What is the first smartphone with a 200 megapixel sensor worth? We took matters into our own hands

During the press presentation of the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra, we had the opportunity to take some shots with its new Samsung HP1 sensor. Here is the result.

Motorola has just introduced three new smartphones to complete its Edge lineup. On paper, the most interesting of the three is called the Edge 30 Ultra, for the simple and good reason that it’s the first phone with a 200-megapixel sensor. We were able to try it out for a couple of hours.

Motorola edge 30 ultra (10)

This is a phone with a completely standard design for its price range, paying attention to design in the choice of materials, the satin coating on the back or the curvature of its edges. But what interests us today is the photo qualities of its main sensor.

Isocell HP Sensor Season 1

Before we continue, let’s finish the presentations. This is a Samsung S5KHP1 sensor, often referred to as the Isocell HP1. This is the first generation of sensors with this definition developed by the Korean giant.

With a size of 1/1.22 inch, it integrates photosites with a size of 0.64 µm and can combine 16 of them simultaneously into 12 megapixel photos with a pixel size of 2.56 µm. On the Motorola Edge 30 ultra, it is accompanied by a lens with an aperture of f / 1.9, a field of view of 82.3 degrees, optical stabilization and autofocus from 14 cm.

Our first shots

The first observation that immediately catches the eye: the 200 megapixels are by no means revolutionizing smartphone photography. We expected it, we can now confirm it.

Motorola Edge 30 Ultra successful photo
Photo taken with Motorola Edge 30 Ultra

Let’s get one thing straight: the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra takes pretty decent photos. But we struggle to see the contribution of the 200-megapixel at first glance.

We can never be reminded enough that photography on smartphones today is less about hardware and more about the quality of the algorithms they support. This new moto may come with a brand new sensor. We find the shortcomings of the photos that we already knew on the other phones of the brand: small colorimetric problems, especially in the case of blue, red or skin tones.

If we compare it to a competitor, the Oppo Find X5 Pro, which, we recall, is also much more expensive, we see that the sharpness and HDR management are still worse.

Here the HDR and the details in the background or on the car.

Here in portrait mode, look at my hair or the sun to the right of my face.

In theory, the interest of such a sensor on paper is to get night shots with less noise. Never mind, here’s what’s at very reduced brightness.

The result is frankly very well controlled, although we find some corners of the photo a little too exposed and a little blurry here and there, the overall image captured is quite aesthetic. Motorola could be involved.

And the cut?

One of the promises of high-pixel sensors is that you can use an ultra-definition mode that doesn’t blend the pixels together, theoretically allowing for more detail. This allows in particularcutterin the image, ie crop as desired within the image.

Two concerns stand in the way of this use: On the one hand, the gain in sharpness, i.e. the fineness of the details of a photo, is not really recognizable, especially on the sides of the picture.

Motorola Edge 30 Ultra Mode 200 Megapixels - Copy

Then the high-definition mode seems to lose some of the algorithms of the normal recording mode. Here is an example below where we can clearly see the HDR breaking down.

Despite these few shortcomings, being able to crop photos more easily is always a good thing, and the presentation of the iPhone 14 Pro with its 48-megapixel sensor will surely lead manufacturers to improve their algorithms to make better use of them.

Note that the phone we took the above images with does not have the software version that will be present on the Motorolas once they are marketed. Of course, we can expect improvements from here to release.

The number of pixels does not make the photophone

So overall, the 200-megapixel sensor, as used here by Motorola, really doesn’t add much to the flagship photo experience. The colorimetry, the sharpness, the dynamics management, everything seems to lag behind the competition. Even the fact that the image is cropped by shooting at maximum resolution makes us think a bit, since this mode leads to a drop in overall quality and uncontrolled HDR. The level of detail we are asked to recover does not justify the addition of such technology.

Ultimately, this new sensor confirms an unchanging rule in smartphone photography: the number of pixels does not determine quality. Remember that until the last iPhone 14 Pro, the iPhone monopolized the ranking of the best photophones with a 12-megapixel sensor.

This article was written as part of a press trip organized by Motorola.

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