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Galaxy S21 Ultra 5g. The difference between Marketing and Reality in Image Quality

To put it short, this is what you get by purchasing a Galaxy S21 Ultra 5g using the standard camera app:

  • access to all four lenses is limited to jpg,
  • 108megapixel resolution is limited to one lens (the one Samsung calls ‘wide’ or ‘1x’),
  • RAW format is only availble in ‘PRO’ mode, limited to ‘ultrawide’ (0,6x) and ‘wide’ (1x), with no access to 108megpixel resolution.

Samsung advertises the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5g by spinning its 108 megapixel camera. However, it does not make clear that the 108 megapixel resolution is not available in “PRO” mode, the only that records in raw. By contrast, this super resolution is available in normal mode, but in jpg only.

Moreover, in PRO mode the use of the RAW format is limited to the “1x” lens, as the zoom produces images in jpeg format. It does not maintain the quality and the possibility of post-production guaranteed by the RAW format. Finally, the 10X optical zoom is NOT available in PRO mode.

In summary: those who purchased the phone convinced by the advertisement that it was possible to take pictures in raw format with the 108 megapixel sensor also using the optical zoom, are badly mistaken.

Moreover, at the date of the publication of this post, these information do not appear readily on the manufacturer’s website. They become apparent once the smartphone has been purchased.

Samsung’s advertising message is confusing —if not deceiving. Obiously the quality of a smartphone-taken picture is light-years away from that of an actual camera. However, the availability of the RAW format is, for photography enthusiasts, a determining factor in the choice of a product.

In case of doubt, or to be on the safe side, it is better to buy the phone through an online reseller with a clear return policy.

Forewarned is forearmed.