Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review – setting a new standard for smartphones

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Samsung has knocked it out of the park with the Galaxy S23 Ultra flagship smartphone with a new level of power and performance and a range of features and a stunning camera to make this one of the best smartphones money can buy.

It’s that time of year again – Samsung has released the first flagship devices of 2023 and they have set the bar even higher with an impressively updated Galaxy S23 range.

We’ve been using the top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra since the launch and it’s undoubtedly the best smartphone the company has produced.

We expected nothing less with most of the new features and improvements found under the hood.

At first glance there’s not much change from the S22 Ultra but when you take a closer look, you’ll find several enhancements and upgrades.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 range – the S23 (from $1,349), the S23+ (from $1649) and the S23 Ultra (from $1,949) – all go on sale this week although we’ve heard from some readers who pre-ordered the day of the launch have already received their devices a week and a half early.


The S23 Ultra looks almost identical to the S22 Ultra. It has the same 6.8-inch display and the same S-Pen.

But a closer inspection reveals the sides have lost their curves and have a squarer look.

This was done to make the display less curved and give back a millimetre or two of screen real estate.

An inspection rear panel showed a similar camera layout (there’s four of them) but we noticed the lenses were slightly larger and extended down the rear panel a little further than they did on the S22.

There are also different colours this year – Green, Cream, Lavender and Phantom Black.

The green S23 Ultra we received for review is a lighter green than last year’s colour.


The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip for Galaxy which provides a stunning performance, impressive speed and an all-new level of efficiency that takes the battery even further.

We’ve seen Apple produce its own silicon for its products to provide an experience that makes the software and hardware work together beautifully.

With Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy this as close as Samsung’s going to get to its own silicon that’s been personalised to enhance the Galaxy experience.

The power of the device is impressive and is demonstrated by how easily it can handle the latest games.

We played Call of Duty on the S23 Ultra and even paired a Sony PlayStation 5 controller via Bluetooth to make it feel like we were playing on the console even thought it was running on a mobile device.

And with this sort of power at your fingertips the S23 Ultra can easily handle those other applications to help you stay creative and productive on the go.


Without a doubt the most talked about feature of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the camera.

There are a lot of features at your fingertips to achieve a wide variety of shots.

What we like about Samsung’s approach here is that there is nothing they will get in your way to get your image – the lighting, your distance from your subject, it’s night-time – the S23 Ultra will produce a great result every time.

The big feature, of course, with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the new 200-megapixel camera with Adaptive Pixel sensor which captures images and videos in even greater detail and precision.

200-megapixel image

It uses a technology called pixel binning to support multilevel of high-resolution processing at the same time.

The S23 Ultra has a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a 200-megapixel wide camera, a 10-megapixel telephoto camera (3x optical), a 10-megapixel camera (10x optical zoom) and a 12-megapixel front camera.

Still sharp after a solid crop

The S23 and S23+ both have a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a 50-megapixel wide camera, a 10-megapixel telephoto camera (3x optical zoom) and a 12-megapixel front camera.

The front 12-megapixel selfie camera has had a boost with fast autofocus and the very first super HDR selfie camera which also goes from 30 frames per second to 60 frames per second for even better front-facing images and videos.

Still sharp after an extreme crop

The 200-megapixel camera has two main benefits – you can take large images and create large prints and you can crop in on the image and still have a sharp picture.

The main camera can be set to capture 200-megapixel or 50-megapixel.

At 200-megapixel the maximum zoom is 6x while at 50-megapixel you can go all the way to 100x zoom.

Alcatraz Island – no zoom

We took a 200-megapixel shot of the Anzac Bridge and it offered the typical warm tones and sharpness of a Samsung image.

Alcatraz Island – closer

And even when we cropped or zoomed in on the image it was still sharp and clear with plenty of detail.

Alcatraz Island – even closer

With the 100x zoom you can get similar high-quality results even when you zoom all the way in.

Alcatraz Island – really close – 100x zoom

We gave this a try in San Francisco with a shot of Alcatraz Island from Fisherman’s Wharf and a shot of the Oakland Bay Bridge from the Ferry Building.

And as you can see from these images – you can still get in really close to your subject and still have a quality image.

Oakland Bay Bridge – no zoom

A feature shared across the S23 range is the Adaptive Pixel technology which can combine up to 16 pixels into one which allows the lens to draw in even more light so that your night-time images will look brighter than ever.

Oakland Bay Bridge – closer

Shots taken at night look incredibly bright.

Oakland Bay Bridge – 100x zoom

Photographers who want even more control can also choose to shoot in RAW which opens up the capabilities and editing options.

Another camera feature that has got us excited is the new astrophotography mode which can allow you to take longer exposures of the night sky.

Night shots of the stars

What it actually does is take hundreds of images during that exposure and stacks them together for an even sharper and brighter image.

And to compensate for the rotation of the earth and prevent star trails, the S23 camera uses an algorithm and notes your location on the globe via GPS and compensates for this slow movement so that your images still turn out sharp and clear.

Our shots, which were taken on a tripod, showed some amazing detail even after 10 seconds and under city lights.

Outside the city under dark skies you can achieve some truly stunning results.

On the video side, the S23 Ultra also has some incredible credentials including the ability to shoot 8K at 30fps. It has better OIS (optical image stabilisation) so your videos will look crisp and steady.


The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 5000mAh battery – the same as last year’s S22 Ultra – but what’s different this year is the Snapdragon for Galaxy which creates a remarkable power efficiency while still powering all the amazing features, including the gorgeous 6.8-inch display and amazing experiences like the games and apps.

As a result we were able to get through two days using the Samsung S23 Ultra as our daily driver – and that was making and receiving calls, connecting to wi-fi, taking photos and shooting videos and using apps.

That’s a very impressive result given the size and power of the device.

And when it’s time to charge you can get back to 100 per cent even faster.

With a 45W adaptor, S23 Ultra can get up to 65 per cent charge in 30 minutes.


Galaxy S23 Ultra

12GB + 1TB: $ 2,649

12GB + 512GB: $2,249

8GB + 256GB: $1,949

Galaxy S23+

8GB + 512GB: $1,849

8GB + 256GB: $1,649

Galaxy S23

8GB + 256GB: $1,449

8GB + 128GB: $1,349

The Galaxy S23 series will come in four nature inspired colours: Phantom Black, Cream, Green and Lavender.


Samsung has knocked it out of the park with the Galaxy S23 Ultra flagship smartphone with a new level of power and performance and a range of features and a stunning camera to make this one of the best smartphones money can buy.