Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

theBit gets a hands-on look at the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, but is it all that different from the S22 Ultra? Let’s find out.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is arguably the most anticipated phone to come out of Samsung’s 2023 flagship lineup, with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra getting rave reviews thanks to it somewhat resurrecting the Galaxy Note. It saw the biggest departure from the usual S-series formula, combining optimal performance and an exemplary camera system with a premium design. Oh, and it even threw in a built-in S Pen stylus.

Now, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is stepping into the spotlight, and it has big shoes to fill. On first impression, it seems we’re getting more of the same, but the real changes lie under the hood. Here’s a first look at the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the specs you can expect.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra hands-on impressions

Full disclosure: it took me a little while to realize I was holding a Galaxy S23 Ultra. It’s virtually identical to the Galaxy S22 Ultra, likely due to the S22 Ultra already getting a Galaxy Note-like revamp. This isn’t a bad thing; Samsung gave the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 the same treatment by barely changing their design compared to their predecessors. After all, if it ain’t broke…

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (left), Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus (middle), Samsung Galaxy S23 (right)

The flat back cover and camera island-less design has trickled down to the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus, but the S23 Ultra still leans more towards a Galaxy Note than an S-series phone. It keeps the same squared-off top and bottom edges, along with the four camera lenses and autofocus sensor, as with the previous model.

It’s still a big phone, boasting a 6.8-inch AMOLED display, but it still felt comfortable to hold in one hand. This could be because it’s lighter, but it’s been a while since I held an S22 Ultra, so it’s difficult to compare. Regardless, it’s the display that’s the real star of the show. Those comfortable using a phone with two hands and want as much screen real estate as possible to do work or binge-watch Netflix shows will enjoy the S23 Ultra’s design.

I got the chance to use the included S Pen stylus built that fits snuggly at the bottom of the S23 Ultra, and it’s nifty, to say the least. Effortlessly writing on the wide screen and erasing my horrendous handwriting was a breeze, but that’s the same experience you can get on the S22 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra front display

Design-wise, the Galaxy S23 Ultra doesn’t have a lot to say. I only saw the swish Phantom Black and Phantom White, but we’re sure to see more colour options pop up once the smartphone is put on shelves.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra specs

If you’re looking for the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s real changes, check out its specs below.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Display6.8-inch AMOLED display
ProcessorSnapdragon 8 Gen 2
Storage256GB / 512GB / 1TB
Rear Cameras200MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP telephoto, 10MP periscope
Front Camera12MP

What’s this? A 200MP wide-angle camera? That’s right, Samsung has decided to bump up the previous 108MP lens all the way up to 200MP – the Galaxy S23 leaks hit the nail on the head. It isn’t rare for an Android phone to boast this ridiculously large megapixel size, but the South Korean tech giant is a master at computational photography, using AI-powered smart features to optimize photos. With a 200MP camera, you can expect the Galaxy S23 Ultra to take some incredible shots.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera lens

Otherwise, it’s the same 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP telephoto, and 10MP telephoto. Interestingly, Samsung switched the 40MP front-facing camera on the S22 Ultra to a 12MP lens. I couldn’t tell the difference in quality when I shot a quick selfie, but it’s a mystery why it doesn’t include a 40MP anymore. Perhaps 12MP is enough?

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is also equipped with a new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, claiming to bring a 35% boost to CPU speeds, 25% faster GPU performance, and 40% more energy efficiency. We didn’t give the S22 Ultra’s battery high praise (5000mAH, which the S23 Ultra also boasts), but the step-up in efficiency will hopefully change that with the S23 Ultra.

You can also expect the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 to bring huge strides in AI performance. 4.35x faster than the Gen 1, to be exact. Ray tracing in mobile gaming is also set to arrive, which is good news for those who dabble in demanding titles like Genshin Impact, Minecraft, or possibly even Fortnite. However, we won’t know the full list of games until later in 2023.

Final words

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra brings us more of what made the S22 Ultra stand out. Sure, it’s indistinguishable from its predecessor in terms of design, but Samsung clearly doesn’t want to deviate from what it got right before.

It’s hard to gauge the performance improvements it will gain thanks to the upgraded Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, and I didn’t get the chance to properly try out its 200MP wide camera – although it’s sure to pique the interest of photography enthusiasts.

Once we get more hands-on time with the Galaxy S23 Ultra for a review, we’ll know if it’s a worthy upgrade over the Galaxy S22 Ultra. While we wait, check out the best smartphones you can pick up right now.