Like last year, Samsung used the month of February to release its new flagship smartphones for the year. The announcement was therefore made on February 1st for availability in the coming days on French shelves. The official availability date is set for February 17th after a pre-order deadline of February 16th. Yes, like last year, Samsung is eschewing the MWC to get all the attention in the world.
Today we are necessarily interested in the flagship of the brand with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Big screen, S Pen, SoC snapdragon (finally!), Space Zoom x100, everything is there to make this S23 Ultra a great vintage for the Korean manufacturer. Confidently, Samsung allows itself to be first to market ahead of the wave of announcements arriving at MWC 2023 at the end of February. We’ve already spent more than a week, here’s the Galaxy S23 Ultra review and so much to say, we’ve been conquered.
The features of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
As a reminder of the properties that are new Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra offer you :
|Galaxy S23 Ultra|
|Screen||– 6.8-inch dynamic AMOLED 2X|
– Edge curved display in 20:9 format
– WQHD+ definition
– 240Hz touch sensor
– Gorilla Glass Victus 2
– Hit the center
|design||– Reinforced aluminum frame|
– Gorilla Glass Victus 2 back panel
– Storage space for the S Pen
|SoCs and GPUs||– Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2|
– Adreno 740 GPU
|Storage||– 12GB of memory|
– 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of storage
– No Micro SD port
|Colors||– Phantom Black|
– Phantom Silver
|camera||– 200 MP main sensor|
– Output in 12 MP, 50 MP or 200 MP
– f/1.7 aperture, optical stabilization and phase detection autofocus
– 10 MP 3x telephoto sensor #1
– F/2.4 aperture, optical stabilization and dual pixel autofocus
– 10 MP 10x telephoto sensor #2
– F/4.9 aperture, optical stabilization and dual pixel autofocus
– 12 MP ultra wide-angle sensor
– 120° FoV, F/2.2 aperture and Dual Pixel autofocus
– Automatic HDR photo
– 8K video recording at 30 fps
– Single shot mode
– 12 MP front sensor
|Audio||– AKG stereo speakers|
– Dolby Atmos
– no 3.5mm jack
– Super fast charging 45W
– USB-C connector
– Fast wireless charging 2.0
– Wireless Powershare
|connectivity||– Ultrasonic fingerprint reader under the screen|
– Wifi 6E
– Ultra wideband
– 2x Nano SIM
– 5G Sub-6
– S Pen holder
– A user interface 5.1
– Samsung DeX
|height and weight||– 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm|
|Price||– S23 Ultra 256GB / 8GB: €1,419|
– S23 Ultra 512GB / 12GB: €1,599
– S23 Ultra 1TB/12GB: €1839
|availability date||– February 17, 2023|
Unsurprisingly, the new Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra continues this trend of no longer offering a charger in the box. Likewise, there are no wired headphones either. So we find a new relatively flat and small box with the smartphone, a USB-C to USB-C cable and user manuals for a first grip.
Until February 16th, for every pre-order of a Samsung Galaxy S23, Samsung offers to double the storage space you have chosen, which is quite useful, and to benefit more in case of a smartphone trade-in of 150 euros.
Galaxy S23 Ultra 8/256 GB at the best price Base price: €1,419
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Design, screen and sound
The first thing that strikes you when you spot the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is that it basically takes the design of the S22 Ultra with a frosted glass back that looks great but also has a photo block built into the body. The S Pen simply fits into the bottom edge of the smartphone. With this linear and angular design, Samsung ditched the S23 and S23+ while their predecessors inherited the design of the S21 and S21+. Regarding the differences, we note in particular a screen that is a little less curved at the edges and flatter windows compared to the S22 Ultra. As a direct result, these choices improve grip and make the smartphone less slippery in the hand. We love.
Otherwise, there is an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the screen. Over time the technology has become reliable and super fast, we were not disappointed. The S Pen is always kept at the bottom of the smartphone and on the sides we find the power button and/or standby. It should also be noted that the S Pen on the S23 Ultra is physically slightly different from that on the S22 Ultra.
On the screen side, we won’t beat around the bush and we already know that Samsung offers the best screens on the market. Moreover, to be at the top, it’s exactly the same record as its predecessor. Was measured at 01Lab and we have almost the same results. Suddenly, like last year, it will be necessary to go through the customization box or prefer natural mode since the DeltaE is 6.07 by default. After that, the display honestly remains super thin with very deep blacks and high-contrast colors (too much neck). Brightness is always present and we didn’t have any particular problems in bright light conditions.
And because it’s Samsung we find an LPTO panel with a variable refresh rate from 1 Hz to 120 Hz, while supporting a 1440p resolution. This year it’s particularly smooth with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC and not an Exynos, there are no more stuttering or other problems related to missing optimizations (which often appear after a few updates).
Samsung finally offers stereo speakers and with support for Dolby Atmos. We are of course talking about loudspeakers and the uses that result from them. And if we can’t create cinema with it, the speakers in themselves are good enough to enjoy small content or even a little longer. And as a reminder: The Galaxy S23 Ultra does not offer a 3.5 mm jack.
The S Pen
Support for the S Pen was one of the big new features of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, it was back with the S22 Ultra and it’s on the S23 Ultra. For once, aside from one physical change, it’s exactly the same as its predecessor. We’re really happy that this S Pen is integrated and no longer optional as was the case with the S21 Ultra. As a reminder, the S Pen of course allows you to draw and take notes, but it can also be used as a remote control for presentations, the photo gallery or even multimedia applications. Anyone who says remote control also says the shutter function for the camera. Comfortable.
Another little reminder from the S22 Ultra. Last year, Samsung made software-side tweaks and worked with Wacom on stroke prediction technology that helps reduce latency. It’s super fluid in application and everything feels natural, it was before, but now it’s even better. You have to use the S Pen for a while to realize its practical functions in everyday life. If you are not an S Pen user, now you can always keep it in your storage, like the vast majority in real life!
Android 13, One UI, performance and autonomy
On the Android side, not surprising in itself, we obviously find Android 13 with the OneUI 5.1 overlay, which we always find pleasant and super complete. We’ll always criticize Samsung for favoring an application drawer from left to right rather than top to bottom. It’s a matter of habit, but everyone does it with a sense of elevation, which is why Samsung is trying to differentiate itself with a trivial feature. While the UI continues to air, fortunately for us, we can’t ignore the fact that the weight of the operating system is particularly heavy on Samsung. We’re talking about a size of 60 GB, versus 25/30 GB for the competition. In retrospect, it must be recognized that Samsung also integrates the management of the S Pen and others. NOW. With the smallest version, which is 256GB, we never felt cramped. All this to say that the Android Stock experience is very close, with some homemade additions.
On the performance side, the Galaxy S23 Ultra in its European version FINALLY offers a Qualcomm SoC and not just any, because it is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Suffice it to say right away, it is a power monster and above all super optimized so that it is not like Samsungs Exynos SoCs over-consumed. In Europe we always felt cheated compared to the rest of the world. And in this year 2023, Samsung has finally fixed the biggest flaw of its predecessors in Europe. In terms of performance, no surprise, we’ve seen it with the ZTE RedMagic 8 Pro or the OnePlus 11, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is super fast. We were able to try current games like Diablo Immortals, Wild Rifts, Call of Duty Mobile or Rocket League Side, there’s nothing to say about that.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra offers a 5000mAh battery, the same as last year. And because in its guts it is a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, we finally benefit from an impressive autonomy. We’ll go far. During our testing, we charged the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra every two days. Yes, you read that right, every other day. Practical and impressive.
photo and video
Compared to the S22 Ultra, the design of the photo block has not changed a cent. After that, to be honest, he was already very good. Integrated into the case, we prefer this Samsung choice over the large round, rectangular or square panels of some competitors. Whoever says the same design also says the same photo unit and if there have been any changes, we will particularly point out the new 200 megapixel sensor on the main camera and the new front camera with a new sensor.
Even if we can take photos at 200 megapixels, it’s not surprising that by default it’s 12 megapixels with pixel binning technology, which merges 16 pixels into 1 super pixel. As a reminder, with the S22 Ultra it was 9-in-1. You can also take photos at 50 megapixels with quad binning (4-in-1), but in any case we can only advise you to stick to 12 megapixels for the most balanced results, both in terms of exposure and also on the colorimetry and the file weight. Of course we can have even more detail with 50 or 200 megapixels, but that requires post-production work and is not for everyone.
Next to it we find the two telephoto lenses, a first classic with 3x optical zoom and a second with 10x periscopic zoom and an ultra wide angle with 12 megapixel sensor. On the front is a front camera with a 12-megapixel sensor (up from 40 on the S22 Ultra). Because the sensor is larger, it’s more effective in low-light conditions. Note that all cameras (except for the main camera) benefit from dual pixel autofocus, which shows how fast the Galaxy S23 Ultra is when focusing on subjects and/or subject tracking.
On the other hand, with these larger sensors you will always have to pay attention to the zone of sharpness, even if we find a more pleasant natural bokeh in return. In all cases, the photos are mastered in ideal conditions from start to finish. We remind you that we are in the presence of a premium smartphone. But it is precisely in low light conditions that Samsung has made further progress. It was good last year, but this year is even better. Our only regret is that Samsung has to add too much “light” in post-production, requiring going through Pro mode for certain effects. While we find many photo modes that we already knew from previous Samsung smartphones, the manufacturer has added a few more, such as astrophotography.
If we find excellent quality in videos, what impressed us the most was the optical stabilization, which has made a leap forward so that it is really super stable. It is impressive. In fact, in our testing during a small show hosted by TP Vision, we didn’t even use our DJI stabilizer. And the second thing is finally support for 8K at 30fps. So, it’s really in the video that we see the contribution of such a resolution. The details are impressive and in a year or two it will inevitably become the standard for the general public.
Galaxy S23 Ultra 8/256 GB at the best price Base price: €1,419
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Better than words, concrete examples :
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FINALLY, that’s the word we got after a few days of testing. In fact, we railed against Samsung for years because we Europeans always ended up getting a Galaxy S with an Exynos SoC from the Korean manufacturer. Far from being bad, it was still behind the Snapdragon SoC of the year and above all it was really less good in its energy management, directly affecting its autonomy. This is also why we always lagged behind in our tests with the American media, who had the Galaxy S with a Snapdragon SoC.
But that’s old story, in Europe we also have a Snapdragon SoC and my god it’s good to have a Galaxy S with more than decent battery life. Compared to the S22 Ultra, it’s even exceptional! The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is already a unique smartphone with the presence of the S Pen, but we also find high-end performance and autonomy that need not be ashamed of Apple’s iPhone 14 Plus and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
It’s really hard to fault the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Capable of anything in everyday life, it’s a true Swiss army knife and clearly the most complete smartphone on the market to date. From handwritten notes to recording, the S23 Ultra can do it all. So yes, the price is likely to hold more than one back and it might make more sense to look at the S23+, but if you want as many features as possible we already know we can’t miss the S23 Ultra.