You don’t need to look too far to see the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s most incredible new feature. It’s literally printed on the back: 100X Space Zoom.
If you’ve decided to buy one for $1,400, you already know the drill. The Galaxy S20 Ultra can zoom up to 100 times (digitally, obviously) what you’re seeing, which is 20 times further than the iPhone 11 Pro and more than twice as much as the S20+. It’s quite a claim, so naturally, it’s the first thing I wanted to try.
Using it is as easy as using the zoom feature on any other phone: Just pinch out. If you do it quickly enough, you’ll get to 100X in about a half-second. Controlling it at that distance isn’t so easy, so you’ll want to pinch slowly to keep your target in range. Keeping your eye on the mini viewfinder helps immensely, but it’s still tricky to keep something so far away centered in the window.
So 100X is definitely a two-hand function, but even using your other hand to steady it is difficult. You’ll want to invest in a tripod and a phone mount if you’re serious about using 100X zoom to take faraway photos. You don’t need to spend too much—a $7 mountRemove non-product link and $15 tripodRemove non-product link will do the trick—but make sure you check the dimensions. The Ultra is pretty wide at 76mm, so you’ll need a clamp that supports it.
In my testing while holding it, the images were certainly fuzzy and noisy at that distance, but they were much clearer than I thought they’d be. With some patience and a tripod, they’d be even better.
We’ll have lots more coverage of the Galaxy S20 to come, including a full review, so stay tuned to PCWorld for the latest.