Samsung’s photo “remaster” knows what this baby pic is missing: teeth
Samsung’s recently caught some flak after widespread reports that its camera software fakes zoom pictures of the moon, but things may be about to get way more unsettling. A Verge reader wrote in on Wednesday to tell us that the company’s software is adding teeth to pictures of their seven-month old daughter.
This reader says they recently got an S23 Ultra, and decided to try out the Remaster feature in Samsung’s photo-viewing app, Gallery. (It’s the default photo app for the phone, and the feature is available inside the camera if you visit your photo roll.)
They expected something like what Google Photos does, suggesting specific adjustments and filters, unbluring pictures, and the like. Instead, they got the results you can see below, with the original image on the left and the “Remastered” one on the right.
So… this is some nightmare fuel. Sure, it erases some unsightly snot (can’t have the world thinking that this baby isn’t ready for its close-up 100 percent of the time), but it also appears to look at the baby’s tongue and immediately jump to “I know what that should look like: a nice row of fully-grown teeth!”
The reader also sent us a video of the Remaster feature turning their daughter’s tongue into teeth in another picture, which makes it seem like it’s not just a one-off glitch.
I wasn’t able to reproduce these teething issues myself, using the same version of the Gallery app on a regular S22. I tried remastering half a dozen photos of babies (and even a screenshot from the updated, less-toothy Sonic trailer ) and never saw anything like what this user got. I also wasn’t able to find any other people reporting this type of issue, so it’s impossible to say for sure what’s going on.
We reached out to Samsung for comment but didn’t immediately receive a response.
Samsung’s website says the Remastering feature “removes shadows and reflections automatically to make your pictures look great.” Unlike Samsung’s explanation of the Scene Optimizer feature that added details to the moon, Samsung’s description of the Remaster feature doesn’t even including any handwaving about “AI” or “deep-learning.” It doesn’t even really sound like the beautification filters that we’ve seen on phones for years, with teeth-whitening filters that could maybe, possibly, misfire in such an upsetting way. Based on what Samsung wrote, I’d basically expect it to just tweak my exposure settings, similar to Google Photos’ “Enhance” feature.
So where are the teeth coming from?
The reader described the resulting picture as “far more disturbing than a faked moonshot if you ask me,” and I somewhat agree — the altered moon pictures just look like slightly better pictures of the moon, whereas this is the embodiment of the unsettling teeth tweet.
However, I will say that there is a difference in context here. The moon fakery happens automatically in the camera app if you have a certain feature on. Here, you still have to explicitly ask for a remaster (which you have the option of discarding, leaving the original intact). The moon story sparked discussions about what exactly it means to take a photograph, whereas this is mostly just a story about an editing feature taking a much-too-agressive bite. If Samsung was using AI to yassify babies or give them teeth straight out of the camera we’d be having a very different conversation here, but for now, that’s not what’s happening. But I still hate looking at it.