Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera lens

Qualcomm has finished its annual chip jamboree in sunny Hawaii and — shock horror — the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 has been replaced with the Gen 3. It’s going big on AI like every other tech release.

With that big unveiling out the way, Samsung has revealed one way in which it plans to use it, with a new video showing off something called ISOCELL Zoom Anyplace. In short, it’ll let budding film directors capture a wide-shot video while also recording a zoomed-in tracking shot of a moving subject. Neat!

This isn’t digital cropping, so you won’t see a distracting drop in resolution and detail. It uses something called “in-sensor zoom” to maintain the pixels and capture the section in 4K.

Notably, the video doesn’t actually use the words “Galaxy S24 Ultra” because companies like Samsung are extremely coy about acknowledging phones exist until they do, even when it’s patently obvious. 

But it’s pretty near certain that this is where it’s heading, as the video says it’s specifically for 200MP camera sensors in tandem with the new Qualcomm chipset. Only one Samsung phone has a camera with that many megapixels, and that’s the S23 Ultra, so it’s not a massive leap to predict that ISOCELL Zoom Anyplace will appear in its successor. 

It’s not a completely new feature, with dedicated cameras like Sony’s vlogging-focused ZV-E1 featuring three different crops of the full-screen image with subject tracking. But that camera will also set you back a whopping NZ$3,495, and it’s hard to imagine Samsung pricing its S24 phones that optimistically, even in its most money-grabbing fantasies.

Some phones have also attempted it. Honor has Solo Cut Mode, and if you want similar functionality on your iPhone, there’s Filmic’s DoubleTake app — though this uses two different cameras, rather than using a sensor crop as Samsung promises.

All we have for now is a slick Samsung promo video, and it will be interesting to see how well the technology pans out when it’s tested in the real world. While mirrorless cameras’ on-sensor crop modes work better than digital zoom, they’re still not perfect, so we’ll have to see how Samgung’s integration will fare. It might require plenty of light for the best possible results, making it better for tracking brightly-lit summer birthday parties than gigs in dark and dingy venues.