Not looking good: Samsung to work on S20 Ultra camera issues

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra isn’t yet available to the masses, and already, early reviews indicate there’s a problem with the kingpin’s cameras. Samsung promises a fix is coming.

“It seems Samsung has changed the formula, and it’s not looking good. Literally.”

The camera issue appears to affect the S20 Ultra. Review units showed up on many YouTube channels and tech websites alike. And, the inevitable camera tests between the Galaxy S20 Ultra and iPhone 11 Pro Max revealed some problems with the Ultra’s camera. The two main issues are bad autofocus and aggressive skin smoothing.

The S20 Ultra has a massive 108 MP camera

The most prominent issue is terrible autofocus. Reviewers noticed that their Galaxy S20 Ultra had issues finding focus which resulted in out of focus shots. The focus problems also affect video capture, with the S20 Ultra hunting for subjects. Focusing is a lot slower on the S20 Ultra than say, the iPhone. That’s odd. Samsung Galaxy flagships have dominated the smartphone autofocus space with dual-pixel autofocus.

It’s blazing fast, with the S10 delivering sharp focus in less than a second. However, this time around it seems Samsung has changed the formula, and it’s not looking good. Literally. Slow autofocus can result in a missed shot.

The other (arguably less significant) issue is that the S20 Ultra’s camera destructively smooths the skin resulting in loss of detail on faces. When the primary camera detects a human face, it changes the way it processes images.

In an attempt to take the most flattering picture, the S20 Ultra’s skin-softening software goes overboard. Compared to photos from other phones, the photos from Samsung appear soft.

Samsung Galaxy camera algorithms are notorious for skin smoothing on the face. The S6 and S7 devices produce looks with less detail compared to other phones like Pixels or iPhones. Some Galaxy phones even come with beauty mode turned on by default. It seems the S20 Ultra has turned it up to 11, resulting in unnatural looking appearances.

One of the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s main selling points is its number bending 108-megapixel camera. Samsung had so much faith in its new camera system that it used S20 Ultra’s to shoot Galaxy Unpacked 2020. Thankfully, the company has promised an update to fix the existing camera issues.

In a statement to the Verge, Samsung said “We are constantly working to optimize performance to deliver the best experience for consumers. As part of this ongoing effort, we are working on a future update to improve the camera experience.”

These camera issues are a stain on an otherwise impressive piece of tech. And with a US$1,399.99 starting price, it would be wise for Samsung to ensure the end-user has an enjoyable camera experience.