Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: Is it worth it?

The Samsung S23 Ultra is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated devices of the year. With each release, Samsung has managed to stand out in the technology market and this time is no exception. In this article, we will give you a full review of this impressive phone and share our opinion on its features and performance.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is currently positioned as one of the best Android phones on the market in terms of performance, battery life and camera quality. It also offers a top-notch user experience.

We are talking about a top of the line model, so it will not be suitable for all pockets. Fortunately, it is a model that is usually included in many offers and we will tell you where you can buy it at the best price.

Next, we will analyze the new S23 Ultra series and give you our impressions of its performance.

9.2
Price on Amazon
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review

POSITIVES
  • Delivers a premium experience with glass cover, S Pen and DeX
  • 200 MP camera lives up to expectations
  • Fast processor, RAM and storage
  • Excellent battery life
  • Operating system updates and security patches
NEGATIVES
  • An 8-bit display is not appropriate for a premium flagship
  • Can’t use an external SSD for videographers and vloggers
Table of contents – Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review
  • 6.8″ 3088×1440 display with 1-120Hz refresh rate and adaptive AMOLED Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection and S-Pen.
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon8 Gen 2 Pro processor for exceptional performance.
  • 8 or 12GB of RAM for optimal performance.
  • 256/512GB or 1TB storage for all your apps and files.
  • Wi-Fi 6E AX, BT 5.3, NFC, dual-band GPS, ultra-wideband and USB-C 3.1 Gen technologies for complete connectivity.
  • Support for 4G and 5G networks, VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling with Dual SIM and eSIM support.
  • 200+10+10+10+12MP rear camera with up to 100X spatial zoom and a 12MP selfie camera for high quality photos.
  • 5000mAh battery with fast charging and wireless charging support.
  • Stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos technology and noise-canceling microphones for an unmatched sound experience.
  • Available in various standard and Samsung exclusive colors.
  • Water and dust resistant with IP68 certification.
  • Android 13 operating system with guaranteed updates and security patches for five years.

Design and finishing

One aspect that stands out from the Samsung S23 Ultra is its design. With sleek and modern finishes, this phone does not go unnoticed. Its slim and lightweight body makes it comfortable to hold and use with one hand. In addition, it features an edge-to-edge display that offers an immersive visual experience.

The Samsung S23 Ultra follows the same design as the S21 and S22 Ultra, but with a slightly flatter screen and thicker bezel. Samsung has managed to create an excellent design for the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection on the front and back provides extra resistance to small drops, although it should be noted that it doesn’t offer much extra protection from a certain height and force.

Aesthetically, the Samsung S23 Ultra features a matte finish on the back that evokes a sense of quality. However, it is important to note that this finish tends to mark fingerprints and collect dust on the camera lenses. The shiny aluminum edges are also prone to micro-scratches and fingerprints, although it is important to note that this model uses more recycled aluminum than ever before, maintaining its elegance and premium feel.

As for the buttons and ports, they are located on the right side of the device, with a speaker and microphone grill at the top. On the bottom, we find the speaker, USB-C port, SIM card slot and two microphones.

We are not fans of the rings around the rear camera, as they scratch easily when the phone is placed on a hard surface. The use of a protective case is therefore recommended.

Samsung has joined the green trend by using post-consumer recycled materials in the aluminum frame and packaging of the device. A 5W USB-C cable is included in the box, but as usual, there is no charger.

Galaxy S23 Ultra high-end smartphoneGalaxy S23 Ultra high-end smartphone

This year, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra surprises us with an eco-conscious bet by using a significant amount of recycled materials in its construction. Its premium feel has not been compromised by this decision, however.

One of the standout features of the Samsung S23 Ultra is the inclusion of the S-Pen, which is the same one found on the previous generation. This stylus has eight preset modes of use including create notes, view all notes, smart selfie, screen writing, animated messages, AR drawing, translation and the PENUP app for drawing and coloring. The S-Pen has a 0.7mm diameter tip and offers a pressure level of 4096, allowing for precise writing and drawing.

In addition to its main function, the S-Pen can also activate an Air Command menu with various options such as taking notes, cutting and pasting, writing on the screen (even when it is turned off), translating and more. It can also be used as a remote camera shutter release. It should be noted that replacement pens cost an additional €90.

Overall, the S-Pen is a distinctive feature of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and can be a great advantage for those who take full advantage of the device’s writing and drawing capabilities. However, if you’re not going to use these features a lot, you might be better off opting for the Samsung Galaxy S23 or S23+, which don’t include the S-Pen and are slightly cheaper.

Personally, I find the S-Pen can be useful in some situations, but in general, I prefer to use a keyboard to take notes and don’t find it to be faster than my fingers for highlighting text. However, those who have used previous Note family devices or those who value the accuracy and low latency of a stylus will no doubt appreciate this additional feature.

Connectivity

The device features Bluetooth 5.3 LE, multipoint and the ability to connect two devices. It also offers support for SBC, AAC, aptX, LDAC and Samsung Scalable Codec. However, it is disappointing that there is no support for Qualcomm’s aptX. Instead, it has opted to use SSC (just as it refused to pay for Dolby Vision licenses and uses open source HDR10+).

The SoC supports Wi-Fi 7, although it is not currently enabled because the standard has not yet been ratified. However, it works perfectly as Wi-Fi 6E AX (and earlier versions), maintaining a solid signal up to 10 meters away from our reference point.

This device has a dual-band GPS that offers an accuracy of less than 4 meters, which is quite acceptable for on-board navigation and at speed.

The USB-C port on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is 3.1 Gen 1, allowing audio and video streaming at 4K resolution at 60 frames per second.

Operating system

The phone comes with the latest version of Android, Android 13, and the latest version of Samsung’s customization layer, One UI 5.1. Samsung has greatly improved its software in recent years, offering system and security updates for five years. This is something users value highly, as we all want to have the most up-to-date software on our devices.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: Is it worth it?
Qualcomm Snapdragon8 Gen 2 Pro, 200+10+10+10+12MP rear camera

As for the user interface, One UI is still quite recognizable as a Samsung ROM. Although they have made some aesthetic changes, such as automatic themes and cleaner settings, it still has its own style, which can be liked or disliked depending on the tastes of each user.

Importantly, the device comes pre-installed with a plethora of apps, some of which are duplicates of Google’s productivity apps. Samsung also includes its own Galaxy Store, Galaxy Shop and other apps such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Spotify and Netflix.

While many of these apps can be uninstalled, they take up a considerable amount of the nearly 60GB of available space on the device.

Screen

Last year, the Samsung S23 Ultra’s panel’s ability to look good in bright sunlight was highly praised. This year, we can assure you that the experience will be no different. Although the peak brightness figure has not been increased,

Samsung has always excelled at offering the highest brightness compared to its competitors. Even Apple’s famous iPhone 14 Pro reached 2,000 nits of brightness. Therefore, we would expect Samsung to match or exceed this figure. We must say that it makes a difference when a panel has such an impressive brightness.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s display is an 8-bit display that can reproduce 16.7 million colors, which may seem like an inferior specification compared to the competition. Some models in this segment offer 10-bit displays that can reproduce up to 1.07 billion colors.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra AMOLED displaySamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra AMOLED screen

In practice, however, most users won’t notice much of a difference in image quality. The 3088 x 1440 pixel 2X AMOLED display with a pixel density of 500ppi offers a crisp and vibrant viewing experience, although Dolby Vision support is missing.

Also, as we previewed, it has Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection and is S-Pen compatible, which is a big plus for those who enjoy handwriting on their devices.

Some tests performed

  • Maximum brightness: The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s maximum brightness is not specified, but in our tests it reached 510 nits, although under normal use you’ll probably stay in the 200-300 nits range.
  • High Brightness Max Auto Mode: High brightness mode reaches 1200 nits, offering clear viewing even in bright lighting conditions.
  • HDR10+ maximum brightness: The display can reach 1750 nits in HDR10+ content, which enhances the experience when watching movies and videos with high dynamic range.
  • Color temperature: The color temperature is not given, but in the Vivid and Warm display modes, temperatures of 6690° and 6500° were obtained, respectively.
  • Color reproduction: The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra scored a Delta E of 1.6 in Vivid mode and 1.1 in Warm mode, indicating accurate color reproduction. The device offers 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space, ensuring faithful color reproduction. It achieves 97% coverage of the sRGB color space in Natural mode and 135% in more vivid mode, albeit with a Delta E of 2.6.
  • Contrast: The contrast of the device is 3,000,000:1, thanks to OLED technology that delivers deep blacks and bright whites.

In summary, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s display provides a quality viewing experience, although it does not meet the highest standards in terms of color reproduction. For most users, however, this will not be a significant problem in everyday use.

Hardware and performance

Now it is time to talk about the hardware and the performance you get with this Samsung S23 Ultra. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor is a slightly modified 3.36 GHz variant made by Qualcomm for Samsung. The standard SoC runs at 3.2GHz, but thanks to Samsung’s vapor chamber cooling, this chip can reach even higher speeds.

Standard mode uses the full 3.36GHz. Lightweight mode reduces the performance to 2.84 GHz. There does not seem to be a significant loss of performance in light mode, so it is recommended for most users.

Performance is 35% faster and has 40% better power management than its predecessor. It also has 4.35x faster AI performance and a 25% faster GPU.

While not a device designed specifically for gaming, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra delivers solid performance thanks to its 1-120Hz adaptive refresh rate display and powerful Qualcomm SD8 Gen 2 Pro processor.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra features the new Adreno 740 GPU, which is 30% faster and consumes less power than the Adreno 730. This GPU supports hardware-accelerated ray tracing and a game post-processing accelerator, enabling high-quality graphics in games.

If you are a regular gamer, we think it is perfectly valid, but if you are very demanding, you may prefer devices more dedicated to gaming, such as the Black Shark 5 Pro or the REDMAGIC 8 Pro.

It is important to note that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra does not support Dolby Vision in mobile gaming, as the company decided not to pay for the corresponding licenses. This may be a drawback for those looking for a high quality gaming experience with Dolby Vision support.

There are two versions available, one with 8GB of RAM and one with 12GB of RAM. For most users, 8GB is more than enough for smooth performance. However, if you need more performance, you can opt for the 12GB option.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra offers 256GB, 512GB and 1TB storage options using UFS 4.0 technology, which is faster and more efficient. We recommend choosing the 512GB or 1TB versions as there is no microSD card slot or external storage option.

Battery

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra battery has a capacity of 5000mAh and supports 10V/4.5A/45W charging. It is important to note that the device does not include a charger, and unless you use a third-party charger that meets these charging requirements, the performance will be reduced to 9V/3A/27W.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra battery lifeSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra battery life

Therefore, it is necessary to use the specific Samsung charger or a compatible generic one to enjoy the full charging speed. When tested with a 27W charger, the full charging time was around 1 hour and 20 minutes. And with a 5V/2A/10W charger, the full charge time is extended to 3.5 hours. It also has 15W Qi wireless charging.

Compared to the previous S22 Ultra, the battery life has been improved by about 20%, providing at least one day of battery life for intensive users and up to two days for normal users. It can even reach two and a half to three days in power save mode and basic usage.

Sound

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is equipped with a stereo headset and a bottom speaker. Although the maximum volume is slightly lower than the S22 Ultra (79 dB instead of 82 dB), the other system volumes are virtually identical.

It also has excellent left/right separation and a slightly wider soundstage than other phones. Content with Dolby Atmos provides a slight 3D height effect and a wider soundstage.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a slightly more refined sound quality compared to the S22 Ultra. However, it still lacks outstanding bass or mid-bass. It focuses on high bass, which builds gradually and then remains flat up to 15 kHz, before dropping to 20 kHz.

If it had a bit more bass, it would offer a more neutral sonic signature that could adapt to any EQ setting. As it is (no EQ), the sound signature leans toward bright vocal tones (with muted bass and boosted mids and highs), which is ideal for vocal tracks and stringed instruments.

The hands-free speakerphone also performs well, thanks to its three microphones (one of which is noise cancelling).

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera

If you’re a photography lover, you’ll love the Samsung S23 Ultra’s camera. With a quad-camera system and a high-resolution sensor, this phone captures sharp, detailed images in any situation. Plus, it boasts advanced features like optical zoom and image stabilization, allowing you to take professional-quality photos effortlessly.

Overall, the camera of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is very satisfactory and offers good image quality in a variety of situations. Colors are accurate, contrast is good and it is difficult to take a bad picture.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera systemSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Camera System

One of the highlights of the camera is its 200MP, 0.6um main sensor, which Samsung claims is the best in its class. However, most users will probably use the AI mode with 12.5MP binning and a 2.4um pixel size, as this mode produces better looking images.

It should be noted that handheld photos taken with the 200MP sensor tend to be blurry, but this can be solved by using a tripod.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera testSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera test

There are also two telephoto lenses: one with 3x optical zoom and F/2.4 aperture, and another with a periscope design that offers 10x optical zoom and F/4.9 aperture. This allows for a hybrid spatial zoom of up to 100x, although it is important to note that a tripod is required for sharp results.

In addition to these features, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra also offers options such as night portrait (bokeh), night video, astrophotography and hyperlapse, adding versatility to the photographic experience.

Our thoughts on the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s camera.

  • 1X Day – 200MP main sensor with binning at 12.5MP: Quality is excellent. Colors are vibrant (though some might consider them too saturated), and good detail is captured in both light and dark areas.
  • 3X Day – 10MPx3 sensor: Colors are natural, with good detail and no noise.
  • 10X Day – 10MPx10 Sensor: As you get closer to the limit of its capacity, some noise starts to appear in the background. However, excellent colors and foreground detail are obtained.
  • 100X spatial zoom: At the limit of the sensor’s capability. Different results may be obtained when taking multiple photos at this setting.
  • Ultra wide-angle – 12.5MP sensor: The shot is excellent, although it is noticeable that a different sensor is used than the main sensor.
  • 50MP macro sensor – Excellent details and colors, and not so critical in terms of the 4cm focus distance.
  • Indoor office light: Good colors and details, although the background may appear slightly out of focus.
  • Depth of field (bokeh) mode: saturated colors, good foreground detail and out-of-focus background. The level of blur can be adjusted, and in this shot a more extreme setting was used.
  • Dark < 40 lumens: Standard mode (not night mode) is excellent, turning night into day with good colors and capturing the details of monitor screens.
  • Night mode: Although it saturates colors (at the expense of other details), it adds detail that is lacking in low-light situations.
  • Selfie: Photos taken with the 12MP are displayed in the 8.6 to 10MP range, depending on the field of view (cropped). Skin tones look natural, there is good detail and a variety of filters can be applied to enhance any image.
  • Main sensor: allows recording in 8K@30fps resolution with optical image stabilization (OIS), 4K@60/30fps with OIS/EIS, and results are excellent in daylight or indoor conditions.
  • Ultra wide-angle sensor: allows recording in 4K@30fps resolution with OIS/EIS.

Veredict: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra opinion

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, which at first glance doesn’t seem to have evolved much from the previous generation, turns out to be the mobile device we’ve been waiting for years. Its impeccable design, exceptional display, the best processor for Android, great battery life, quality sound and a camera that finally lives up to (and even surpasses) the best phones on the market.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is without a doubt the phone that comes closest to the ultimate Android concept. This device has almost everything and it is difficult to find any weaknesses. Although the One UI interface is still heavy, it compensates with the multiple options it offers the user. The camera has also made a big leap forward with its 200-megapixel mode, although the image processing can be a bit soft and washed out at times. Apart from these two details, there is little else to complain about.

The new Galaxy S23 Ultra smartphone has addressed some of the issues that were present in its predecessors, the S21 and S22 Ultra, which were excellent smartphones at the time. Improvements have been made especially in aspects such as battery life. However, it is important to note that this version represents an evolution, not a revolution. Despite having a 200 MP primary sensor, it still shoots at 12.5 MP, an aspect that may be disappointing for some users.

Reasons to buy the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

  • You don’t care about the price and want to have the best.
  • You use or plan to use the S-Pen and need a compatible device.
  • It is now 35% faster and 40% better at power management than SD8 Gen 1.
  • GPU 25% faster than its predecessor.
  • It allows you to record video in 8K resolution and at 60fps.
  • You need to do extreme zoom (100X) on your photos.
  • You require 12GB of RAM and 1TB of storage.

If you want all the features of the S23 Ultra except the S-Pen and 100x zoom, the Galaxy S23 or S23+ are cheaper options without compromising on quality.

Points for improvement

  • One drawback is that Samsung still uses an 8-bit color display which can be a hindrance for professional users who require color accuracy from preview to final shot.
  • The inability to use an external SSD as real-time storage is a major drawback for videographers and vloggers.
  • The charger is not included in the box, which means an additional $69 to get a 45W charge. Also, non-Samsung QI chargers are limited to 10 W.
  • Limiting Qualcomm codecs to aptX excludes regular users from enjoying high-definition music. While Samsung’s scalable codec is decent, it only works on compatible headphones.
  • The absence of Dolby Vision decoding and the preference for the HDR10+ format.

Despite these issues, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is still one of the best high-end Android smartphones on the market today. Its positives outweigh its weaknesses, unless they are important to you.

Differences between the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the S22 Ultra

  • Qualcomm SD8 Gen 2 Pro processor instead of Qualcomm SD8 Gen 1.
  • 200MP main camera sensor instead of 108MP.
  • 12MP front camera instead of 40MP.
  • The rest of the specifications are similar between both models.

Compared to last year’s S22 Ultra, the S23 Ultra offers a slightly brighter display and an upgraded processor for superior performance.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is not a revolution, but rather a gradual evolution that takes advantage of the latest advances in processors and technology. Unless there are compelling reasons to upgrade, users of the S21/S22 Ultra will not find any major changes.

View Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra price

Alternatives to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Also worth considering are the inferior Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus. The truth is that they are quite similar, although it is true that you would have a smaller screen size and resolution, a smaller wide-angle camera and the S-Pen. However, their price is lower, so they are worth considering if these extras are not essential for you.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra not only offers a premium design with a glass cover, S Pen and DeX, but also a 200MP camera that lives up to expectations. It also has a fast processor, memory and storage, as well as excellent battery life. Also worth mentioning is the 2+4+5 warranty, which includes OS updates and security patches.

On the downside, there is no charger included in the box and it can only be charged with third-party chargers up to 27W. Also, the 8/256 GB base model is a bit small for a high-end phone. The 8-bit/16.7 million color display is not appropriate for a premium flagship, and the lack of a mountable external SSD may be a limitation for videographers and vloggers. Ultimately, there are no compelling reasons to upgrade from the S21 or S22 Ultra.

9.2 Total Score
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review

The Samsung S23 Ultra not only impresses with its looks, but also with its powerful performance. Equipped with a state-of-the-art processor, this phone delivers fast and smooth performance for all tasks. Whether you're surfing the web, playing multimedia content or playing demanding games, the Samsung S23 Ultra will not disappoint. Also worth mentioning are the OS updates and security patches. On the downside, there is no charger included in the box and it can only be charged with third-party chargers up to 27W. Also, the 8/256 GB base model is a bit small for a high-end phone. The 8-bit/16.7 million color display is not appropriate for a premium flagship, and the lack of a mountable external SSD may be a limitation for videographers and vloggers. Ultimately, there are no compelling reasons to upgrade from the S22 Ultra. All in all, the Samsung S23 Ultra is an impressive phone in every aspect. From its sleek design to its powerful performance and impressive camera, this device has everything you could want in a smartphone. If you're looking for a high-end phone that combines style and functionality, the Samsung S23 Ultra is the perfect choice.

Design and finish
9.2
Screen
8.9
Performance
9.4
Camera
9.4
Battery
9
PROS
  • Delivers a premium experience with glass cover, S Pen and DeX
  • 200MP camera lives up to expectations
  • Fast processor, memory and storage
  • Excellent battery life
  • OS updates and security patches
CONS
  • An 8-bit display is not appropriate for a premium flagship.
  • Can't use an external SSD for videographers and vloggers

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