The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra sits on top of the Galaxy S23+ and the vanilla Galaxy S23 of the entire lineup of flagship Samsung Galaxy smartphones. It is a premium device with premium features and capabilities that rationalize its high price tag. This article provides a concise review of the pros and cons of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Pros of Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
It is interesting to note that this premium device from Samsung is a lot similar to the previous generation Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in terms of its overall look. It has the same squared and boxy chassis that houses the large OLED display and a hidden Samsung S Pen. However, under the hood, it has notable improvements and upgrades.
Samsung has ditched its Exynos chips for its flagship devices and decided to ship all of its flagship Galaxy S23 devices with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. But this particular chip is different from the stock Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 found in other high-tier Android smartphones. The particular Snapdragon chip is customized for the Samsung hardware for stronger and better software-hardware optimization.
Then there are several improvements in the rear and front-facing camera systems. The previous models of the Ultra have been regarded as one of the best camera phones in their respective timelines. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra intends to keep this reputation and compete with photography-centric devices such as the iPhone 14 Pro and the Vivo X90 Pro.
Included in the rear camera systems are four camera sensors. These include a 200-megapixel main wide camera with laser autofocus, a 10-megapixel periscope telephoto camera with 10x optical zoom, another 10-megapixel telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom, and a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera with Super Steady video. The front-facing or selfie camera has a smaller sensor than the previous generation at 12 megapixels but with Dual Pixel PDAF.
Below are the specific selling points of this premium smartphone:
• Customized Snapdragon 8 Gen 2: Results from benchmark tests revealed that the customized Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 performs better than the standard Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. The better hardware-software optimization enables this device to outcompete the iPhone 14 Pro in several benchmark tests such as AnTuTu Benchmark 9 with a 32 percent higher score and 3DMark Wild Life with a 25 percent higher score.
• Better Rear and Front Cameras: The camera specifications of this device are somewhat similar to the specs of the previous S22 ultra. However, thanks to the customized Snapdragon chip with better computational photography capabilities, it takes better photos and records better videos.
• Notable Camera Functionalities: Included in the camera systems are software-based and hardware-powered camera features. These include Expert Raw for storing raw images at high and lossless resolution for post-processing, Astrophoto for taking images of the night sky regardless of the lighting condition, and Multi Exposure which captures and combines nine frames for a clearer image.
• Excellent Zoom and Image Stabilization: Images from the 3x to 10x zoom are excellent. Those zoomed in at 30x are also arguably respectable. The main camera and the two telephoto cameras have optical image stabilization while the ultrawide camera has Super Steady mode for recording wobble-free videos.
• Lasting Battery and Power Efficiency: Another notable advantage of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is its 5000 mAh lithium-ion battery that can last for more than two days in between charging with moderate use. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 also helps in power management because it is a more power-efficient chip compared to the previous generation. This device also supports fast charging at 40 watts.
• Sizable and Immersive OLED Display: The always-on 6.8-inch OLED display has an adaptive refresh rate that maximizes at 120Hz, a peak brightness of 1200 nits that peaks further to 17500 nits, and a resolution of 1440×3088 pixels with around 500 ppi density. A Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protects the OLED display.
• Key Software Features and Capabilities: Note that the split screen and multiple windows features of the Samsung One UI take advantage of the large screen real estate. Samsung DeX turns this device into a desktop computer when connected to an external monitor. Samsung also promises after-sales support that includes four years of Android operating system updates and five years of security updates.
Cons of Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
One of the biggest downsides of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is its price. The base model has a price tag that is comparable to the price of a MacBook Air with an M2 chip and closer to the price of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 chip. Samsung justifies this premium pricing around the fact that this device comes with premium features and capabilities.
Purchasing and owning this device might be an overkill for the average user. There are other less expensive devices available in the market. Some are better off purchasing mid-range smartphones from Samsung or the less inexpensive flagship Android devices from other manufacturers. Others might also have a hard time using large phones with large screens. The S23 Ultra is both heavier and bulkier than its smaller siblings.
There are also fewer reasons for a particular user to upgrade from the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and even the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Most users are not too keen to upgrade their one-year-old and two-year-old devices The iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Pro are also more suitable for individuals who are deep into the Apple product ecosystem.
It is also important to underscore the fact that the cameras in this device are not perfect. They take great images and videos but their outputs can be inconsistent. Of course, because smartphones depend on computational photography, there are a lot of variables at play when it comes to taking the most ideal photo or recording the best video. This phone is ideal for content creators but it will not replace the capabilities of a premium digital camera.
Below are the specific issues and drawbacks of this premium smartphone:
• Unsuitable Device for Most People: There are two main reasons why the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is not suitable for most people. The first is that it is an expensive device with premium features that would not appeal to average users. The second is that its large physical profile presents usability issues.
• Inconsistent Camera Performance: Overall camera performance is excellent. However, in several instances, there are noticeable inconsistencies when it comes to saturation, color accuracy, and high dynamic range. Each camera in the rear camera systems, perhaps due to the fact that each has different sensors and calibration, also produces different-looking images in terms of color and vibrancy.
• Problems with Light-Light Photography: The Galaxy S23 Ultra might have one of the best sensors and processors for taking images or recording videos under low light situations but they are not perfect. The sensors still struggle to reproduce colors and forcing night mode would result in poor dynamic range.
• Possible Heating Tendencies: Note that this phone has better heat management. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is also more efficient. However, under certain conditions, such as when playing a graphic-heavy or resource-demanding mobile game while in a hot and humid environment, this device can heat up a bit. This comes from the fact that it does not have internal cooling fans or a liquid cooling system.
• Lackluster Fast Charing Features: Others might not like the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S23 only supports a 45-watt wired fast charging and a disappointing 15-watt wireless charging. Other manufacturers such as OnePlus and Xiaomi have introduced smartphones with at least 100 watts of fast charging.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Verdict: The Good and the Bad
The expensive price tag is undeniably the biggest disadvantage of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. However, if purchasing is not an issue, this device is easily one of the best, if not the best smartphone for 2023. The powerful and customized Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip is one of its biggest selling points while the impressive camera systems and long battery life further make it more than adequate for average to above-average usage. It is a powerful and well-rounded Android device that demonstrates the current advances in smartphone tech.