The large lens protuberance on the back looks reasonable on the S20, but by the time you get to the Ultra it looks like someone sliced the front off a garage door opener and stuck it on the back. Although it has the same number of lenses, the Ultra offers significantly fancier specs, with a massive 108MP sensor on the main shooter compared to 12MP on the other phones, and a periscope lens for zoom rather than a standard telephoto.

Taken together these give the S20 Ultra a maximum “hybrid optic” zoom of 10x, and a digital zoom of up to 100x. According to a spokesperson at the briefing, this is the biggest change that’s come to the Galaxy S cameras since the S7, and has been redesigned from the ground up.

In my hands-on time, I took a photo of a small globe from roughly three metres away. The photo of the globe looked like a pretty standard photo of a distant object, nothing too exciting. But when I zoomed in to take another photo, I could see a tiny pin that had been stuck in San Francisco. I sure as anything couldn’t see that pin with my bespectacled eye from that distance, and yet thanks to the software stitching the best bits of 20 simultaneous shots together I could see it on the screen with surprisingly little grain.

I was also shown a picture of a stadium someone took from a plane, where I couldn’t even see it from the unzoomed picture. This feature is going to be great for people who want pictures of birds or particularly tiny things, and a nightmare for people with windows and a false sense of privacy.

Zooming in reveals details not visible from a distance.Credit:Alice Clarke

Aside from zoom, the best new feature to come to the camera is Single Take, which will also be introduced to some older Samsung cameras through a software update in the coming months.

Single Take is a mode where you take a ten second video, and then it’s turned into six photos and some different video lengths, often including a boomerang or two. These best moments are decided using AI, and I was very impressed with the shots it gave me from the 10 second video I took of a juggler. I can see how this would be perfect for birthday parties when it comes to cake time, or when you can’t decide if a short video or taking photos is better and you just want to be in the moment instead of deciding.

I do wish the videos could be longer, though, and that you could go through and say different shots you want instead. Single Take is a mode where you get what you’re given.

The front-facing camera has also been improved to a 40MP, 80°, F2.2 lens. While this will certainly provide incentive to up my selfie game and get better face cream, the main thing I noticed was just how fast it was to set up and use facial recognition to unlock the phone; I could also hold it at weird angles and still have it unlock fast.

The S20 series will be available in Australia from March 6 2020, with prices ranging from $1349 to $2249.

The author travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Samsung.

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