Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra’s ‘Space Zoom’


Can the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra’s ‘Space Zoom’ actually zoom into space? We only had access to the handset for a limited time, so couldn’t wait for optimal space viewing conditions. But next time! 

We tested the newly announced flagship’s 100x zoom capabilities on one of Johannesburg’s most prestigious towers, and here’s what we found.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra at 20x zoom.

How does it work

Samsung’s latest flagship wants to bring next-gen photography flex to consumers. Or, at least consumers who can afford the R27,000 price tag. The S20 Ultra gets its title from the quad rear camera arrangement that uses Samsung’s newest, largest sensors. The main lens is a 108MP ISOCELL sensor, backed up by a 12MP ultra-wide and a 48MP telephoto sensor. This is the crown jewel — that telephoto sensor. 

Using some fancy software tweaks, Samsung’s made 100x zoom possible with the telephoto sensor. At first glance, this sounds like a gigantic ad campaign — a way to push up numbers and sound impressive, which is why we decided to try out the feature and see exactly how much detail is lost. 

Although we didn’t get to zoom into space, we zoomed in on the Telkom Tower from the eNCA office in Dunkeld. We reckon if Space Zoom turns out to be a gimmick, the Galaxy S20 Ultra also features a 10x hybrid optical zoom at the least.

In the above series, we start out at 0x zoom, and work our way up to 100x zoom (the super grainy image of the beloved Hillbrow/Telkom Tower). It’s very clear that you lose a whole lot of quality, but it’s a helluva lot better than my vision.

Up to around 80% the image retains a lot of the detail and correct colours in the foreground (the trees in this case). After that, it becomes increasingly hard to keep the subject in frame (without a tripod). So, we’ll recommend a tripod if you’re keen on photographing moon or a nebula cloud.

We also tried capturing a video zooming in, but in video mode you only have zoom capability up to 20x zoom. Check it out.


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Digital Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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