Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra First Impression – Should You Upgrade?

Last year I hailed the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G as arguably the best Android smartphone for 2022 which holds the garland till the year’s end. Hence, I have high expectations for its successor, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G. But as you tell from the outlook, it looks the same and I guess there’s a valid reason for it.

Thanks to Samsung Malaysia, I get to hold a review unit to share my first impression after toying with the device for close to a week now.


As having the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G as my secondary device, when I picked up the Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G for the first time, I immediately can tell the differences. The new S23 Ultra is boxier and it has a flat side frame, unlike the S22 Ultra’s screen curved to the back of the glass cover. The camera bumps may look the same but they are slightly bigger as you can see from my casing test video.

Other than having a more resilient Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on both front and rear glasses, the rest are the same. Having the same S-Pen, same buttons position, same S-Pen slot, same stereo speaker, and same Infinity-O display. Which isn’t a bad thing as I quite like the S22 Ultra design. Why fix it when it’s not broken, right?


Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G LTPO Display

The Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G sports the same bellwether 6.8-inch Samsung AMOLED 2X LTPO 2.0 (Adaptive refresh rate 1Hz up to 120Hz) display that pushes QHD+ resolution. The panel can output up to 1,750 nits peak of brightness and features Qualcomm 3D Sonic Gen 2 fingerprint scanner. The S Pen is basically the same, with a low latency speed of 2.8ms that offers writing and scribbling more fluid.


Under the hood is the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, and it is the fastest Snapdragon-powered device to date. According to Samsung, this is a custom chip with a slightly overclocked CPU and GPU compared to the standard Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. 12GB LPDDR5X RAM now comes in as standard, while the base storage starts with 256GB and up to 1TB UFS 4.0.


There’s a new camera sensor introduced, the Samsung ISOCELL HP2 features Tetra²Pixel binning technology that is capable to shoot up to 200-megapixels images. Samsung dialed up its Optical Imagine Stabilization which tolerates up to three degrees, that’s twice compared to the S22 Ultra. The new sensor is also able to record video in 8K at 30fps or 4K HDR at 60fps.

The rest of the rear camera system are two 10-megapixels telephoto cameras with 3x and 10x optical zoom with OIS and a 12-megapixels ultrawide with autofocus

On paper, the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s front camera sounds like a downgrade from 40-megapixels to 12-megapixels. In actual fact, the 40-megapixels on the S22 Ultra is pixel binning from a 10-megapixels sensor, hence the 12-megapixels sensor on the S23 Ultra is bigger and better. More about the cameras in my full review.


In terms of the software, the Galaxy S23 series runs on the latest One UI 5.1 based on Android 13. Polished with more features like GoodLock allows more aesthetic customization, the new Samsung Wallet (updated from Samsung Pay), and the Bixby Routines that graduated from Labs.

Samsung still provides five years of security updates and four major OS upgrades, meaning the Galaxy S23 Ultra will be updated to at least Android 17.


Battery and charging remain unchanged with a 5,000 mAh battery that supports 45W Samsung PD Fast Charge and 15W Samsung Wireless Fast Charge. Features Wireless Power Share, which does wireless reverse charge to wearables like Galaxy TWS earbuds and Galaxy Watch.

Preliminary Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G is still a relevant flagship smartphone even for 2023. Because of that, the target audience of the new Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G would be from the Galaxy Note series, Galaxy S20 series, and even Galaxy S10 series that looking for an upgrade. Samsung Malaysia even offers an additional RM 600 instant rebate on top of the phone you plan to trade in (up to 5 devices).

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 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.

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