In February of this year, Samsung released its new phone model range, the Samsung S23. The range consists of the entry-level Samsung S23, the midrange S23+ and the creme de la creme of the set, the S23 Ultra(which this review is on). The S23 range comes with all-new bells and whistles, including a new 200MP 1/1.3″ sensor that they promised will enhance your nighttime photography. They even got a Sir Ridley Scott(Aliens/Blade Runner) and Na Hong-jin to shoot a short film for them, using the S23 Ultra Exclusively(Check out the shorts below). Samsung also opted for Qualcomm’s second-gen Snapdragon 8 chipset for speed and reliability.
On the Samsung S23 Ultra, you can get the 256GB 12GB or the 512GB 12GB(in my case). There is even a 1TB 12GB version however, this is not available in South Africa. The 512GB storage space helps a lot when taking photos at 200MP. The effective pixel size of a 200MP picture is 16320×12240 this will work out to a 16k(give or take a pixel) image and you also sit with a 30 Mb file jpg(uncompressed it is 571Mb in Photoshop) that you can use. This file size can go even larger when using Samsung’s Expert, a whopping 101Mb in a controlled environment(can be larger if shot outside).
The colour captured also is very close to the X-Rite ColorChecker chart that I shot in the studio. I also did some tests in the bush in the nighttime and I was really surprised with the quality that I got, the picture below had only some lights from a bungalow that was about 5 meters away. The one thing that I did find was that Samsung still needs to work a bit on their macro feature for the phone, as you need to be about 30-40cm away to use the macro feature. Whereas on an older phone(from another brand), you can have the phone 10-15cm away from the subject.
When it comes to gaming(the other thing I would use the phone for), I had no issue at all with it. On my older Samsung S20 Ultra, my phone would get warm after playing a few rounds of COD Mobile and when I play on the S23 Ultra this has gone away. I have also experienced a slightly better connection, this might be because the S23 Ultra has WiFi6 or we have SA servers for COD. However, when playing Mobile Legends(a mobile clone of League of Legends…), the network lag was better than on the S20 Ultra. I also ran some synthetic tests to see how good the Samsung S23 Ultra is, and I was not disappointed at all. On 3DMark Wild Life we got an overall score of Maxed Out, it was even Maxed out on average FPS. When I ran 3DMark’s Wild Life Extreme we got an overall score of 3726 and an average FPS of 22.30. In the Wild Life Extreme test, the phone’s Battery temperature maxed out at 36%, which isn’t that bad!
Speaking of batteries, I can say that with this 5000mAh battery with average usage(so phoning, emails, social media, slight camera use and WhatsApp) the phone can last a full day and a half. With a more aggressive usage pattern(playing a few games COD and MLBB, plus the normal phone usage) you can expect to get a full day’s use (from 6 am till 12 pm).
Overall I am very pleased with the Samsung S23 Ultra. As a photographer it gives me good images from the get-go, however, the macro function still needs to be worked on. When it comes to mobile gaming I would say the Samsung S23 Ultra is King of the Hill and you would be able to get hours of gameplay out of the device. The only other downside I can see about the S23 Ultra is that it is really expensive, coming in at R30999 for the 512GB 12GB model and R28999 for the 256GB 12G. The slight silver lining on this price is that you can still for a bit trade in your old device for up to R10000 discount on the S23 Ultra. I would suggest the S23 Ultra to any gamer looking to upgrade from an S20 or below, as the S21 and S22 are very close in spec to the S23.
Onboard Storage/Mem card slot
Camera(Front facing Video)
163mm x 78.1mm x 8.9mm
Nano-SIM and eSIM
Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+,
1200 nits (HBM), 1750 nits (peak), 1440 x 3088 pixels
6.8inch(Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2)
Android 13, Samsung One UI 5.1
Qualcomm SM8550-AC Snapdragon 8 2nd Gen(4nm process)
512GB 12GB RAM, no microSD card slot
200MP Wide, 10MP periscope telephoto,
10MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide
8K@24/30fps, 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps,
Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC
Li-Ion 5000mAh, non-removable
45W wired(up to 65% in 30min), 15W wireless,
4.5W reverse charging
USB Type-C 3.2, no 3.5mm jack