Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy S24 Ultra are both robust, high-end camera phones with two rear telephoto sensors and up to 100x Space Zoom. They even have almost an identical look and feel in hand. Nonetheless, one noteworthy distinction between the two should give Samsung’s most recent flagship just a little more power in the medium zoom range.
Let’s examine if more megapixels (50MP vs 10MP), a smaller zoom (5x vs 10x), and a shorter focal length can surpass the proven Galaxy S23 Ultra 10x sensor in a telephoto showdown.
Decide your contender: 5x at 50MP or 10x at 10 MP?
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
Before we get to the results, we should probably dive into what these two impressive Android phones are equipped with. On one side, we have the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s cameras, which possess the same 10MP 10x optical telephoto sensor that Samsung utilized on the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Galaxy S21 Ultra before. The 230mm-equivalent lens has a maximum aperture of f/4.9 and supports both PDAF and OIS, and the lower resolution means that it doesn’t bin pixels to produce smaller files.
On the other hand, the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s camera setup now carries a 50MP 5x optical telephoto sensor with a much wider maximum aperture of f/3.4. That means it can capture more light and offer a shallower depth of field, as well as punch in to 10x zoom using a crop from the sensor’s center. Of course, the higher resolution combined with the similarly sized sensor means that the individual megapixels are smaller than those on the 10MP telephoto camera.
Would you rather have more megapixels or longer optical zoom? Samsung seems to have made up its mind.
Outside of the change in longer-range telephoto sensors, both flagships carry 200MP primary cameras, 10MP 3x optical telephoto cameras, 12MP ultrawide sensors, and 12MP punch hole selfie cameras. As such, your results from 0.6x zoom to 3x zoom should be nearly identical on either device.
The most significant difference, however, should come once you inch past that 3x zoom mark. Shots taken at 5x zoom on the Galaxy S23 Ultra apply digital zoom and post-processing to the 10MP sensor, while the same shot taken with the Galaxy S24 Ultra uses the full 50MP resolution and bins the result down to a more manageable 12MP file. The newer sensor can also apply a sensor crop for lengths between 5x and 10x zoom, while the older sensor leans more and more on digital zoom until you reach its 10x optical telephoto sensor.
With that little breakdown out of the way, let’s get to some real-life examples.