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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra to sport six cameras

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra to sport six cameras
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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra to sport six cameras

Highlights

As of now, there is no confirmed release date or price yet for the S21 Ultra.

Today, we have another leak of the Galaxy S21, which seems to confirm some of the specifications that have been floating around, published by WinFuture. Information and images for Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S21 series phones have been pouring in almost daily in the lead up to Samsung's January event. With this new leak, we now have a better idea of what to expect, especially in the camera department. So, hardware seems to be a big part of Samsung's plan to take on the high-capacity iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The S21 Ultra will reportedly offer 3x and 10x telephoto cameras (equivalent focal lengths of 72mm and 240mm, respectively), with optical image stabilization. That's an extra rear camera compared to the S20 Ultra's three rear sensors.

The S21's 10x lens will use a folded optical design like the S20's telephoto camera. We expect Samsung to offer once again a hybrid zoom that reaches well beyond that 10x optical range.

Some other subtle camera updates seem to be on the way too. The 108-megapixel main camera gets a slightly wider 24mm equivalent lens (vs 26mm). You'll also get laser-assisted autofocus - something the S20 Ultra didn't offer, but the Note 20 Ultra was introduced later. And WinFuture says that despite the similarities in the role of the main camera sensor to the last generation, this is a new sensor that should offer better image quality than the old one.

Samsung will need all the advantages to compete with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which we think is the best smartphone camera on the market today. Historically, Samsung has taken a more hardware-based approach to mobile imaging, increasingly using its own home-made sensors rather than taking Sony's out-of-the-box ones, and being early to adopt dual- and triple-lens cameras in its devices.

Part of the reason Samsung has leaned so heavily toward advanced hardware is that its computational photography hasn't kept up with Apple or Google. Only recently has it been on par with features like night mode. But now it's another year, and there's more work to be done to catch up with the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Video may prove to be the reason for Samsung to level the playing field with Apple as well. It is an area where software can only do so much without the proper hardware behind it. Samsung has generally had great specs to promote when it comes to video - the S21 Ultra will offer 8K recording to the 4K of the 12 Pro Max, but the proof will be in the footage. Samsung says it is committed to continuing to advance its capabilities in this area.

There are some notable non-camera details in the WinFuture report. These specifications confirm a 6.8-inch screen with variable refresh rates from one to 120Hz; a battery-saving move also adopted from the Note 20 Ultra. There is also support for the S Pen, which will be sold separately.

Samsung will also follow Apple's lead by shipping the S21 devices without wall chargers in the box. The company will likely, like Apple, cite environmental benefits as the motivation for this change. However, cynics among us will note that it is also beneficial to the bottom line of each company. But reducing e-waste is certainly a good thing, and using Samsung's USB-C instead of a proprietary connector earns it even more environmental bonus points.

As of now, there is no confirmed release date or price yet for the S21 Ultra, although reports point to an announcement on January 14.

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