The regular S23 isn’t a must-have upgrade device, but Samsung has done enough to modernize the appearance and components to create a palm-friendly Android winner.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Extreme battery life and performance
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset from Qualcomm is used in the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 For Samsung, excuse me. It is a slightly modified variation of the manufacturer’s top-of-the-line CPU that is marginally quicker than the standard 8 Gen 2.
I’m not sure how this differs from the OnePlus 11 5G with the non-Galaxy 8 Gen 2 in terms of actual use. Simply put, the S23 Ultra feels swift. Browsing through recently used apps can nearly make you feel lightheaded. Nothing I throw at it in my daily use causes it to flinch. There are two RAM options: 8GB or 12GB. Although the device I tested has 12GB, any one should be able to handle intensive workloads.
In comparison to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the new chipset also operates substantially cooler; after downloading the Genshin Impact install files for 10 minutes while the loading animation was playing (and the phone was placed on a heat-insulating couch cushion), it was hardly warm to the touch. After performing anything like that, holding the S22 Ultra felt a bit awkward. The gameplay is remarkably fluid, with a few barely audible hiccups when it loads further region info.
The S23 Ultra’s 5,000mAh battery is the same as it was a year ago, but Samsung claims that the processor upgrade, which is supposedly more power-efficient than its predecessor, and minor adjustments to the display have improved battery performance. In reality, it appears that battery endurance has increased since the previous generation. After a day of moderate use, the S22 Ultra frequently seemed like it was coasting on fumes, but I think I can get a little more life out of this one. Even while it isn’t significantly better, it does allow you a little more breathing room to get through the day.
A winning tick-tock design
The most recent batch of Samsung phones that are available for sale hasn’t shown much innovation for a business that’s not afraid to show off never-before-seen phone designs. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 appeared to be almost identical to the Z Fold 3, and it is safe to conclude that, from a distance, the S23 Ultra and S22 Ultra are indistinguishable from one another. It need not be a bad thing.
It’s the tried-and-true tick-tock tactic, whereby Samsung makes incremental modifications to cut expenses in areas like R&D, manufacturing, and much more while still providing customers with a phone that satisfies their needs. And it’s one of the best phones out there.
The S23 Ultra moves away from some bad habits like the overly curved edges that made writing with a S Pen difficult on the S22 Ultra while keeping the best design elements of its predecessor, such as the charmingly bright 6.8-inch AMOLED display that outshines outdoor sunlight and the boxy and presumptuous form factor.
But, Samsung hasn’t fully abandoned the curved-edge display this year; the left and right sides are still rounded off, but the bend isn’t as sharp as before. We’ll see how long Samsung maintains the curved display feature as it appears like the Ultra will be the final Galaxy device to have one. The strange part is that the new, larger camera module is still detracting from the S Pen writing experience, not the curved display.
When the phone is flat on a surface, the quad camera system on the back causes the phone to rock as you move the S Pen over the screen. This year, Samsung added a bigger ring design to protect the quad camera setup.
Although Samsung has formed numerous excellent alliances over the years, I think its most recent work with Qualcomm stands out the most. The S23 Ultra’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Samsung chip, which may be the fastest chipset I’ve ever tested in a smartphone and outperforms the performance I received from the iPhone 14 Pro’s A16 Bionic, is one example.
The chipset, an overclocked version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (3.36GHz CPU instead of 3.2GHz), is manufactured by TSMC. It absolutely breezes through routine tasks like managing email, browsing the web, and streaming video, and is equally adept at more demanding ones like playing 60fps games (Genshin Impact, Fortnite, Real Racing 3), editing 4K video, and running with GPS navigation running in the background.
Fair enough, the A16 Bionic from Apple and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 from last year were equally effective at those tasks. The S23 Ultra is different because it is far more efficient—I haven’t seen any app crashes with the typical suspects, such as banking and camera-based social apps—and because of how effectively it controls heat throughout it all. In one case, I was able to play Genshin Impact for a solid 45 minutes with 60 frames per second locked and rarely experienced any overheating issues or throttling. (I don’t have a case on the phone I’m using.)
How effective are the modern cameras?
The camera is the true justification for considering the S23 Ultra, especially when comparing it to the other two S23 models. This year, Samsung is making a major splash with the introduction of the Isocell HP2 image sensor, which outperforms its previous 108-megapixel sensor with a staggering 200-megapixel output (pixel binned to 50MP or 12.5MP photographs). That’s never happened with a smartphone camera before, and it reminds me of the megapixel competition.