Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review: In a League of Its Own

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Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra was, and nonetheless is, a very succesful smartphone. Nevertheless, it was extra about merging the Word line and Galaxy line above the rest. We lastly had a well-integrated S Pen in a camera-oriented Galaxy S sequence smartphone. It was the final word Samsung smartphone, with nothing neglected, priced from Rs. 1,09,999. Relatively than going for a full overhaul this yr with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, Samsung has created a system that can really feel very acquainted to a Galaxy S22 Ultra consumer, however with a twist.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra makes use of a brand-new major digital camera sensor to allow a higher imaging expertise, and a Qualcomm SoC that has been customised to (hopefully) ship higher efficiency. Nevertheless, all of this comes at a increased asking worth, which I am positive followers wouldn’t thoughts coughing up. Do you have to improve to the most recent Ultra, or keep on with the one that you just may need? 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra worth in India

In comparison with final yr’s Galaxy S22 Ultra, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has obtained a noticeable worth bump. It begins from Rs. 1,24,999 for the 12GB RAM and 256GB storage variant which is about Rs. 15,000 increased than the telephone it replaces. Then, there’s the following variant with 12GB of RAM and 512GB storage that is accessible at Rs. 1,34,999, whereas the top-of-the-line 12GB RAM and 1TB storage variant is priced at an eye-watering Rs. 1,54,999. This brings the Galaxy S23 Ultra eerily near the at present accessible Galaxy Z Fold 4 (Assessment), which oddly, is out there from precisely Rs. 1,54,999.

For an iPhone consumer seeking to swap sides, the iPhone 14 Professional (Assessment) begins from Rs. 1,29,900, so the Ultra’s increased pricing should not be a large deal. Nevertheless, on the Android facet of issues, this could possibly be a bit worrisome so far as prime digital camera telephones go, as a result of Google’s newest and best managed to ship higher nonetheless pictures in our digital camera shootout with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, and is out there at a a lot cheaper price of Rs. 80,999.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra design

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra continues to keep up its ‘Ultra’ standing within the dimension division. The telephone nonetheless seems to be and feels costly, however has gained a bit of weight (234g vs 228g) over final yr’s mannequin, although it is not noticeably heavier. Regardless of weight (which remains to be lighter than an iPhone 14 Professional Max), the telephone certainly feels chunkier because of its flatter sides.

Samsung has finished this by increasing the width of the metallic body and decreasing the curvature of the perimeters. This makes it seem extra like a rectangle with rounded corners, as a substitute of the pill-shaped profile when seen from the highest or backside. Regardless of the added thickness over the earlier mannequin, the Galaxy S23 Ultra remains to be fairly snug to carry because the refreshed design gives a broader, flatter floor on all sides for improved grip.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (proper) seems to be similar to the older Galaxy S22 Ultra (left)


I actually want that Samsung would make a regular-sized Ultra telephone, identical to Apple’s iPhone 14 Professional, even when that meant ditching the stylus. I believe it might undoubtedly discover extra takers. That is extra so, as a result of the corporate at all times reserves its greatest digital camera {hardware} for the highest mannequin, and sadly, it solely exhibits up in a single XXL dimension which is undoubtedly difficult to hold on you. These with tiny pockets could should accept the smaller Galaxy S23, as soon as once more.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra specs and software program

Similar to the earlier mannequin, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is all about bragging rights in terms of specs. There’s a large 6.8-inch WQHD+ Tremendous AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh fee and 240Hz contact sampling fee.

Inside, there’s one thing new within the kind of the ‘Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Cell Platform for Galaxy’, which is Samsung’s branding for a customised Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC. The telephone is obtainable with a most of 12GB of RAM and as much as 1TB of storage. The SIM card tray can maintain two nano-SIM playing cards and helps twin 5G standby, however the telephone doesn’t assist expandable storage.

Coming to communication requirements, there may be assist for a number of 5G bands, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, Ultra Wideband (UWB) and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Kind-C port. The telephone has a 5,000mAh battery and helps 45W quick wired charging and 15W wi-fi charging, however comes with no charger within the field.

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Samsung ought to actually think about a regular-sized Ultra mannequin like Apple’s iPhone 14 Professional


Samsung’s One UI 5.1 affords a slick consumer interface (UI) with clean animations and transitions all through the UI. Knowledgeable RAW is now half of the digital camera app which makes it helpful for individuals who want it. The Gallery app, identical to iOS 16, permits customers to elevate objects, folks and pets from the picture and save them as PNG information for sharing. There are two new battery widgets, and an improved dynamic climate widget as properly. Broader updates additionally enable Samsung Galaxy Ebook laptop computer homeowners to make use of their trackpad and keyboard with their telephones. There’s additionally copy and paste performance to a supported telephone and vice-versa, identical to on an iPhone with a MacBook.

The S Pen nonetheless works as anticipated. One can jot down handwritten notes and even convert handwritten notes to characters immediately. Palm rejection when utilizing the S Pen is a bit of a drawback although.

Bloatware and third-party apps are surprisingly nonetheless a drawback on a smartphone that prices this a lot. The telephone comes with Microsoft 365, OneDrive, LinkedIn, Outlook, Fb, Spotify and Netflix apps preinstalled. Out of these OneDrive can’t be uninstalled. There’s additionally loads of Samsung-branded apps, some of which have Google alternate options additionally current on the system similar to Samsung Web and Google’s Chrome (or Samsung’s Messages app and Google’s Messages app).

The great half is that almost all of them (other than the core apps) could be uninstalled. With my utilization, I discovered nearly 15 Samsung-branded apps that I didn’t want or would by no means find yourself utilizing.

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The minor design variations between the Galaxy S22 Ultra (prime) and the brand new Galaxy S23 Ultra (backside)


Fortunately, regardless of the tonne of bloatware, I didn’t get bombarded with any spammy notifications through the assessment interval. I really feel Samsung must work on decreasing the bloatware on its premium lineup on condition that Google’s Pixel doesn’t include a single third-party app preinstalled. Apple’s iPhone 14 Professional which is a direct competitor, additionally doesn’t include a single third-party app preinstalled.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra efficiency

Samsung’s show on the Galaxy S23 Ultra hasn’t modified a lot in phrases of proportions or decision, however the firm says it has labored to ship higher colors utilizing an improved adaptive ‘Imaginative and prescient Booster’ expertise. It claims to permit the show to supply higher colors and distinction when seen beneath brilliant lights or outside.

The corporate additionally claims to have bumped up the display’s brightness to as much as 1,200 nits and a peak brightness of 1,750 nits. I am completely satisfied to say that each one these efforts actually present in real-world use. Whether or not I used to be utilizing the telephone to snap pictures in brilliant daylight or whereas viewing HDR10 content material, every thing appeared incredible on this huge show.

Whereas the common Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC affords a most clock pace of 3.2GHz, Samsung’s customisations pushes this pace to three.36GHz. In benchmarks, the Galaxy S23 Ultra managed 11,79,528 factors in AnTuTu together with 1,513 and 4,626 factors in Geekbench 5’s single-core and multi-core assessments, respectively. For context, the iQoo 11 5G and the OnePlus 11 5G managed scores of 12,63,366 and 10,16,772 in AnTuTu, respectively.

In phrases of graphics, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra managed 64fps in GFXBench’s Automotive Chase check, in comparison with the 111fps and 56fps on the iQoo 11 5G and the OnePlus 11 5G respectively. Whereas evaluating scores, one additionally must hold within the thoughts the upper show decision supplied by the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the OnePlus 11 5G.

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Samsung has gone with a flatter Tremendous AMOLED panel this time round


Samsung’s customised processor affords a number of advantages for its Galaxy S23 lineup, other than higher benchmark numbers. Samsung claims that its customised SoC ought to be capable to ship higher AI processing speeds, together with higher low-light movies and pictures.

Most video games ran on the highest attainable decision and with no cases of visible stuttering or dropped frames on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Overheating was not a drawback both, because of the larger vapour chamber cooling space, even throughout intense gaming periods (like operating Genshin Affect at ‘Most’ graphics settings) or when recording 4K 60fps video again to again. In comparison with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, I’d think about the warmth administration to be a large leap ahead certainly.

Whereas the telephone is sweet at operating video games, I did not discover any helpful granular changes for particular person video games such as you get on different flagships. The contact sampling fee for example is one thing I didn’t discover to be spectacular in video games similar to Name of Obligation: Cell, and there isn’t any strategy to enhance or enhance it both. It might have been good to have such instruments in its Recreation Booster Plus plugin, which has very restricted customisation choices. 

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The S Pen has not recieved any noticeable upgrades this yr


Battery life on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra was fairly spectacular on condition that it has a large show to energy. Throughout the assessment interval, I set the show at its most WQHD+ decision with the display’s refresh fee set to ‘Adaptive’, which mechanically cycles between 1Hz-120Hz. The telephone managed to run for 21 hours and seven minutes in our HD video loop battery check, which is kind of spectacular.

Even with heavy digital camera utilization, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra simply managed to final a full day, with about 30 p.c left on common. With informal use, you need to count on this telephone to final a day and half with out breaking a sweat. Dropping the show’s decision all the way down to full-HD+ additionally provides a few further hours to the telephone’s battery life.

For the reason that telephone doesn’t include its personal charger, I plugged it into a 61W USB PD charger. The Galaxy S23 Ultra managed a 34 p.c cost in half-hour, 64 p.c in an hour, and absolutely charging the telephone in 1 hour and 51 minutes, which is kind of gradual for flagship requirements.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra cameras

One other spotlight of this yr’s Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the brand new Samsung-made 200-megapixel sensor for the first digital camera. The sensor has the identical 1/1.3-inch dimension as a 108-megapixel sensor, which is how the S23 Ultra has comparable dimensions as its predecessor. Known as the ISOCELL HP2, it’s a bit smaller than the HP1 (additionally made by Samsung) current on the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra, however affords a 16-to-1 pixel binning system which captures 12-megapixel photographs by default.

You can too seize pictures at the complete 200-megapixel decision. In contrast facet by facet, the 200-megapixel crop undoubtedly is kind of usable and packs in a tonne of particulars in comparison with the usual binned picture. Nevertheless, there may be additionally a massive distinction in file dimension (5MB vs 35MB, per picture) and the previous additionally has a softer look. 

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The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with 4 rear-facing cameras


A much bigger improve is the brand new autofocus system, which Samsung calls “Tremendous QPD”. In keeping with Samsung, it mainly permits the digital camera to make use of all of the 200 million pixels (grouped by 4 adjoining pixels) as focussing brokers. Not like the HP1 sensor which may solely observe adjustments horizontally, the HP2 is ready to detect part adjustments within the vertical path as properly.

In concept, this could allow a lot quicker autofocus over the earlier mannequin. There’s additionally a new 12-megapixel selfie digital camera which has autofocus, and an 80-degree discipline of view. This new selfie digital camera fortunately, additionally makes it to the remaining of the Galaxy S23 lineup this yr. The remaining of the rear cameras embody two telephoto cameras and an ultra-wide-angle digital camera, and these stay the identical as final yr’s Galaxy S22 Ultra.

The digital camera interface is similar as earlier than, with the addition of the Knowledgeable Uncooked mode, which now exhibits up beneath the “Extra” tab within the digital camera app. Whereas it looks as if a neat integration, tapping on Knowledgeable RAW within the digital camera app will take you to the obtain web page for the Knowledgeable RAW app within the Galaxy retailer. It is mainly simply a shortcut to the separate app, however nonetheless a handy one. The Knowledgeable RAW app additionally options the brand new Astrophotography modes as properly.

The picture samples proven under have been shot with the ‘Scene Optimiser’ AI characteristic enabled, which leads to increased color saturation most of the time. If you happen to choose pure colors, then it is best to go away it disabled. The characteristic doesn’t work when recording video.

Daylight picture high quality is top-notch and the first digital camera captures loads of superb particulars with none extreme oversharpening. What stays subjective is Samsung’s color remedy, which is an space Google nearly perfected with the Pixel 7 Professional. Pictures taken on the 200-megapixel decision seem cooler with skies which are barely much less saturated (even with Scene Optimiser characteristic turned off). Nevertheless, dynamic vary and distinction is managed very well.

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra daylight digital camera samples: (Prime to backside) Auto mode 3X, Selfie portrait, Macro mode (faucet to see full dimension)


In low gentle, I caught to Samsung’s Nightography mode for probably the most half, however did allow the devoted Night time mode for sure scenes. Similar to daylight pictures, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra delivers glorious low-light pictures with good particulars and dynamic vary. It nonetheless has a drawback with dealing with brilliant avenue lights, however the gentle flares are much more subdued in comparison with what the Galaxy S22 Ultra captured, which is a good factor.

The Night time mode affords barely superior imagery with much less noise, but in addition makes you wait a couple of seconds earlier than saving the picture, so it must be used solely in extraordinarily darkish situations. Autofocus, as anticipated, was very fast even in dimly lit situations proving that the bump to the brand new sensor was utterly price it. Regardless of its stellar efficiency in street-lit situations, Samsung’s S23 Ultra nonetheless can not deal with extraordinarily darkish scenes precisely, because the outcomes present a dreamy HDR impact.

Selfies got here out wanting crisp and clear with good topic separation when not utilizing the Portrait mode. The outcomes from the Portrait mode are comparable with glorious edge detection. In low gentle, the brand new digital camera managed to shoot some high quality selfies with good particulars and supplied equally good edge detection.

Samsung, throughout its briefing to the media, did spend a while speaking about the telephone’s capability to shoot higher low-light portrait pictures. I snapped some utilizing the first digital camera in a very dimly-lit pub and the outcomes have been superb, however not spectacular. The telephone didn’t handle resolved particulars properly sufficient and ended up wanting fairly gentle. In common low-light situations the portrait pictures packed good particulars, glorious edge detection, and good color copy.

The ultra-wide-angle digital camera on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra affords a very large 120-degree discipline of view. The pictures come out brilliant and sharp in daylight with good resolved particulars. The software program does handle to get the intense barrel distortion beneath management as properly. In low gentle, the digital camera continues to impress by providing a balanced combine of good particulars and distinction with the same old saturated colors, however dynamic vary falls a bit quick.

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra daylight zoom efficiency (faucet to see full dimension)


The digital camera setup affords an attention-grabbing 100X hybrid zoom functionality. Pictures stay tack sharp up until 10X zoom, which is the S23 Ultra’s optical restrict, however nonetheless manages to ship spectacular high quality until 30X zoom. At 100X, the pictures seem superb as thumbnails however do not pack in a lot element. In low gentle, picture high quality from the telephoto digital camera is spectacular until 3X zoom with noise properly in management. At 10X zoom, the noise begins to creep in however the pictures are nonetheless fairly usable. At 30X zoom picture high quality does drop drastically and the digital camera additionally has a bit of bother focussing.

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra low-light zoom efficiency (faucet to see full dimension)


What’s spectacular in regards to the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s digital camera setup is its stabilisation, which stays rock regular till 30X zoom. Past this, it’s a must to make a bit of an effort to carry the telephone regular, however it’s nonetheless not as troublesome as on the S22 Ultra. Nevertheless, in low gentle the telephone tends to wrestle with stabilisation past 30X zoom and may get fairly shaky. Regardless of good zoom efficiency in low gentle, I used to be ready to make use of Night time mode to additional enhance the standard of low-light photographs. This solely works properly when you’ve got a tripod or very regular fingers because the Night time mode exposures are lengthy and may prove blurry even with a minor shake.

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra low-light zoom at 10X with Auto mode (prime) and Night time mode (backside) (faucet to see full dimension)


Samsung additionally consists of RAW taking pictures functionality, which this time round, works not only for the rear cameras but in addition with the front-facing digital camera. There’s additionally an Astrophotography mode within the Knowledgeable RAW app that lets customers seize star trails and starry skies, offered you may have a view that is free from clouds, air air pollution or gentle air pollution. I attempted my greatest and managed to get a decently clear shot that was free of noise, however the stars simply confirmed up as specs. Nonetheless, you will want to make use of a tripod for this mode not like the Vivo X80 Professional that may shoot similar-looking pictures, handheld.

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Night time Mode digital camera samples: (Prime to backside) Road-lit scene, Dimly lit scene (faucet to see full dimension)


Samsung has actually upped the standard of the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s video functionality this time round. 4K movies seem fairly detailed and have a rock regular bitrate as properly. The brand new wider OIS system additionally ensures that recordings are very secure, whereas sustaining sharpness and high quality. What I used to be not a fan of was the bumped up color saturation when recording HDR10+ movies. This was seen, each, from the entrance and rear cameras. The closely saturated footage when seen on the punchy Tremendous AMOLED panel will certainly wow onlookers, however it’s not probably the most correct illustration of the scene.

Low-light video recordings additionally appeared spectacular with noise properly beneath management when taking pictures beneath street-lit situations, even when taking pictures in HDR10+. Nevertheless, all of the above solely applies to the first digital camera as low-light recordings on the ultra-wide-angle digital camera weren’t as spectacular and appeared gentle and noisy.

I even tried out the marketed 8K video recording, which for as soon as could be captured at a regular 30fps. The footage is kind of spectacular and packs excellent particulars, making it look a lot higher than S23 Ultra’s 4K footage as properly. Not like the earlier telephone, taking pictures on this mode now makes use of the complete width of the sensor, which implies it is a a lot wider discipline of view than what we obtained earlier than. Nevertheless, I did discover some minor stutters when panning in 8K mode.


In a sea of Android flagships, Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra positive stands tall however it’s additionally fairly lonely on the prime, with the one actual competitors (no less than in India) being the Apple iPhone 14 Professional (Assessment). Whereas I’ve but to do a head-to-head digital camera comparability between the 2 (coming quickly), the iPhone is actually no match for the zoom capabilities of Samsung’s flagship, and that is for sure.

On the identical time, the closest Android providing which comes near the Galaxy S23 Ultra each in phrases of functionality and premium design is the Google Pixel 7 Professional. Nevertheless, at Rs. 80,999, it sits in one other worth section altogether, which is a lot decrease than the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Merely put, there’s actually no direct competitors to the Galaxy S23 Ultra on the Android facet, each in phrases of functionality and pricing.

Samsung has been capable of ship a correct steadiness of distinctive {hardware} and optimised software program this yr, and most of it really works properly when put collectively. Whereas final yr’s Galaxy S22 Ultra solely had its far-reaching zoom capabilities to distance itself from different premium flagships, this yr Samsung has managed so as to add a lot extra to widen the hole such because the model new sensor and correct 8K recording, making its providing actually distinctive. Additionally included is the S Pen, which remains to be probably the most distinctive characteristic amongst any Android competitor. The strong battery life and customised SoC are welcomed bonuses.

Whereas the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is clearly the do-it-all Android smartphone cash should buy in the intervening time, all of it comes at a premium, which regardless of a worth bump, is not laborious to justify to a fan of the Ultra sequence or a creator who’s in search of such pro-grade options in a smartphone. For a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra proprietor although, it won’t be probably the most attractive improve this yr, until you crave the most recent {hardware} or want that 8K 30fps functionality. Now, if we are able to solely get a smaller sized Ultra smartphone subsequent yr, I believe I will be actually completely satisfied.  

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 sequence of smartphones was launched earlier this week and the South Korean agency’s high-end handsets have seen a few upgrades throughout all three fashions. What in regards to the improve in pricing? We focus on this and extra on Orbital, the Devices 360 podcast. Orbital is out there on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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For particulars of the most recent launches and information from Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, OnePlus, Oppo and different corporations on the Cell World Congress in Barcelona, go to our MWC 2023 hub.

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