Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review – A Refined S Ultra

Every year, people are looking forward on the latest generation of Samsung Galaxy S series smartphones most especially the top-of-the-line in their series. Here we have the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, the highest model of the Galaxy S23 series. Known in the past as the Galaxy Note with a S-Pen stylus, the Note series was discontinued and merged with the S-series as its Ultra model.

In this review, we will be checking out the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s improvements after its first-of-a-kind last year. Also, we will have an in-depth look of its other aspects like the design, performance, battery life, and camera features. But the most compelling question is, – will it be worth your hard-earned money? So, let’s find out.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Specifications

OS:OneUI 5.1 – Android 13
Processor:Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Display: 6.8-inch 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Wireless Connections:5G, Bluetooth 5.3, WiFi, GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
Memory:12GB + 256GB
12GB + 512GB
12GB + 1TB
Connectors:USB Type-C, OTG
Cameras:Rear Camera
Main – 200MP, f/1.7
Ultrawide – 12MP, f/2.2
Telephoto – 10MP, f/2.4
Periscope Telephoto – 10MP. f/4.9

Front Camera
12MP, f/2.2
SIM Card Slots:Dual SIM (Nano-Sim)
Battery:5000 mAh, 45W Wired Charging and 15W Wireless Charging
SRP:12GB + 256GB – Php 81,990
12GB + 512GB – Php 89,990
12GB + 1TB – Php 95,990

The Design

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Design

At a glance, you will be telling yourself that the design of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is unchanged. However, they made some improvements in handling the smartphone. The sides are quite larger now which also makes the screen to have its gentle curves. We think the trade-off is alright as it made our grip on the smartphone more secured.

Img20230306175645

It still has a matte backplate with a floating camera module design. Both the back and front have a Gorilla Glass Victus 2 for its protection which is much tougher based on feedbacks. Also, the frame is made of Armor Aluminum. The heft of the smartphone is super heavy for my preference as it weighs 233g but it is understandable as it is a 6.8-inch device.

We have our Galaxy S23 Ultra in its Phantom Black color. They also have other colors such as Green, Lavender, and Cream. Unfortunately, in the Philippines, they only offer these color types yet the other region had options like Lime, Graphite, Red, and Sky Blue.

The ports and buttons on the right side are the volume rocker and its power button. Underneath are the S pen slot, speaker grill, microphone hole, USB type-C port, and a SIM card slot which accommodates two nano SIM cards. The fingerprint sensor still remains at the bottom of the screen.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra S Pen

Quickly checking the S pen, it is still the same as the previous version and comes only in color black regardless of the color of the smartphone that you will be getting. It still has a 0.7mm pen tip that has a 4,096 pressure sensor. There is a button that you can use for specific functions in different apps like the camera app as we can use it as a shutter button. Also, it has motion detection which enables some apps its other usage. For example, in the camera app, you can use it to switch between modes of the camera and switch between the rear camera and front camera.

The Display and Speaker

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Display

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, has a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x 120Hz HDR10+ display and has a resolution of 1440 x 3088 pixels. There are no changes in the display compared with its predecessor; but regardless of this, it is still a wonderful screen where you can watch online content or play games.

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Its display brightness is rated 1200 nits at high brightness mode and can peak at 1750 nits which is the same as its previous generation. When using it under bright sunlight, we can still view properly the smartphone.

What we liked about the Galaxy S23 Ultra, is that there are tons of options to tweak around with its display settings, such as, from the typical refresh-rate setting and screen color mode. You can change its resolution to low settings to preserve our battery if we needed much of its life.

It comes with stereo speakers that are playing both on its bottom speakers and its earpiece. They produce loud sounds which are clear to listen.

The Performance

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Performance

Under the hood of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a powerful chipset in the market right now – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. They made it more powerful as Samsung had an exclusive version with a higher clock speed compared to the mainstream Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Lastly, there is no more regional difference as it is the same chipset for all regions.

The clock speed that we are getting for this is up to 3.36Ghz compared to its regular version clocked at 3.19Ghz. Meanwhile, the Adreno 740 GPU is clocked at 719Mhz compared to 680Mhz in the regular version.

They also bumped the base model to have a 256GB internal storage with 12GB of RAM from its previous generation that is only 128GB internal storage with 8GB of RAM. The maximum internal storage you can buy is up to 1TB and all the Galaxy S23 series smartphones is using LPDDR5X RAM and UFS 4.0 for their storage. Our review unit, however, is the base model which is 256GB internal storage and that has 8GB RAM.

Here are some benchmark scores for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra:

Out of the box, it comes with the latest OneUI 5.1 which is based on Android 13. It has numerous improvements and new features that we already covered in our first impression article. But to quickly run over it, they made more ways to customize the device and they offered more unique ways to express yourself. They also improved its Knox security by adding more privacy features.

Using the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, as expected, is a powerful smartphone. We didn’t encounter any issues when navigating the smartphone and it was smooth and snappy with general apps. When playing games, you will not have a problem playing the latest games at its highest settings. Like when we played Genshin Impact at its maxed-out settings, it handled like a champ and didn’t experience any stuttering.

However, there is a trade-off as always when using a powerful chipset in the market, and that will be its thermal performance. As we are living in a tropical country, we noticed111 that it heats up pretty fast in a 29°C room temperature. With just couple of minutes of playing Genshin Impact, you can feel in your hands the gradual heat. In our benchmark stress tests, it reported that it finishes some benchmark tests at 45°C, and CPU throttled to 69% of its max performance throughout the stress test. If it is already summer and our room temperature to 40°C, what will be the performance level of the smartphone and the temperature of the device? Those are some of our worries with its thermal performance.

Moving on to its security feature, it still has a fingerprint sensor that is underneath the screen and it performs fast. It also features Face Unlock which also performs at great response.It has Samsung Knox which ensures that confidential and sensitive data on your smartphone making it sure for its safety.

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The Camera

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with a whopping 200 megapixels for its rear main camera which is an astonishing difference from its non-ultra version that only carries 50 megapixels. Besides that, they also improved its optical image stabilization providing greater stability when capturing walking or panning. Other cameras in its rear are still the same. It has 12 megapixels ultra-wide, and two different 10-megapixel telephoto cameras. On the flip side, the front camera is a 12-megapixel which may seem to be weird to some people as it is a downgrade from its 40-megapixel camera. Still, as we proceed on this review, we will find out if it is really a downgrade.

Going first for its 200 megapixels rear camera, it binds from 200 megapixels to 12 megapixels in taking pictures normally. You can set it to capture at 50 megapixels or its full 200 megapixels. Remember that pictures with this kind of megapixels will get a higher picture size.

Taking pictures in a pretty lit environment, the Galaxy 23 Ultra takes nice-looking images that have pop. We liked that is vivid and had sharp details on the pictures we have taken. Even the shadows also have details. 

In a low-light environment, the pictures that we have taken are excellent. They really nailed the processing of the images. The images we took are not blown out and they had proper exposure. The colors are accurate and the details are there.

The pictures we have captured, when zoomed in, are alright even with the maximum of 100x. It shifts to other cameras when you toggle to its 3x zoom next to the 10x zoom. You will notice that there are some noise that is crawling into our images. The colors are slightly pale compared to its main camera but the details still held up. Overall it is super usable and a solid performer.

For its ultrawide camera, it performed identically with its main camera with just maybe a slightly less vividness and details. But, this is hard to tell to be honest. We didn’t also see that much noise on our pictures.

The 12 megapixels selfie camera is a downgrade if you will just look for the megapixel counts. However, it serves the same purpose and almost the same quality. It produces nice and natural-looking pictures. The skin colors are accurate and the details are really sharp.

We just want to point out also our experience in capturing some subjects or objects. In using the rear camera, we sometimes can experience that it shifts to other cameras. We asked our friends who also do reviews and some people that already purchased it. Half of them experienced this condition and half did not. So, this may seem to be a weird bug or what and we just wanted to tell you this for your reference.

All the cameras of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra can record up to 4k at 60 fps but the rear main camera can record up to 8k at 30 fps – an improvement to its previous generation which can only capture 8k at 24 fps. You can check out our YouTube video to see the details of the videos that we have taken. To quickly describe it, it records pretty good videos. The colors are natural looking, the dynamic range is decent and the details are sharp. It is also able to focus on the subject quickly.

We were not able to fully test out the camera feature as there are tons to check out. But due to time limitations, we have with the review unit. We barely scratched the surface of the other features like capturing RAW images when you download the Expert Raw app from the Galaxy App Store.

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The Battery

Screenshot 20230223 230824 Pcmark

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is equipped with a 5,000mAh battery capacity. Using the smartphone with a general workload like scrolling social media, browsing the internet with its mobile data, online chatting, taking pictures, and listing to music, we were able to use it for 12 hours and still have 15% left with our battery. In the PCMark 3.0 battery life benchmark, we got 13 hours and 4 minutes with 50% brightness which is above average.

Sadly, we weren’t able to test out fully the charging capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra as it doesn’t come in the box. But they included a USB type-C to type-C cable. It is able to charge up to 45W and can fully charge within 1-hour based on its marketing material. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Verdict

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is more of an improvement to its predecessor. The slightly thicker changes that they had on its sides made the Galaxy S23 Ultra much better to handle. For some people who are living in a region that always serves the Exynos version of the Galaxy S series, they will see a huge improvement in its performance and battery life for this generation. Besides that, the upgrade to its camera is a welcome upgrade.

Overall the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is already a good smartphone and with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra they made it even better. But for some, they might find this generation boring as there is no WOW factor that they added.

If you already have the Galaxy S22 Ultra, you might want to skip this generation. However, if you’re the type of person who wants all the latest features in a smartphone, this might be a good choice for you. If you’re a casual user, you may want to consider the non-Ultra versions, the Galaxy S23 and S23+. We will also have a review article about them coming up soon.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is priced at Php 81,990 for 256GB+12GB, Php 89,990 for its 512GB+12GB, and Php 95,990 for 1TB+12GB. You can purchase it at their Samsung Store.

9.4 Total Score
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is more of an improvement to its predecessor that is the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. The slightly thicker changes that they had on its sides made the Galaxy S23 Ultra much better to handle. For some people who are living in a region that always serves the Exynos version of the Galaxy S series, they will see a huge improvement in its performance and battery life for this generation. Besides that, the upgrade to its camera is a welcome upgrade. Overall the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is already a good smartphone and with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra they made it even better. But for some, they might find this generation boring as there is no WOW factor that they added. If you already have the Galaxy S22 Ultra, you might want to skip this generation. However, if you're the type of person who wants all the latest features in a smartphone, this might be a good choice for you. If you're a casual user, you may want to consider the non-Ultra versions, the Galaxy S23 and S23+. We will also have a review article about them coming up soon.

Design
9.5
Display
9.5
Performance
10
Camera
10
Software
9.5
Battery Life
9
Price
8.5
PROS
  • Great Design
  • Excellent Display
  • Superb 200MP Camera
  • Long Lasting Battery
CONS
  • Heavy smartphone
  • Slow charging speed compared to other flagship smartphones
  • Too expensive
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