At first glance, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has hardly changed – in fact, what has really changed is only on the inside. The test shows how the device performs in comparison to the Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro.
For quite a while now, there have hardly been any major design revolutions and unexpected twists when presenting new smartphones – the current attempts at walking with foldable devices are ignored. However, this development takes away a lot of the excitement when new top models are unveiled – most of them have already been seen. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is no different. If you compare the current generation with its predecessor, you have to look closely to see the differences. So is it worth spending more than 1000 euros on the smartphone?
In fact, the pricing of the new devices was some of the most shocking news when they were unveiled. Samsung does not sell the Galaxy S23 Ultra for less than 1399 euros. After all: During the pre-order phase you still get a bonus for old devices, so that the current low price is 1249 euros. But you have to ask for that, the manufacturer revealed, because you didn’t want to make any compromises when it came to the equipment of the Ultra-S23 (you can find out more here).
Top hardware in the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra beats the competition
As far as the equipment is concerned, Samsung cannot be accused of not keeping its word. The Galaxy S23 Ultra uses a 6.8-inch AMOLED display with a brightness of 1750 nits, 12 gigabytes of RAM and probably the fastest smartphone processor currently available for Android devices. Because unlike the predecessor, Samsung decided to leave the stage to Qualcomm and in the course of this cooperation got a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in the exclusive “For Galaxy” version, which is reflected in the higher clock rate. The smartphone has a choice of 256, 512 or 1024 gigabytes (1 TB) of storage space. There is no slot for micro SD cards.
The high performance is reflected in almost every benchmark in the test. In “Geekbench”, the S23 Ultra achieves 5046 points in the “Multi-Core Test”. For comparison: the predecessor sets the mark at 3372 points, the Google Pixel 7 Pro is at 3333 points. In the “3D Mark Wildlife Extreme” graphics and gaming benchmark, the S23 Ultra achieves 3699 points and an average of 20 frames per second (FPS), the Pixel only has 1851 points and 11 FPS to offer.
With these results, the S23 Ultra is in the top league, even the lightning-fast iPhone 14 Pro Max does not achieve significantly better results. While the Apple device is slightly above the result of the S23 Ultra in “Geekbench” with 5334 points, it does not come close to the Samsung in the gaming test with 3357 points and 20 FPS. In short: Compared to the previous year, Samsung was able to improve significantly, the gap to the iPhone is hardly significant for the time being.
Despite the high performance, the S23 Ultra doesn’t run out of steam that quickly. Although Samsung has left the battery capacity at 5000 milliampere hours and thus not increased it compared to the previous year, the runtime is sufficient for even the most strenuous day. In the test, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra lasted around 17 hours with automatic display lighting and mixed loads from the “PC Mark Work 3.0 Battery Life” test and video playback. If the smartphone does need energy, it can be charged quite quickly with a maximum of 45 watts using a suitable charger, which Samsung does not include with the delivery.
Impressive pictures – especially at night
Samsung itself says that the most important feature for a new smartphone is currently the camera – and has pulled out all the stops with the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The main camera snaps with 200 megapixels (MP), plus an ultra wide-angle camera with 12 MP and two telephoto cameras with 10 MP each, one with a triple optical zoom and one with a tenfold magnification. At the front, Samsung has limited the selfie camera to 12 megapixels, where the 40 MP of the predecessor apparently made little sense.
This looks different with the camera on the back of the S23 Ultra – because the results are really very good, sometimes even the best by far. Apparently, the new sensor that Samsung uses for the device plays a major role in this, because it is more sensitive to light, depicts more details and captures colors more realistically. You can find out what this looks like in practice in the following photo series.
With one caveat: Especially with moon photos, it’s not entirely clear how Samsung achieves the outstanding result. Recently, allegations have been made that Samsung is manipulating the results with software and not taking real photos of the moon. Upon request, the company asked for time to explain the situation.
However, the haptics of the Galaxy S23 UItra remain a challenge with its 6.8 inches. The device measures 78.1 by 163.4 millimeters and is therefore – and due to the square edges – a bit larger than the iPhone 14 Pro Max. You have to want and like that, especially because it can be operated with one hand is complicated – impossible at the top of the screen.
However, there are reasons for the dimensions: The S23 Ultra, like the S22 Ultra, is a successor to the Note series. According to its own statement, Samsung has many customers who like to use a huge display and really need the space. For handwritten notes, for example – because there is a stylus on the underside of the device, which can be used to write wonderfully on the display. Of course, Samsung also needs space for its elegant accommodation.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Conclusion: Fast as an arrow and a great camera
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra actually leaves nothing to be desired in the test. The built-in hardware makes it one of the fastest devices on the market, the cameras produce – at least subjectively – in some scenarios the best pictures that have been taken by a smartphone so far. Particularly impressive, although certainly not particularly relevant in everyday life, are the moon photos. Being able to search for the US flag on the moon with a smartphone using a hundredfold digital zoom is quite an experience.
But you have to really want the consistently successful overall package in two respects: the size is at the upper end of the tolerable at 6.8 inches, the price is currently at a really high level. If only the latter bothers, then it’s worth waiting. According to “Idealo”, a price reduction of up to 20 percent can be expected after around three months.
Google Pixel 7 Pro review: The gold standard is back
iPhone 14 Pro in the test: the gap has never been so big
No compromises, high prices: why there are hardly any top smartphones available for less than 1000 euros
This article contains so-called affiliate links. Further information are available here.
Editor’s note: The first version of the photo series in this review said: “Because Samsung is showing the competition what a smartphone can do, especially when it comes to astrophotography. Since the moon was shown in all its glory during the test, that was possible very easy to determine. Apple and Google only managed to capture a glowing dot, with the Galaxy S23 Ultra the fun only started with a high zoom level. In fact, the device manages to capture the moon with great detail and without an exaggerated light show – impressive .” After the publication of the allegations that Samsung was heavily manipulating the moon photos with software, we retracted this paragraph and are waiting for the situation to be clarified.