Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review

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A year later, the Note that this is not Feedback. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra brings predictable minor upgrades – camera tweaks here and a new chipset there, mostly – but how much can you really improve on the S22 Ultra in just a year? We’ll try to answer that question and see if the new Ultra can generate excitement in a way that the spec sheet couldn’t.


And that’s an extended spec sheet, of course. At the heart of the Ultra is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, and it’s one purpose-built for the Galaxies – with higher clock rates than competitors. Qualcomm’s latest high-end chip also comes with promises of efficiency, and we’d never say no to extra endurance.

The camera sees the introduction of a new 200MP sensor, up from the 108MP resolution of past Ultras. The pair of telephoto lenses remains a staple in the range and a standout feature in the market where the 10x optical zoom is not found outside of Samsung’s offerings. The 2023 Ultra is still the only model in the range with an autofocus ultrawide – more of an ongoing rant we just had to include here about the lack of it on the lesser S23s than a standout feature of the ultimate Galaxy.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra reviewGalaxy S22 Ultra (top) next to Galaxy S23 Ultra

The long list of numbers and features below doesn’t really make any major changes from the previous generation. The battery capacity remains the same as the charging rating; the ultrasonic fingerprint reader didn’t suddenly go optical, proprietary features like DeX and Samsung Pay are still there, and you can count on the display being the best around. A small win is the 256GB base storage – last year’s model started at an unreasonably low 128GB – so yeah?

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra features at a glance:

  • Body: 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm, 234g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus 2), glass back (Gorilla Glass Victus 2), aluminum frame; IP68 dust and water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 minutes).
  • Display: 6.80″ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1750 nits (peak), 1440x3088px resolution, 19.3:9 aspect ratio, 501ppi; Always-on display.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM8550-AC Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (4nm): Octa-core (1×3.36 GHz Cortex-X3 & 2×2.8 GHz Cortex-A715 & 2×2.8 GHz Cortex-A710 & 3×2.0 GHz Cortex-A510); Adreno 740.
  • Memory: 256GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM, 512GB 12GB RAM, 1TB 12GB RAM; UFS 4.0.
  • Operating System/Software: Android 13, a 5.1 user interface.
  • Rear camera:Wide (main): 200 MP, f/1.7, 24mm, 1/1.3″, 0.6µm, multidirectional PDAF, Laser AF, OIS; Telephoto: 10 MP, f/2.4, 70mm, 1/3.52″, 1.12µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom; Telephoto: 10 MP, f/4.9, 230mm, 1/3.52″, 1.12µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, 10x optical zoom; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, Super Steady video.
  • Front camera: 12 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), dual pixel PDAF.
  • Video capture:Rear camera: 8K@24/30fps, 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, 720p@960fps, HDR10+, stereo sound recording, gyro-EIS; Front camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30fps.
  • Battery: 5000mAh; 45W wired, PD3.0, 65% in 30 min (advertised), Wireless (Qi/PMA), 4.5W reverse wireless.
  • Various : Fingerprint reader (under display, ultrasonic); Stylus (Bluetooth integration, accelerometer, gyroscope); NFC; stereo speakers; Samsung DeX, Samsung Wireless DeX, Bixby natural language commands and dictation, Samsung Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified), Ultra Wideband (UWB) support.

We called the S23 Ultra a Note from the get-go, and the S Pen is indeed here to stay – despite the usual pessimists around the desk writing after the beloved Note moniker disappeared with the S22 Ultra. Sure, you can have an S Pen (another one) for your Fold, but no S Pen case beats the convenience of an in-body stylus like the one you get here.

Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

You don’t get much else, though. The Ultra appears in what has become standard for high-end Samsung phone plans – a black cardboard box as thin as possible with a likeness of the handset printed on the lid in a color to match the actual unit on the interior.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review

The size of the box ensures there’s no charger inside, but there’s still a USB-C cable – despite our continuous buzz about “this time may be the last time you get a cable”, Samsung actually persists in including one – does that count as a winner? There’s also a SIM eject pin, which we wouldn’t normally mention, but the unboxing section could use the extra words.


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