The Galaxy S10 camera does not look like a big step forward


The Galaxy S10 range from Samsung has a lot to offer, with a new attractive design and the best software of the company to date. But Samsung's customers who were expecting significant improvements in the camera may be disappointed. Although we had to spend more time with the latest phones to find out, yesterday's launching ceremony was not convincing.

That's not to say that Samsung has not talked about the photographic potential of the Galaxy S10. Product Marketing Manager Suzanne De Silva described the phone's new camera system as "a professional camera that you will not need to be a professional". S10 Plus, allowing you to switch between ultra-wide telephoto angles of 123 degrees, 77 degrees wide and 45 degrees wide; It has been suggested that the main advantage of professional cameras is the ability to change lenses.

But that's not entirely true, otherwise we would hail the LG V40 of last year as the best phone camera on the market. The main advantage of professional cameras lies in their much higher image quality. Samsung had only a few things to say about it.

At Samsung's Mobile World Congress last year, Samsung focused on the photographic qualities of the Galaxy S9, covering Barcelona with banners proclaiming "The Camera." Reimagined. "The main justification for this statement was the double-aperture lens that could go from f / 1.5 to f / 2.4 depending on the situation. It was certainly something new for smartphones, but in practice it was a gadget; There are very few situations in which you would want a smartphone camera to capture less light.

This exact combination of lenses and sensors is back this year on the Galaxy S10, and Samsung has not even talked about it on stage. Instead, the discussion focused on the added versatility offered by the three-lens configuration. To be clear, this is a legitimately interesting feature – I am a fan of ultra-large cameras and telephoto cameras since LG and Apple introduced them, and having both on the Galaxy S10 will be great. I'm afraid, however, that Samsung is not focusing enough on the basics.

I should not say "basics" because what I mean by that is actually extraordinarily complex. At present, Google is the undisputed leader of the smartphone camera, although the Pixel 3 includes only one goal because the company has devoted more time and than anyone else in the field of digital photography. Google uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and sophisticated algorithms to generate phenomenal results with all of its pixel cameras. Apple is not yet developed, but has made significant progress in this direction with iPhones last year. And it does not seem that Samsung has an answer.

Samsung mentioned the AI ​​on stage, but did not specify how computer techniques could be used for basic photography. It is now said that the Galaxy S10 uses a neural processing unit (NPU) to help recognize scenes and adjust image settings accordingly, a feature that Samsung has already marketed on its phones alongside several other competitors.

But it is unclear to what extent the NPU will improve the results, nor how they differ from those of the US version of the phone, based on a Snapdragon 855, which offers different machine learning capabilities. The Galaxy S10 sold in most other regions will use the Exynos 9820 processor equipped with a Samsung NPU unit, which the company has already touted for its AI potential. Either the different versions of the S10 will have different artificial intelligence capabilities, or Samsung does not attach its artificial intelligence features to its hardware; no results indicate that it is a priority for the company.

For me, the best camera-related feature in the Galaxy S10 is video: it can capture footage in HDR10 + format, a standard that Samsung has pushed more than anyone as an open alternative to Dolby Vision. HDR video capture of any type is still rare in phones, but HDR10 + is a dynamic format in which different levels of brightness can be recorded for each scene, which seems like a very good choice for lighting situations often uncontrolled in which we tend to record videos on mobile. This should also be a good way to show the screen without a doubt the best performer of the S10.

Picture of James Bareham / The Verge

There is no reason to think that the Galaxy S10 will have a wrong camera. Aside from the subjective evaluations of image processing, the company has been competitive in the history of the Galaxy S series, although it is rarely the absolute leader. But the S10 does not seem to innovate much, either in hardware or software. Adding lenses is one thing, but without significant improvement in image quality, it's something everyone can emulate.

And that must really be Samsung's major concern as it approaches the year 2019 under the attack of Chinese manufacturers. In recent years, maintaining a certain level of flagship camera performance has been one of the main reasons for using a Samsung phone at the expense of cheaper competitors, such as OnePlus and Honor. We'll have to see what kind of results the S10 would make, but for now, Samsung's tone seems surprisingly smothered.


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