Samsung unveiled its new flagship Galaxy S23 smartphones in February, including the extremely impressive S23 Ultra, which PetaPixel describes as including “among the best mobile cameras.” However, based on a Redditor’s claims, the picture isn’t as rosy for Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23+ owners.
Reports Spread on Reddit and Forums
In a detailed Reddit post, user Switch01 reports that as soon as they received their Galaxy S23 smartphone, they noticed a problem with the phone’s camera. “There is frequently a blurry and smudged area on the left side of the photos shot with the device in landscape mode (on the top side in portrait shots),” explains Switch01.
Considering the S23 starts at $799 for the 128GB version, Switch01 is understandably frustrated with the performance. The issue “makes photos of documents and text almost unusable sometimes,” they say. However, the problem isn’t limited to close-up scenarios; the “blur” is also visible in photos of landscapes and cityscapes.
This is not a one-off issue. Switch01 links to an Imgur gallery featuring examples from other Galaxy S23 owners.
A poll on German Android website Android Hilfe shows that only seven out of 83 respondents aren’t affected by the “blur banana” issue, named after the banana-like shape of the blur pattern.
Switch01 shared the results from a poll on an Italian Android website that showed that 17 of 25 users had the blur issue.
It May Be a Hardware Issue
Android Police has written about the issue, explaining that the problem is unlikely to be software-related, as affected users are still dealing with blurry photos following Samsung’s recent camera-focused update.
Samsung smartphone website SamMobile writes, “Looking at the sample images, and going by the comments on Reddit, the blurry spot appearing on the photos taken with the Galaxy S23 seems to be caused by a hardware issue…For now, the camera-related issue on the Galaxy S23 and S23+ appears real, and we hope Samsung will do something about it instead of ignoring it.”
The blur issue appears limited to the S23 and S23+’s main cameras, which include identical 50-megapixel sensors paired with a 24mm equivalent f/1.8 lens. The S23 Ultra, which seems immune to the problem, features a new 200-megapixel image sensor and 24mm f/1.7 lens.
Samsung’s Response to Some Affected Owners
The alleged blurry camera has frustrated users, but Samsung’s responses to affected users have only exacerbated the issue. Switch01 links to a Samsung forum screenshot showing a Samsung service representative describing the blur as “like DSLR bokeh effect” and explaining the blur away as resulting from “sensor and lens characteristics.”
If the issue were limited to extreme close-up scenarios, it could be explained away by a combination of small optics and field curvature. However, the issue is not limited to close-focusing distances and is also not symmetrical across the frame. At least in that instance, Samsung’s response seems to confuse depth of field limitations of lenses with the actual presenting issue, which is not related to depth of field.
An affected user sent their device to Samsung, only to have it returned because the problem is “characteristic of the big sensor.” Another customer had their phone’s camera module replaced, but the new module had the same issue.
“it’s disheartening to think that I spent so much money on a flagship device from a reputable brand in order to avoid problems like this and to have access to top-notch customer service if something did go wrong,” writes Switch01. “Unfortunately, the situation has turned out to be the opposite.”
Switch01’s Reddit post has hundreds of comments, with some users, such as GeneralChaz9, reporting that they aren’t experiencing the “banana” blur issue. Replying to another user asking about close-up performance, GeneralChaz9 writes, “Mine didn’t have the out of focus issue, just the typical bokeh effect you see on the large sensors.”
Redditor jbraft adds that their Samsung Galaxy S23+ is also good. They add, “This issue has been discussed on other subs for a month now. Some speculation was that the issue is seen more in phones produced in Vietnam. Don’t know if it’s really an issue of where it is produced, but it’s best to check the phones IMEI and not the box. My box says Vietnam, but the IMEI check says produced in Korea SEC. Samsung has a habit of sending units to Vietnam for final boxing to save on import fees.” Jbraft also writes that some S22 and S22+ owners reported a similar blur issue, which makes sense given that these smartphones use the same camera module as the S23 and S23+.
Other commenters aren’t convinced that the reported blur issue is a big deal. “I’d take the camera issue [in exchange] for the battery life,” says Tanglebrook.
Task_ID replies, “There shouldn’t be an ‘I’d take the … for …’ It’s a $900 flagship phone, it should work without compromises and not have any of these issues. I have the same problem with the camera.”
Another Redditor, who provided PetaPixel with the example photos seen in this article, reports the same issue and shared an example image that shows very severe blurring in a localized “banana” shape near the top of a portrait image, just like Switch01 describes.
With any mass-produced product, including smartphones, there will inevitably be some users who receive devices with problems. However, it’s typically a tiny percentage of users, and the reported blur issue seems more widespread than what’s within normal parameters.
Further, the reports of Samsung’s response to affected customers are concerning. The examples of blur that Switch01 supplies are not representative of DSLR-like bokeh or the typical depth of field limitations of “large” image sensors.
Despite widespread reports of issues, it remains challenging to determine what percentage of S23 and S23+ owners may be affected by blurry photos. Like other problems, users experiencing issues are significantly more likely to make forum posts and vote in relevant polls. There’s an inherently biased sample. However, that does little to assuage the concerns of affected users.