The new Samsung Galaxy S22 will, as usual, be the phone to beat in 2022. Spoiler: most phones aren't going to beat it in any meaningful way, and in the west, it will sell in numbers that only Apple can beat. That's the nature of the Samsung ecosystem beast, my friends.
Sadly one of those things that all other phone makers will chase is a camera that can do a million things well but forgets to do the most important thing great. Yes, the camera you have with you is always the best camera, but most of us want to be able to whip it out and grab a great picture without any buttons or settings or modes or other assorted bleeps and bloops.
The sad part is that the camera on the S22 might be great at doing that, but unless you have early access to a review unit, you don't know for sure because Samsung didn't bother to mention it. If this is what's most important about a smartphone camera to you, you're not alone; modes and gimmicks are fine, but the most important thing to most people is taking a good picture.
Not too long ago, another company tried to tell us all that its new phone had a camera that professional videographers would use to create awesome content. Technically, it's true when you count people making money from TikTok or Instagram as professionals but don't hold your breath waiting for a feature film or show to be shot on an iPhone 13. Not gonna happen.
Samsung isn't there yet and what it's doing with video is great — video on Android phones has always been pretty shitty, and nothing seems to make it better. But when it comes to taking photos, Samsung is creeping into Apple-style hubris territory.
I'm sure many people just love to mess with touchscreen settings in the camera app and make nightographic stuff or whatever. Some people wanted to Space Zoom in 100X to look at something that we can only hope wasn't creepy. Having those sorts of things, along with beauty mode, selfie mode, portrait mode, and whatever the next carnival mode will be, is fine. Put them in some three-deep menu, and the people who want to try them can make all sorts of cool-looking content.
Keep it simple
But the basics are just as essential, if not more so. I want to be able to pull out my phone and grab a photo of my dog doing something stupid and have it look good. I want to be able to pull out my phone and grab a photo of my granddaughter dancing and running in a circle until she is dizzy and it is not blurry. Both of those things are hard to do with a phone because the hardware — even the best phone camera hardware — is really poor compared to every other camera. You need computational photography and burst mode integration, and some complicated algorithms to do it.
If your new product has that AI power and your photos of kids or dogs doing stupid things will look great, tell me so.
You can buy a good 4/3 camera and the best Android Go phone and spend less money than you would on a Galaxy S22 Ultra. You don't want to do that because a phone is more than just a camera. It's a camera that can take a good enough photo to share on social media or a memory you want to keep first and foremost. Then we can worry about night vision or taking photos of the stars.
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