Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: familiar yet totally formidable

1 month ago 24

Early Verdict

A acquainted look conceals a fig of improvements some large and small. A tweaked plan with a tougher build, positive faster representation and storage, paired with a much businesslike battery, clasp promise. We'll request to enactment the custom-tuned Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 spot and 200MP main camera done their paces to cognize if the Galaxy S23 Ultra lives up to its sizeable promise.


  • +

    Familiar plan with functional refinements

  • +

    Bespoke Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

  • +

    More basal retention than predecessor


  • -

    Looks identical to predecessor

  • -

    Faster charging would person been nice

  • -

    We'd similar to spot much colour options

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Two-minute preview

The Galaxy S23 Ultra offers up a acquainted look that, astatine a glance, looks identical to its predecessor. The changes are determination though; subtle but meaningful – they're conscionable not arsenic large arsenic those you'll find successful the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus. (You tin work our hands-on Samsung Galaxy S23 review and our hands-on Samsung S23 Plus review for much connected those 2 phones).

The aforesaid squared plan plays big to a tweaked show that offers a greater level aboveground area, giving the S Pen stylus much country to enactment with. The beforehand and backmost present athletics the latest and astir resilient Gorilla Glass Victus 2, and each the mod-cons from its predecessor, including IP68 particulate and h2o absorption and 45W wired charging, are here.

Samsung has besides worked to integrate much recycled materials into the phone's construction, with the likes of recycled sportfishing nets going into the operation of the S Pen's interior screen and the talker module, for example.

Some elements – similar the 6.8-inch 1Hz to 120Hz adaptive Super AMOLED show and the 5,000mAh artillery – person received seemingly insignificant tweaks (greater colour accuracy and 20% improved efficiency, successful the lawsuit of the supra examples, respectively).

On the inside, meanwhile, determination are immoderate bigger changes, similar the caller 'Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy' chipset that Samsung and Qualcomm collaborated on, which is purpose-built to connection rival-beating show (51% amended NPU performance, 41% GPU show and 33% CPU show than previously, according to Samsung). The Ultra – on with the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus – is besides among the archetypal phones retired determination with faster and much businesslike LPDDR5X RAM and UFS 4.0 storage.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra hands connected  achromatic  with greenish  case

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

A familiar-looking four-sensor rear camera array hides a caller 200MP pb sensor that offers 16-to-1 pixel-binning with the purpose of advancing the S23 Ultra's 'Nightography' abilities for everything from wide snaps to representation photography, to videos of the nighttime entity utilizing the caller Astro Hyperlapse mode.

Those who privation to sprout with greater power present besides payment from enhanced editing power too, with the quality to enactment with shots astatine up to 50MP captured successful Expert RAW mode.

You inactive get a 12MP ultrawide and dual telephoto lenses astatine 3x and 10x (periscopic) zoom, respectively, granting the S23 Ultra the aforesaid committedness of camera versatility offered up by the past mates of generations of Ultra.

Samsung has besides renewed its committedness to offering 4 years of OS updates and fives years of information updates crossed the Galaxy S23 series. All 3 get with One UI 5.1 atop Android 13, which folds successful amended collaborative moving successful Samsung Notes and an enhanced Privacy Dashboard, among different things.

While the starting terms (in the US, astatine least) remains accordant with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung has doubled the basal retention to 256GB, portion the top-tier exemplary tin beryllium had with 12GB of RAM (up from 8GB connected the basal version) and a whopping 1TB of storage.

For a deeper dive, work connected – and enactment tuned for our afloat reappraisal precise soon.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: Price and availability

  • Starts astatine $1,199.99 / £1,249 / AU$1,949
  • Same US starting terms contempt treble the retention YoY
  • Top 1TB exemplary is much costly YoY crossed markets

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra prices
RAM / StorageUS priceUK priceAU price

The Galaxy S23 Ultra launched alongside its anticipated siblings – the modular Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus – connected February 1, with pre-order availability kicking disconnected connected the aforesaid time and moving until February 16. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is past disposable to bargain arsenic of Friday, February 17.

One of the bully cardinal upgrades implicit the Galaxy S22 Ultra is that basal retention has been doubled to 256GB, which benefits US customers successful particular, arsenic they're being asked to wage nary much than they did for past year's basal 128GB S22 Ultra, astatine $1,199.99.

The 512GB exemplary is $20 cheaper compared to its predecessor, astatine $1,379.99, portion the top-tier 1TB retention variant costs $20 more, astatine an eye-watering $1,619.99.

Things are mostly worse for UK customers compared to the S22 Ultra's pricing, with the baseline S23 Ultra costing the aforesaid arsenic past year's 256GB exemplary astatine £1,249, portion the 512GB and 1TB versions are £70 and £100 much costly each, astatine £1,399 and £1,599, respectively.

We're inactive waiting to fastener successful Australian pricing but volition update this diagnostic erstwhile we person authoritative figured. For reference, the Galaxy S22 Ultra outgo AU$1,849 for the 128GB model, AU$1,999 for the 256GB model, AU$2,149 for the 512GB mentation and AU$2,449 for the top-spec 1TB variant.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra hands connected  backmost  greenish  handheld

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: Specs

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra comes successful 3 retention configurations, with 8GB of RAM (LPDDR5X) successful the basal exemplary and 12GB successful the 2 higher retention models.

Specs different stay accordant crossed each 3 variants.

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The specs of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 256GB model512GB model1TB model
Price:$1,199.99 / £1,249$1,379.99 / £1,399$1,619.99 / £1,599
Dimensions:78.74 x 162.56 x 8.89 mm78.74 x 162.56 x 8.89 mm78.74 x 162.56 x 8.89 mm
OS:Android 13Android 13Android 13
Screen Size:6.8 inch6.8 inch6.8 inch
Resolution:3088 x 1440 pixels3088 x 1440 pixels3088 x 1440 pixels
CPU:Qualcomm Snapdragon Gen 8 2 Mobile Platform for GalaxyQualcomm Snapdragon Gen 8 2 Mobile Platform for GalaxyQualcomm Snapdragon Gen 8 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy
Rear Cameras:200MP Wide, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x), 10MP telephoto (10x)200MP Wide, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x), 10MP telephoto (10x)200MP Wide, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x), 10MP telephoto (10x)
Front Camera:12MP12MP12MP

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra hands connected  colors perspective

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: Design

  • Almost identical plan to predecessor
  • Premium look, feel, and materials
  • Improved biology credentials

The S22 Ultra was the archetypal of Samsung's phones to genuinely fuse Galaxy S and Galaxy Note sensibilities together, and successful doing truthful it shrugged disconnected the contour-cut camera-led aesthetics of its predecessor and its motorboat siblings. Instead, it favored a cleaner and much squared form; partially arsenic a means of further differentiating itself from the modular S22 and S22 Plus, but besides successful bid to physically accommodate an integrated S Pen stylus.

For the S23 series, the modular and Plus models person played catch-up successful the plan department, portion the S23 Ultra offers lone subtle refinements that, to the eye, volition beryllium astir intolerable to spot for those acquainted with the S22 Ultra.

There's a akin pill-shaped top-down profile, with curved beforehand and backmost solid feeding into a metallic frame, though 1 alteration S22 Ultra users mightiness announcement erstwhile they prime up the S23 Ultra, is that Samsung has reduced the radius of the curved edges of the display, giving you a greater level aboveground country connected which to usage the integrated S Pen; a subtle but invited tweak, functionally speaking.

With motorboat S23 colors accordant crossed the full scope this year, you tin prime the Ultra up successful 1 of 4 finishes: Phantom Black, cream, greenish and lavender successful astir places, however, arsenic with erstwhile years, determination are besides a fistful of colors exclusive to, including red, Sky Blue, Graphite and lime.

While the headdress of the S Pen remains accordant with the assemblage colour of your choice, the remainder of the stylus is black, careless of your chosen finish.

The company's fantabulous efforts successful durability persist too, with IP68-certified particulate and h2o ingress protection, a resilient aluminum alloy framework of their ain plan and, for the archetypal clip connected immoderate phone, the latest Gorilla Glass Victus 2, from Corning.

For each the precocious exertion that Samsung has managed to battalion into the S23 series, it's besides tried to up the ante successful presumption of environmentally-friendly materials, with the Ultra being the existent champion of this initiative. 80% of the deco movie utilized successful the operation of the phone's backmost is recycled, arsenic it 22% of the solid utilized crossed its body, on with 20% of the S Pen's interior screen – reportedly hewn, successful part, from ocean-bound polymide.

Samsung claims that different recycled materials that person been hammered into the signifier of the S23 Ultra see discarded sportfishing nets, h2o barrels, PET bottles and pre-consumer recycled aluminum, which person contributed to the operation of components similar the measurement keys and SIM tray, talker arrangement, 5G antenna statement and more.

While Samsung isn't unsocial successful moving to amended the the greenish credentials of its phones (the iPhone comes to mind), this is surely the astir vocal we've seen the institution astir a peculiar handset and it represents a propulsion that volition hopefully drawback connected with rival telephone makers.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra hands connected  beforehand   show  leaves background

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: Display

  • Familiar show acquisition to predecessor
  • Promise of much close colors and amended oculus comfortableness viewing
  • Responsive S Pen stylus experience

Aside from that reduced curvature on its edges and greater extortion from that caller Gorilla Glass Victus 2, the S23 Ultra's show offers a acquainted viewing acquisition to its predecessor.

You erstwhile again get a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X sheet with a solution of 1440 x 3088 and a dynamic refresh complaint that tin standard betwixt 1Hz and 120Hz, arsenic it automatically shifts to prioritize powerfulness ratio oregon ocular fluidity arsenic needed.

At the hands-on event, colour and brightness – adjacent against the venue's harsh spotlights and the airy flooding successful from the level to ceiling windows – made for an enjoyable viewing experience, which Samsung has seemingly tuned to service up much close colors against a wider array of ambient lighting scenarios this clip astir (three, to beryllium precise), with what it calls Advanced Vision Booster; adjusting code and colour arsenic needed.

Max brightness inactive doesn't comparison to the iPhone 14 Pro's awesome highest connected paper, but successful real-world viewing, the acquisition inactive lends itself exceptionally good to enjoying media. Meanwhile, Samsung didn't impart immoderate caller claims of further reduced S Pen latency oregon further Air Gesture functionality this clip around, but it's already impressively responsive and the idiosyncratic acquisition has been augmented successful different ways that entreaty to productivity.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra hands connected  achromatic  camera close

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: Cameras

  • First Samsung telephone with a 200MP sensor
  • Improved 'Nightography' acquisition for stills, representation and video
  • Integrated Expert RAW shooting present supports up to 50MP

Cameras are 1 country wherever the Ultra has ever stood retired from the assemblage (not to notation its motorboat siblings) and the multi-sensor setup that Samsung's been utilizing for the past fewer generations has consistently ensured that these phones upwind up astatine oregon adjacent the apical of our best camera phones roundup twelvemonth aft year.

While the 12MP ultrawide and dual 3x and 10x 10MP telephoto sensors connected the backmost of the S23 Ultra consciousness decidedly familiar, the telephone shrugs disconnected the superior 108MP solution sensor seen connected erstwhile entries successful the bid and replaces it – for the archetypal clip connected a Samsung telephone – with a whopping 200MP superior camera; thought to beryllium the ISOCELL HP2 that our cameras editor, Tim Coleman, dived into a fewer days anterior to the S23 series' launch.

The modulation to this caller Adaptive Pixel Sensor looks similar it holds promise, with specified a alteration successful hardware sometimes resulting successful a driblet successful prime for immoderate manufacturers; whose camera teams inactive request to get to grips with however to grip the caller component. An on-site broadside by broadside with a Pixel 7 Pro suggests the S23 Ultra serves up much of what Samsung's phones are cognize for: consistently large prime snaps with a higher contrast, much stylized attack to colors than the much earthy look of shots that thin to travel retired of Pixels and iPhones.

By default, the S23 Ultra's main camera pixel bins images by 16:1, down to 12.5MP stills that usage each that further pixel information to robust retired representation shake, portion besides capturing much close colors and taking successful much light. Speaking of which, debased airy photography seems to beryllium a large country of absorption for the camera acquisition this year; with the committedness of enhanced nighttime shots crossed the board, including portraits, arsenic good arsenic astrophotography hyperlapse video mode.

Stabilization crossed stills and video has been improved too, with treble the space of question present imaginable successful the OIS (optical representation stabilization) system, compared to past year's Ultra (3-degrees connected the S23 Ultra), on with improved VDIS and faster autofocus from the 'Super Quad Pixel' sensor, arsenic Samsung brands it.

For users who privation to get much granular with the Ultra's photography experience, the Expert RAW mode – integrated into the camera UI – present supports an output of up to 50MP, alternatively than 12MP previously. The Ultra besides lets you drawback 200MP stills, if you privation to play with the afloat sensor's disposable detail.

In the pursuit of switching up sensors, each 3 of the S23 bid summation a caller 12MP front-facing snapper this generation, acceptable into the show (Samsung hasn't yet been bold capable to import the Z Fold series' under-display camera), which holds committedness and brings much consistency to the acquisition of owning an S23, careless of model.

Without broadside by broadside testing, it's hard to accidental for sure, but it felt similar a faster sensor, portion offering up a bully wide representation with awesome dynamic scope arsenic selfie snappers go.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra hands connected  camera viewfinder

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: Performance and battery

  • Promises of industry-leading performance
  • Early interactions were creaseless and peppy
  • Same capableness artillery but 20% improved efficiency

It's not truly a concealed that Samsung has connections successful precocious places, gathering Wear OS 3 with Google and having co-developed the past fewer generations of its ain flagship chips successful conjunction with Qualcomm, but that concern has matured into thing exceptional for 2023.

Whereas previously, users successful antithetic markets could expect Galaxy S devices powered by either Samsung Exynos oregon Qualcomm Snapdragon silicon, the Galaxy S23 bid gains Qualcomm's latest and top Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 spot worldwide.

This eliminates show discrepancies that antecedently near users of Exynos-powered Galaxy S phones feeling down the curve and besides helps with aspects similar camera processing (thanks to the usage of the aforesaid ISP crossed regions) and artillery beingness consistency.

Not lone has the 8 Gen 2 already shown its capabilities successful the reports from the archetypal fewer devices already relying upon it, but Samsung has managed to summation entree to an exclusive tuned variant of the SoC dubbed the 'Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy'. In a nutshell, the premier Cortex-X3 halfway wrong the chipset has been overclocked to 3.36GHz, alternatively than 3.2GHz, arsenic is standard; without compromising ratio oregon longevity.

As Samsung's Nick Porter pointed retired during a one-on-one interrogation with TechRadar up of launch, the vapor enclosure is "2.7x bigger connected mean crossed the full S23 series" this year, helping with thermal efficiency, portion the usage of faster and much businesslike LPDDR5X representation and UFS 4.0 retention (a archetypal successful the mobile market), lend themselves to greater show and prime of beingness too.

The artillery specs work the aforesaid arsenic the S22 Ultra, with a 5,000mAh compartment wrong the S23 Ultra supporting 45W wired charging (along with wireless and reverse wireless charging), however, Samsung claims that the corporate effect of the caller hardware efficiencies and tighter integration betwixt hardware and bundle effect successful a 20% betterment that Porter claims results successful "the longest ever artillery beingness connected a Galaxy S smartphone;" a assertion that volition surely beryllium enactment to the trial up of our afloat review.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra hands connected  beforehand   aps drawer leaves background

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: Software

In the Android camp, Samsung is class-leading successful presumption of update support, promising 4 years of OS updates and 5 years of information updates crossed the Galaxy S23 series, with each 3 devices moving connected the latest Android 13, dressed successful the company's ain One UI 5.1 retired of the box.

It's a acquainted experience, with squircle icons and a mostly level graphical benignant arsenic standard, dressed with a fewer caller additions that look to absorption connected collaboration, convenience and security.

Samsung Notes present allows for simultaneous creators to enactment wrong a azygous papers collaboratively, routines and modes tin beryllium acceptable to suit antithetic scenarios you mightiness find yourself successful – adjusting settings accordingly and an upgraded privateness dashboard should dispel ambiguity astir however unafraid your device.

Air Command and Air Gestures stay successful place, arsenic portion of the S Pen experience, offering the quality to power the camera, construe substance and chopped and paste on-screen contented instantly, with simply stylus-driven actions.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra hands connected  S Pen leaves background

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: Comparison

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Samsung Galaxy S22 UltraApple iPhone 14 Pro MaxGoogle Pixel 7 Pro
Price (from):$1,199 / £1,149 / AU$1,849$1,099 / £1,199 / AU$1,899$899 / £849 / AU$1,299
Dimensions:77.9 x 163.3 x 8.9mm160.7 x 77.6 x 7.85mm162.9 x 76.6 x 8.9 mm
OS (at launch):Android 12 w/ One UI 4.1iOS 16Android 13
Screen Size:6.8-inch6.7-inch6.7-inch
Resolution:3088x14402796 x12903120x1440
CPU:Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1A16 BionicTensor G2
RAM:8/12GB6GB (est)12GB
Storage:128/256/512GB/1TB128GB128 GB
Rear Cameras:108MP main (f/1.8, 23mm),12MP ultrawide (f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚), 10MP telephoto (f/2.4, 70mm, 3x), 10MP telephoto (f/4.9, 230mm, 10x)48MP wide (24mm f/2.8), 12MP ultra-wide (13mm f/2.2). 12MP telephoto (77mm f/2.8)50MP main, 48MP 5x zoom, 12MP ultra-wide macro
Front camera:40MP12MP10MP

Alex joined arsenic TechRadar's Senior Phones Editor successful June 2022, but brings implicit a decade's worthy of acquisition to the role, with an expertise successful smartphones, tablets and wearables. He's covered keynotes hosted by the biggest brands and attended the launches for immoderate of the astir influential mobile products of the past fewer years. His acquisition was amassed astatine immoderate of the astir reputable user exertion publications retired there, including GSMArena, TechAdvisor and Trusted Reviews. Alex is presently holding retired anticipation for the Pixel Watch's occurrence and is excited for the advancements coming to the satellite of foldable phones successful the adjacent future.

What is simply a hands connected review?

Hands connected reviews' are a journalist's archetypal impressions of a portion of kit based connected spending immoderate clip with it. It whitethorn beryllium conscionable a fewer moments, oregon a fewer hours. The important happening is we person been capable to play with it ourselves and tin springiness you immoderate consciousness of what it's similar to use, adjacent if it's lone an embryonic view. For much information, spot TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.

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