I’ve been an iPhone user for as long as there have been iPhones. In fact, I can still clearly recall the moment I powered on the first-generation iPhone with my old Nokia Symbian smartphone sitting on my desk, and I immediately wondered if I would ever pick it up again. I’ve owned every generation of iPhone since then, so I’ve been through all the ups and downs that have come along with them. There have been plenty of each, but the most talked-about “down” in recent years has likely been the fact that iPhones — once clear leaders in the mobile camera space by a wide margin — have fallen far behind some Android rivals where both camera capabilities and photo quality are concerned.
Last year’s iPhone 11, and more specifically the iPhone 11 Pro, closed the camera performance gap. Apple’s new triple-lens camera was a dramatic improvement in all areas, and the new Night mode feature managed to outperform even Google’s Night Sight feature on its Pixel phones. But now, we’re not even two months into 2020 and a new flagship smartphone series has already managed to make the iPhone 11 Pro’s camera seem outdated. I’ve written about the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s impressive camera before, but a new demo of the phone’s most impressive capability has my jealousy flaring up all over again.
Apple’s services and the deep integration between its various devices has me locked in, possibly for good. As I mentioned last week though, Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 Ultra is the one device that has me considering the switch at least a little bit. Considering it costs as much as some people spend on a car, I’m not sure I would ever buy one even if I did switch to Android. But there’s no question that Samsung’s new ultra-premium flagship is the hottest Android phone out right now.
Up to 16GB of RAM, fast flash storage, and the new Snapdragon 865 processor make the Galaxy S20 Ultra one of the most powerful phones out there. Samsung’s sleek all-screen design and hole-punch display make it one of the best-looking phones out there. But it’s the new five-lens camera on the back of the device that has impressed me most, and now a new demo of the phone’s best camera feature seriously just blew my mind.
Now, the demo was recorded and shared on TikTok, so the quality is awful. As you’ll soon see, however, it doesn’t matter. The user in the video is sitting in the nose bleed seats at a basketball game, and he uses his Galaxy S20 Ultra to zoom in. And just when you think the phone can’t zoom anymore, it keeps zooming. And keeps zooming. And keeps zooming some more. It’s insane.
As far as image quality goes, we know that the Galaxy S20 Ultra only supports optical zoom up to 10x and the rest of the way to 100x is digital zoom. That means clarity and overall photo quality beyond 10x starts to degrade. It actually remains quite impressive until around 30x, and then things slowly go downhill. That said, the same is true of digital zoom on any smartphone. The difference here is that other smartphones might let you snap grainy hybrid zoom up images to 10x, while the Galaxy S20 Ultra zooms all the way to 100x.
Check out the demo right here since TikTok embeds aren’t working, and prepare to be wowed.