Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review

Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra was one of our favourite phones of 2022. This device also marked a new beginning of sorts for the Samsung flagship – the confluence of the Note Series and the top-of-the-line Galaxy S series into one power packed device. The Ultra has now become Samsung’s unrivalled ‘non-foldable’ device and also its premier camera smartphone. One of the challenges for all flagship smartphones over the past couple of years is differentiation, not just from competitors but creating enough innovations to convince customers to upgrade from last year’s device. It’s the same challenge for this year’s Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Is this the best Android flagship you can buy and does this do enough to justify an upgrade over last year’s S22 Ultra?



A gorgeous slab


We’ll tackle the first question first. Unless you’re considering the foldable route, the S23 Ultra is the best Android flagship out there. It all starts with the form factor. We’ve said this before, we don’t think any other brand aces the large smartphone better. You could say that Samsung pioneered the push towards big screens with the first Samsung Galaxy Note more than a decade ago.


While it might look similar to the S22 Ultra from a distance, take a closer look and you will notice a slight deviation with a boxier form. It’s a happy meeting place between Samsung’s trademark curved screen design and a flat-edge form factor. It makes it easier to grip and less prone to drops. We’ve gone ‘case less’ with this phone thus far. It’s probably because we don’t want the gorgeous new shade of green – this year’s hero colour for the S23 ultra, to hide under a case. It’s a big phone though (and weighs 234 gm), not for those who like slinky devices.



Long live the night


If there’s one area Samsung’s flagship cams generally ace, it’s lowlight photography. Quite often I’m surprised at the quality of these lowlight images when Facebook throws up ‘memories’ from 2016 and 2017 shot with devices like the Samsung Galaxy S7. The S23 Ultra gets a massive bump up over its predecessor with a 200MP sensor on the rear cam, an adaptive pixel sensor with Super Quad Pixel and 1.5x faster auto focus. Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) is even more robust this year; according to Samsung it corrects for 3 degrees of shake versus 1.5.


The selfie camera has been rejigged too. The difference is most obvious in lowlight selfies and videos where the device holds its own against the other formidable Android sharpshooter – the Google Pixel 7 Pro. The quad rear cam also features a 12MP ultra-wide cam, a 3X and a 10x telephoto lens. It’s still the best zoom lens on any smartphone cam you can buy in India right now. Shooting on RAW mode is easy – you just have to tweak the Pro cam settings if you need more control on edits. We still haven’t checked out the new Astro photo mode and the star trail time lapse video feature.



Beast mode


Samsung has worked closely with Qualcomm to customise the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor that will power all S23 Ultra devices across the globe. We checked out the 12GB/256GB variant, the device also comes in 12GB/512GB and 12GB/1TB versions. The device blazed through our Geekbench tests topping the 4900 mark (multi-core). The chipset boasts up to 3.36Hz peak speeds from the Kryo CPU and can handle extreme gaming. The device incorporates cool features like ray tracing (for better lighting effects in games) and an adaptive vision booster for better display optimisation. The display might be unchanged from the S22 Ultra but it’s still one of the best out there. You get the same gamer-friendly and binge-proof 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display (1440 x 3088 pixels / 501 PPI) with a 120Hz refresh rate that peaks at 1750 nits.



Time to upgrade?


The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a great step-up from the S22 Ultra. Rising input costs and the soaring US Dollar have pushed up the base price by over 10% over its predecessor. If you already own an S22 Ultra, there’s no compelling reason to upgrade aside from the camera. The S-Pen features and the display are identical but the battery performance (there’s a 5000 mAh battery under the hood and no, there’s no charging brick in the box) is better than last year. But if you’re moving from a previous gen Samsung device or any other Android device, then the S23 Ultra is a compelling option. We also approve of Samsung’s green push – This Ultra is made up 12 external and internal components with recycled materials (the S22 Ultra had 6 components with recycled materials). The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the Android flagship to beat in 2023.


The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra costs Rs 1,24,999 (12GB/256GB / Rs 1,34,999 (12GB/512GB) and Rs 1,54,999 (12GB/1TB) and comes in Green, Phantom Black and Cream. Samsung has announced a slew of launch offers

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