At launch, the S22 Ultra was revered for it's camera array. Specifically, Samsung shouted about the night photography on the device, claiming it would "leave other cameras in the dark."
But that's not the experience one user has had. Notorious tech leaker, Ice Universe (opens in new tab), has posted a series of images from popular flagship phones, comparing the quality of their night photography. And Ice is not happy with the Samsung offering.
In a subsequent tweet (opens in new tab), Ice said, "On the whole, S22 Ultra's night performance is the worst flagship." That's a scathing claim.
The images compared come from the S22 Ultra, plus the Vivo X90 Pro+, the Xiaomi S12 Ultra and the iPhone 14 Pro Max. In the full images, there isn't a massive difference between the images, although each seems to favour a certain colour tone which identifies it.
It's worth noting that the S22 Ultra is much darker than the competition, though, losing a lot of detail in darker areas. That's amplified when you zoom in. Darker patches have little detail.
In another set of images (opens in new tab), looking at a yellow building, we see more of the same. Shots taken on the other three devices are crisp and rich with detail, even when zoomed in. But the S22 Ultra just seems to be lacking, with little definition. It's uncharacteristic – I've personally seen some of the best images I've ever seen taken on an S22 Ultra.
"But wait," I hear you cry, "isn't it unfair to compare the older S22 Ultra to some phones with a next-gen Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor?"
Well, maybe. But as Ice is one of few people who – if rumours are to be believed – has used a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, I trust their judgement. If the S23 Ultra was about to come out with a massively improved camera, I think that would be the focus of Ice's comments.
Instead, the distinct lack of comment about how the S23 Ultra is going to turn things around suggests that Samsung may no longer be the camera king. We've seen a number of strong competitors in the phone camera stakes lately, most notably the X90 Pro+ and the Google Pixel 7 Pro.
We'll have to wait for the S23 Ultra's release to know for sure, but one thing is certain: the bar has been raised this year.