Exploring the Features and Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review

Exploring the Features and Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts a hefty price tag, but its exceptional combination of features, performance, and quality make it the top choice for a high-end Android smartphone. With a retail price of $1,199.99, it offers the ultimate smartphone experience.

Exploring the Features and Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review

Exploring the Features and Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review

The Galaxy S23 Ultra (priced at $1,199.99) continues the legacy of the Galaxy Note as the only smartphone in Samsung's lineup to feature the S Pen stylus. The S23 Ultra offers an extensive range of features, catering to the needs of even the most demanding smartphone shoppers. With premium hardware, an exceptional display, unparalleled performance, and exceptional cameras, it has everything one could want in a flagship phone. Despite its large size and high price point, it is still a popular choice among many buyers. If you're looking for a more compact and affordable option, the Galaxy S23+ (priced at $999.99) may be a better fit. However, if you want it all, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the top pick for high-end Android smartphones, earning the title of "Editors' Choice".

The Behemoth Beauty - The Galaxy S23 Ultra

The Galaxy S23 Ultra stands tall as the most advanced and largest member of the S23 series, which also includes the Galaxy S23+ ($999.99) and the Galaxy S23 ($799.99). Its distinctive design, featuring a built-in S Pen and additional cameras, sets it apart from its less expensive siblings.

Exploring the Features and Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review

Measuring 6.43 x 3.07 x 0.35 inches (HWD) and weighing in at 8.25 ounces, the S23 Ultra is virtually identical in size to last year's S22 Ultra (8.07 ounces). On the other hand, the Galaxy S23 and S23+ are significantly smaller and lighter, with dimensions of 5.76 x 2.79 x 0.3 inches (5.93 ounces) and 6.21 x 3.0 x 0.3 inches (6.91 ounces), respectively. There is no denying that the S23 Ultra is a substantial device, and adding a case, which is highly recommended given its high cost, only adds to its bulk.

Samsung's signature glass-and-metal sandwich design is present in the S23 Ultra, and the company's craftsmanship is unmatched in this regard. The phone features an Armor Aluminum frame made partially from recycled materials and is protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on both the front and back, offering protection against drops and scratches.

"Vibrant Colors and Refined Design - The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra"

Exploring the Features and Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review

Samsung offers the Galaxy S23 Ultra in a range of eye-catching colors, including Cream, Green, Lavender, and Phantom Black. For those looking for something more unique, Samsung's website offers exclusive hues like Graphite, Lime, Red, and Sky Blue, all made using recycled dyes. The matte finish on the rear panel adds to the phone's appeal, as does the color-coordinated frame.

The design of the frame, however, still features sharp corners that can make it uncomfortable to carry the phone in your pocket. Samsung has made some improvements, such as rounding the metal along the side edges and flattening the display glass, reducing the curvature by 30% compared to the S22 Ultra. These changes provide a better overall grip experience.

The camera module remains largely unchanged from the S22 Ultra, with four rear cameras and a laser focusing array. The individual lenses are slightly larger, making for a more attractive design than in previous models.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, making it just as durable as the Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max and the Google Pixel 7 Pro. It can withstand immersion in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.

The phone's frame features basic controls, including a power button and volume toggle on the right side, as well as a plastic cutout that covers the 5G antennas. The buttons offer satisfying travel and feedback, although the power button is a bit small. The bottom of the phone is packed with features, including an S Pen slot, a downward-firing speaker, a USB-C port, and a SIM card tray.

For biometric authentication, the Galaxy S23 Ultra features an in-display fingerprint reader that is easy to train and use, and a secure face ID tool above the screen. The facial recognition technology is not as quick as the fingerprint reader, but it is more convenient in certain situations, such as when wearing gloves. Despite its large size, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra impresses with its top-notch hardware.

The Samsung S23 Ultra boasts a magnificent screen that can rival any smartphone on the market. Although Samsung has made only minor improvements from the previous year, the display still offers an unparalleled experience.

The 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O screen with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate ensures optimal power and performance. The device adjusts the refresh rate from 1Hz to 120Hz, based on the activity, to preserve battery life or provide smooth scrolling. With a resolution of QHD+ (3,088 by 1,440), the S23 Ultra boasts a pixel density of 501ppi, which is higher than the iPhone 14 Pro Max's 460ppi but slightly lower than the Pixel 7 Pro's 512ppi. The S23 and S23+ have 6.1- and 6.6-inch displays with 120Hz refresh rates and FHD+ resolution (2,040 by 1,080 pixels), respectively.

The biggest improvement in the S23 Ultra's display is brightness. With a typical brightness of 1,200 nits and a peak brightness of 1,750 nits in outdoor conditions, it surpasses last year's S22 Ultra's maximum of 1,200 nits. Although it falls short of the iPhone 14 Pro Max's typical brightness of 1,600 nits and peak of 2,000 nits, the difference is negligible when viewed side by side in direct sunlight. Regardless, the S23 Ultra's screen remains clearly visible even in the brightest lighting conditions.

Samsung offers a wide range of customization options to personalize your experience. You have the ability to switch between QHD+, FHD+, and HD+ resolutions to balance between display quality and power conservation. Additionally, features such as adaptive brightness, blue light settings, color profiles, text and icon sizing, Edge panels, navigation bar, touch sensitivity, and screen savers can all be adjusted to your liking.

The selfie camera is housed in a small notch at the top of the screen, with bezels that are so narrow they are virtually invisible between the display and metal frame.

In the competitive market of top-tier displays, the S23 Ultra shines and stands up well against its top competitors.

The S Pen, a defining feature of the S23 Ultra, sets it apart from the S23 and S23+. The stylus fits snugly into a slot on the left side of the phone and can be easily extracted with a gentle press. This makes it convenient to grab and use for all your creative needs.

The S Pen is a compact stylus, designed with a slightly flat profile and a matte finish to ensure a secure grip. Its utility button on one side allows for a range of actions, such as advancing slides in a PowerPoint presentation or taking a photo. While Samsung has not announced any improvements in the responsiveness of the S Pen for the S23 Ultra, it still provides the best stylus experience among modern smartphones. Writing on the glass feels incredibly smooth and the small tip offers a solid touch.

The S23 Ultra features the same S Pen software suite as the S22, including Smart Select for capturing web page content, Translate for selecting and translating text, S Pen to text for transcribing, and Air Actions for motion-based controls.

One significant update for the S23 Ultra is its tighter integration with Google apps. Specifically, more text fields in Gmail, Chrome, and Maps now support S Pen input, allowing you to write directly in these apps without putting down the stylus. Although some text fields may require an additional tap to enable this feature, it offers a more seamless experience for those who prefer to use the S Pen. Overall, the S Pen is an unparalleled and powerful tool that is unmatched by any other smartphone.

Blazing Speed with Snapdragon for Galaxy

Exploring the Features and Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review

Samsung's latest smartphone is one of the first to feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, but with a twist. The tech giant collaborated with Qualcomm to enhance the chip's performance, resulting in a faster device compared to the standard 8 Gen 2. And the results are impressive, with top-notch scores on various benchmarks.

The standard 8 Gen 2 features an octa-core Kryo CPU built on a 4nm process, with one Arm Cortex-X3 core running at up to 3.2GHz, four performance cores at up to 2.8GHz, and three efficiency cores at up to 2.0GHz. But the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy takes it to the next level, with a CPU clock speed of 3.36GHz. Qualcomm also made improvements to the Adreno 740 GPU, but the extent of the boost has not been disclosed.

The S23 Ultra is equipped with a generous amount of memory, starting with 8GB of fast LPDDR5x RAM and 256GB of UFS 4.0 storage. But if you're looking for even more power, you can opt for models with up to 12GB of RAM and storage options of 512GB or 1TB. In our tests, a model with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage ($1,379.99) was used.

In terms of performance, the S23 Ultra excels in web-based activities, scoring 15,841 on the PCMark Web 3.0 benchmark. This result surpasses the scores of the S22 Ultra (13,962) and the Pixel 7 Pro (11,369). On Geekbench 5, which measures CPU performance, the S23 Ultra scored 1,545 in the single-core test and 5,078 in the multi-core test, outpacing the S22 Ultra (1,232/3,433) and the Pixel 7 Pro (1,050/3,190). However, it falls short of the Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max, which scored 1,874 and 5,445 on the same tests.

In terms of graphics performance, the S23 Ultra excelled in the 1440p Aztec Ruins GFXBench test, scoring 62 frames per second (fps), surpassing the S22 Ultra (60fps) and the iPhone 14 Pro Max (54fps). On the Basemark Web 3.0 test, the S23 Ultra recorded a score of 925, outpacing the S22 Ultra (552) and the Pixel 7 Pro (466). Despite this, it still fell behind the iPhone 14 Pro Max's score of 1,136 in terms of CPU performance.

It's important to note that the S23 and S23+ have a capped 8GB of RAM, which may affect their benchmark scores, despite being equipped with the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy SoC. However, in real-world use, the S23 Ultra performed admirably with no lag or frame drops during intense gaming sessions with demanding games like Genshin Impact. With its ample storage options and customizable screen settings, the S23 Ultra proves to be an ideal choice for mobile gaming enthusiasts.

In terms of real-world usage, the S23 Ultra delivers solid performance, even when running demanding apps and games. The extra RAM and high clock speeds of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor result in smooth, lag-free performance. The high storage options, along with flexible screen settings, make the phone a great choice for mobile gaming.

Aside from the processing power, the S23 Ultra offers a range of features designed to enhance the user experience. The large, high-resolution screen is perfect for streaming content or playing games, and the cameras offer top-notch image quality. The S Pen provides a smooth, intuitive way to interact with the phone, and the suite of software that accompanies it offers a range of useful tools and functions.

In conclusion, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a top-performing smartphone that combines processing power, screen quality, and user-friendly features to offer an excellent mobile experience. Whether you're a gamer, a content creator, or just someone who wants a fast, reliable phone, the S23 Ultra is well worth considering.

Same Battery, Longer Life

Exploring the Features and Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review

The Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts the same 5,000mAh battery as its predecessor, the S22 Ultra, yet it still manages to provide longer battery life. In a battery life test, where a YouTube video was played continuously with the screen set to maximum brightness, the S23 Ultra lasted for 13 hours and 11 minutes, a considerable improvement compared to the 12 hours and 14 minutes of the S22 Ultra and the 10 hours and 30 minutes of the Pixel 7 Pro.

The improved battery life can be attributed to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, which is more efficient in performing computing tasks compared to the 8 Gen 1 SoC used in the S22 Ultra. In real-world usage, the S23 Ultra can easily last for a full day of intensive use and still have enough charge for an additional half day.

The charging speed of the S23 Ultra remains unchanged, supporting the same 45W wired and 15W wireless charging rates as the S22 Ultra. However, the phone does not come with a charger, so users will have to provide their own. The charging time for the S23 Ultra was 71 minutes with a 45W charger and 81 minutes with a 25W charger, which is faster than the 90 minutes of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but slower than the 27 minutes of the OnePlus 11 5G.

Pixel Challenger

The Galaxy S23 Ultra takes photography to a new level with its impressive array of cameras, capable of producing images that are on par with—or even better than—those captured by the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Pixel 7 Pro.

Exploring the Features and Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review

The S23 Ultra features a 200MP ISOCELL HP2 sensor, an upgrade from the 108MP ISOCELL HP1 sensor on the S22 Ultra. The sensor is housed on a 1/1.3-inch chip and captures images at 12.5MP by default, though users can choose to shoot at 50MP or 200MP for more detail, at the cost of increased noise. The main lens boasts an f/1.7 aperture, optical image stabilization (OIS), and laser autofocus, and Samsung claims it has improved stabilization performance compared to the S22 Ultra.

In addition to the main shooter, the S23 Ultra also includes a 12MP ultra-wide camera (f/2.2), a 10MP 3x telephoto lens with OIS (f/2.4), a periscopic 10MP 10x telephoto lens (f/4.9), and a 12MP selfie camera with phase-detect autofocus (f/2.2). The rear camera setup is similar to the S22 Ultra, but the selfie camera is a significant upgrade over the 40MP camera on the previous model.

The S23 Ultra's camera capabilities have been elevated by the inclusion of the new 200MP ISOCELL HP2 sensor and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. The phone offers several shooting modes, including Adaptive Pixel, Auto Framing, Director's View, High-Resolution Photo, Multi-Exposure, Nightography, Selfie Night Portrait, and Super HDR, as well as standard options like slow motion, hyper lapse, panorama, and food. For those who desire more control, the Pro mode enables adjusting aspects like shutter speed, exposure, and ISO, and the Expert Raw option allows for advanced editing.

Exploring the Features and Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review
 (Credit: Eric Zeman)

Exploring the Features and Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review
30x Space Zoom (Credit: Eric Zeman)

Exploring the Features and Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review
3x optical zoom (Credit: Eric Zeman)

Exploring the Features and Performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra A Comprehensive Review
2x optical zoom (Credit: Eric Zeman)

The camera performance of the S23 Ultra is excellent, and the photos are a small step up from the S22 Ultra, as well as being on par with the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the Pixel 7 Pro. The phone's camera enhances colors and provides good exposure and HDR, while the iPhone's photos tend to be warmer and slightly softer, and the Pixel offers a more natural color palette with better highlights and details.

The S23 Ultra's video recording capabilities have also improved, offering 4K60 HDR, 8K24, and 8K30. The expanded optical image stabilization (OIS) features are beneficial, although they are not as good as the iPhone 14's Action Mode. Nevertheless, the S23 Ultra is among the best Android devices for capturing video.

Android at Its Second Best

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts the latest Android 13 operating system and is paired with the One UI 5.1 user interface. While Android 13 serves as the foundation for the S23 Ultra, Samsung's added software gives it a unique look compared to Android 13 on Google's Pixel 7 Pro.

Although there are a few modifications to the phone's customization options, including a new home screen widget system and video lock screen option, the changes are minimal. Samsung has also added some new modes and routines to better cater to specific situations and made improvements to the Bixby Text Call feature for easier text-to-audio responses to incoming calls. Additionally, the Knox security suite has been further enhanced to better serve enterprise users.

While the powerful software offered by Samsung may seem overwhelming, it is undeniable that the S23 Ultra and One UI 5.1 offer a vast array of features. However, what truly sets the S23 Ultra apart is Samsung's commitment to operating system and security updates. With four operating system upgrades and five years of security updates, the S23 Ultra surpasses Google's promise for Pixel phones with only three OS upgrades.

Finally, Samsung has ensured seamless integration between its new Galaxy phones and the latest Galaxy Book laptops. This includes features such as cross-device text copying and pasting, synced web browser history and passwords, mobile hotspot connectivity, and the ability to send text messages from the laptop.

A Clear Winner

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a clear winner for those looking for the best of the best in a smartphone. Boasting an exceptional display, lightning-fast performance, a robust battery life, advanced software with S Pen compatibility, and an exceptional camera setup, this phone is a top pick. However, its large size may not be suitable for those with smaller hands or pockets and its starting price of $1,199.99 may be too steep for some. 

The Pixel 7 Pro offers a more affordable option, costing $300 less, although it lacks the S Pen. Meanwhile, the iPhone 14 Pro Max only saves you $100 but requires you to switch to iOS. If you're looking for a similar experience in a smaller, more budget-friendly package, the Galaxy S23 or S23+ may be a better choice. However, if you want it all, the Galaxy S23 Ultra takes the prize as the Editor's Choice.

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