Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review - Improvements in nearly every way


Building upon something already much better than nearly every other device around it, then trying to improve and make it better cannot be an easy thing. When the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra first came out, it offered one of the best smartphone experiences ever, so it was hard for us to imagine how Samsung would improve it with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. But here we are with the full review.

Featuring a custom Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset, up to 12GB of RAM, up to 1TB of UFS 4.0 storage, a 200MP quad rear camera setup, S-Pen and more, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra delivers improvements in nearly every way. Find out what else Samsung did or did not do this time around in the full review below.


Design - Yes! It’s similar but not identical!


To be completely honest, we were half expecting the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra to be identical to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. But while the 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X curved edge QHD display remains more or less the same with 1750 nits brightness, the sides of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra are flatter and not so curved. It makes for a much more comfortable side grip than the previous rounded curve sides of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Talking about the side chassis, it's made using Armor Aluminum again. But with the ceramic back Cream colour, this chassis is shiny metallic rather than a single colour. The backside of the Cream colour version does indeed feel like ceramic, making it harder to leave fingerprints. It's also nicer to the touch but makes it more slippery.


The review unit was in Cream with a ceramic-like backside


The top of the phone shows the flatter sides and shiny metal Aluminum Armor chassis


On the bottom, there's the S Pen, speakers, USB Type C port and dual SIM card tray


You can press the tip of the S Pen to eject it


The S Pen this time isn't much different from before


The tip of the S Pen is the same colour as the chassis

The protruding camera lenses are back with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the rest of the series follows this same look. There's some teeter when you put the device on its back, but you can solve this and protect everything by slapping on a case.

Comparing the measurements between the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra reveals that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is slightly taller at 78.1mm but has the same thickness at 8.9mm. It is also 5 or 6 grams heavier, and you can feel this when you pick it up the first few times. You do get used to it though, so it isn't an issue in my opinion.

As before, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra does not come with any extra freebies aside from the USB Type C to Type C cable, the SIM tool and some documentation. For security, the screen is covered by a layer of Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and the phone is still IP68 water resistant. The S-Pen stylus is also there on the bottom left with the corresponding coloured bottom part. The dual SIM card tray still only has space for 2 SIM cards.


The dual SIM card tray


Here's what you get in the box


Tech specs and Features - A few new additions to an already flagship device

Here are the tech specs and features for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
  • 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X curved edge QHD+ display
  • 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM
  • Up to 1TB of UFS 4.0 storage
  • 200MP main (OIS) + 12MP ultra-wide + 10MP telephoto, 10x periscope zoom + 10MP telephoto, 3X optical zoom quad-camera setup
  • 12MP selfie camera
  • Features adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate, in-display fingerprint sensor, stereo speakers, IP68 water and dust resistance, S-Pen, 45W fast charging, 15W wireless charging and reverse wireless charging
  • Supports 5G, WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC
  • 5000mAh battery


The quad rear camera setup consists of a 200MP main + 12MP ultra-wide + 10MP telephoto + 10MP telephoto quad-camera

Looking at it from just the numbers, the largest improvement for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra over its predecessor is the camera with the 200MP main camera over the previous 108MP camera from before. The other rear cameras, like the 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP telephoto periscope, and 10MP telephoto remain the same. There's also what appears to be a cut down to a 12MP front camera from the previous 40MP front camera. But thankfully, this isn't the case (you'll see why in a bit).

According to Samsung, it has added camera tech like Dual Pixel Auto Focus and AI Stereo Depth to help create more natural night BOKEH effects and Adaptive Pixel tech to get the right resolution for the right photo. Samsung also added some more Expert RAW features like Astrophoto and Multiple Exposures.

In addition to this, the other major improvement is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset. Rather than overclocking it to deliver brute force, we think that Samsung has tuned it to provide the right amount of power necessary to operate at peak performance while being as energy efficient as possible (you'll see what we mean in the performance section).


The OneUI 5.1 (left) and the S Pen Air Commands menu (right)

With other impressive features like the 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X curved edge QHD+ display, it can still go up to 1750 nits brightness for clear images in direct sunlight while the up to 120Hz adaptive refresh rate ensures smooth scrolling when you need it. The S-Pen is as stellar as before, but it doesn't appear to have any new features.

Not many battery changes either, as the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra still retains a large 5000 mAh battery with up to 45W fast charging. The phone also supports 15W wireless charging and reverse wireless charging. But for these and other high-end features like IP68 water resistance, it seems like Samsung is taking an "if it's not broken, don't fix it" approach.

We're quite happy with these features, as Samsung Dex works just fine for doing work either wired through a USB hub or wirelessly. While we would have liked to try the Multi control feature to share across Galaxy Devices, Malaysia doesn't get Samsung laptops like the Book 3 Ultra. Since we also don't use Android Auto, we didn't see any issues with it either.


The camera features (left) and the ExpertRaw (right) menu which now has Astrophotography and Multiple Exposure


Performance - Top-of-the-line Power when you need it

In our benchmarks, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra scored 1508 points in single-core and 4717 points in multi-core in Geekbench 5. It scored 1889 single-core and 4962 multi-core in Geekbench 6 and maxed out the Wild Life test in 3DMark, so we ran Wild Life Extreme for a silky smooth performance score of 3642. In short, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra scored as a top-of-the-line flagship, at least where synthetic benchmarks are concerned.

In gaming, we've finally found a device that can run Genshin Impact on max settings at 60fps without overheating with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. It's smooth enough to be comparable to the PC version. Obviously, the phone played lag-free Asphalt 9 on max settings as well.


Geekbench 5 (left) and Geekbench 6 (right) scores were high


3DMark scores

However, as we mentioned before, the biggest improvement we saw for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra was energy efficiency. This is because even though it's packing the same 5000 mAh battery, it has a more powerful chipset. It easily lasted 1 day and a half on regular to heavy usage. We didn't have the 45W fast charger, but the 25W fast charger still managed to charge the phone back up to 100% in 1 hour and 10 minutes or so. By the way, we also used 5G when out and about.

If for whatever reason you absolutely have to use Samsung Dex without any external power connected, rest assured that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra can do that for you. Trying it out with a USB Type C hub and HDMI cable connected to a FHD monitor but with no power cable attached for the hub, the phone only used up about 30% of battery power within 3.5 hours.


With the S Pen, it remains the closest to pen and paper feeling digital stylus that can be achieved. It's still super easy to use for productivity and when you need it, it acts quite well as a remote control or clicker if you're using the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra for presentations or the like. It's also awesome for artists and those who like to sketch and won't cause any issues if inserted the wrong way.

For photography, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra managed to raise the level of the already awesome Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Colours are more vibrant, details are sharper, and there's next to no noise, even in low-light conditions. While picture clarity does degrade as you go up to 100x zoom, details when shot under zoom are now sharper.


Initial sketch and the final draw using the S Pen and Adobe Sketchbook

Despite the 12MP front camera, we'd have to say that this front camera is as good if not better than the previous 40MP front camera, as details are sharp while colours are point on accurate even under low light. Clearly, Samsung has tweaked its camera algorithms to enhance this, taking nightography to another level. Check out the samples below.

However, while the 200MP camera does take more detailed shots, it's still not fast enough to handle sudden random movements like babies and cats. For these subjects, you can bump down the resolution to 50MP and still get detailed shots that you can reframe. For video recording, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra can handle up to 8K video recording at 30fps. But even at night, stabilization works very well, so you can record high-resolution and high frame-rate video in nearly every condition.


Auto, 0.6x


Auto, 1x


Auto, 3x


Auto, 10x


Auto, 100x












Auto, Night Mode


Auto, 0.6x, Night Mode


Portrait, Night Mode


ExpertRaw, RAW


Auto, front camera


The portrait effect is pretty natural, as you can clearly see the lights behind my hair


Conclusion - This is the reliable All-rounder Flagship to get for 2023

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra easily surpasses its predecessor as the reliable all-rounder flagship to get for 2023. Even though it doesn't have any unique features aside from the S Pen and 200MP camera, we expect it to remain the reliable yet relevant camera phone flagship device that can do anything and everything, even at the end of the year after every other device has been announced.

Moving from the base model of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, which has 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, to the base model of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, which has 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, I can certainly feel the improvement. While I don't have to worry so much about filling up my storage (which is mostly perceived) the increased amount of memory does result in slightly smoother interactions between the apps. It lasts longer and is cooler too.


However, at its current price of RM5699 for just the base model, it's hard to recommend getting the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra if you already have the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Granted, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra does outperform its predecessor, but both phones are still top-of-the-line flagship devices.

If you're still using a Samsung Galaxy Note series device, then we heartily recommend getting the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra over the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. The sheer amount of improvements should make it worth the extra money. However, aside from other S Pen using devices, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has nearly no other contenders from other brands.

Thankfully, you still have a few days until the end of the preorder for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra on 23 February 2023, so if you want the phone with all the freebies, this is how to do it. In any case, do let us know how your experience with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra was as well and stay tuned to for more tech reviews and news.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Specs & Price >