The Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of the very best Android phones your money can buy right now. If you have one, the very first thing you probably did with it, right after unboxing and getting set up, was trying out that fancy new 200MP camera. But maybe the phone's coolest trick involves its telephoto camera.
The ability of these phones to combine that lens with additional digital zoom to grab some surprisingly decent pictures of the Moon (famously going up to 100X) went viral last year with the arrival of the Galaxy S22 Ultra — and Samsung's latest phone is just as capable of this. However, a minor scandal has broken out around claims that these Moon shots are artificially enhanced with an excessive dose of AI. If you ask me, though, this whole thing is being blown way out of proportion. In fact, it's not a bad thing at all.
Is my Galaxy S23 Ultra taking fake Moon pictures?
Well, I wouldn't call them "fake." You are, after all, aiming your phone at the Moon and taking a picture. What your phone is capturing is a real photo of our planet's lone natural satellite, and of the sunlight shining at it and reflecting back to you, showing its prominent impact craters and lunar mare. Nothing about that is fake; if there's a crescent moon or a full moon, it'll look the same as if you pointed a telescope up and looked right at it.
What you could consider being "fake" are AI enhancements that are done to your images during post-processing, so they appear better and feature a lot more detail. Samsung's photo processing employs an AI model that's able to recognize when a user has taken a picture of the Moon, matching the info your camera captured to more detailed, close-up Moon photos, in order to bring out more detail from the image you already took.
Your phone's rear 10MP telephoto camera, which is what's being used for these shots, is physically incapable of capturing that much detail from the Moon on its own — not without optical zoom that goes way further than just 10X, at least. It will capture some key details, and you easily get a shot that's vaguely Moon-ish, but it might look a lot blurrier than you'd hope. That's where AI comes into play — it takes those details you could grab, and fills in the blanks, enhancing the shot for you.
Some people, however, seem to have thought that Samsung's smartphones were producing those insane moon shots completely on their own, with minimal post-processing helping out. Because of that, many were baffled at the realization that moon shots produced by the phones are actually helped by an AI model. A Reddit post demonstrating just how much detail Samsung's adding was enough for controversy to ensue, with many pointing fingers at Samsung for misleading claims, or even false advertising.