The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G is the best of every bit of the already good Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G. Delivered by the fastest Snapdragon-powered device, a custom Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy as well as an updated camera system and minor tweaks. Let’s start off with the boring part, the specifications.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G Specification
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
- GPU: Qualcomm Adreno 740
- Memory: 12GB LPDDR5X
- Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB UFS 4.0
- Display: 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X, LTPO 2.0 (1Hz ~ 120Hz), 3,088 x 1,440, HDR10+
- Glass Protection: Corning Gorilla Glas Victus 2
- Rear Camera: 200MP Samsung ISOCELL HP2 f/1.7, OIS, 12MP f/2.2 Ultrawide, 10MP f/2.4 3x Optical Zoom OIS, 10MP f/4.9 Periscope 10x Optical Zoom OIS, Laser Autofocus
- Front Camera: 12MP f/2.2 with Auto Focus
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Samsung Wallet)
- OS: One UI 5.1 (Android 13)
- Battery: 5,000 mAh @ 45W Wired Fast Charge (PD 3.0) | 15W Wireless Fast Charge | Wireless Power Share
- Color: Green, Phantom Black, Lavender, Cream | Graphite, Sky Blue, Lime, Red (Online Exclusive)
- Dimension: 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm @ 234g
- Price: RM 5,699 (12GB+256GB) / RM 6,199 (16GB+512GB) /RM 7,199 (12GB+1TB)
There are a total of 8 colors to choose from: Green, Phantom Black, Lavender, and Cream, available as general options in Samsung stores. There are also four exclusive online-only colors; Graphite, Sky Blue, Lime, and Red. The review sample I received from Samsung Malaysia is Cream which has a matte silk rear glass that is smooth to the touch.
The glass sandwiches Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G are protected with a more resilient Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2. As mentioned in my first impression, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G has little see difference put side by side with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G. The S Pen is still present with a slot at the bottom left to house it.
It’s actually taller, wider, and has a boxier design. The display is also much flatter with less aggressive side curvature compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra. In turn, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G feels more confident to hold.
One thing that I need to point out, the down-firing speaker should switch places with the SIM card slot as it gets covered while playing games horizontally.
Samsung makes the nicest displays out there for its flagship devices and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G is no exception. It may receive the same 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X LTPO display with QHD+ (3,088 x 1,440) resolution that was found on its predecessor, Samsung has apparently tuned the display to serve more accurate colors against different lighting scenarios. This not only provides great visibility under harsh lighting but with a nicer consistency of colors.
The more advanced Qualcomm Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner was used underneath the display. It’s fast, reliable, and secure compared to the conventional optical in-display fingerprint scanner.
There aren’t any new improvement claims on the already good S Pen that offers remarkably low 2.8ms latency. It still does all the productivity functions like taking notes, making a smart selection of anything on the screen, doodling in AR, translation, transcribing, camera remote shutter, and the new writing on the search bar with the polished One UI 5.1.
Samsung has finally ditched its homegrown chipset, the Samsung Exynos, and fully tilted with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 across all regions. Hence, Samsung partnered with Snapdragon to have a custom SoC “Snapdragon for Galaxy“. The new chip fabricated on the latest 4nm TSMC process technology gets a mild overclock prime CPU core at 3.36GHz (instead of 3.2GHz) and 719MHz vs 680MHz on its GPU clock speed. Samsung also has a new AI-powered Image Signal Processing (ISP) algorithm that enhances subject details and color tone in low-light or high-dynamic range situations when comes to photography, more about the camera next.
According to AnTuTu the benchmark app, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G uses the latest and fastest UFS 4.0 storage and LPDDR5x memory which has twice the speeds compared to what the Galaxy S22 series equipped.
Samsung did share that they have improved the cooling system by using a larger vapor chamber to cool its chipset, therefore after continuous 3 rounds of AnTuTu benchmark tests, the temperature still maintained below 39°C.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G performs very well in Genshin Impact at the highest graphics settings and I feel no throttle even after 1 hour of gameplay. Potential to be a gaming phone?
Here are the benchmark test results of Geekbench 5, PCMark, and A1 SD Bench;
This is the first Samsung phone to have a 200-megapixels camera based on the Samsung ISOCELL HP2 sensor. Shooting at 200-megapixel gives me the option to crop in on the image without sacrificing many details. Of course, telephoto cameras do a better job when coming to zooming in natively.
Coming to the 12-megapixels ultrawide and dual 10-megapixels telephoto lenses with 3x and 10x optical zoom, there isn’t any competition out there besides Samsung’s own Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Additionally, Samsung also doubled its Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) on its primary that overcomes blurry photos or videos due to low-light conditions. You can check out the improved OIS in action on my YouTube Shorts.
As for selfie lovers, on paper, the 12-megapixels on Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G sounds like a downgrade from the 40-megapixels but in fact, the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 40-megapixels camera sensor is from a 10-megapixels 4-in-1 pixel-binning. Both are great selfie cameras with auto-focus but the Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G would have an advantage with less shutter lag and a larger native sensor.
Here are some photo samples taken with the new Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G.
All the images above have been scale-down but you can view full-resolution images on Google Drive.
If you are here for the video. Good news! The Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G has refined its video recording capability. 8K recording is now more usable with the support of 30fps and brawny optical image stabilization. I also noticed it has better color and details in good lighting and is less grainy in low lighting compared to its predecessor.
Here’s a video by Lee Zavitz showing off how far smartphones camera has come compared to professional cameras.
One UI 5.1
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G ships with One UI 5.1 based on Android 13. It’s quite a light update IMHO except for some new useful features like text writing with the S-Pen on the search bar and some other Google Apps, improvements of Modes and Routine, DeX that improve the multitasking experience, and object extract feature that works similarly to Apple iOS 16.
Finally, the Good Lock app, which allows us to redesign the look and feel of the Samsung Galaxy device as well as the Samsung Wallet released to Malaysia users which were previously region locked.
Not forgetting, the software support policy where Samsung promise four years of OS updates and five years of security updates. It’s one of the best policies you’ll find among Android smartphone brands.
Battery Life & Charging
Although there’s no battery capacity increase unlike the Galaxy S23 and S23+, the 5,000 mAh battery on the Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G offers remarkable battery life improvement.
Based on my daily use, I never have to worry I’ll have a flat battery by end of the day with 20% to 30% to spare. Matter of fact, during the weekend, when I don’t spend much time on my phone, I only have it charged once. This is thanks to the collective effect of the new hardware efficiencies.
No award-winning when come to charging speed, the same old 45W fast charge can fully charge the device from 0% in just 70 minutes. The 15W wireless charging allows me to top up some juice in the car while I’m driving back home or going to some other events.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G is available for pre-order now, and get a double storage upgrade plus an additional RM 400 E-Voucher when you pre-order through Samsung Online Store.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G Review
Don’t be deceived by its minor aesthetic change over its predecessor. Samsung has pushed its bar even higher by ironing up the shortfall of what is still competent Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G. The refinement of performance, battery life, camera capability, and user experience.
It’s early to claim the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G would be the champ of 2023 Android smartphones as more Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 powered devices are to be released this year. It’s arguably the best flagship Android smartphone to date and I credence it would maintain this status throughout the year.
Should you get one? If you are upgrading from the older Samsung Galaxy Note series, Galaxy S21 series, or older; the upgrade would be substantial.