Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra First Impressions: Big Upgrades in a Familiar Package

Samsung’s latest 'Ultra' gets a new camera sensor and several feature upgrades

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra First Impressions: Big Upgrades in a Familiar Package

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 200-megapixel primary camera

Highlights
  • The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with a tweaked design
  • It has a customised Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC
  • It features several camera-related enhancements
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The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Review) turned out to be a solid formula for success when it was announced last year. This smartphone also marked the end of Samsung's Galaxy Note series as it successfully integrated the S Pen stylus experience, which was the last piece of the puzzle. 

The newly launched Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is no different. It offers a familiar design that looks very similar to its predecessor, but packs many improvements, upgrades and new features compared to the previous model. It also has enough unique features to separate itself from the regular Galaxy S23 and the Galaxy S23+ models. Let's take a closer look at what makes this the most interesting smartphone in Samsung's S series lineup this year.


A quick glance at the Galaxy S23 Ultra and it gets really hard to spot the difference between it and the older model. Upon closer inspection, there are minor differences. Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra now has flattened sides around the metal frame, instead of being curved. The front glass and matte-finished rear panel are made from Corning's Gorilla Glass Victus 2, but retain the curved edges.

According to Samsung, the flatter sides along with the reduced curvature of the edges not only makes the phone easier to grip, but should also result in a broader, usable flat area (when held vertically). The rear panel has a similar feel and appearance as the previous model, but with a slightly refreshed camera design. You get the same floating camera layout, but with chrome rings around each of the lenses. The phone, just like the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23+ models, offers an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. It will be available in Phantom Black, Cream, Green and Lavender finishes.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra back design ndtv SamsungGalaxyS23Ultra  Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra rear panel is made from Corning's Gorilla Glass Victus 2

 

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra's design also focusses on sustainability this year, with more recycled materials used such as recycled glass for the front screen and back cover, recycled aluminium for the SIM tray, side keys and volume keys, and recycled plastic for the speaker modules (upper and lower) and the S Pen's inner cover.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 6.8-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED display which offers a dynamic refresh rate of 120Hz and a touch sampling rate of up to 240Hz, when Game Mode is enabled. Unlike the previous model, the display on the new one does not bend or curve aggressively over the left and right sides. The mild curved-edge is present mainly to allow the One UI edge functionality, along with a more seamless swiping experience.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra back comaparison ndtv SamsungGalaxyS23Ultra  Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra alongside the Galaxy S23 and the Galaxy S23+

 

Samsung has gone with its own customised version of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC in the Galaxy S23 series and is calling it the “Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 platform for Galaxy”. According to Samsung, the customisations enable better performance, which should help with better software performance and AI-based imaging. The Galaxy S23 Ultra will be available with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 1TB of internal storage.

The main camera setup on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra now includes a newly introduced 200-megapixel sensor called the ISOCELL HP2. This combines 16 pixels into one larger pixel which is said to produce brighter shots in low light. Samsung claims that this adaptive pixel sensor along with the advantages of its customised SoC can help deliver brighter images in low light. The sensor is also claimed to have better optical stabilisation (OIS), which should result in sharper and smoother night videos.

Samsung says there's also enhanced noise reduction technology to help reduce noise in videos recorded in low light, and a new 'Astro Hyperlapse' mode for capturing star trails as well. The other rear cameras are a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle, 10-megapixel telephoto (with 3X optical zoom), and a second 10-megapixel telephoto (with 10X optical zoom). There's a 12-megapixel front-facing camera for selfies, that can now capture RAW photos and record HDR10+ video. The Galaxy S23 Ultra can also capture up to 8K video at 30fps using the main rear camera but with a wider angle than before.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra back cameras ndtv SamsungGalaxyS23Ultra  Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has four rear cameras

 

Samsung plays it safe with battery capacity and charging speeds with this year's ‘Ultra', sticking to a 5,000mAh battery and 45W wired charging. As for software, there's Samsung's One UI 5.1 skin which is based on Android 13 and comes with all the note-taking customisations that were available on the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

This year, more than ever, Samsung seems to have packed enough hardware in the Galaxy S23 Ultra in order to distance it from the Galaxy S23+, and even last year's Galaxy S22 Ultra. With only a few premium flagships announced so far in India bearing the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC, Samsung has secured a solid lead with its early launch. Whether its custom SoC actually translates into better gaming performance compared to say, the iQoo 11 5G (Review), or if its new camera system is really able to offer better low-light performance compared to the previous model and other heavy-hitters such as the Google Pixel 7 Pro (Review), are something that we need to wait and see. We'll have all the answers for you in our full review of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, right here on Gadgets 360.


The iQoo 11 is currently the most powerful Android phone you can buy in India. Should you buy it right away? We discuss this and more on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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  • REVIEW
  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
  • Good
  • Unique design
  • Bright and accurate display
  • Good gaming performance
  • Excellent cameras, quality video recording
  • Solid battery life
  • Bad
  • Expensive
  • Still too large for most hands
  • Loaded with bloatware
  • Relatively slow charging
Display 6.80-inch
Processor Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Front Camera 12-megapixel
Rear Camera 200-megapixel + 12-megapixel + 10-megapixel
RAM 8GB, 12GB
Storage 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Battery Capacity 5000mAh
OS Android 13
Comments

For details of the latest launches and news from Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, OnePlus, Oppo and other companies at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, visit our MWC 2024 hub.

Sheldon Pinto
Sheldon Pinto is based in Mumbai, and has several years of experience in reviewing smartphones and gadgets. As a Senior Reviewer at Gadgets 360, you will always find him deeply immersed in his reviews, switching from one phone to another. When the battery dies out, Sheldon is always browsing the web for a good sci-fi movie or reading up on cars and bikes. He also loves creating lists of interesting places to eat and travel. Sheldon is available on Twitter at @shellshocd, and you can mail him at ...More
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