Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Smartphone Review

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samsung galaxy s23 ultra smartphone review 23021702
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Editors Choice

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra smartphone is much more than just the next phone in a long line of great Samsung phones. Some significant upgrades to this device represent huge quality of life improvements, evolution of functionality and gigantic leaps in performance that, even if you’re not the type of person to upgrade to the next phone or even make the leap from another brand, now might be the time to look into it.

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Left: S23 Ultra, Right: S22 Ultra

At first glance, the new Samsung looks a lot like its predecessor. The basic shape is the same (the Galaxy S23 Ultra is a little more squared off, but without seeing them side by side, you may not have noticed), and the cameras on the back look similar (again, mild differences that you would see in a side by side comparison) and are in the same configuration. The ports, buttons and stylus location are also all the same, but much like my mother kept telling me, it’s what’s on the inside that counts (was that too much?)

First off, the Galaxy S23 Ultra smartphone does not offer a 128GB base storage. 256GB is the minimum storage, which is nice to see. You can also get a 512GB and 1TB version of the phone. All phones come with 12GB of RAM, but the 256GB phone does have a lighter version with 8GB of RAM as well. The phone also has an upgraded chipset from the Galaxy S22 Ultra, now using the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chips and an Adreno 740 GPU.

In researching the storage of the device, there was some controversy regarding how much space was taken up by the system, seeing numbers as high as 80GB in this stat. Looking into it a bit further, I came across someone who discovered that the default way in which the phone calculates its system storage, including making up for the lost storage that occurs in all hard drives.

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You know when you plug in a 1TB external drive, and it says it has 931GB? Well, the same thing is occurring here, only that missing storage is accounted for in the system storage. That’s also why the system storage of the 256GB, 512GB and 1TB Galaxy S23 Ultra are all different, despite having the same OS. The actual OS size hovers around the 20GB mark.

“The screen on the Galaxy S23 Ultra is of fantastic quality.”

The screen on the Galaxy S23 Ultra is of fantastic quality. At 1440 x 3088 pixels with 1750 peak nits and 120Hz refresh rate, plus the upgrade to Gorilla Glass Victus 2, the 6.8-inch phone offers a spectacular view for video, games and an accurate representation of their fantastic camera (more on that in a bit).

The speakers on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra smartphone have maintained their brilliant sound from previous models. The 32-bit, 384kHz provides a crisp sound that is arguably too good for whatever TikToks you may be watching. But for watching movies and experiencing the ever-improving production quality of mobile games, you’ll be happy to have one of the best-sounding speakers in the mobile industry to date.

Now we get to the phone’s biggest upgrade, its camera. The camera set on the Galaxy S23 Ultra smartphone is at a whole new level. The main, wide lens is a 200 Megapixel f/1.7 24mm lens. It also offers two 10 Megapixel lenses, a 230mm f/4.9 periscope telephoto and a 70mm f/2.4 standard telephoto lens. The 12 Megapixel 13mm f/2.2 ultrawide lens has a 120-degree field of view.

The rear camera on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra smartphone is capable of up to 8K 30fps video recording, an upgrade from the 24 frames per second that, while it’s a standard frame rate for film production, is not what content creators might be looking for, where 30 and 60 fps are the goals depending on what you are making. You can shoot 4K/60fps on the rear AND selfie camera, which itself is a 12 Megapixel camera with an f/2.2 26mm lens.

This camera, stats aside, takes outstanding photos, but there are some caveats. First, the main lens, at f/1.7, is amazing in low light, but when using the 200MP and, to some extent, the 50MP settings, you don’t want to be taking those photos in low light. The way in which the camera compiles the data for the large format photos can cause some disturbance. A well-lit subject or a long exposure on a steadily mounted camera. Also, expect a delay from when you press the shutter, and the photo is taken because the camera does take a moment to process these.

I’d suggest avoiding it if you are trying to take a series of quick shots or trying to take a photo of a subject that isn’t likely to stay in the position that you want for very long. In the right circumstances, however, the detail of these pictures is spectacular. All this being said, the standard camera settings are more than enough to take amazing photos.

I noticed, however, a couple of small inconsistencies when trying to take quick photos in different lighting scenarios. It may have been that I didn’t give the camera sufficient time to use its auto settings to calibrate the shot, but some selfies that were taken under fluorescent lighting gave me a little bit of yellow under the eyes, a different result than the natural colours on me when I took a photo in my home under LED lighting. I’d say that, should the camera have a moment to adjust to new environments (or if you are showing off your skills in “pro” mode), you should achieve consistent, excellent photography.

“…the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s new optical stabilization is miraculous for people who shoot a lot of content on their phone.”

In addition to all this, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s new optical stabilization is miraculous for people who shoot a lot of content on their phone. The stabilization is a big leap from the S22 series (which was already good), and you can take video handheld or on the move with stability beaten only by a tripod or gimbal.

The final upgrade not to be ignored is the battery life. The Lithium Ion 5000mAH battery that exists in the Galaxy S23 Ultra is helped by more efficient use of said battery in the system to a point where I really never needed to charge my phone overnight. I did for the first couple of days out of habit, but as I saw reactions to the up time on the phone, I began to push it further myself.

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Only having it plugged in when driving to use Android Auto and pushing even my own use, extending the amount of time I would usually spend on apps like Tiktok, allowing for more fullscreen video playouts from other streaming services. Taking more photos and video and gaming, all the while not putting battery saving measures into place like changing resolution, dimming the screen or turning on the battery saver on the phone itself, I never got the phone below 41% battery life. That is a fantastic achievement among the elite smartphones in the industry today.

Now with a premium phone comes a premium price. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra ranges from $1199.99 USD for the 256GB to $1699.99 USD for the 1TB version. These are not inexpensive phones by any stretch of the imagination. If you own an S22 Ultra and are satisfied with the camera and battery life that you have already, the jump to the next model is likely not worth the cost, but if you have the money, treat yourself. The jump will be more significant from earlier models of Android devices, however, and you may be willing to make the investment to future-proof yourself for a few years. 

Final Thoughts

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