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Review Roundup: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra – a minor upgrade

S22 Ultra owners won’t feel pressured to upgrade this year.

Galaxy s23 ultra
Image: KnowTechie

Samsung’s back with its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

The new phone launches for everyone on February 17, and some reviewers have already gotten their hands on the new phone.

The overall design and performance of the S23 Ultra aren’t much different than last year’s S22 Ultra. However, some minor changes and improvements have been made, including the main camera sensor.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
4.5

The Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts a whopping 200-megapixel main camera, as well as an impressive 100x zoom that'll have you capturing stunning shots from miles away. 

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Reviewers seem pretty impressed with Samsung’s 2023 flagship, especially its IP68 water resistance rating. It’s the company’s continued spiritual successor to the Galaxy Note, with a large screen and S Pen capabilities.

Let’s see what early testers say about the new Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Short on time? Jump ahead

Design

Samsung galaxy s23 color leaks on purple background
Image: KnowTechie

The design of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra doesn’t include any major changes over its predecessor, the S22 Ultra. It still features the same squared corners, matte glass back, and metallic frame.

“If you asked me to pick one word to describe the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, it’d be ‘safe’,” says Android Police’s Will Sattelberg. “But ‘safe’ doesn’t have to mean ‘boring’ or ‘tired.'”

For reference, the S23 Ultra comes in green, black, cream, or lavender. All the same colors available on the S23 and S23 Plus.

The S23 Ultra’s display is almost identical to last year’s phone. It’s a 6.8-inch 1440p display at 120Hz. Peak brightness has been improved to 1,750 nits.

The curvature of the screen is slightly less drastic than the S22 Ultra, but it’s still there. Aside from a few minor changes, Samsung didn’t change this year’s phone much.

“Unless you’re already familiar with the S23 Ultra’s new color options…even when you look at the S22 Ultra and S23 Ultra side-by-side, it’s almost impossible to tell them apart,” writes Engadget’s Sam Rutherford.

S Pen time

Samsung s23 ultra in purple background
Image: Samsung

The S Pen stylus is one of the features that sets the Galaxy S23 Ultra apart from the regular S23 and S23 Plus. The S23 Ultra is a spiritual successor to the Galaxy Note, and the S Pen is a staple of both phones.

The S Pen slides easily into the bottom of the S23 Ultra for storage and charging. It features a button on the side that can handle a range of actions on your phone.

Samsung didn’t change or add much to the S Pen this year. It lets you select and translate text, transcribe, and use air-based motion controls.

While normal styluses don’t really have a place in the smartphone world, the S Pen is slightly different.

PCMag’s Eric Zeman calls the S Pen “the best stylus experience you’re going to get from a modern smartphone.”

Camera improvements

Samsung galaxy s23 ultra
Image: Samsung

So far, the Galaxy S23 Ultra seems like a minimal upgrade over last year’s phone while keeping the status quo. That changes slightly when we start talking about the new camera.

This year, Samsung upgraded the Ultra’s camera with a 200-megapixel main sensor, a big jump from last year’s 108-megapixel sensor.

The camera is capable of delivering poster-sized shots, but that’s not where it excels. It can combine 16 pixels into one to create brighter, more detailed photos, even in low light.

Mark Spoonauer at Tom’s Guide did a deep dive on the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s camera system, which includes the 200 mp main sensor, 12 mp ultrawide, 10 mp 3x telephoto, 10 mp 10x telephoto, and a 12mp selfie camera.

And it looks like the hype over the massive main sensor improvement is worth it. Spoonaur asks, “Is it overkill or a game changer? After doing lots of testing, I’m leaning toward the latter.”

However, others aren’t as impressed with the new main camera sensor.

Android Central’s Nicholas Sutrich says, “the main sensor…seems to have significant trouble getting the exposure right. This doesn’t happen in every shot but it happens far too often on a phone that costs well over $1,000.”

Still, Samsung continues to provide one of the best-in-class smartphone camera arrays. Even if the S23 Ultra doesn’t include major improvements, it’s still near the top of the list.

Galaxy S23 Ultra is a minor upgrade over last year’s phone

Samsung galaxy s23 ultra
Image: Samsung

The overall consensus on the Galaxy S23 Ultra is that it’s a minor improvement over last year’s S22 Ultra. The design remains mostly the same, aside from a few minor changes.

There have been some improvements to performance, like the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor found in all Galaxy S23 models. And the camera seems to at least feature minor improvements over its predecessor.

But people who purchased last year’s Galaxy S22 Ultra likely won’t feel obligated to upgrade this year. The experience is seemingly the same across both phones.

Slashgear’s Chris Davies sums it up nicely: “The Galaxy S23 Ultra tweaks and refines the recipe we saw introduced on the S22 Ultra – but falls short of anything revolutionary.”

At the end of the day, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a solid flagship phone. It won’t make you feel like you need to upgrade over last year, but it continues to provide the quality and performance that we expect.

You can order the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra now starting at $1,199, and it will ship starting on February 17.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
4.5

The Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts a whopping 200-megapixel main camera, as well as an impressive 100x zoom that'll have you capturing stunning shots from miles away. 

Check Availability Best Current Offer
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.

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Staff writer at KnowTechie. Alex has two years of experience covering all things technology, from video games to electric cars. He's a gamer at heart, with a passion for first-person shooters and expansive RPGs. Shoot him an email at alex@knowtechie.com

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar of wertical

    Wertical

    March 30, 2023 at 6:11 am

    A very decent phone. Nice big screen, good camera. many different functions. I recommend to buy. Everything about it is just fine when you look at the mobilespecs. net wi-fi connects well, applications fly, high-quality sound, and quite loud. Flexible phone settings. The screen is amazing.

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