If you thought Samsung was sitting idle while people complained about the not-so-impressive Night mode on the Galaxy S10 camera, the latest update for the device is here to prove you wrong. The May security update for the Galaxy S10 trio improves the current Night mode and also adds a couple of new camera functionality, which we were able to test ahead of the update's public release.
Night mode now works with ultra-wide camera, takes cleaner photos
Having the option to use Night mode with the ultra-wide camera is perhaps the most useful addition with the new update. The ultra-wide camera has a narrower aperture (F2.2) than the primary camera (F1.5), so it's unable to capture as much light by default and has higher noise. Night mode shots with the ultra-wide lens still have plenty of noise, but you get brighter and slightly more detailed shots that were not possible before.
Below are two scenes captured with the ultra-wide camera in automatic mode (swipe right) and in Night mode (swipe left). The second one was taken in a completely dark room with only the small candle as the source of light.
Night mode in general has been improved as well. There's lower noise in Night mode photos. The phone now keeps the shutter open longer than it did previously, although that also introduces blur in pictures taken in very tough low-light conditions unless you hold the phone really, really steady. In regular low-light scenes, however, the final scene is noticeably cleaner in some situations.
In other situations, the reduction in noise isn't that noticeable, not unless you're looking at the pictures on a monitor. As for detail, there's no visible difference in most cases. The higher noise reduction can actually make things a bit softer now, although it's a fair trade-off overall.
Here's a scene captured with both the new Night mode (swipe left) and the old version (swipe right) where you can notice the difference in noise reduction:
And here's one where the difference is slightly less noticeable:
And finally, here are a couple of scenes captured in automatic mode (swipe right) and the new Night mode (swipe left) on an S10+ running the new software:
Live Focus can be taken with telephoto lens on S10 and S10+
The other big addition is that Live Focus photos can now be taken using either the ultra-wide lens or the telephoto lens on the S10 and S10+, a feature that was present on the Galaxy S10 5G out of the box. We liked that Live Focus mode on the Galaxy S10 trio used the ultra-wide lens for background blur, as that allows you to more easily take bokeh shots of large objects and makes Live Focus possible on the Galaxy S10e. And now, if you own a Galaxy S10 or S10+, you have the choice to get up close to subjects without physically moving when you're taking bokeh pictures.
It's great to see Samsung making such major camera improvements to its latest flagship, even if it's not ultimately surprising: Since last year, Samsung has been bringing new camera features–like Super Slow-mo video recording–from its flagships to older and cheaper devices. The new Galaxy S10 update should make the overall imaging experience better for those who regularly take a lot of pictures in low-light conditions and those who like the artistic results Live Focus can produce.
When can I get this update?
The update, which includes the May 2019 security patch, is rolling out to all three Galaxy S10 models in Switzerland. You should be able to download it over the air from the Settings » Software update menu on your phone. The update's availability will expand to more markets in the coming days, so if you don't get it right away, check for the update at a later time. Galaxy S10 owners in the US might have to wait considerably longer for this update, considering carriers in the country are yet to bring even the first version of the dedicated Night mode to their customers.