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Saturday, December 19, 2020

Samsung S21 Ultra could have 6 cameras.

Today, we have another Galaxy S21 leak, which seems to confirm some of the specs that have been floating around, published by WinFutureInformation about and images of Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S21-series phones have been landing almost daily in the run-up to Samsung’s January event. With this newest leak, we now have a better idea of what to expect — especially in the camera department. In short, the hardware appears to be a big part of Samsung’s plan to take on the highly capable iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Samsung S21 Ultra

The S21 Ultra will reportedly offer 3x and 10x telephoto cameras (72mm and 240mm equivalent focal lengths, respectively), both with optical image stabilization. That’s one additional rear-facing camera compared to the S20 Ultra’s three rear sensors.

The S21’s 10x lens will use a folded optic design like that of the S20’s telephoto camera. We expect that Samsung will once again offer hybrid zoom that reaches much farther than that 10x optical range.

Some other subtle camera updates look to be on the way, too. The main 108-megapixel camera gets a slightly wider 24mm (versus 26mm) equivalent lens. It will also get laser-assisted autofocus: something that the S20 Ultra didn’t offer but the Note 20 Ultra later introduced. And WinFuture says that despite the main camera sensor’s on-paper similarities to the last generation, this is a new sensor that should offer better image quality than the last.

Samsung will need every advantage to compete with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which we think is the best smartphone camera on the market today. Historically, Samsung has taken more of a hardware-heavy approach to mobile imaging, increasingly using its own house-made sensors rather than grabbing Sony’s off the shelf, and being early to adopt dual- and triple-lens cameras on its devices.

Part of the reason Samsung has leaned so hard into advanced hardware is that its computational photography hasn’t kept up with either Apple or Google. Only recently has it come up to par with features like Night Mode. But now it’s another year, and there’s more work to be done to catch up to the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Video may prove to be grounds for Samsung to level the playing field with Apple, too. It’s one area where software can only do so much without the right hardware behind it. Samsung has usually had big specs to tout when it comes to video — the S21 Ultra will offer 8K recording to the 12 Pro Max’s 4K — but the proof will be in the footage. Samsung says it’s committed to continuing to push its capabilities in this area.

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