The smartphone industry typically sees annual upgrades, and Samsung has just unveiled the Galaxy S23 series at Galaxy Unpacked Event 2023. Actually, you might confuse the new Galaxy S23 Ultra for the 2022 Ultra just by looking at the two phones’ exterior designs side by side.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra, with a few notable exceptions, is an incremental upgrade that does not significantly alter the form factor or other visible features of the phone. There are, however, significant improvements to certain hardware components, and the phone now comes with One UI 5.1 rather than 5.0. Here’s a quick comparison of the two top-of-the-line phones.
It is very difficult to tell the difference between the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the Galaxy S22 Ultra simply by looking at them side-by-side. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is remarkably similar in appearance to the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Samsung decided to refine its design formula for 2023 rather than completely overhaul it. And considering how sleek the S22 Ultra is, that might not be such a bad thing.
And considering how sleek the S22 Ultra is, that might not be such a bad thing.
The new flagship model has a stylish, minimalist exterior and a camera design that is largely unchanged from the previous year’s model. Despite this, the new phone features flatter surfaces in all directions. It’s easier to hold, and the S Pen performs better on a flatter screen.
You’ll find the same sharp corners and overall design in the S22 Ultra’s successor. However, Samsung has replaced the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ seen on the S22 with the more robust Victus 2, making the glass less likely to crack if the phone is dropped. The aluminum body is slightly thicker, and the volume and power controls are set lower and slightly larger for ease of use.
In terms of water and dust resistance, both phones are rated at IP68, which is the highest level for a premium smartphone. Both have a USB-C port on the bottom, but neither has a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The display size of both phones is a massive 6.8 inches, and they are somewhat larger in width and height than the standard smartphone, giving you even more room to work with.
But those screens aren’t the same ones. The S23 Ultra’s principal upgrade is the latest E6 OLED display, which improves upon its already stellar qualities. But the maximum brightness of both models is the same at 1,750 nits.
They both employ LTPO technology, the utilization of which enables the auto-refresh function. Both of these screens, which Samsung dubs Dynamic AMOLED, feature 1440p resolution and a refresh rate of 1-120Hz.
As far as biometrics go, we haven’t seen any major shifts either. Both of these devices use Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint scanner embedded in the display, which has a solid reputation for speed and reliability.
As far as we can tell, neither the S Pen nor the Wacom digitizer has been updated. This input device has 2.8ms latency, Bluetooth connectivity, and a gyro sensor.
Improvements in low-light photography, picture stabilization, astronomy, and 8K recording are just some of the benefits promised by the new 200MP ISOCELL HP2 camera with 16-to-1 pixel binning.
Overall, the 2023 model is a better camera experience than its predecessor. This configuration is capable of capturing more details and provides superior nighttime hyper-lapse as well as HDR video recording for the front-facing camera. It also seems that the telephoto cameras, which are used for zooming in on distant objects, are powered by a more sophisticated AI system, allowing for sharper images at higher magnifications.
Additionally, quicker shutter speeds are an enhancement that won’t appear on the official specifications sheet. Although the S22 Ultra required a few extra seconds for each shot, the S23 Ultra is lightning fast.
The amount of storage space available to users has been doubled. The minimum storage capacity of the Galaxy S23 Ultra is 256GB, and the phone uses the more rapid UFS 4.0 storage format rather than the UFS 3.1 format. LPDDR5X is used to improve the RAM as well.
The Qualcomm chipset is a major improvement over the 2022 version. This year, the market is no longer split between Exynos and Snapdragon. Only the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC can be found in the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but thanks to some special tuning, it operates at greater GPU and CPU frequencies than standard.
According to early benchmark findings, the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip significantly boosts performance.
The S23 Ultra’s CPU is 40% more efficient in single-core mode and 50% more efficient in multi-core mode. The level of improvement seen here is unprecedented, making this a very remarkable processor.
However, gamers are the ones who stand to benefit the most. The GPU is now as fast as or faster than the current leader, the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Furthermore, the steam chamber’s cooling system has been significantly increased. For the sake of a more reliable system, this upgrading is crucial.
The audio quality of the Galaxy S23 Ultra has also been greatly improved. The speakers retain their familiar appearance on the outside, but their increased volume gives them a considerably fuller sound.
However, intensity and decibel level are not the only considerations. The S23 Ultra is noticeably less muddy and distorted, with crisper vocals that are unaffected by loudness increases. More importantly, you can distinguish those lows for a fuller audio experience.
The battery within the S23 Ultra and S22 Ultra is identical at 5,000 mAh, but the battery life of the latter has been much enhanced.
Samsung claims that the S23 Ultra can play videos for up to 27 hours, which is a 30% improvement over the S22 Ultra, and that it can play music for up to 99 hours, which is a 22% improvement over the S22 Ultra. The more efficient Snapdragon chip appears to be largely responsible for these impressive results.
It’s unrealistic to expect two days of use without plugging in either of these phones, but the S23 Ultra is the preferable choice.
The charging system has not been updated, unfortunately. Keeping with current standards, neither phone comes with a charging cable.
Both the S23 and the S22 Ultra have a maximum wired charging power of 45W, but remember that to achieve those rates you will need a fast charger and a specific 5A cable, and this complete kit costs an additional $50. However, despite those rates, the phones still require more than an hour to fully charge.
In addition, they are both compatible with wireless charging at speeds of up to 10W.
New One UI features
Many of the changes to the user interface that come with One UI 5.1 will also be made available to the Galaxy S22 Ultra in a future firmware update, so don’t hold your breath waiting too long.
Improved split-screen and corner window snapping for Samsung DeX, as well as enhancements to the Camera, the Gallery’s new family album feature, and a couple of new widgets are just a few of the changes brought about by One UI 5.1.
Other changes include the ability to set different wallpapers for each of the available modes and scenarios, and the ability to use different wallpapers depending on the current mode.
Samsung has included a new collaboration mode for Samsung Notes, media output for Wi-Fi speakers, the option to use the mouse, keyboard, and trackpad of a Galaxy Book with your smartphone, and much more.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra refines the essentials without otherwise significantly altering the Ultra line.
While the Galaxy S23 Ultra is an improvement over the S22, it is not a radical departure from its predecessor in terms of technology.
Fans of smartphones who expect major technological leaps every year may be disappointed by the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but it may be one of the most user-friendly updates to date since it doesn’t overdo it.
Whether or not this is a good thing, customers who are happy with their Galaxy S22 Ultra can safely put off upgrading to the S23 Ultra for another year. Those who buy a new flagship every year will notice a difference in the S23’s camera quality, as well as the S23’s upgraded Snapdragon SoC, quicker Storage and Ram, and early access to One UI 5.1 features.
As with last year’s Galaxy S22 Ultra, the base price of the S23 Ultra is $1,199.
Still, share your thoughts on the new Galaxy S23 Ultra: are you looking forward to the improvements? And do you have any specific suggestions for how Samsung could enhance an existing feature?