Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: Understated grandeur

    Strangely sufficient, if it weren’t for the digital camera, I might have given the Galaxy S23 Ultra 5 out of 5 stars. I say that is ironic as a result of Samsung spent the whole thing of the disclosing presentation in January speaking about how good the digital camera is.And it’s. The 200 MP digital camera is groundbreaking in so some ways, however solely when it desires to be. It’s bizarrely inconsistent in its high quality in methods many different flagship telephones will not be. Many occasions, the standard is mind-blowing. Other occasions, you’d swear a 5-year-old telephone took the shot. It’s weird and it mars an in any other case good telephone.But should you’re comfortable with ready for the inevitable software program replace that ought to repair (most of) these issues, you may be awarded an expertise like no different. Samsung addressed each grievance we had with the Galaxy S22 Ultra (opens in new tab), making the Galaxy S23 Ultra the perfect Android telephone (opens in new tab) you should purchase at this time. Just be ready to pay a fairly penny for it.Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Price and availability(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich)The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is formally out there from February 17, 2023. Just just like the S22 Ultra, S23 Ultra pricing begins at $1,200/ £1,250 and ramps up from there. The base mannequin contains 256GB of storage however customers can even go for 512GB or 1TB of storage for a worth improve.Unlike final 12 months, all Galaxy S23 fashions can be found in Phantom Black, Cream, Lavender, and Green whatever the mannequin you select. Buying a Galaxy S23 from (opens in new tab) will provide you with further colour choices together with Graphite, Sky Blue, Lime, and Red.As common, the perfect Galaxy S23 offers (opens in new tab) will get you the telephone for a lot lower than $1,200. Most carriers are providing some sort of low cost deal or bundle with the telephone, and you may all the time commerce in your outdated telephone to your provider or Samsung for an additional low cost.Today’s finest Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra offersSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Hardware and design(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)At first look, the Galaxy S23 Ultra seems to be an identical to the S22 Ultra. It’s bought the identical general dimensions, the rear digital camera design with particular person raised digital camera lenses, squared-off corners, and a show with curved edges on the left and proper sides.But, look extra carefully and you will find some delicate — but essential — adjustments Samsung made. The edges of the display screen are a lot much less curved than final 12 months, making it simpler to write down near the facet with the S Pen. That additionally implies that curved display screen protectors aren’t as prone to lifted edges over time.Image 1 of 3(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)The Galaxy S23 Ultra introduces delicate adjustments together with a diminished display screen curve and flatter edges for higher grip.Additionally, the curve across the edges has been notably diminished. Instead of an ideal half circle — because it was on the S22 Ultra — the S23 UItra’s sides are completely flat however nonetheless function a pleasant curve into the highest and backside of the telephone. It’s a delicate however considerably higher design and it made it doable for me to make use of the S23 Ultra with no case and never have it slip out of my hand consistently. However, should you’re like most individuals, you simply may wish to seize one in every of our really helpful S23 Ultra circumstances and/or display screen protectors.Swipe to scroll horizontallySpecGalaxy S23 UltraChipsetSnapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy DevicesDisplay6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 3088×1440, 120Hz adaptive refresh price (1-120Hz) with 240Hz contact sampling, 1,750 nits peak brightnessMemory8 or 12GBStorage256GB/512GB/1TBMain rear digital camera200MP, ƒ/1.7Telephoto digital camera10MP, ƒ/2.4, 3x optical zoomTelephoto digital camera 210MP, ƒ/4.9, 10x optical zoomUltra-wide angle digital camera12MP, ƒ/2.2Front Camera12MP, ƒ/2.2Battery5,000mAh, 45W Fast Charging, 15W Wireless Charging, 5W reverse wi-fi chargingUpdatesUp to Android 17, Security by means of 2028SecurityUltrasonic in-screen fingerprint sensorConnectivityWi-Fi 6E, sub-6 and mmWave 5G, UWB, NFC, AptX HDS Pen✔️microSD card slot🚫3.5mm headphone jack🚫Dimensions163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9 mmWeight234 gColorsPhantom Black, Cream, Green, LavenderProtection IP68, Gorilla Glass Victus 2The S23 Ultra is a number of grams heavier than the S22 Ultra however you will not discover this whereas holding it. Regardless, it is nonetheless a really heavy telephone that feels extremely solidly constructed. Surprisingly, I did not thoughts the squared-off edges this 12 months as I did with the previous few Samsung telephones with an analogous design — that is the S22 Ultra and Note 20, for word.It’s additionally price noting that Samsung upgraded the glass with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 (opens in new tab), even when which means you may nonetheless see scratches every so often.(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)This one above, as an illustration, occurred someday within the first few days I had the telephone. I hadn’t even taken it out of the home on the time and did not discover it till I used to be taking a photograph of it within the solar. I don’t know the way it occurred, nevertheless it did not happen from a drop or something like that.Image 1 of two(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)Additionally, the raised digital camera lenses are nonetheless the mud magnets that they had been final 12 months. Above are two comparisons between the S22 Ultra and S23 Ultra. While each telephones have loads of mud round their lenses, it does not present up as properly on the S23’s Green colorway. At least that is a optimistic.Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Software and S Pen(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)One UI 5.1 launches alongside the Galaxy S23 Ultra however this replace is not unique to this telephone. By the time it comes out, many Samsung telephones may have already begun to obtain the replace, however that does not make it any much less essential for people choosing up the S23 Ultra.Included with One UI 5.1 are a number of quality-of-life adjustments and some new options. The headliner function, for me, is the brand new Bixby Text Call which was beforehand solely out there in South Korea for the previous few months.Bixby Text Call is best than Pixel Call Screening…when it desires to work, that’s.Bixby Text Call works almost identically to Google Assistant name screening (opens in new tab) on a Pixel telephone however, for essentially the most half, it is a greater expertise for one enormous purpose: you possibly can really kind out messages to the individual and have Bixby learn them again.The transcription on each ends is phenomenal, too, and Bixby’s voice sounds very pure. You can choose from three English voice choices as of launch and Samsung will, undoubtedly, add extra voices and languages sooner or later.(Image credit score: Android Central)The solely downside is that it refused to work for me many of the time. I obtain a number of spam calls in any given week — as I think about everybody else does — however this function did not seem on the dialer one single time within the final two weeks. It solely labored for me after I disabled and reenabled the function after which rebooted. Even then, it solely labored for one telephone name.I contacted Samsung concerning the difficulty however have not heard again but. Hopefully, that is simply an remoted difficulty that will get solved quickly.But there’s one other function in One UI 5.1 that I completely cherished (and it labored on a regular basis): lifting a picture.(Image credit score: Android Central)It’s as straightforward as long-pressing on a topic within the Samsung Gallery app and utilizing the context buttons that pop as much as take an motion. This is completely a duplicate of what Apple did in iOS 16 and fairly truthfully, I do not care. It’s simply good software program.It’s a correct return to type for lockscreen customization.Speaking of Apple, now that Apple is together with correct lock display screen customization in iOS 16, Samsung is bringing again extra lock display screen customization choices together with filters, fonts, clock kinds, and extra. It’s a correct return to type and features a bunch of enjoyable new options, too.Best but, you possibly can change your lock display screen at any time by long-pressing wherever on the wallpaper in your lock display screen. It’s tremendous straightforward and may even be custom-made to vary routinely with routines on the telephone.(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)Samsung has additionally overhauled the privateness and safety part, now combining every little thing into one useful Security Dashboard. This is considerably extra user-friendly than splitting every little thing up and it is organized in a pleasant, easy-to-understand format.Samsung has additionally overhauled the privateness and safety part, now combining every little thing into one useful Security Dashboard.McAfee is even included should you’re frightened about malware, including to the repertoire of the way to forestall your telephone from getting contaminated should you like to obtain questionable apps.Google and Samsung proceed to cozy up extra because the Galaxy S23 Ultra launches with a number of new methods to take pleasure in utilizing Google Meet together with enhanced video decision, higher background noise canceling, reside sharing, and even enhancing Samsung Notes in real-time. That final one is ridiculously cool though I surmise it will not be used typically by most individuals.(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)On the subject of the S Pen, you may discover the S Pen stays an identical to what’s been included in Samsung Note-style gadgets for the reason that Note 20. It’s nonetheless small and fewer snug to make use of than the S Pen Pro (opens in new tab) however, after all, it is included totally free with the telephone and sits properly within the holster, making it ultra-convenient to make use of.The S Pen expertise stays an identical to the S22 Ultra and is simply a lot enjoyable to make use of.And no, you possibly can’t put it in backward and break the telephone. Don’t fear.Writing on the display screen is best than ever now, although, due to the diminished curves on the sides. I by no means as soon as discovered that the pen would slip off the sting whereas writing close to the margins, which is not one thing I’ve been capable of say with Note-style telephones for a very long time.(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)GIF remastering has been added to Samsung’s Gallery app, a function that makes use of onboard AI processing to assist improve GIFs and make them higher high quality. It works equally to final 12 months’s photograph remaster (opens in new tab) perform however this time with assist for animated footage, after all.And whereas it isn’t new, I really like the flexibility to attract over GIFs with the S Pen and hold the animation intact. All you do is edit a GIF within the gallery and begin drawing on it, then you possibly can alter the place your paintings suits within the timeline and hit save. It’s tremendous easy and provides a little bit of worth to on a regular basis meme life on the web.Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Performance and Battery Life(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)Performance and battery life are two of my absolute favourite components of the Galaxy S23 Ultra expertise.It might sound ridiculous to say that in 2023 when smartphone efficiency appears nearly meaningless and most telephones supply adequate battery life, nevertheless it’s true.The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the best-performing “normal” telephone I’ve ever used. By regular, I imply a telephone that is not particularly made for gaming (opens in new tab) as these normally embrace followers and various designs which are geared towards lengthy gaming classes.Unlike final 12 months’s disastrous Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 that powered the Galaxy S22 Ultra (and loads of different telephones within the first half of 2022), the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 performs properly and stays performing properly.The Galaxy S23 Ultra runs video games at twice the framerate of the Galaxy S22 Ultra when gaming for greater than 20 minutes. It additionally does not get molten lava scorching like final 12 months’s telephone.It additionally does not flip into molten lava when attempting to play a recreation for greater than 20 minutes, an unlimited enchancment alone over final 12 months’s telephones.While benchmark scores might help illustrate the distinction, benchmarks typically do not take lengthy sufficient to showcase absolutely the drop in efficiency we noticed final 12 months.For occasion, if I play Fortnite with epic graphics settings on a Galaxy S22 Ultra, the sport will begin taking part in at round 50 frames per second (FPS). Over a interval of roughly half an hour, that framerate will drop to a stable 30 FPS and by no means once more rise till the telephone has satisfactory time to chill off.When taking part in the identical recreation with the identical settings on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, Fortnite runs at a stable 60 FPS and by no means dips under that velocity even after an hour and a half of playtime. This will proceed advert infinitum as a result of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy Devices does a a lot, a lot better job of cooling itself off and retaining cool even whereas pushing cellular graphics to their restrict.Similarly, attractive video games like Genshin Impact run at a locked 60 FPS with out notable dips in most areas. If you are nearer the top of the sport and are in a number of the extra detailed areas you may see it drop a number of frames however, general, the efficiency right here is extremely spectacular.(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)Amazingly sufficient, this efficiency improve does not come on the expense of battery life. In truth, the battery life on the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the perfect I’ve seen amongst flagship telephones this facet of a OnePlus 10T (opens in new tab).I’ve simply been capable of get 2 days of battery life out of a single cost over the past two weeks. I’m unsure I can bear in mind a flagship telephone that gave me this a lot longevity on a single cost.But this is the deal. While each the S23 Ultra and telephones just like the OnePlus 10T take away all worries of battery anxiousness, they each accomplish that process for various causes. The S23 Ultra may need a battery that lasts a very long time however, if you find yourself forgetting to cost it and have to depart the home in 10 minutes, you may nonetheless be in bother.I’ve simply been capable of get 2 days of battery life out of a single cost over the past two weeks.That’s as a result of Samsung’s charging speeds are nonetheless extremely gradual when in comparison with a variety of different trendy smartphones — the iPhone excluded, after all.Yes, it nonetheless helps 45W charging like final 12 months’s telephone did however, in my testing, there was nearly no real-world distinction when utilizing a 45W charger and a 25W charger on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. While the 45W charger gained proportion factors barely faster initially than the 25W charger did, each chargers totally charged the telephone from 20% to 100% in about 50 minutes whole.In different phrases, Samsung remains to be throttling charging efficiency to handle the thermal load. Oh properly, possibly subsequent 12 months we’ll get quicker charging.Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Cameras(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)Samsung spent a unprecedented period of time speaking up the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s video recording capabilities on the unveiling in early February. While most of it was certainly hyperbole — I extremely, extremely doubt that Ridley Scott will proceed utilizing a Galaxy S23 Ultra for any of his future movies — the video recording capabilities of the telephone’s digital camera are its most spectacular function.Video recording capabilities of the telephone’s digital camera are its most spectacular function.I’ve already revealed a highly-detailed Galaxy S23 Ultra digital camera evaluate (opens in new tab) if you’d like all of the nitty gritty particulars however, for this common telephone evaluate, I’ll sum up my findings. Please hit that hyperlink if you wish to study extra, although.Now, as for video recording, it is clear that Samsung realized its strengths and determined to play towards them with this launch. These two movies assist illustrate simply how good the video recording high quality is on the Galaxy S23 Ultra.So how about the remainder of the Galaxy S23 Ultra digital camera expertise? It’s fairly good, however I actually can sum it up in a single unlucky phrase: inconsistent.With this launch, Samsung upgraded the primary sensor to 200 megapixels (MP). That’s an improve from the 108 MP sensor within the Galaxy S22 Ultra and it may be utilized in three totally different resolutions: the default 12.5 MP mode, a 50 MP binned mode, and the complete 200 MP decision.Photo high quality will be out-of-this-world nevertheless it’s inconsistent far too typically for its personal good.Taking photographs at 200 MP is a pleasure and brings beautiful element to any state of affairs. Unlike the full-resolution shot on most telephones, Samsung nonetheless makes use of correct multi-frame seize so you do not find yourself with pictures which have poor shadow element or overblown skies.Essentially, the one unfavourable of utilizing the 200 MP decision is velocity. On common, you can take 3-4 footage in a 5-second window when utilizing 200 MP mode whereas the default 12.5 MP mode can take as much as 8 in that very same time. Not an enormous deal however price noting should you miss a split-second pictures second.(Image credit score: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)But, whereas 200 MP mode provides appreciable element to a scene, not all is optimistic. The Galaxy S23 Ultra can nonetheless zoom as much as 100x away and get a fairly good shot (the candy spot for high quality is between 15x and 50x), however the general high quality is surprisingly inconsistent every so often.Typically, when the Galaxy S23 Ultra tousled a shot, it could overexpose the scene.Typically, when the Galaxy S23 Ultra tousled a shot, it could overexpose the scene and trigger a lack of element as a result of one thing was blown out.While this wasn’t a typical incidence, it occurred extra typically than I anticipate to see on a telephone of this caliber and extra typically than on the Galaxy S22 Ultra — one thing that ought to by no means occur when “upgrading.”Image 1 of 6(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)(Image credit score: Tshaka Armstrong / Android Central)Above are a smattering of pictures displaying this phenomenon, together with objects in movement. Additionally, the Galaxy S23 Ultra nonetheless struggles to take pictures of youngsters and pets (opens in new tab). Any little bit of motion typically ends in a blurry face and that is extremely irritating from a flagship-level machine in 2023.Samsung owns the award for the perfect front-facing digital camera, the perfect portrait mode, and the highest quality macro digital camera of any Android telephone I’ve examined.Sadly, the brand new choices within the Camera Assistant app that assist scale back shutter velocity and the time it takes to truly seize a photograph do not assist with these points. Yes, they completely enhance that seize time — tapping the shutter immediately takes a photograph when the right Camera Assistant choice is enabled — nevertheless it does not repair the shortcoming to seize motion with out getting a blurry picture.But that is the worst a part of the Galaxy S23 Ultra digital camera expertise. On the optimistic facet, Samsung owns the award for the perfect front-facing digital camera, the perfect portrait mode, and the highest quality macro digital camera of any Android telephone I’ve examined.Image 1 of 3(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)On the software program entrance, Samsung continues to improve its guide digital camera modes and “Nightography” choices. Fans of guide modes will completely love the brand new RAW digital camera choices within the Expert RAW mode.New Expert RAW choices embrace multi-frame publicity and Astrophotography.RAW pictures will be taken in as much as 50 MP decision — sorry, no 200 MP choice for RAW — and you may even choose multi-frame publicity so as to add to a RAW file. It’s spectacular, to say the least, and allows you to get the ability of RAW post-editing with out sacrificing the positives that multi-frame seize brings, particularly the additional dynamic vary.Additionally, Samsung is taking up Google’s Astrophotography mode with its personal identically-named mode. But Samsung is not simply resting on Google’s laurels and making a carbon copy. Not solely can you are taking a protracted publicity photograph that makes use of AI to mix collectively photographs in an clever solution to create a stunningly attractive night time shot, however you too can use this mode in Expert RAW to take issues even additional in post-editing.Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Competition(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)If cameras are your factor, the Pixel 7 Pro may be a greater choice relying on what you are on the lookout for. Google’s picture seize algorithm does a greater job than Samsung’s in relation to two predominant issues: capturing objects in motion (children and pets), and higher publicity. Photos from the Pixel nearly all the time look higher however there are many exceptions. It has a a lot, a lot worse portrait mode, the front-facing digital camera is not almost pretty much as good, it might probably’t zoom fairly so far as the S23 Ultra, and video seize is unquestionably not pretty much as good.Last 12 months’s Galaxy S22 Ultra may be a greater decide should you’re nonetheless concerned with Samsung’s specific digital camera experience — portrait mode, video seize, and guide digital camera management, particularly — however do not want the newest and biggest cellular processor and 2-day battery life. Most every little thing else concerning the telephone is almost an identical to the S23 Ultra, although, and it is nonetheless assured 4 extra years of updates (3 extra main Android updates) till Samsung drops assist.If you are simply on the lookout for a brand new Samsung telephone with the newest and biggest cellular processor, wonderful battery life, and new options, the Galaxy S23 or S23 Plus will prevent some cash by eliminating the S Pen and the additional telephoto digital camera. That means you may be getting the identical processing velocity and display screen high quality, the identical nice photograph and video modes, and the identical nice Samsung One UI 5.1 expertise for much less cash.Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Should you purchase it?(Image credit score: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)You can purchase this if …You desire a excellent, versatile digital camera more often than notYou want the perfect efficiency and lengthy battery lifeYou desire a telephone that’ll final for years and nonetheless get updatesYou should not purchase this if …You take plenty of footage of your children or petsYou want a digital camera that is extra constantYou do not want the very best efficiencySo lengthy because the digital camera inconsistencies and points with capturing movement do not trouble you, that is the brand new king of Android telephones. It’s a telephone that is basically good if Samsung can tweak the digital camera expertise only a bit extra to match what Google does with the Pixel and, even then, Samsung excels at so many areas within the digital camera division it may be straightforward to miss for many individuals.There’s no arguing with the flexibility of the S Pen and the way a lot enjoyable it provides to the on a regular basis telephone expertise. Doodling on GIFs, taking straightforward display screen captures, writing notes with associates, or simply taking a photograph of you and your pals with the button on the pen. It’s the identical nice expertise we have cherished for years and simply retains getting higher.And who can neglect the efficiency and battery life right here? The particular Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy Devices that powers the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the quickest, most effective processor we have seen from Qualcomm in a protracted, very long time. It additionally does not get scorching or drop efficiency over time like final 12 months’s processor did, all whereas operating video games twice as quick usually. If you need the perfect general Android telephone round, that is it.

    If you need the quickest cellular processor ever in an Android telephone, a powerful 200MP digital camera, the ability of the S Pen, and extra options than you possibly can shake a stick at, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the telephone for you.

    Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Price Comparison

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