Why Samsung Is Facing a New Controversy Around Its Space Zoom Moon Photos


Samsung has been accused of misleading users over the Space Zoom feature on recent Galaxy S series smartphones that supports capturing high resolution images of the Moon. The feature was first added to the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, and has featured on all of the company’s subsequent ‘Ultra’ models. However, a user has claimed that the South Korean company has misrepresented the feature and how it works while marketing the smartphone’s capabilities.

In a post shared on Reddit on Saturday, user Doktor Bülder (Reddit, Instagram: ibreakphotos) refers to an MSPoweruser article from 2021 that claims that Samsung was artificially enhancing images clicked using the 100x Space Zoom feature on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The Reddit user claims to have tested the feature on a digital image of the Moon, indicating that Samsung’s Space Zoom feature adds details to blurry images that were extremely blurred or not visible. The post currently has over 10,000 upvotes and has received over 1,100 comments on the platform.

In order to back their claims, the Reddit user downloaded an image of the moon, applied a blur effect, and then clicked a photo using their Samsung Galaxy smartphone while it was displayed on their computer monitor. Screen recordings of the process shared by the user show details like craters and other dark areas being added to the Moon’s surface in the final image. The user even edited a portion of the image, increasing the highlights so that it displayed a white blob, but the phone applied the AI based effects anyway.

Unlike the controversy surrounding a similar feature on the Huawei P30 Pro that was accused of overlaying images of the Moon with other photos of Earth’s only natural satellite, Samsung’s Space Zoom feature is claimed to capture images of the Moon and use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology to enhance details in the images. However, the Reddit user claims that Samsung is also adding textures to images of the Moon, even when those details did not exist on the subject.

It is worth noting that Samsung had responded to the MSPoweruser article back in 2021 stating that the company’s Space Zoom feature uses AI to detect the image when it was being previewed by the user, testing it against the company’s AI model that was based on hundreds of thousands of images. If the camera successfully detects the object as the Moon, it enhances the image to reduce noise and blurring. Samsung had also stated that the final image would be of higher quality compared to what was visible in the viewfinder, due to additional image processing techniques, based on AI, that were applied during the process of capturing the image.

From the company’s previous response, it is evident that Samsung has already asserted that the company is adding details to images using ML and AI, resulting in images of the Moon with more details. While these claims do not appear to be misleading, as claimed by the user, the company is yet to issue a statement in response to the claims made by the user, about the Space Zoom feature adding details to images that lack any details in the first place.

From smartphones with rollable displays or liquid cooling, to compact AR glasses and handsets that can be repaired easily by their owners, we discuss the best devices we’ve seen at MWC 2023 on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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