Caught red-handed: Samsung's moon fraud

Onur Demirkol
Mar 13, 2023
Companies, Mobile Computing

Controversy on Samsung's "fake" Space Zoom feature is brought to light once again after a user's post on Reddit.

Samsung has launched the Space Zoom technology with the S20 model. It lets you take impressive and precise photos of the moon with a camera sensor that supports up to 100x zoom. However, the controversies about it never ended. Some users and articles from the past claimed Samsung's Space Zoom technology doesn't really take explicit photos of the moon, but it artificially enhances the image to take realistic photos.

The Reddit user, ibreakphotos, posted a detailed examination on Space Zoom, giving examples and proof of why they think Samsung is "tricking" people with false advertising. The user mentioned that they always doubted Space Zoom's authenticity as it appears too perfect. "While these images are not necessarily outright fabrications, neither are they entirely genuine," they added. ibreakphotos broke down the process into four steps:

  • Downloading a high-res image of the moon from the internet.
  • Downsizing it to 170x170 while applying Gaussian blur to erase all the details.
  • Full-screening it and moving to the other end of their room.
  • They turned off all the lights and zoomed into the monitor, and here is the final image.
Samsung introduced Space Zoom a couple of years ago, and the authenticity controversies surrounding the technology continues.
Here is a side-by-side comparison posted by the Reddit user. via: ibreakphotos

The user claims that Samsung uses an AI that enhances the photo. It detects the moon and adds external "texture" to make it look real. "This is not the same kind of processing that is done when you're zooming into something else, when those multiple exposures and different data from each frame account to something. This is specific to the moon," they said. Other users discussed the issue and questioned why Samsung chose this path, although it is very easy to prove? 

However, an official Samsung announcement from 2022 says: "From Galaxy S21, even when you take a picture of the moon, ai recognizes the target as the moon through learned data, and multi-frame synthesis and deep learning-based ai technology when shooting. The detail improvement engine function that makes the picture clearer has been applied. The moon recognition engine was created by learning various moon shapes from full moon to crescent moon based on images that people actually see with their eyes on Earth."

Samsung's announcement sounds pretty clear on AI and deep learning, but the Redditor says that the company is misleading its customers with false advertising. They also mentioned Samsung's previous take in an article that says: "The process starts by identifying an object based on a realistic human eye view, then multi-frame fusion and upscaling adds on by generating a higher level of detail to the subject, finally leveraged by AI deep learning solution it uses contextual assumption to process and piece together all the information to delivering a high quality result."

The company's advertising method is questioned in this case, and we still haven't heard any announcement from the Korean tech giant.


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