Leaks hint at possible big camera upgrade for the Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
(Image credit: Samsung)

It seems like only last week that the Galaxy S23 Ultra dropped (in reality it was February - read our full review), but rumors are already surfacing about what upgrades the S24 Ultra is likely to bring. According to a recent report from GalaxyClub.nl, the telephoto camera could be due an increase in optical zoom, to 5x (up from 3x in the S23 Ultra). Whether or not the separate 10x periscope telephoto camera will also get a zoom boost remains to be seen.

One point to note in general: though we may talk about 3x and 5x 'zoom', these cameras don't actually 'zoom' at all. A potential upgrade to a 5x zoom camera simply means the camera uses a fixed lens with a focal length 5x longer than that used by the primary (wide-angle) camera. So if the S24 Ultra recycles the 200MP, 24mm-equivalent primary camera from the S23 Ultra, its '5x' telephoto camera would be a sensor fronted by a fixed 120mm-equivalent lens.

(Image credit: UK Intellectual Property Office)

This latest report builds on previous speculation at the possible introduction of dedicated Samsung ISOCELL sensors for zoom cameras. On April 26th this year, Samsung filed a trademark protection application for the terms 'ISOCELL Zoom' and 'ISOCELL Zoom Pro' with the UK Intellectual Property Office. As the report points out, ISOCELL-branded sensors are nothing new, but the addition of 'Zoom' is new and interesting. Conventional wisdom says that a sensor itself cannot 'zoom' - that's the lens's job - so could this be a new form of lossless image enlargement, where the output of a high resolution sensor is cropped to provide a form of digital zoom?

2014's Samsung Galaxy K Zoom: an Android smartphone with true 10x optical zoom (Image credit: Samsung)

Alternatively, maybe Samsung is actually developing a camera system with true optical zoom, and we’re about to see the return of phones like the Galaxy K Zoom from 2014 - an Android camera phone with true 10x optical zoom, albeit at the cost of a chunky 16.6mm thickness, almost double that of an S23 Ultra. Sadly the trademark application provides no additional detail to clarify the ‘ISOCELL Zoom’ naming. Will this potential new tech be debuted in the S24 Ultra? Who knows.

As you'd expect for a phone so far from launch, Galaxy S24 details are scarce and any rumors very sketchy. We can at least be fairly sure about Samsung's internal codenames for the three new phones in the line-up: Project Muse. Muse1, Muse2 and Muse3 may be set to become the S24, Galaxy S24 Plus and Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Story credit: GalaxyClub.nl

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Ben Andrews

Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys.