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Fast Charge: 2023 is going to be a huge year for mobile photography

OPINION: Whether it’s the 200MP snapper of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, the 1-inch sensor of the Vivo X90 Pro or the superb telephoto portrait performance of the Xiaomi 13 Pro, there’s a lot to get excited about in the world of mobile photography in 2023 – and we’re only three months into the year.

I’m not just talking about specs on paper either. As part of my job as Mobile Editor, I get to use and review plenty of flagship smartphones including most of the flagships announced so far this year, so I’m in a unique position to really compare and contrast the 2023 offering and let me tell you, I’ve been very impressed so far. 

Let’s start with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and its main 200MP snapper. 

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The 16-in-1 pixel binning tech, a 1/1.3-inch sensor and an f/1.7 aperture equate to a huge jump forward in low-light photography without making the shots look unnaturally lit. Even compared to the capable S22 Ultra there’s more detail, better colour accuracy and more light captured, with the ability to take some truly stunning low-light photos.

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Even in well-lit conditions, the sheer scale of the 200MP snapper means that the S23 Ultra packs in more detail than practically any other rival on the market. Combined with the ultra-wide and a smattering of zoom lenses, the S23 Ultra offers arguably the most versatile camera set-up around.  

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The Vivo X90 Pro is another highlight in the world of mobile photography, utilising the impressively large 1-inch sensor of its main 50.3MP camera to capture an almost unbelievable amount of light, even in extremely low-light conditions, with Vivo claiming it can take shots in environments with less than 1 lux of light. 

I found that to be pretty much spot on in my review, with the below shot actually taken at 11pm at night with the only natural light being the moon. Sure, it’s not anywhere near what I was seeing with the naked eye, but if you want something close to night vision for your low-light photography, the X90 Pro truly shines.

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It’s also pretty good at taking photos of the stars without the need for a tripod, all in just a few seconds – and that was from testing in London which is one of the most light-polluted cities in the UK. 

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The recently announced Xiaomi 13 Pro also has a large 1-inch sensor, though it focuses more on taking images that are closer to what you see with the naked eye for far more natural results, and it can take them pretty quickly too.

Camera Xiaomi 13 Pro
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However, for me, it’s the performance of its 3.2x 50MP telephoto lens that truly stands out. It boasts tech like Xiaomi’s Focal Shift technology, OIS and a ‘floating’ lens design that allows it to keep the subject in focus even as you move closer or further away. 

It’s not just marketing chat either, with the Xiaomi 13 Pro able to deliver stunning portrait photography with impressive detail, a natural bokeh and some of the best edge detection tech I’ve seen.

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It also uses the telephoto lens in place of the ultra-wide (like many competitors) to take close-up shots. Take a look at the below shot of a flower I snapped at MWC 2023 – it looks like something you’d get from a DSLR, not a smartphone.

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It’s not just candybar flagships that are getting an upgrade in the camera department either. Foldables have long lagged behind their regular counterparts, though that’s beginning to change in 2023 with foldables like the Oppo Find N2 Flip.

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The main 50MP snapper isn’t quite as good as some high-end competitors in low-light conditions, but for the first time, photography isn’t something you’ll have to sacrifice if you want the foldable form factor. 

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So we’re looking at impressive detail, next-level low-light performance and impressive telephoto photography, and that’s before 2023 has really managed to get underway. We’re still awaiting flagships from the likes of Oppo, Huawei and Apple, so there’s potential for even more impressive camera tech to make an appearance this year. 

Is camera tech important to you when buying a new smartphone? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

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