The main camera is supposedly the star of the show, however, as Samsung's Super Steady OIS technology promises an impressive combination of software and hardware stabilization. We've seen the Super Steady Video Mode in action in previously reviewed Samsung devices and it works really well by producing gimbal-like action videos. This is the first time we see the tech making its way to a big sensor with pixel-binning tech. As for the lens itself, it's optically stabilized (well, duh) and it has a f/2.0 aperture.
The ultra-wide camera is nothing special - 12MP with f/2.2 aperture with a proper ultra-wide 123-degree viewing angle.
As we've said in the introduction, the only change we would have made to the camera setup is adding a 2x telephoto camera. We find it more useful than a macro camera. That doesn't mean that the macro lens is bad, though. It's 5MP (competing brands usually settle for 2MP macro cameras) and it appears to be capable of taking some crisp closeup shots.
The front-facing camera is 32MP with f/2.2 aperture and it also makes use of pixel binning outputting 8MP photos. As long as you choose the option not to crop your selfie photos. W
The default camera's UI is the same as before - swipe left or right to switch between modes and tap in the upper-right corner of the viewfinder to adjust some additional settings.
Under the "More" sub-menu, you will find the Macro, Pro, Super slow-mo, Hyperlapse, Night and Food modes. You can add them and re-arrange them to your liking for quick access in the viewfinder carousel. Unfortunately, the Pro mode offers you to take control of only three settings such as exposure, white balance, and ISO. There's no manual autofocus and no shutter speed setting as well.
You do get the flagship feature of Live focus video, though, as the Snapdragon 855 chipset is perfectly capable of handling the real-time background processing.
And now off to the fun part - the camera samples.
In a usual Samsung fashion, the S10 Lite delivers punchy colors during the day with good dynamic range. However, there's some noise in some rare occasions in uniform areas of the scene but the more pronounced issues during the day are the visible sharpening halos and the edge to edge sharpness varies. In most cases, the lower-left corner of the scene would turn out soft.
The ultra-wide camera was a surprise though as it offers similar rendition to the main camera with punchy colors and impressive dynamic range. Still, we find it a bit on the soft side, at least compared to the main camera, but that's a re-occurring theme with ultra-wide cams, even in the top-tier segment. The lens correction is doing a pretty good job, however, especially considering the wide 123-degree field of view.
The low-light performance is looking rather good with a few exceptions. Color saturation appears to vary from scene to scene, and overall it's looking a bit soft. We noticed that the HDR engages in almost all of the night scenarios and it seems that it's doing a really good job too. You can see lots of detail in the highlights and shadows are well-developed in most cases. Light sources are also handled well.
The dedicated Night mode, on the other hand, isn't doing a great deal here. It does restore a bit more detail in the shadows but doesn't seem to be helping with the highlights and the light sources. It also adds a lot of grain in the photos, mostly in the dark areas so we don't think it's worth the trade-off. We find the Night mode a bit too conservative and we can't say it improves the overall picture quality. The standard HDR mode does a pretty good job on its own and you don't have to hold your breath several seconds to ensure a proper image stacking for the Night mode.
Things change when you switch to the ultra-wide camera. The Night mode photos just look better with a bit more sharpness despite the added noise. The photos are still generally soft and there are visible artifacts in the neon lights. And once again, you can expect the HDR to deliver wide dynamic range in the ultra-wide stills as well.
You can head off to our photo compare tool to do some more pixel peeping and compare the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite performance to every other smartphone we've tested.
The macro camera on the S10 Lite is definitely one of the good dedicated macro camera implementations, especially compared to most of the Chinese brands employing those 2MP sensors. The 5MP macro snapper on the S10 Lite delivers sharp and punchy images and detail is quite impressive, even for a 5MP sensor. The only downside is the lack of autofocus so some of the photos may turn out blurry, especially when trying to capture, let's say a flower on a windy day.
For the lack of dedicated depth sensor, the phone does a pretty good job of separating the subject from the background. The faux bokeh effect is looking really nice even when more complex background is introduced to the scene. Portraits look sharp and have natural-looking skin tone.
The overall selfie quality is good - nice colors and good dynamic range. Sharpness is also on par with most selfie cams but we feel that it could have been just a tad better for a 32MP sensor binning at 8MP.
Naturally, the edge detection isn't the best too but we don't expect it to be perfect in the selfie mode either. If you stick to a more uniform background, the results may be good.
Having a flagship SoC, the phone is capable of recording 4K videos up to 60fps and slow-motion videos up to 720@960fps. Live focus videos are also an option - a feature that has been around since the Galaxy Note10 and Note10+. There's also this thing called Super Steady OIS that's supposed to help you capture well-stabilized 4K and Full HD videos.
Let's start with the 2160p video shot with the main camera. The level of detail is really good, there's no noise and colors are lively.
The 1080p video, on the other hand, isn't looking all too well in terms of detail and sharpness - it's a lower resolution after all. But the overall rendition is the same as on the main camera.
To our surprise, the ultra-wide camera can shoot in 4K and is looking really good. Sharpness and detail are impressive and it's comparable to that of the main camera. It's important to note that this is one of the few phones that can record 4K videos with its ultra-wide unit.
When it comes to stabilization, the main camera offers OIS for its Full HD and 4K videos. Samsung markets the feature as Super Steady OIS that should combine the well-known Super Steady software stabilization introduced with the original Galaxy S10-series and the hardware optical stabilization. The end result, however, doesn't seem to be all that different from the standard stabilized 4K video. So we can't really tell what the Super Steady OIS really means or what its benefits are.
Switching over to the Super Steady video recording mode, we can clearly see the phone using its ultra-wide camera, cropping out the excess around the center and producing a gimbal-like action video. But as we noted earlier, the Super Steady feature has been introduced with the original Galaxy S10 lineup and doesn't seem to be benefiting from the Super Steady OIS feature in this particular case.
All in all, the Super Steady OIS remains as one of those mystery features that manufacturers market but don't' seem to be doing anything useful.
Here's a glimpse of how the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite compares to other smartphones in our Video compare tool.