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Reminiscing about the Samsung Galaxy S camera over the past decade

Samsung released its Galaxy S III in May 2012, ten years ago. Over the past decade, the S-series has evolved significantly, and we wanted to quantify this evolution. Since there is a lot to cover, we thought we should keep it simple today and just talk about the camera.

Three S-phones were introduced with an 8MP rear camera, a 1.9MP front-facing camera, and a single 8MP camera in the middle. The days before multi-camera setups, optical image stabilization, etc. are long gone.

OIS would not appear until 2015 and the Galaxy S6. In 2018, the Galaxy S9+ added the Galaxy's first telephoto lens, and the Galaxy S10 5G the following year added an ultra-wide lens.

There was an ultrawide camera also in the Galaxy S10+, but we are comparing the best models of each generation. In 2019, it was the S10 5G, which featured 3D ToF sensors on the front and back.

Samsung eventually returned to the computational approach to measuring the distance to objects, but that didn't last long. Another short-lived feature was the dual aperture - the Galaxy S8+ and S9+ could switch between f/2.0 and f/1.5 for day and night photography.

These two are also responsible for another short-lived trend, the iris scanner installed in the front of the phone. This was a biometric authentication system that was dropped with the S10 generation, an under-display fingerprint readers became available.

The following year saw the first Galaxy S phone with a periscope lens (the Galaxy S4 zoom doesn't count - that wasn't a periscope lens, and it was more of a camera than a phone). The following year saw the first Galaxy S phone with a periscope lens (the Galaxy S4 zoom doesn't count - that wasn't a periscope lens, and it was more of a camera than a phone).

Galaxy S20 Ultra came with a periscope with a focal length of 103mm or a 4x optical magnification.

The digital zoom could not fill the gap left by the double telephoto lens, because it created too wide a space for the main sensor. Thus, Samsung has used both a standard telephoto lens (now in 3x) and a periscope for the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Even just covering the camera takes a while, so we put everything into a table to summarize the evolution of the Galaxy S series over the last ten years. We also included some graphs to visualize the evolution.

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