Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review: The New Smartphone King on the Block

Published Apr 26, 2023 - Samsung has once again raised the bar with their latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S23 Ultra. This device is packed with cutting-edge features and impressive specs that make it stand out from the competition. We’ve done an in-depth review of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra to help you learn more about its amazing technology and unbeatable features.

What's new with the Galaxy S23 Ultra and how does it best previous models?

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the latest addition to the Galaxy S series, and it is truly a remarkable device that honestly exceeded my expectations. This phone boasts a stunning 6.8-inch Edge QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O Display (3088 x 1440) with HDR10+ certification, making the streaming and gaming quality truly impressive. The 120Hz refresh rate and Adaptive Refresh technology isn't new to the Galaxy S series, but pairing this with the internals upgrades on the S23 Ultra makes it potentially the fastest and smoothest smartphone on the market.

Another standout feature of the Galaxy S23 Ultra is its camera system. It comes with a quad-camera setup on the rear, which includes a 200MP primary sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide sensor, a 10MP telephoto sensor, and an added 10MP periscope sensor with 10x optical zoom, which you can't find on any other Galaxy S models. The 12MP front-facing camera is actually a step-down from the 40MP camera featured on the S22 Ultra, but I honestly don't see much of a noticeable difference for selfies between the two models. Overall, the camera system is great for taking stunning, professional-quality photos and videos, making it a great choice for content creators and photographers.

Although this model faces intense rivalry from phones such as the iPhone 14 Pro and Google Pixel 7 Pro, it still stands out for its stunning features. 

Compared to the Galaxy S22 series, the S23 Ultra offers significant improvements in terms of display, camera, and performance. If you're in the market for a premium smartphone that offers top-of-the-line features and cutting-edge technology, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is definitely worth considering.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Specs

Here are the most important technical specs you should know about the S23 Ultra:

Specification

Details

Display

6.8" Edge QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, Infinity-O Display (3088 x 1440), 500ppi, HDR10+ certified, up to 120Hz refresh rate

Processor

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

Battery

5000mAh

Storage

512GB

RAM

12GB

Rear Camera

Quad camera setup: 200MP wide, 10MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide, and TOF 3D sensor

Front Camera

12MP

Security

In-display fingerprint sensor

Water Resistance

IP68

Dimensions

165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm

Weight

228g

Galaxy S23 Ultra Design

While the Galaxy S23 Ultra's design is quite similar to it's S22 predecessor, there are some noticeable changes that make it stand out. Let's explore the design of this phone in more detail.

Appearance

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a sleek appearance with a metal frame and a glass back panel. With the added 4th lens, the rear camera system is definitely a little large and does protrude from the body (but this isn't an issue when you get a proper phone case). The phone has a slim profile, and the edges are curved, giving it a comfortable grip. It also comes in different colors, including Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, and Phantom White.

Build

The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a robust build quality, with a sturdy metal frame and Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and back. The phone feels solid and well-built, and shouldn't have a problem withstanding accidental drops and scratches (albeit, admittedly this was not something I was willing to test).

Weight and feel

The S23 Ultra is a large phone, measuring 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm, and it weighs around 228g, which is relatively heavy compared to other smartphones. However, the phone's weight feels well-distributed, and it feels comfortable holding it in one hand. If you're like me, you might find this size too cumbersome and difficult to fit into certain clothing pockets. I resigned to storing this in my back pants pocket instead of my side pants pocket because it was a little oversized for my taste, but everyone has different preferences.

Compared to other Samsung models

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is quite similar in design to its predecessor, the Galaxy S22 Ultra. However, the S23 Ultra has some notable differences, such as a slightly larger camera module, and it lacks the signature curved screen edges, which were present in previous Samsung models. Overall, I found that the S23 Ultra's design is an incremental improvement over past Ultra models.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Screen and Display

The Samsung S23 Ultra features a 6.8-inch Edge QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O display with a resolution of 3088 x 1440 and 500 pixels per inch (PPI). Although its predecessor, the S22 Ultra, also had a max 120Hz refresh rate, the upgraded internals on the S23 Ultra seem to give it a massive advantage in display performance. I don't think I noticed any lag or have experienced a smoother transition on a smartphone between heavy gaming apps, the camera and video streaming than I did with the S23 Ultra.

Aside from screen performance, I also feel that the Galaxy S23 Ultra has one of the best and most vibrant displays currently on the smartphone market. The display is bright and bursting with color with higher contrast, making images and videos look stunning. The HDR10+ certification also ensures that the colors are more accurate and almost pop off the screen. 

Even though the Galaxy S22 Ultra also had an impressive screen, the Galaxy S23 Ultra seems to take display and touch performance to a whole new level and response generally feels much faster.

Galaxy S23 Ultra touch screen and pen

Samsung S23 Ultra Performance

Let's talk a little bit more about how the S23 Ultra performs compared to other competing phones when it comes to battery, storage, charging speed, chipset and audio. In my experience, these are the categories that tend to matter for most average phone users.

Battery: The S23 Ultra is powered by a 5000mAh battery. The battery capacity is sufficient to provide extended use of the device without requiring inter-daily charging, and I was even able to get up to 1.5 days of usage off of a full charge. The battery capacity itself is still very high on paper, but I do find that Apple iPhones in general still tend to use battery more efficiently, allowing for extended phone life.

Storage: The Samsung S23 Ultra offers users a choice between 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of internal storage, which should be ample for most users' needs. The device also supports expandable storage of up to 1TB via microSD card. Personally, I've never needed more than 128GB of storage, but it's nice to have more options if you need the room.

Charging speed: As expected, you'll find fast charging capabilities with the S23 Ultra, which should allow the device to charge fully in under an hour (I clocked a charge from 8% to 100% in about 48 minutes). Additionally, 15W wireless charging is supported, which is a common trend for recent smartphone models to allow for more convenient charging options.

Chipset, CPU, and GPU: The Samsung Galaxy S23 series comes with an overclocked version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset as its processor. It features an octa-core CPU with two Cortex-A710 cores clocked at 3.36GHz and six Cortex-A510 cores clocked at 2.81GHz. The GPU on the chipset is Adreno 730, which offers enhanced graphics performance and supports gaming and video playback at high resolutions. Overall, I like the new chipset and it's a welcome upgrade from the S22 series that actually makes a noticeable difference when running multiple heavy apps.

Audio: The Samsung S23 Ultra is equipped with stereo speakers and supports Dolby Atmos technology. I thought this was a strong audio system overall, but you do lose some bass quality at the highest volumes, which is normal for smartphones, but potentially more obvious on Galaxy.

Samsung S23 Ultra Camera Review

Smartphone cameras have reached a level where I speculate that it's becoming more difficult for manufacturers to provide meaningful upgrades every year. I feel like this has been a more obvious issue with recent iPhone models, and while it may be a problem that exists with Galaxy phones as well, the S23 Ultra at least introduced a few new features that you'll actually appreciate. Let's dive into the details of its camera specs and what they mean for you.

The S23 Ultra comes with a primary camera that supports a whopping 200MP resolution when shooting in RAW format with the ExpertRAW app enabled. While this resolution may not be achievable in all shooting conditions, it is an impressive feature that allows for highly detailed images that remain smooth even when you zoom in. Additionally, the device has a telephoto camera with 10x optical zoom, a 10MP sensor, and an aperture of f/4.9.

Galaxy S23 ultra in hand with camera app open

I won't spend as much time talking about the front camera because I don't feel like it matters as much, but so you know, the S23 Ultra has a 12MP selfie camera with an aperture of f/2.2. This is a downgrade from the 40MP camera offered on the S22 Ultra, but still allows for high-quality selfies and video calls.

When it comes to video recording, the S23 Ultra can shoot in 8K resolution at 30fps, 4K resolution at 60fps, and 1080p resolution at 240fps. The ability to shoot higher quality videos is still an advantage that Galaxy has over iPhone for the past few flagship generations.

I think the S23 Ultra has one of the best camera systems available on smartphones, but I'm not necessarily sold that it's leagues better than the S22 Ultra or even what the S23 and S23 Plus have to offer. That said, if you make your living behind a lens, you're going to want the best of the best and you can find that on the S23 Ultra.

Price and Availability

At the time of writing this, you can purchase the S23 Ultra directly from Samsung and other retailers for varying prices based on storage space. The price for a brand new model with 256GB storage or 512GB storage is the same price on Samsung's site: $1,199.99. You can also upgrade to the max storage of 1TB for $1619.99. 

If you are looking for a more affordable option, Back Market offers the best refurbished Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra phones at a cheaper price than many retailers. Although supply is limited at this time, you can expect to find more options for up to 10-25% off the price of new within the next couple of months. Currently, there's an option to buy a 256GB S23 Ultra on Back Market for $1,049.99, which would save you about $150 or 13%. On average, the smartphones on our marketplace save customers between 30-70% and perform the same as a new device.

You'll also get a 1-year warranty, similar to buying a brand new device, and a money-back return period of up to 30-days at Back Market. It's important to note that refurbished does not mean less quality; rather, it is more about sustainability and eco-friendliness. Therefore, buying a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra from Back Market is a great option for those who want to save money while still getting a high-quality device with a warranty.

Final Review Verdict

If you prefer larger phones and want the top smartphone in the market, then the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is going to be a great option for you. In my opinion, it currently sits as king in the smartphone wars as it truly delivers on performance speed, display, design and camera capabilities. Of course, buying an android phone might not be top of everyone's list, but if you can get over the different Operating Systems, I believe Samsung delivered a phone that would impress most iOS users and properly rival the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

That said, as with all recent flagship models, this one comes with a steep price point that I'm not sure is justified in the upgrade from the Galaxy S22. Sure the specs are impressive, but if I'm being honest, it's not going to drastically change the way I use or appreciate my phone every day and I assume that's true for the average person. Even if you have an older model, you might be better off saving a few hundred dollars by going for the Galaxy S22, or waiting for price drops on the S23 Ultra in the coming months.