- Outstandingly fast
- Very good cameras
- Excellent battery life
- Lovely premium object
- Slow 45W charging
- Poor selfie camera
- Huge premium object
What We Think
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has more features than any other phone on the market, with the exception of a good front-facing camera and rapid charging.
Since the Galaxy S23 Ultra is nearly identical to the Galaxy S22 Ultra from 2022, I mentioned as much when it was revealed.
What I said is true. The design and feel of this phone are identical to that of its predecessor. In spite of this, the more recent S23 Ultra is, without a doubt, a top-tier smartphone.
You probably don’t need to keep looking for a gadget that packs every possible smartphone function into a glass block that can (almost) fit in your pocket.
You’ll have to shell out a pretty penny if you want a smartphone with the greatest screen, a stylus, a 200 megapixel camera, or the most recent in mobile processing power. The base price for the S23 Ultra is $1,199 (or £1,249 or €1,419), with additional storage costing extra.
It’s a durable phone, with software updates for at least the next five years.
Plan and construct
Extra-large, high-quality glass sandwhich
Display almost flat
a stylus for the S-Pen
The S23 Ultra is, indeed, aesthetically similar to the S22 Ultra in that it is a massive (234g), glass-encased cube with aluminium bezels and rounded corners. These days, most smartphones have rounded screen edges, which gives the Ultra a more professional, computer-like appearance.
Gorilla Glass Victus 2, the same material used in the screen, covers the back. Even though the glass on this phone is the toughest available, you should still protect it with a cover because it is so easily broken. No screen protector is put initially either.
The phone has a high-end feel, but it’s difficult to operate with one hand. The top and bottom of the device are totally flat, while the side rails are practically flat but curve off towards the front and rear of the very slightly curved edge screen. The iPhone’s fully flat screen and sides don’t compare favourably to this.
Thankfully, there is no specific voice assistance switch (good riddance), leaving merely the volume rocker and power buttons on the right side. A USB-C port, dual SIM tray, microphone, speaker grille, and a slot for the included S Pen can all be found on the bottom edge.
You probably don’t need to go any farther if you’re looking for a gadget that packs every possible smartphone function into a glass block that can (almost) fit in your pocket.
Even though the green shade on the review unit I received was nice, you could decide that the white, lavender, or black models are more your style.
The phone’s excellent haptics are also noteworthy. What I mean is the standard of the vibration motor used for anything from external alerts like calls and alarms to internal functions like navigation and typing feedback. They are top-notch and help the phone live up to its lofty price tag.
Display & Audio System
Astonishing AMOLED display, 6.8 inches in size
Refresh rates from 1-120 Hz
Dual stereo sound system
The screen of the S23 Ultra is arguably its finest feature. The results are breathtaking. I know I keep saying this, but the current flagship Samsung phone truly does have the finest phone display I’ve ever seen.
The 6.8-inch AMOLED has stunning detail owing to its 3088 x 1440 WQHD+ resolution; however, you can adjust the screen’s brightness and contrast to conserve battery life by lowering the resolution to 1080p (or 720p, but don’t).
Samsung claims that even at maximum brightness of 1750 nits, the colours remain consistent. Unlike most other smartphones, the screen remains legible even when exposed to intense sunlight.
Battery life is extended and performance is optimised with LTPO technology’s variable refresh rate of 1 to 120 Hz.
The S23 Ultra’s display is so good that it may be its finest feature.
When the phone is set to “game mode,” the touch sampling rate is increased to 240 frames per second.
The phone also has excellent dual audio speakers. Usually, listening to music on a phone’s speakers results in distortion, but not here.
The speakers are great for listening to YouTube videos and podcasts, but the sound quality isn’t as high as that of a compact Bluetooth speaker like the UE Wonderboom 3.
Features and functionality
Apparently, Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Will Power Galaxy’s Next-Gen Mobile Devices
A maximum of 1 terabyte
Even brand new Samsung phones have been criticised for seeming a bit sluggish in terms of performance and software, but that is not the case here. I don’t know what the corporation has changed, but this phone is lightning fast. To my experience, it’s just as quick as the OnePlus 11 and Google Pixel 7 Pro.
It may have something to do with the processor, a modified version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 designed especially for the Galaxy S23 Ultra (and the standard Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus). My evaluation unit’s 8 Gen 2 processor and 12GB of RAM performed faultlessly. This was far faster than the clock speed of other phones using this processor, including the OnePlus 11.
The claimed maximum single-core clock speed of the CPU is 3.36GHz, up from 3.2GHz on competing phones, with the GPU clocking in at 719MHz, up from 680MHz. That’s fantastic, but you shouldn’t expect a huge performance boost from it.
A multi-core Geekbench 5 score of 4996 reflects the improved performance, making it the greatest Android result we’ve seen and second only to the A16 chipset in the iPhone 14 Pro.
My review unit has fixed 256GB of storage space, however I can see that Samsung is only offering a 256GB variant with 8GB of RAM in the UK. Optional extras include 12 GB of RAM and either 512 GB or 1 terabyte of storage.
… it’s a lightning-fast phone
The use of video and still cameras
Excellent 200MP primary sensor
Magnificent 10x and 3x optical zoom lenses
Poor Selfie Capability
Samsung is promoting the S23 Ultra’s 200-megapixel primary lens with much fanfare, but our evaluation of the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra, which also has a 200-megapixel sensor, shows that it is not the first smartphone to achieve this benchmark.
It’s not necessarily the case that a phone with higher megapixels would take better images. The Google Pixel 6a, equipped with a 12MP camera, captures stunning photographs owing to Google’s industry-leading image processing algorithms.
Whatever Samsung is doing with its lenses, it’s working really well, but unless you shoot in full 200Mp mode and really look closely, you won’t see much of an improvement over the S22 Ultra’s 108Mp camera.
The S23 Ultra does not have a 200Mp setting by default. Instead, it utilises pixel binning, a technique that increases clarity, especially in low light, by combining four 4×4 pixel squares into one bigger pixel area. The default resolution is 12.5Mp, however you may choose between 50Mp and 200Mp via the camera app.
In addition, there is a 10MP f/2.4 2x optical telephoto, a 10MP f/4.9 10x optical zoom, and a 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide. Unless you count the similarly equipped S22 Ultra, no other smartphone offers a more flexible camera setup than this one thanks to its four separate sensors.
Having both a 3x optical and a 10x optical zoom on your smartphone camera is like having a private jet. The S23 Ultra’s 10x zoom allowed me to take photos that aren’t Pulitzer Prize winners but are far clearer than anything I could have gotten with the iPhone 14 Pro’s 3x optical zoom.
Samsung’s’space zoom’ is 100x, and it’s called that because it allows you to capture a blurry snapshot of the moon’s craters when using the 10x lens. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s quite cool that it can do that, but the actual results aren’t. The novelty of this phone is its ability to zoom into space.
Even if phones with bigger sensors, like the Vivo X90 Pro, are starting to achieve it with just hardware, it’s better to focus (ha!) on the great software portrait mode, which offers a very decent bokeh effect.
On paper, the S23’s 12Mp f/2.2 selfie camera is a step down from the S22 Ultra’s 40Mp lens, but the device makes up for this with improved processing. The images are more crisp and detailed, and the colours are more vibrant.
But that’s only true during the day; at night, the selfie camera struggles mightily, producing images with poor detail and a general haze. There wasn’t a lot of light in the bar, but for the price, there are better phones out there.
The primary camera’s PDAF focusing can’t keep up with fast-moving subjects (but many other smartphones can’t either). The S23 Ultra has trouble taking pictures.
Samsung is still fond of pumping up the colour saturation in pictures. The sky seems bluer than it is in reality, and the grass and plants are a brilliant green that doesn’t quite belong here on Earth. However, whenever I went out with friends or family and showed them a photo I had taken, they always complained about how much better it looked than the one on their phone.
The iPhone is ideal if you prefer subdued, lifelike hues. If you like vibrant, Instagram-ready photos, though, your best choice is the Galaxy.
Shooting in RAW format and experimenting with manual options is only possible with Samsung’s Expert RAW programme, which is well worth the download. It’s strange that it need its own app, but at least one does. The camera quality is worth the time and work required to edit in Adobe Lightroom, and the phone itself may lead you down a rabbit hole of camera options.
The front camera can record in UHD at 60 frames per second while the back camera can record in 8K at 30 frames per second. The S23 Ultra, because to its professional video mode and effective stabilisation, is a great choice for anybody interested in mobile filmmaking, however the iPhone 14 series remains superior in terms of both image quality and (miraculous) stability.
Batteries and powering up
Charging at 45W is really sluggish.
Long-lasting power that can last all day
Charging wirelessly, both forward and backwards
Samsung, like Apple, is an odd hold out when it comes to including true rapid charging in their phones. Who knows what these two are keeping from us?
I can only say that despite its high price tag, the S23 Ultra charges more slowly than many other smartphones. The phone ships with a USB-C to C connection but no wall charger brick, so you may charge at up to 45W. After only 15 minutes of charging using my own equipment, I was able to get the phone to 43% capacity.
The OnePlus 11, which retails for $699/£729 and includes a 100W charger, reached 71% charge in 15 minutes and was completely charged in under 30 minutes. It’s important to remember if charging times are crucial to you.
While the OnePlus does not support wireless charging, the S23 Ultra does. This also implies that the S23’s electricity may be used to charge other Qi wireless devices placed on its back.
The battery life is so fantastic on this phone that the delayed charging time is barely noticeable. The 5,000mAh battery fit well in my huge phone and lasted me the entire day. Even with heavy use while reviewing, I managed around 1.5 days on a single charge and about 8 hours of screen on time before things went sketchy.
This is true even when using the maximum available WQHD+ resolution and the maximum available adaptive 120Hz refresh rate.
As a reviewer based in the United Kingdom, I am relieved to see that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 would be included in every device. For years, I have been forced to use Exynos versions of Galaxy S phones, which have lower battery life than their Qualcomm equivalents elsewhere.
Applications and Upgrades
The 5.1 version of the One UI on Android 13
There are four new versions of the platform.
Repeated upgrades every five years
With the S23 Ultra (and many other devices), Samsung remains at the head of the Android pack by promising four years of Android platform upgrades and five years of security fixes. While Google provides five years of security, it only upgrades Android three times, and OnePlus has just caught up for one phone.
Both Apple and Fairphone are superior to Samsung in this regard. However, a phone with software updates for five years is a great deal.
I enjoy using the One UI 5.1 skin on top of Android 13 that comes preinstalled on the phone. While some skins, such as Oppo’s ColorOS, allow for greater tinkering with the look and feel of Android, One UI is still fairly crowded and Samsung clearly alters a lot of the aesthetic compared to a’stock’ appearance or Google’s Pixel Launcher.
It took me about three days to get One UI just right, but now that I have, I could happily use it exclusively.
It was annoying to have a Samsung laptop advertisement in my alerts, and there are probably a number of Google and Samsung applications you don’t need, but you can remove them. Although some of my coworkers find it cumbersome, I can attest that it runs really well on the S23 Ultra’s hardware.
Samsung’s guarantee of four years of Android platform upgrades and five years of security fixes puts it ahead of the Android pack.
I used the S Pen pen for two days before I put the phone aside and forgot about it. It’s a great tool to have, but I only use it when I really have to, like when I need to digitally sign a document or alter a photo. The display is too big and narrow to be useful for note taking or drawing, so most individuals would be better off with an iPad or Surface.
Samsung DeX is more practical since it transforms the Android operating system into a desktop mode that can accept input from a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse when the phone is connected to a suitable USB-C display. It’s a real method to utilise a desktop setup powered entirely by your phone, and it even works with wireless monitors. This is where things are headed.
Cost and accessibility
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the company’s flagship device, hence it comes at a hefty price. The base model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage space starts at $1,199/£1,249/€1,419.
Both the 16GB/512GB and 16GB/1TB configurations will set you back $1,379/£1,399/€1,599 and $1,619/£1,599/€1,839.
You may buy it from Samsung anywhere in the globe, or in the United States from any of these retailers: Best Buy, Target, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. True, it’s a Samsung.
Amazon, O2, Vodafone, EE, Three, and John Lewis are just few of the UK retailers who stock it.
It’s pricey, costing more than Apple’s similarly sized and feature-rich iPhone 14 Pro Max (128GB, $1,099/£1,199/€1,479).
The S23 Ultra is the only Android phone on the market with a built-in pen, making it the best option for anybody looking for a fully-loaded smartphone. If you don’t have a pressing need for such a device, though, you may save a significant amount of money by purchasing the Google Pixel 7 Pro instead. The base model Pixel 7 is much more affordable.
For more choices, I recommend checking out our comprehensive list of top smartphones.
If you want the most phone for your money, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is your best bet, but it doesn’t make it the greatest phone.
It has every feature under the sun, even the kitchen sink. The phone’s squared off brick shape is understandable, given all the features it packs. This phone has everything I’ve ever wanted in a smartphone: fantastic cameras, long battery life, the finest screen in its class, a pen, a desktop mode, and the fastest software performance I’ve ever seen on a Samsung (and I’ve been using Samsung Galaxy phones since 2015).
The high price, however, makes it less universally recommended than the most costly iPhones.
The standard S23 or S23 Plus, or any premium Android phone, may provide all the luxury you want. However, the S23 Ultra is now the gold standard when it comes to the notion of “most phone.”
|BODY||Dimensions||146.3 x 70.9 x 7.6 mm (5.76 x 2.79 x 0.30 in)|
|Weight||168 g (5.93 oz)|
|Build||Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus 2), glass back (Gorilla Glass Victus 2), aluminum frame|
|SIM||Nano-SIM and eSIM or Dual SIM (2 Nano-SIMs and eSIM, dual stand-by)|
|IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 min)|
Armor aluminum frame with tougher drop and scratch resistance (advertised)
|DISPLAY||Type||Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1200 nits (HBM), 1750 nits (peak)|
|Size||6.1 inches, 90.1 cm2 (~86.8% screen-to-body ratio)|
|Resolution||1080 x 2340 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio (~425 ppi density)|
|Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2|
|PLATFORM||OS||Android 13, One UI 5.1|
|Chipset||Qualcomm SM8550-AC Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (4 nm)|
|CPU||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)|
|MAIN CAMERA||Triple||50 MP, f/1.8, 24mm (wide), 1/1.56″, 1.0µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS|
10 MP, f/2.4, 70mm (telephoto), 1/3.94″, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom
12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚ (ultrawide), 1/2.55″ 1.4µm, Super Steady video
|Features||LED flash, auto-HDR, panorama|
|Video||8K@24/30fps, 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, 1080p@960fps, HDR10+, stereo sound rec., gyro-EIS|
|SELFIE CAMERA||Single||12 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), Dual Pixel PDAF|
|Features||Dual video call, Auto-HDR, HDR10+|
|COMMS||WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, tri-band, Wi-Fi Direct|
|Bluetooth||5.3, A2DP, LE|
|Positioning||GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO|
|USB||USB Type-C 3.2, OTG|
|FEATURES||Sensors||Fingerprint (under display, ultrasonic), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer|
|Samsung DeX, Samsung Wireless DeX (desktop experience support)|
Bixby natural language commands and dictation
Samsung Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified)
|BATTERY||Type||Li-Ion 3900 mAh, non-removable|
|Charging||25W wired, PD3.0, 50% in 30 min (advertised)|
15W wireless (Qi/PMA)
4.5W reverse wireless
|MISC||Colors||Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender, Graphite, Lime|
|Models||SM-S911B, SM-S911B/DS, SM-S911U, SM-S911U1, SM-S911W, SM-S911N, SM-S9110, SM-S911E, SM-S911E/DS|
|SAR||0.95 W/kg (head) 0.88 W/kg (body)|
|SAR EU||0.96 W/kg (head) 1.30 W/kg (body)|
|Price||₹ 74,998 / $ 652.00 / £ 626.59 / € 711.72|
|TESTS||Performance||AnTuTu: 1231075 (v9)|
GeekBench: 4950 (v5.1)
GFXBench: 110fps (ES 3.1 onscreen)
|Display||Contrast ratio: Infinite (nominal)|
|Camera||Photo / Video|
|Loudspeaker||-27.0 LUFS (Good)|
|Battery life||Endurance rating 101h|
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