Originally, I was worried about people being able to use the S20 Ultra to spy into my apartment, as were others whom I spoke to that also live in densely populated areas.
But after spending a couple of days testing the zoom, I discovered there’s no reason to be concerned. For a start, you need to set up a tripod to be able to get any decent pics at 100x zoom, and even then the visual noise is too much to capture anything in too much detail. From ground level I was unable to properly see up into my apartment.
Looking down or straight on, however, was a whole other ball game. The crystal-clear 10x “lossless hybrid optic” zoom setting is a far bigger concern than the 100x “space zoom”. The noise at 100x means you can’t really capture much detail from distance, even with a tripod. With 10x, though, from a reasonably high up vantage point I could see right into an office under construction a block away, while the 100x zoom only captured a blurry close up of a ladder.
So those living in high-up apartments need not be concerned about being Rear Window-ed with the S20 Ultra. What people could be more concerned about is the ability for someone to take a picture of your credit card or film you entering your PIN into an ATM from across the street.
But even that wasn’t really a problem during my testing. With time and a steady hand I was able to read a byline on a newspaper page 3 or 4 metres away, but I couldn’t be more than 2 metres away from my Medicare card to decipher the numbers (and that required both the card and me to remain very still).
So, abandon your worries. This is not the spy phone you’ve seen in the movies. It’s great for getting the occasional stealth pic to spook your friends with and to zoom in on a faraway (yet unnervingly still) animal, but like many fancy features on phones, most users will forget about it after the first week and probably never use it again.