The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra promises to deliver the best Android flagship experience, but does it live up to the hype? Here’s what we think.
In case you missed it, Samsung launched the Galaxy S23 series last month, and it is the brand’s latest flagship line. As with last year’s S22 series, the S23 line features three devices, with the Galaxy S23 Ultra being the top-of-the-line model.
While the new S23 Ultra looks almost the same as the previous model, it does promise to deliver major enhancements. For starters, it has a new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, meaning it should deliver best-in-class performance. Though perhaps more interestingly, the phone has a 200MP main camera. Yes, you read that right, 200 megapixels; it promises to be the best smartphone camera thanks to this, coupled with the three other cameras in its quad shooter setup.
The S23 Ultra is impressive on paper, but does it deliver in actual use? Here’s what we think.
Before we explore its camera and performance capabilities, let’s first look at the phone’s design. Similar to the S22 Ultra, this latest Ultra variant features a square-ish design that’s reminiscent of Samsung’s previous Note line. Coupled with the fact that it has a built-in S Pen, the S23 Ultra is the device that essentially replaces the flagship Note series.
Looks-wise, the S23 Ultra is a beauty. Despite its fairly simple looks, it definitely looks and feels premium in person. Plus, it’s a massive phone, meaning that despite its rather understated styling, it is no doubt an eye-catching device.
As with the previous S series phones, the S23 Ultra has a matte-like finish that means it is fairly grippy, even without a case. This is also a good finish for those who like going caseless as the phone is not a fingerprint magnet.
Moving to the front, you’ll see the massive 6.8-inch AMOLED display. With a dark background, the tiny holepunch notch is nearly invisible, meaning it’s as close to all-screen as possible without having a pop-up camera.
As a bonus, the phone’s display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 which should make it incredibly scratch-resistant as well as drop proof (though we didn’t exactly put it’s drop resistance to the test).
Samsung phones are renowned for their impressive displays, and in that regard, the S23 Ultra does not disappoint. This latest Galaxy flagship has a large 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED display, and it’s one of the best screens that you can get in any Android phone today. Aside from getting bright, the high resolution means you can enjoy watching high-res movies/shows, all while getting vibrant colors and deep blacks that a Samsung AMOLED screen provides. If you love watching shows while on the go, the S23 Ultra might just be one of the best for that use case.
As for audio, the S23 Ultra also doesn’t disappoint. Its onboard stereo speakers not only get loud, but they also output quality audio that’s not only clear, but also has surprisingly good bass extension. In fact, quality-wise, its onboard speakers can rival even laptops in terms of quality and volume. Plus, its quality doesn’t suffer too much even if you crank the volume up to max.
But as we always say, using headphones or external speakers is still recommended for the best binge-watching experience. And as expected, you’ll need a wireless audio device or wired Type-C headphones for the S23 Ultra as it lacks a headphone jack (it may be a pipe dream at this point, but we seriously hope that the 3.5mm headphone jack makes a comeback).
As mentioned above, the S23 Ultra is powered by a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, and that is paired with a whopping 12GB of RAM. As the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 from last year’s S22 line is already powerful, it should come as no surprise that the S23 Ultra with the latest processor is a seriously good partner for gaming.
In our tests, the phone ran most games that we threw at it with ease, even at max settings. Aside from typical games like League of Legends: Wild Rift and Call of Duty Mobile, even games like Diablo Immortal ran at the Very High graphics preset smoothly.
Even Genshin Impact ran well at the High graphics setting. At this point, the only phones that can rival the S23 Ultra are dedicated gaming flagships, and even then, for most users, the S23 Ultra’s gaming performance should be more than enough.
Geek Photoshoot Capabilities
Now we move on to the cameras. The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 200MP wide + 12MP ultra-wide + 10MP telephoto (3x optical zoom) + 10MP telephoto 10x optical zoom quad rear shooter setup at the back. At the front meanwhile is a 12MP selfie shooter.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the phone’s 200MP main camera is excellent when it comes to daytime outdoor photography as photos in this scenario are detailed and have fairly accurate colors. Even if you crop the images, the photos have enough detail that you won’t see a huge dip in quality.
Indoor photos are also of great quality, even if the lighting inside a room isn’t the best. This is likely a testament to how good the main camera is for most scenarios.
At night, the 200MP shooter also does not disappoint. With the AI in its camera on, the S23 Ultra’s main camera smartly uses the built-in Night Mode automatically when you’re shooting in low light scenarios. With the Night mode, low light photos have a lot of detail and are plenty bright. While the results can be a bit too vibrant at times, it’s not as unnatural as some other phones.
Moving on to the wide angle photos, the S23 Ultra’s ultrawide does not disappoint. Similar to the main camera, the ultrawide also captures high quality photos in daytime. At night, the ultrawide also works well thanks to the Night Mode which, again, deploys automatically whenever you’re shooting in low light scenarios.
While other flagships only have one telephoto shooter, the S23 Ultra has two — one 3x optical zoom and one 10x optical zoom. Thanks to this, the phone can capture incredibly clear photos at up to 10x zoom in daytime. It can even reach up to 100x zoom, but because that relies on digital zoom, the photos at this point are a bit blurry, but they’re impressive nonetheless.
At night, there is a dip in quality though, even if you use the Night Mode. This makes sense given that the telephoto shooters here just aren’t as good as the main and the ultrawide cameras. Though photos are still usable which is quite impressive for telephoto shooters.
Finally, the 12MP front camera is able to capture good quality selfies, whether indoors or outdoors. Even if the indoor light isn’t as good, the phone’s camera processing is good enough to compensate.
Given its impressive gaming performance, it should come as no surprise that the S23 Ultra is a phone that can easily run all the apps that you need, and then some. In our time with the phone, it did now slow down one bit, nor did it struggle even with content creation apps. Essentially, the S23 Ultra is a great daily driver for your everyday needs.
It’s also one of the best smartphones that you can get for productivity thanks to the built-in S Pen. With this stylus, you can jot down notes or even draw to flex your creative muscles while on the go. It might be small, but it’s actually fairly comfortable to use. Plus, it feels sufficiently grippy thanks to its matte finish.
While not everyone needs a stylus for a phone, for those wo prefer having one, there’s probably no phone that beats it.
Even if you don’t need a stylus for note-taking or drawing purposes, it still provides some nifty features. For starters, you can use it to annotate screenshots, draw AR doodles, and more. Though personally, what I liked the most is the stylus’ middle button that acts as a shortcut in select apps. For example, you can use the S Pen button to capture photos, essentially giving you a remote for group photos.
Finally, let’s talk battery life. The phone has a large 5000mAh battery with 45W fast charging plus 15W wireless charging. While some flagships can struggle with lasting for a day, that’s not the case with the S23 Ultra. In our time with it, the phone was easily able to last for a day and even more on just one charge. This is impressive, even when compared with previous generation Galaxy S devices, making it a worthy upgrade for those who want battery battery life.
If you do need to charge, the 45W fast charger means you won’t have to wait too long for the phone to reach 100%. While there are faster charging solutions out there for other phones, 45W wired charging is not bad at all.
Final Geek Lifestyle Verdict
By all accounts, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is an excellent smartphone. If you need a phone with a great display, powerful performance, excellent cameras, and long battery life, the S23 Ultra ticks all those boxes, and then some. In fact, the latest Ultra device doesn’t have any weaknesses.
That is, until you see the price tag. The S23 Ultra starts at an eye-watering PHP 81,990, making it way more expensive than most other flagship phones. While it may be out of the budget for many users, for those who simply want one of the best (if not the best) Android phone right now and price is no object, you can’t go wrong with the S23 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra specs:
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor
- Adreno 740 GPU
- 12GB RAM
- 256GB/512GB/1TB storage
- 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz refresh rate, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2
- Rear cameras: 200MP wide + 12MP ultra-wide + 10MP telephoto (3x optical zoom) + 10MP telephoto 10x optical zoom
- Front camera: 12MP
- 5G, LTE
- Ultrasonic Fingerprint scanner, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
- IP68 certification, USB Type-C port
- 5000mAh battery with 45W Fast charging + 15W Wireless charging + 4.5W Reverse Wireless charging
- Android 13 (One UI 5.1)
- PHP 81,990 – 256GB
- PHP 89,990 – 512GB
- PHP 103,990 – 1TB