camera of the S20 Ultra in daily life can we finally say whether the expectations are being realized.

Galaxy S20 (Ultra) order

Interested in one of the S20 models? You can reserve it now in Samsung's own shop HERE. With an S20 Plus or Ultra you even get a set of Galaxy Buds + wireless earphones directly. You can also check more information about this Galaxy S20 pre-order promotion.

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This is the battery of the smallest Samsung Galaxy S11 – larger than the Galaxy S10
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