Samsung's newest and most powerful smartphone, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, has an improved CPU, battery, and camera compared to its predecessors. However, do the improvements worth the high cost?
The S23 Ultra is a device that feels incredibly robust and luxurious, and it looks fantastic in cream as shown in the image. The same incredibly brilliant and clear screen, identical aluminium frame, and somewhat less curved glass at the edges are all present.
The beloved S Pen stylus, which was added to the S series last year and receives only modest updates, is one of the S23 Ultra's unmatched features. The phone runs Samsung's One UI 5.1, which is based on Android 13, therefore the software is identical. It is jam-packed with helpful features, including as productivity tools for the S Pen and more lockscreen customization possibilities.
At least five years of software upgrades, including four significant Android version updates and monthly security patches, will be provided for the new phone after it is released. The majority of Samsung's top line of phones manufactured in the last several years are already running One UI 5.1 thanks to the company's remarkable improvements in the speed and accessibility of upgrades for older devices over the previous couple of years.
Unusual for Samsung, all Galaxy S23 versions, regardless of where they are sold, employ the same premium Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip from Qualcomm. In the past, the US utilised Qualcomm's chips, whereas the majority of regions, including the UK and Europe, used Samsung's slightly inferior chips.
Therefore, the new processor is particularly significant to consumers in Europe because it not only increases overall and gaming performance by up to 35% but also runs significantly more effectively, stays cooler under demanding workloads, and significantly lengthens battery life.
When compared to Apple's iPhone 14 Plus, the S23 Ultra has one of the longest battery lives (more than 52 hours) of any smartphone I've tested. That was with the screen being used continuously for more than six hours, at least one hour every day being spent on 5G, and the remaining time being spent on wifi. The battery life was lowered by prolonged gaming sessions, but the phone still had roughly 30% of its charge left after the busiest days of ordinary use.
Without a doubt, more frugal use might result in a battery life of almost three days. About 10% more battery life is gained by turning off the always-on display.
Main screen: 6.8in QHD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X (500ppi) 120Hz
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
RAM: 8 or 12GB
Storage: 256, 512GB or 1TB
Operating system: One UI 5.1 based on Android 13
Camera: Quad rear: 200MP, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP 3x and 10x telephoto; 12MP front-facing
Connectivity: 5G, USB-C, wifi 6E, NFC, Bluetooth 5.3, UWB and GNSS
Water resistance: IP68 (1.5m for 30 mins)
Dimensions: 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm
The phone has a good 12-megapixel selfie camera at the top of the screen in addition to the four cameras on the back.
The four-camera array, just like the first two Ultra versions, features superb 3x and 10x optical zoom telephoto 10MP modules that offer a much wider zoom range than any rival. Images with a 30x magnification appear just as excellent as what the majority of competing phones can muster at less than 10x. When utilised up close, Samsung's superb macrophotography mode makes use of the 12MP ultrawide to capture beautiful landscape and architectural photos.
A 200MP main camera that employs the first of a new generation of sensors with just about twice as many pixels as previous versions is new for this year. By default, it leverages the information from every pixel to maximise the amount of light and detail that is collected, resulting in 12MP photographs that are among the best currently available in a range of lighting conditions. The smartphone can also take photos at a resolution of 50 MP or 200 MP, with the latter producing enormous image files with astounding levels of clarity in bright light. However, because some of the advanced processing is lost, they don't have the same dynamic range as 12MP images.
Although it is less necessary as the camera captures more light to begin with, low-light mode still provides photographs that are generally well exposed and slightly better overall. The camera app is jam-packed with cutting-edge and entertaining capabilities, including the most powerful video on Android and a complete RAW shooting experience for those wishing to perform their own editing.
The S23 Ultra delivers just minor improvements to the overall camera system as compared to the S21 and S22 Ultra from the previous two years. But because of its complete range of optical zoom, it has remained the most powerful smartphone camera currently on the market and is essentially the only one I would consider to be able to replace the functionality of a dSLR or equivalent.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the only phone deserving of the "ultra" prefix.
The phone's size, power, capabilities, and battery life are unmatched among Android phones, and its camera is superior to all others on the market. For most people, it is beyond overkill, but the S23 Ultra has the goods if you want to be able to do pretty much anything with a phone.
It contains numerous little adjustments to practically every element. However, while more cutting-edge folding technologies exist, it only improves upon significant advancements made two years earlier. Compared to the Google Pixel 7 Pro, which costs more than $400 less yet can match the Samsung on some criteria, its extremely high price makes it not a very good deal.