When it comes to Samsung’s Galaxy S phones, the Ultra model tends to get all the attention and that’s no different with this year’s Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Design & Hardware
From a design perspective, the Galaxy S23 Ultra looks and feels very similar to last year’s S22 Ultra. However, Samsung did make a few differences such as the display. The display this time around is not as curved as previous S Ultra models and there’s a flatter surface area.
This change also leads to the body of the phone, because the display is slightly flatter, and the sides of the phone feel more squared off, which can be good for some but I found the Galaxy S23 Ultra a bit harder to hold because of this. And just like the S22 Ultra, the S23 Ultra has a built-in S Pen.
For the display, the Galaxy S23 Ultra uses a 6.8-inch AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and a resolution of 3088 x 1440. The display offers up to 1,750 nits of peak outdoor brightness and is HDR10+ certified.
The displays that Samsung uses in their Galaxy S lineup are always great and the S23 Ultra’s display is no different.
Powering the Galaxy S23 Ultra is a dedicated chip called the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy. This processor is a specially branded Qualcomm chip for the Galaxy S23 series. Compared to the standard Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, the Galaxy version has a slightly faster CPU clock speed at 3.36 GHz (vs 3.2 GHz) and a GPU clock speed of 719MHz (vs. 680 MHz).
For most consumers, this slighter faster chip won’t mean much. Doing everyday tasks like writing and sending emails, posting on social media, watching videos and just navigating the phone all worked smoothly with no noticeable slowdowns.
One issue that has occurred in past with Qualcomm Snapdragon chips is overheating, especially when using the camera. Thankfully, the Galaxy S23 Ultra doesn’t get too hot when recording video in 4K or taking phones to the point where it’s unbearable.
Depending on the storage option, the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM. For storage options, you can get the phone with 256GB, 512GB and 1TB and there’s also UFS 4.0 storage which brings faster read and write speeds.
For battery, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 5,000 mAh battery which easily lasted all day. I was able to use the phone from 9-10 AM to around 10-11 PM and I still had around 50% battery life left.
And if I did need to charge up in the middle of the day, the Galaxy S23 Ultra supports 45W fast wired charging and 10W fast wireless charging.
Just like past Samsung phones, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has an in-display fingerprint sensor which works well and relatively quickly. There’s also face recognition to unlock the phone with your face and as well as supported apps.
Other specs of the Galaxy S23 Ultra include Wi-Fi 6E (even though some phones are now launching with Wi-Fi 7 support), and Bluetooth 5.3.
Colour options for the S23 Ultra include Phantom Black, Cream, Green and Lavender. Samsung Online Exclusive colours for the S23 Ultra include Lime, Sky Blue, Graphite and Red.
Below is the standard Canadian pricing for the S23 Ultra.
- 256GB – $1,649 CAD
- 512GB – $1,889 CAD
- 1TB – $2,209 CAD*
*Exclusive to Samsung Canada’s Website
Samsung does usually run promotions all the time for the S23 Ultra, so you could get the phone at discount. There are also trade-in offers for your old phone.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the rest of the S23 lineup are available now from the company’s website.
On the software side of things, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is running Samsung OneUI 5.1 which is based on Android 13.
If you’ve used previous Samsung phones, then the latest version of One UI will feel very familiar. Just like in One UI 4.1, there are some more customization options like changing the colour palette of the system UI based on the wallpaper colours.
Some of the other new features of OneUI 5.1 include AR Zone which lets you take photos with the AR Emoji camera and make AR Doodles.
There are also Modes & Routines which you can set to run during different activities such as when you’re home, at work, driving etc. It’s very much Samsung’s answer to the Focus Mode featured in Apple’s iOS 16.
OneUI 5.1 also brings better multi-tasking such as being able to go from Split-Screen or Pop-Up View and revert back to full-screen by just dragging from one of the corners. There’s also the ability to see the app you use most often in Split-Screen.
And since the Galaxy S Ultra series now features an S Pen, there are stylus-specific features like Air Actions, Smart Select, Translate, S Pen to Text, off-screen memos and more.
The S Pen that comes with the Galaxy S23 Ultra is a new one that uses a special kind of Bluetooth to connect to the phone. And to charge the S Pen, all you need to do is put the pen back in the S23 Ultra for around 40 seconds and it’ll recharge to 100%.
Just like previous Samsung Galaxy S models, the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the rest of the S23 series will get four generations of One UI updates (i.e Android versions) and five years of security updates.
The first of these major updates should be One UI 6 based on Android 14, which is set to launch later this year.
On the camera front, the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with a new 200MP main lens (up from 108MP on the S22 Ultra) along with a 10MP periscope, 10MP telephoto and 12MP ultrawide.
Photos that were taken with Galaxy S23 Ultra looked great. Each photo had a good amount of detail and pops of colour. And in low light, the S23 Ultra worked well using the Night mode.
Having the new 200MP main sensor really helps both during the day and night situation because there’s a higher resolution for the camera to pixel-bin down to 12MP. You do still have the ability to shoot in the full 200MP resolution but you’re limited to no zoom options and bigger file sizes.
The rest of the lens, they were fun and easy to use. The periscope and telephotos lens was helpful in those situations where you needed to zoom in on something far away, such as the moon at nighttime (possibly with the help of Samsung’s Scene Optimizer AI). And the ultra-wide is great for getting as much as you can in the frame without standing far away.
For video, the Galaxy S23 Ultra can shoot up to 8K video at 30fps or 24fps. There’s also up to 4K 60fps video recording. Videos shot on the S23 Ultra were great in all lighting conditions with great colour and details.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is a great phone for those who are looking wants an Android smartphone with all the bells and whistles.
- Stunning display
- Great battery life
- S Pen is great to have handy
- Great camera with the new 200MP sensor
- Good low-light photography and videography
- On the expensive side
- The more angular design makes it a bit harder to holder
- Minimal design changes over last year’s model