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[Herald Interview] Samsung bets big on cameras to fight Apple

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : Feb. 5, 2023 - 15:43

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Cho Sung-dae, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics' mobile experience division. (Samsung Electronics) Cho Sung-dae, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics' mobile experience division. (Samsung Electronics)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Samsung Electronics unveiled the new Galaxy S23 smartphones, the latest lineup of its flagship S series, on Wednesday, putting much emphasis on enhanced camera functions -- a secret weapon to fight against its archrival, Apple.

“We’ve enhanced our camera system that allows users to take the best photos and videos in any environment. … The Galaxy S23 series not only comes with a 200-megapixel sensor but also provides a satisfactory camera experience with more value into it,” Cho Sung-dae, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics’ mobile experience division, said during a press briefing held at the Hotel Nikko San Francisco on Thursday.

Compared with the previous S22 series, the camera featured in the S23 series enables portraits to stand out more, even at night. Users can even take photos of nebulae and galaxies in the night sky with just a tripod and turn their pictures and videos into professional-grade quality, according to Cho.

Cho is a camera expert who joined Samsung as a senior researcher in 2004 and has been developing camera technology for Galaxy phones. One of the biggest concerns he had was the Galaxy smartphones being compared to the iPhones in terms of camera performance.

“I rarely check social media, but I heard many people saying things like ‘Samsung phone is good for taking photos and Apple is good for videos’ or ‘Samsung is for landscapes, while Apple is for portraits.’ To break the frame, we conducted numerous surveys globally to make the improvements,” he said.

Many of the camera functions that Samsung featured this time were from the results based on consumers’ opinions, in particular, on the user characteristics and feedback of “Generation MZ,” a Korean term referring to millennials and Generation Z, or roughly those born from the 1980s into the 2010s.

One of the improvements made through the surveys was to enhance the selfie function. The Galaxy S23 series introduces fast autofocus and their first Super HDR selfie camera. Its object-based AI analyzes each detail in the frame, even down to minute facial features such as hair and eyes, to carefully reflect a person’s dynamic characteristics.

“I’m sure users won’t tell the difference whether it was taken on the Galaxy S23 series or Apple phones this time,” Cho said.

Yet Samsung is not the first tech company to introduce a phone that features a main 200-megapixel camera. Other smartphone makers, including China's Xiamoi launched their phones with the same specs earlier.

"We think it is right to provide sufficiently advanced technology with a stable solution to users. We believe now is the time for us to offer such functions to our users. If you compare the quality of the final saved video, you will quickly know the difference between the technologies," the executive vice president said.

By Jie Ye-eun

Korea Herald correspondent