Smartphone cameras have truly evolved, haven’t they? These days, we’re seeing flagship devices boasting remarkable zoom features, some even daring to challenge the prowess of dedicated cameras. In the mobile photography world, we’ve entered the era of astonishing 100x zoom capabilities.
When Huawei unveiled the P30 Pro, it showcased a 5x optical zoom using a periscope-style design that positioned the sensor at a right angle to the lens. To demonstrate its capabilities, Huawei presented a staggering 50x hybrid magnification with a moonshot as an example. While some may view this as a gimmick, there’s no denying that it became the most buzzworthy feature of the P30 Pro. This attention-grabbing aspect even made headlines in general media outlets beyond tech-savvy publications.
Google also adopted a similar strategy with its Pixel 4 phones, marketing them as suitable for astrophotography. Samsung followed suit, promoting the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s capabilities with an emphasis on its impressive zoom. Samsung went so far as to label the camera module on its most premium Galaxy S-series phone to date with “100x Space Zoom”.
Well, it’s fascinating to see how smartphones can achieve an astonishing 100x zoom, but remember that their camera sensors can vary significantly. Take, for example, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. This powerhouse boasts a quad-camera setup featuring two 10MP lenses for periscope and telephoto, a 12MP ultrawide, and an astounding 200MP primary shooter. While the Honor Magic 5 Pro, which opts for a more streamlined triple camera configuration, rocks 50MP sensors across the board. You see, despite their shared ability to hit the 100x zoom mark, these two devices take quite different approaches to camera technology.
The 50MP periscope telephoto of the magic 5 Pro also includes an x3 optical zoom, while Samsungs 10MP offers up to x10. Aside from that, it also has another sensor, the 10MP telephoto, which also provides an additional x3 optical zoom. Now let’s see which of these two smartphones shoots better at 100x zoom.
The Magic 5 Pro sports a 50MP periscope telephoto lens with a 3x optical zoom, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts a 10MP periscope telephoto lens that offers a whopping 10x optical zoom. But that’s not all! Samsung also throws in another 10MP telephoto lens, dishing out an extra 3x optical zoom for good measure. So, which of these two tech marvels comes out on top when pushed to their 100x zoom limits? Let’s find out.
As we dive into this first image comparison, let’s examine the differences between the X1 zoom capabilities of these two devices. Straight away, we notice a disparity in color reproduction. The Magic 5 Pro delivers more vibrant, sharp colors and fine details, while the Samsung S23 Ultra leans towards a slightly yellowish hue.
Focusing on white balance, look at the center of both images. You’ll spot that the S23 Ultra exhibits some exposure leakage, causing the end of the road to appear brighter compared to the Magic 5 Pro, where the building’s details are much more visible.
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the Magic 5 Pro, as it struggles with deep blacks and shadows. Examining the darker areas of the images, you’ll see that the Magic 5 Pro has difficulty capturing details on the darker side, such as the tree on the left. This issue often arises in images with enhanced clarity and vibrancy, as focusing on sharp details can lead to losing details in the darker portions of the picture.
Moving on to the 3.5x zoom, the Magic 5 Pro’s vibrant colors come into play, offering a noticeable advantage. With fewer dark areas in this shot, the Magic 5 Pro’s desired level of detail begins to shine through. The tree’s details are more visible, and the traffic appears sharper and more natural-looking than the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
For lighter colors, the Magic 5 Pro captures better details. However, darker colors, like the signboard on the right, must be sharper, drawing too much attention. Instead of appreciating the image, our eyes are drawn to the striking dark blue, causing a shift in focus.
Regarding exposure, Samsung renders light blue skies more accurately than the Magic 5 Pro. The white balance has now tipped the scales, with the Magic 5 Pro exhibiting a yellowish tone, despite offering greater sharpness and detail.
As we venture into the 10x zoom territory, edging closer to that 100x zoom milestone, we observe the Magic 5 Pro’s details beginning to falter. Shadows deepen around the windows and walls of the sign, yet the colors remain vibrant. However, when it comes to zooming in, it’s all about the details—something the Galaxy S23 Ultra delivers more effectively. Although it doesn’t have the most vibrant colors, it accentuates the shadows, giving us a clearer view of the building’s various layers. A prime example is the building on the right—while visible in both images, the level of detail is more pronounced in the S23 Ultra’s shot.
Exposure plays a vital role in conveying emotions through an image, and photos taken with different lighting can evoke distinct moods. The color tone suggests a smoky atmosphere when you look at the Magic 5 Pro’s image. On the other hand, the S23 Ultra presents a fresher, more relaxed tone.
Approaching the 100x zoom mark, we see the Magic 5 Pro struggling to maintain image clarity. Samsung’s cooler tone, on the other hand, works to its advantage by reducing shadows and enhancing detail. The Magic 5 Pro’s output becomes increasingly blurry and darker, losing finer details.
Another noteworthy difference between the two devices is the field of view, and Samsung offers a broader perspective than the Magic 5 Pro.
And here we are, at the pinnacle of their zoom capabilities. By now, it’s evident which of these two devices delivers superior results. The Magic 5 Pro’s image appears soft and blurry, with hardly any discernible details. In contrast, the S23 Ultra’s output may not be razor-sharp or packed with detail, but it provides a more precise image.
Interestingly, despite the Magic 5 Pro’s larger 50MP sensor compared to the S23 Ultra’s dual 10MP sensors, it couldn’t deliver impressive results at 100x zoom. The Magic 5 Pro did excel in the initial zoom stages, showcasing better color distribution, sharpness, and detail. However, its performance deteriorated as we approached the halfway mark and beyond.
On the other hand, despite its less impressive early zoom results, Samsung managed to deliver the details we were seeking as we approached 100x zoom.
Considering that flagship devices are the ones that usually put out the 100x zoom feature, we expect top-notch results that justify their price tags. If I were to score their performance, I’d give Samsung an 8 out of 10 – it may have faltered at the beginning, but once it reached the 100x zoom, it showed us why they are one of the best to put out this kind of feature in the smartphone market. As for the Magic 5 Pro, I’d assign it a 6, as it initially caught our attention with its vibrant colors and exceptional clarity but fell short in the 10x to 100x zoom range.