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When it comes to the camera on your phone K.I.S.S. is important, too

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Camera Lenses Hold
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Camera Lenses Hold (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

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 S22 camera might be great at the basics, but Samsung didn't bother to show us.

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 should try every gimmick when it comes to video because it's always sucked on Android.

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

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central

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.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

20 Comments
  • My Huawei Mate 40 Pro takes great photos. I don't even think of switching to any other device.
  • So true and accurate!
  • Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no Apple Fanboy. In fact, I've not only pre-ordered the S22 Ultra, I pre-ordered TWO, one for myself, and one for "She who must be obeyed." The OP should however have his facts straight. Multiple feature films have already been shot on iPhones. Perhaps not specifically the iPhone 13, but it's been done already by major name Producer/Directors such as Steven Soderbergh.
  • Yes, but hardly anything noteworthy. Looking at the list it's more like a proof of concept. It can happen.....but should it.
  • Don't forget the commercial that was shot with the LG V20 a while back. It should be noted that the movies referenced (the film "Tangerine" comes to mind) that had some scenes shot with the Iphone had special lenses attached to the device and were not filmed using just the stock camera lens. Somehow that piece of information gets left out. As for Androids producing poor quality videos my V40 and Note 20 Ultra beg to differ.
  • I read the piece thinking, yeah , the videos aren't perfect on Android but neither is it on the iPhone. Nothing really beats a real camera in that sense. I feel OP has some predisposed ideas of iPhones and Android phones, rather than actually having a good grasp at what they're saying. I mean, yes, it's true. Apple video shots are a jack of all trades so to speak, no the best but it's somewhere in the above average range but people have bought into it so much so that I don't even really try to compare plus it's pixel peeping by that point. I followed a channel where this dude shot using a note 9 , beautiful cinematic shots .
    here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1j0RTBHvRsw it's not the camera that makes the shot, it's the shooter.
  • Use the right tool for the job. 👍 Nobody REALLY taking images they are paid for use a mobile phone. Mobile phone cameras are primarily about social media and quick shares. And most even single lens cameras from '17 on have done a pretty good job for that purpose.
  • Mobile cameras are perfect for the 7.92 billion people who aren't getting paid to take specific photos. That is why these phones exist and sell.
    I don't see the point with this writeup? Someone want to state the obvious, that a full frame camera is a full frame camera? What next? A server farm has better integrated AI, so we shouldn't want that in the phone either?
  • Exactly. I feel that trading in the 4th and 5th camera lenses on a (flagship) phone to a microSD slot and a headphone jack would be a great tradeoff.
  • Yes! It's called a Sony Xperia 1, or 5 mark 3.
  • Micro SD card needs to die, better technology has existed for years.
  • Moved from a Huawei P40 Pro to a pixel 6 pro for Google services.
    My P40 Pro took much better photos and stunning portrait photos. I hope after a few upgrades my pixel might catch up.
  • You nailed it, Jerry! A lot of us buy phones based on how well it takes photos or video but we don't have time to play with adjustments or bells and whistles. For most of us, it is "Hey, take a picture of that!" and there is little time to play with settings. Put some effort into the software to produce a good result on the base, or automatic, settings without playing with them to get a decent "pic". I suspect way less than 1% want to make a commercial movie with their phones. A lot more of us are as you suggest. We want to take spur of the moment pictures or videos of your surroundings.
  • I am a recruiter and hobbyist photographer. When it comes to phones, what is important to me is call quality first, battery life, a phone that integrates well with Google Works and works well as a portable work device when I am away from my laptop. On my personal time, I look for a phone that takes good photos while hiking with my dog and is able to withstand the elements. I have dropped my Pixel 6 in deep water and it held up well and is still going strong. I don't even have a screen protector on my phone. But for shots that really matter, it will always be my DSLR or my mirrorless MFT Olympus camera.
  • The problems with phones is that the sensor are far too small, I have a Panasonic G80 with a four third sensor and even with that there can be problems and while it is getting on now, it can take some great photos, just take a bit more mucking around for depth of field. So imagine doing that with a sensor on most phones.
    Also phones will struggle with low light, again because of their small sensors, no matter what trickery is used.
  • I love quoting stupid, uneducated people who think they know it all.
    Here's a good one from this article: "most phones aren't going to beat it in any meaningful way"
    How about the Sony Xperia mark 3's? They already beat the snot out of these Samsung phones in the hardware department by a llllooooooooonnnnnggggggg mile! LOL - SMH
  • The mark 3s are wonderful pieces of hardware, and if I could afford one I'd buy one for sure. Having said that, I know that for many people, a Samsung - complete with digital zoom and oversaturated colors - provides an experience that's not meaningfully better.
  • I won't call you stupid or uneducated for not understanding that I was clearly (like the rest of the sentence you tried to quote shows) talking sales.
  • Jerry - on the "point and shoot" thing; I'm very curious about the role of the CPU's imaging system on the quality of images. I upgraded from an S20FE to an S21FE (I had my reasons :-)). I really think the S21 has better dynamic range and less sharpening than the S20, despite essentially the same software and hardware. Or am I making that up?
  • At the end of the day the camera you have is the best camera. My Oppo A72 takes good photos for the price of the phone and vide is ok as well, My video camera still take better video and my Mirrorless camera takes better photos and video for that matter, but I don't always have them on me.
    i saw a steam train on e the way home from Work today, so I took a video of it with my phone, the only problem is I must learn to use the zoom properly on the phone, it is a pain in the neck to use, or it is me. :) Not that I like digital zoom anyway.
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