Is your Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra moon photos real or fake?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The moon has always been at the center of conspiracy theories and other controversies. In recent years, the moon as well as other space satellites, stars, etc have been a target of smartphone companies. Well, photography is pretty much great on premium devices. So they need to bet on different areas to appeal to the competition. Some brands like Google and Samsung decided that space is the new target to make their smartphone cameras interesting. Nowadays, smartphones have been focusing on taking crispy photos of stars or other space elements. Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra had most of its appeal set into its capabilities of taking space photos through an impressive 100x “space zoom”. However, the device may not be taking some space photos in the most “fair” way.

Apparently, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra seems to be using AI to make Moon photos more interesting than they really are. The phone certainly has impressive capabilities when compared to other devices like the iPhone 12 Pro Max. According to Input shots, the premium flagship can take impressive shots of the Moon and outpace most of the competition. But are these photos really taken out of the phone’s hardware? Let’s find out.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Image Credit: Input

After posting a comparison between the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the Input got a couple of accusations. Some users pointed out that Samsung is using AI trickery to produce impressive shots with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, and these photos were not accurate. With these sketchy allegations in mind, the source started a deep investigation to clear out the facts.

Is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra taking fake Moon Photos?

According to the report, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is of being just the fruit of some AI tricks. In fact, a YouTuber Alexi Bexi cautioned the source to not “fall for AI tricks”. Bexi even presented a video as a piece of evidence that Samsung was using textures to produce satisfactory results when capturing 100x photos. The video is no longer available. According to him, there wasn’t magic hardware on the phone to catch that crispy shots. In fact, it was more clever software, the same that Huawei did a few years ago. To recall, Huawei was also accused of doing a similar thing with the Huawei P30 Pro.

Huawei was accused a few years ago of adding fake details to moon shots with its 50x hybrid zoom. The combination of clever software with a real photo would result in an impressive moon image full of details, but there were not taken with the actual hardware.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The accuser failed to provide actual proof of his allegations. Huawei clarified that the Moon Mode operates on the same principle as other master AI modes. It recognizes and optimizes details within an image. It does not in any way replace the image. After all, that would require a large amount of storage space. The tech uses machine learning principles to recognize scenarios and optimize the details. Obviously, the feature can be turned off, and the shot can be taken with the periscope lens without the Moon Mode. A few years have passed, and a similar situation revolves around the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

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The evidence proves otherwise – but the opinions differ between sources

Despite this, it seems that Bexi points to the same thing happening on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It says that the phone is adding texture to moon-shaped objects detected by the camera. According to the report, the folks at the Input tried to replicate the case by taking 100x photos of a clove of garlic on a black background. However, the effect was not created. The phone did not overlay any texture on top of it, although the garlic looked like a moon. In addition, they tried with an old Moon photo taken from Google Images, and then, the effect didn’t come place.

After getting some insight from the popular Michael Fisher from MrMobile, he tried a few different approaches. Nothing. Then, Michael Fisher contacted Samsung. The Korean firm stated that there was no image manipulation beyond using AI to enhance details. According to him, there is no reason to believe that Samsung is manipulating the images to produce better results. Fisher also tried to trick the phone’s camera without success.

The source asked for help and the opinion of many photo enthusiasts across the segment. The opinions have varied between true shots and fake shots. While some believed that there was no AI trickery in motion, others believed that Samsung “was playing Huawei” with its moon photos. Input went to the peak of its attempts to take a professional camera to capture photos of the moon.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs SonyA7R III

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

When comparing the results of both a Sony professional camera and the Galaxy S21 Ultra it was possible to take a conclusion. The images are similar matching up the Moon in a perfect state. According to the source, if the S21 Ultra was re-creating the moon’s surface using a database of Moon maps stored within the software, it still would be hard to make these images match perfectly. If that were the case, the phone would need to be collecting extremely precise measurements to get the angle of the craters just perfect. That would mean a massive amount of work and processing power. Samsung would not put so much effort into creating a fake result.


You can read the complete report with more details here. But just like the Huawei P30 Pro history, there is no reason to believe in trickery. I won’t go to the point of saying that this will never be made. However, at least when it comes to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, this does not seem to be the case.

Right now, people’s attention is on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. The latest flagship will keep up the legacy and expand it even further, but it also brings a new round of controversies.


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