How much is too much?
Besides image quality this year, the best thing about the Galaxy S21’s cameras is the flexibility they offer: the 12-megapixel primary shooter is a solid performer, while the ultra-wide and telephoto cameras do. a great job adding and subtracting space between you and your subject. Naturally, the Ultra amplifies the excess a bit more by packing two separate telephoto lenses, one with a 3x optical zoom range and the other with a 10x optical range. And then there’s Space Zoom, which – like last year – lets you zoom in up to 30x or 100x depending on which phone you’re using.
The feature mostly looked like a tech flex last year, but improvements to the way these phones stabilize those super-long-range photos are starting to give Space Zoom a sense of usable legitimacy. But at what cost? Yes, being able to take reasonably detailed images of the moon at 100x is undeniably cool – but what about the ability to look at people at extreme distances? How does a company that accounts for roughly a fifth of all smartphones in the world balance the usefulness of this technology with some very obvious ethical implications?
Honestly, I was hoping for some sort of deep, reasoned argument, but Samsung didn’t have one for me.
“I understand your concerns, but every time we launch a product, we receive in-depth legal advice globally, and we only launch products that we can be proud of,” Cho said. “I think you can be assured that we are always following all legal processes and procedures thoroughly.”
The pride of a technical achievement is perfectly valid, and Cho is also right about the legality – in the United States at least, it is not illegal to walk around with a camera and a very long zoom and take pictures. people in public spaces. . Scary, of course, but not illegal. But let’s not forget about privacy.
Frankly, it would be hard to forget – Samsung is seizing every opportunity when launching its new smartphone to tout its Knox security on the device, which includes multiple layers of protection designed to keep your personal data safe from external threats. This year, the Galaxy S21 will also come with a feature called Private Sharing which allows you to control access to documents and pictures you send to other Galaxy users, and even remove location data from photos you want. maybe circulate.
Obviously, your privacy is a major concern for Samsung, but our conversation didn’t leave me with the impression that the company was too concerned about Other people privacy when creating this feature. For what it’s worth, the company provided a statement on Joshua’s behalf a few days after our conversation:
“Our mission is to provide the best mobile experience for our consumers and to make their lives more convenient and enriched. To do this, we have relentlessly pushed innovation to deliver the capabilities of Space Zoom in our smartphones. With Space Zoom, people can capture more than ever, even from a distance. So far our innovation has benefited many and we remain committed to democratizing the latest technologies. As with all of our innovations, we hope and ask consumers to use their technology in a responsible and respectful manner. “