If the Samsung S22 Ultra was the culmination of the development of a smartphone with a slab-style design, then the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the equivalent of a victory lap; it is all that the S22 was and a little bit more.
The S23 Ultra comes with a number of new software improvements as well as an upgraded sensor for the primary camera. There are no revolutionary new features being introduced. It does not fold in half like a letter. For the foreseeable future, the Ultra is going to have to make up with this configuration unless someone comes out with a significantly more advanced battery technology or holographic display technology.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
+Cameras that are versatile and have remarkable zoom capabilities
+Features that make the S Pen and connection useful
+A beautiful squared-off frame with a solid construction
-There is inconsistency in the image quality.
-The software of Samsung continues to be eccentric.
On the other hand, the S22 Ultra was already extremely amazing, and the S23 Ultra is a tiny bit better than it was. This is the flip side of the coin. The performance is lightning quick, thanks to a bespoke chipset based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 architecture. The modernized camera system is capable of accomplishing incredible things. In addition, a handful of relatively minor modifications, such as the phone’s slightly redesigned side rails and screen, have had a significant influence on the device’s overall appeal.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S23 ULTRA: SPECS
|Starting price||US $1,199, UK £1,249|
|Display size and resolution||6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED, QHD+ Edge Screen, 500ppi|
|Display brightness, refresh rate||1,750 nits, 120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate|
|Processor||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy|
|Storage||256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
|Rear cameras||200MP (f/1.7) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 10MP (f/2.4) telephoto (3x optical zoom), 10MP (f/4.9) telephoto (10x optical zoom, 100x Space zoom)|
|Video||8K at 30fps, 4K at 60fps and Full HD at 120fps|
|Front camera||12MP f2.2, 4K video at 60 fps|
|Battery size||5,000 mAh|
|Size||3.07 x 6.43 x 0.35 inches|
|Colors||Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender|
The screen and the significantly redesigned side rails of the phone both have a significant impact on how appealing the smartphone is to use.
That is nothing but wonderful news. The bad news is that it is still a very pricey gadget at $1,200, which is a little more than an iPhone 14 Pro Max that costs $1,099 and a significant increase over the Pixel 7 Pro’s initial price of $899. There are certain recurring problems with the software that Samsung produces, such as the company’s insistence on integrating its own own app store in addition to Google’s. And despite the fact that the camera system is capable of producing photographs of an astoundingly high quality, it will on occasion make odd decisions, resulting in a photograph that is simply awful.
But if you can stomach the expense and the odd bizarre photo, I think you’ll find the S23 Ultra’s maximalism to be incredibly gratifying. It really pushes things to the extreme.
When you compare the S22 Ultra and the S23 Ultra, you’ll notice that this year’s model has a slightly different form. The display on this year’s model has a little less curvature at the edges, and the side rails are flatter than on last year’s model. Even if it doesn’t appear to be very much, I believe that it has a significant impact. Every time I pick it up off of a table, it feels a lot more secure in my fingertips in comparison to how the curvier S22 Ultra did. I suddenly became aware that whenever I picked it up, I was actually preparing myself for the possibility that it would escape my control because this was something that frequently occurred with its predecessor. While I take up the S23 Ultra, as well as when I’m using it, it feels more secure in my hand. This is something that’s especially crucial when you’re using the S Pen to write on the device.
Because of this very tiny flattening, the S23 Ultra appears to be a little more boxy than its predecessor, the S22 Ultra, and you know what? I like it. Especially in the cream color, it has a type of elegant vibe that is reminiscent of the late 1980s. I don’t know of any other word to use but “fancy” to describe it. It has the quality of being deserving of a premium price tag.
Despite all of this, the phone is still quite large and comparatively heavy for its size. The display continues to be a 6.8-inch 1440p LTPO OLED panel that is capable of a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. It is a joy to use and is essentially identical to the one from the previous year. The only thing I have a problem with is the built-in fingerprint sensor; it’s unreliable and moves a little more slowly than the one on the OnePlus 11 5G that I just used. Thankfully, unlocking your account with your face takes very little time. When I activated both of the biometric security techniques, I discovered that each one of them worked swiftly enough on its own.
A durable IP68 rating for water and dust resistance, all flavors of 5G, wireless charging, quick 45W wired charging (charger not included), and built-in storage of at least 256GB are among the other characteristics of a high-end phone. This year, Samsung quadrupled the storage capacity of the base model.
Performance and battery life of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Qualcomm’s brand-new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset is incorporated into the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Excuse me, but I’d like to introduce you to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy. It is a variant of the company’s top-of-the-line processor that differs somewhat from the standard 8 Gen 2 model and is a tad bit quicker than that model.
In comparison to a device that is not a Galaxy 8 Gen 2, I am unable to say what kind of difference this makes in day-to-day use. I was using a OnePlus 11 5G. The S23 Ultra gives off a sense of sheer velocity. It practically makes one dizzy to quickly navigate through the recently launched apps. There is nothing that I can do in my day-to-day use that will cause it to flinch in any way. It is available with either 8 or 12 GB of RAM. The model I tested has 12GB of storage space, but either option should be able to handle laborious activities.
After downloading the Genshin Impact install files for ten minutes with the loading animation playing (and the phone resting on a heat-insulating couch cushion), it was just mildly warm to the touch. The new processor also operates substantially cooler than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 did. After doing something like that, holding the S22 Ultra was a little on the verge of being uncomfortable. The gameplay is really fluid, with only a few, almost imperceptible hiccups here and there caused by the loading of additional region data.
The battery capacity of the S23 Ultra remains unchanged at 5,000 mAh from the previous year; however, Samsung asserts that the device’s battery performance has been enhanced. This is supposedly the result of an upgrade to the device’s processor, which is theoretically more battery-efficient than its predecessor, as well as some adjustments to the display. The capacity of batteries appears to have increased significantly from the previous generation. At the end of a day of average use, the S22 Ultra frequently gave the impression that it was running on fumes, whereas I have the impression that I can coax a little bit more power out of this one. It is not by any means a vast improvement, but it does provide you with a little more wiggle room to get through the day.
Compare with similar items
|S23 Ultra||S23+||S22 Ultra||S22 Ultra|
|Connector Type||USB Type C||USB Type C||TBD||USB Type C|
|Screen Size||6.8 inches||6.6 inches||6.8 inches||6.8 inches|
|Operating System||Android 13.0||Android 13.0||Android||Android 10.0|
My average day consists of approximately four hours of screen usage, and the S23 Ultra has been able to get me through the day with somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of its battery remaining. This includes using the display that is always on, which has the effect of using additional power from the battery. I gave it a workout by subjecting it to a day filled with more taxing tasks, such as navigation, a Zoom call that lasted 30 minutes, 40 minutes of streaming video, and lots of camera use, including recording 4K video. All of these activities took place without the use of Wi-Fi. Because of this, the battery only had roughly 25 percent of its capacity left by the end of the day. To tell you the truth, I could have worked the phone a little bit more, but I got food poisoning in the afternoon, which hindered both my ability to use the phone and my capacity to do anything at all.
All of this means that you will be able to use the S23 Ultra for a day’s worth of light to moderate work with a little more ease, and it will hold up a little better to work that is more strenuous. If you intend to conduct a lot of activities that require a lot of processing power during the day, such as gaming or, I don’t know, measuring every room in your house using VR, then you will probably still need to recharge before the day is up. This battery should last the most of us all day, and it has a little bit more flex room than the one we had last year.
This battery will last all day, and compared to the one used last year, it has a little bit more wiggle room.
The degree to which a smartphone can be seamlessly integrated with the remainder of your digital ecosystem is something that is gaining increasing significance. The S23 Ultra comes equipped with a plethora of connectivity features, such as an upgraded version of Samsung’s DeX platform for integrating with Windows PCs, the SmartThings app developed by Samsung for use in smart homes, and a function known as Smart View that allows you to quickly mirror your device on a Samsung TV.
The latter functioned faultlessly on my Samsung TV from the year 2016, and despite the fact that it is an older model, the TV is still able to connect to the S23 Ultra through SmartThings. I am able to control the most fundamental aspects of the TV, such as the volume, the channel, and the source, using the SmartThings app that is installed on my phone. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally believed that I had overcome the compulsion to get off the couch and look for the remote control. Unfortuitously, my television is just at the point where it no longer supports a critical feature, and that feature is switching on via mobile. It would appear that I will be making use of that remote control after all.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, in addition to its OS and S Pen
The S Pen stylus, which was originally designed for use with the Galaxy Note, is integrated inside the S23 Ultra. There have not been any significant updates made to the S Pen or its functionality in this iteration, however the screen borders have been redesigned to be slightly flatter in order to provide a larger surface area for writing. Because the corners of the S22 Ultra are rounded off more, there is a greater possibility that you will accidently run the stylus off the side of the screen while you are writing.
Even though this happens less frequently with the S23 Ultra, I was still able to find at least one case in which the tiny curvature really threw me for a loop. When I started writing in letters to indicate the days of the week, I had very little space to work with because the pen kept running into the curve. However, one of the templates in the notes app contains a left-aligned column of boxes to write in. You can write in any of these boxes. My goal for the year 2024 is to have a display that is completely flat.
In the past, I have not been a big admirer of styluses, and even now, I believe that the majority of people, when given the option, will rarely use one. Nevertheless, when I tried out the S23 Ultra, I found myself reaching for the S Pen and jotting down notes more frequently than I did with the S22 Ultra. I don’t want to give Samsung’s extremely subtle redesign too much credit, but I think this is partly because this phone is easier to carry than the one it replaced, which is why it’s been so successful.
I’m also on a campaign to reorganize my life, and I’ve discovered that replacing some of the to-do lists that I keep running in real life with digital ones that are pinned to my home screen may be a really helpful tool. Have I been more organized as a result of it? The verdict has not yet been reached on that matter. On the other hand, it feels like a good compromise between the ease of use of an app-based to-do list and the sensual experience of scribbling things down on paper.
One UI 5, Samsung’s skin for Android 13, comes preinstalled on the S23 Ultra. It is a very minor update to the One UI 4 that the S22 series launched with, and it offers a new emphasis on configuring modes and routines, in addition to greater choices for customizing the lockscreen. It is still a rather comprehensive experience, since it includes two pages of fast settings in the notification shade by default, as well as Samsung’s own app store, virtual assistant, and web browser in addition to their respective Google counterparts. It is a lot, and not everyone enjoys having so much of something. For my part, I find that I am better able to put up with it if I spend some time customizing the phone’s settings to my preferences before I use it. (So long, Bixby.)
The software that Samsung produces comes with a wonderful support policy, which includes four years of operating system updates and five years of security updates. This is something that everybody can appreciate about Samsung’s software. Although this is not quite up to the standards set by Apple, which often continues to provide operating system updates for upwards of five years and the occasional security update for much longer, it is without a doubt one of the better policies you’ll discover among Android manufacturers.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera
One of the most advanced and powerful mobile camera systems available for purchase is found in the S23 Ultra. It comes with a telephoto lens with both a 3x and a 10x magnification, as well as an ultrawide lens, and of course, that brand new primary camera with 200 megapixels. It is capable of producing photographs that I honestly can’t believe I captured with a smartphone, particularly in the range of 10x to 30x zoom. I snapped a picture of the top of the Space Needle from street level while standing more than a half mile away, and in the picture, I can make out details such as the elevators and people on the observation deck. That is completely absurd.
- 200 megapixels, f/1.7 standard wide, optical image stabilization
- 10-megapixel, f/2.4, 3x telephoto, optical image stabilization
- 10-megapixel, f/4.9, 10x telephoto, optical image stabilization
- 12-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide
- 12-megapixel selfie with f/2.2 aperture and autofocus
On occasion, however, the S23 Ultra’s camera produces an image that isn’t even close to the quality that it’s capable of producing. Turning the saturation or HDR up to 11 can occasionally cause problems, and unless you’re shooting a picture of the actual moon, you should avoid using the digital 100x “Space Zoom” setting because it causes the image to become jagged and unusable.
Taking pictures with a resolution of 200 megapixels is one of the least exciting things you can do with the new sensor that has 200 megapixels. This is one of the things you should know about the new sensor. There is the possibility to do so. Simply make a few selections from the menu, click the shutter button, and you’ll have access to a whopping 200 million pixels. When you zoom in on such photographs, as long as the lighting is adequate, you will notice that there is an absurd amount of detail. In this mode, images do not have the greater dynamic range that you will get in the usual shooting mode; nevertheless, if it is sheer detail that you are looking for, then you will have it.
The technique of merging these pixels into groups and then treating them as larger individual pixels is referred to as pixel binning, and it is used to improve image quality in illumination situations that are less than ideal. This is the more fascinating method that it works. When there is a lot of light, the sensor employs a technique known as re-mosaic algorithm to simulate a conventional color filter pattern. This allows it to make use of each pixel independently and record more detail. You should still be able to notice the benefits of all that extra detail capture even when you are shooting in the mode that is set as the default, which reduces the image resolution to 12 megapixels.
When compared to the photographs captured by the iPhone 14 Pro, which utilizes a pixel-binning sensor with a lesser 48-megapixel resolution, I believe that the S23 Ultra’s images include a touch more information than those captured by the iPhone 14 Pro. In general, though, I focus most of my attention on the processing decisions made by each camera rather than any other aspect. The iPhone opts for a somewhat more pronounced contrast, whereas the Samsung embraces more saturated colors and brighter shadows, and it occasionally wanders into the region of HDR that has been done badly.
The iPhone, the Pixel, or virtually any other smartphone on the market just cannot compete with the zoom capabilities of the S23 Ultra. Photos taken with the native 3x and 10x settings look really good when the lighting conditions are favorable. The phone uses an AI-powered feature called Space Zoom to fill in the gaps (read as: to make an educated estimate about what’s there) between these two focal lengths and beyond the 10x magnification level.
It does a surprisingly good job all the way up to 30x and generates photographs that I have no problem using on Instagram. What do you think? Would an 8×10″ print of my 30x Space Needle photo look fantastic hanging on my wall? Almost certainly not. However, it is far superior than the “good enough” standard required for social networking. The digital zoom function has made significant progress.
One important fact regarding the new sensor is that capturing photographs with a resolution of 200 megapixels is one of the least exciting things it can accomplish.
Photos taken in low light are normally acceptable; but, I have witnessed a few strange occurrences in environments that presented a particularly great challenge. My two-year-old son appears to have a strong orange hue in one of the portrait shots taken of him at a Mexican restaurant, but in the very next shot, he appears to have an extremely pale complexion. It’s possible that the colored walls and light sources caused the camera to go haywire, but whatever the cause, it threw the photo for a big loop, and it ruined the photo.
Some of the photos I took in low light had an artificial HDR look to them, with the shadows being overexposed and brighter than they should be. It’s best to let the phone decide when it’s genuinely dark enough for night mode rather than forcing the mode on in less-than-ideal lighting circumstances so that the image will have a better HDR effect.
Aside from that, Samsung’s portrait mode continues to rank among the very best in the game. When it comes to isolating the topic, it is without a doubt the most effective method, and it is also able to preserve extremely minute details, such as individual hairs. Background blur, particularly when set to the 1x level, still appears to be a little bit too uniform, creating the characteristic look of a cardboard cutout. It is less evident in portraits taken at a magnification of three times, which look wonderful in most cases.
The video quality is also very high; you can record at resolutions of up to 8K at 30 frames per second, though I primarily used the 4K setting. Clips that have adequate illumination reveal vivid colors and finer details. When I was indoors, I noticed that the dynamic range had a tendency to flatten, which resulted in bright whites being slightly muted. Additionally, bright colors appear to have an excessive amount of saturation. However, it is more than adequate for capturing footage of a toddler who is highly active, and his parents and grandparents did not express any dissatisfaction with the quality of the video.
The more I use the S23 Ultra, the more persuaded I am that it is not only a phone for someone who is going to use each and every function available on the device. This is the kind of phone for someone who doesn’t want to feel constrained by what they can do with their device in any way, shape, or form. It’s possible that you don’t actually make that much use of the S Pen. That is fine, because you have the ability to do so if you so desire. It’s also possible that you’re not interested in the telephoto lenses at all. However, they are available to you in the off chance that you will ever require them for a photograph of a lifetime. It is the phone to have if you have technological FOMO (fear of missing out).
In addition to this, the device is not the easiest to use. A great number of individuals are going to be put off by the extensive number of cameras, the extensive number of menu options, and, most importantly, the high price tag. And unless you are a die-hard fan of Bixby, you will need to do some tinkering in order to de-Samsung the software. On a phone that costs 1,200 dollars, you probably shouldn’t have to spend the time doing that.
It is the best phone for people who are afraid of missing out on technology.
However, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, as well as have large funds, the S23 Ultra can be an extremely rewarding experience. Undoubtedly, this is an update of a minor nature. However, because the S22 Ultra was already of such high quality, the S23 Ultra only had a few minor changes that allowed it to advance even farther.
At least in the United States, there is no other Android device that can be considered a true competitor to the S23 Ultra. Even though the Google Pixel 7 Pro is most likely the closest competitor, using it seems like an altogether different experience. It is more pleasurable to use right out of the box, and it possesses a camera that is both powerful and capable. However, it does not have the same level of optical zoom power as the Ultra, nor does it come with a stylus, and shockingly, it only comes with one year of Android OS upgrades instead of two. If you don’t want to mess about with the program and you don’t care about having the most recent and greatest version, this is the better choice for you. Not to mention the fact that it is $300 less expensive.
It takes guts to call your flagship phone the “Ultra,” but Samsung has never been one to be bashful about making a statement with its products. This particular “Ultra” does a good job of living up to its name. It boasts a comprehensive feature set, hardware that is of the highest caliber, and a camera system that is unparalleled in its class. It has a high price tag and an unacceptable amount of space. It is an extremely challenging obstacle to overcome for one of the first new mobile devices to be released in 2023. If all of that does not qualify as Ultra-worthy, then I am at a loss to explain what does.