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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Preview: all expected new features

Galaxy S23 Ultra Intro

With a new 200MP main camera and the biggest upgrade in processors in years, the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra shapes up as a worthy successor to the popular S22 Ultra.

The new Samsung flagship is not official yet. It is expected to make its official debut in February 2023, but with the rumor mill in full swing, we already know a lot about it even before the release: we have seen the leaked photos and we have heard most of the specs.

So what's new in the Galaxy S23 Ultra and should you upgrade?

The photos reveal the new S23 Ultra will feature a very similar design to the previous model, and it will also have an S Pen built inside, as well as the same sized 5,000mAh battery. While similar on the surface, things have changed on the inside.

What's new about the S23 Ultra:

  • No more Exynos versions

  • S23 Ultra to have Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip everywhere

  • S Pen built inside

  • New 200MP main camera

  • Improved photo and video processing

  • Same battery size

  • Same charging speeds

Galaxy S23 Ultra models: Snapdragon vs Exynos

The Galaxy S23 Ultra will put an end to one of the most controversial Samsung practices in recent years: the division of the flagship phone series in two versions, one with a Snapdragon processor and another one with an Exynos chip.

The S23 Ultra is expected to launch in just one version everywhere across the globe, and that version will be powered by the very promising Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip.

With no Exynos on the Galaxy S23 series, and no other major phone maker using Samsung's chip, this might also mean the end of Samsung's efforts in this area. It's too early to tell whether this will benefit consumers in the long term or not, but at least in the near future, it is a welcome move. The Snapdragon chip that will be used in the Galaxy S23 Ultra is more powerful and power-efficient than any Exynos counterpart.

Galaxy S23 Ultra Design, Colors and S Pen

The Galaxy S23 Ultra looks so similar to the S22 Ultra that most people will have a hard time telling the two apart.

The new S23 Ultra features the same size 6.8-inch display, roughly the same styling with sharp corners, the same S Pen housed in the phone, and even the same camera arrangement. With a glass front and back, as well as an aluminum frame, the phone will use the same materials as its predecessor. It is also expected to have the same IP68 water and dust protection rating.

The differences will be subtle. The most important one might be the flatter sides of the phone will make it easier to grip when it's laying on a table, and bezels around the screen could also be smaller than before.

As for the Galaxy S23 Ultra colors, we expect to see a classic black version (Phantom Black in Samsung terms), a beige model is also possible, as well as a green one.

Last but not least, the S23 Ultra still comes with an S Pen built inside for your convenience. Expect to see further improvements to the latency of this new S Pen for a true pen-to-paper feel. We don't know much about the new S Pen features just yet, but will be updating this as soon as we learn more about it.

Galaxy S23 Ultra Display

Samsung is the market leader in display technology, and we expect to see its latest and most impressive OLED screen in the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Leaks point to a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen with a 1440p resolution and with LTPO technology and variable refresh rate that goes up to 120Hz. Expect improvements in the maximum brightness as well as the color quality, but for more details, we'd have to wait. Samsung will stick with a punch-hole style front camera for a discreet look.

In terms of biometrics, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is expected to use an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, which has proven itself to be quite reliable and fast enough. The phone will also support image-based face recognition with the front camera. This is nowhere nearly as secure as Apple's Face ID, but it also doesn't take up as much space as that system.

Galaxy S23 Ultra Camera

With a main camera, an ultra-wide camera and two zoom cameras on the back, the Galaxy S23 Ultra remains probably the most versatile smartphone camera on the market.

This year, the main camera gets the big upgrade. After three generations of using the 108MP sensor, Samsung is making the jump to an even more impressive 200MP sensor. And yes, you would be able to shoot 200MP photos, as insane as that sounds, but the default settings will still produce 12MP shots.

It's way too early to know specifics about image quality, but this leaked camera samples is extremely promising and shows a huge increase in the amount of captured detail.

Samsung leakers also say the phone will capture much better night time photos and videos, which also sounds very encouraging.

Galaxy S23 Ultra Performance & Benchmarks

The Galaxy S23 Ultra will come with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip (SM8550) everywhere in the world, finally ending the tradition of launching a Snapdragon model in the US, and a lower-powered Exynos processor in the rest of the world. That's excellent news for consumers. Insiders claim the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is an absolute beast of a chip. Built on the latest and most efficient 4nm technology, it is rumored to surpass the GPU performance of market leading Apple A16 chip. It is said to come with a CPU with one high-power X3 core running at up to 3.2GHz, two mid A715 cores at 2.8GHz and 2x A710 cores at 2.8GHz, plus finally 3x power-efficient A510 cores running at up to 2.0GHz It will also enable support for the latest technologies: Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.3, UFS 4.0 storage, LPDDR5X RAM, Ray Tracing and the AV1 codec.

We expect it to launch in similar configurations as the previous model. That means that we should have the following Galaxy S23 Ultra models:

  • 8GB RAM + 128GB storage

  • 12GB RAM + 256GB storage

  • 12GB RAM + 512GB storage

Galaxy S23 Ultra Android version

The new Galaxy will run on the latest Android 13 version with Samsung's One UI 5 on top of it.

Expect to see the familiar Samsung-style interface and icons, as well as all of the features that One UI is known for.

The best thing about buying a Samsung-made Android flagship is that you get the longest software support. Samsung promises 4 years of major updates and 5 years of security updates for its flagships, more than even Google offers for its Pixel phones.

Galaxy S23 Ultra Battery

The S23 Ultra will come with a 5,000mAh battery size, a number which has become the de facto standard for Android flagship phones.

This is also the same size battery as Samsung used in previous Galaxy Ultra models, so we don't expect huge changes in battery life. However, with the rumored more efficient processor, a slight improvement is likely, and those coming from an Exynos chip will probably notice an even bigger boost.

We will be updating this section with more details and our independent battery tests, but so far this is all we have.

Galaxy S23 Ultra Charging Speeds

Another area left unchanged is charging. The S23 Ultra is expected to support charging speeds of up to 45W with a cable, and just like with previous models, there will be no charger included in the box, so if you don't already own one, prepare to spend a bit extra for a charger. Keep in mind that if you want the fastest charging speeds, you also need a 5A USB-C cable (thicker than the average USB-C cable). The S23 Ultra will also support wireless charging at up to 15W speeds, and it will be able to reverse wireless charge other devices when you place them on its back (you could top up wireless headphones, a smartphone or another phone for example).

Galaxy S23 Ultra Audio Quality and Haptics

The one area we really want to see Samsung improve is audio quality. Previous Galaxy Ultra models lacked in bass and depth, and we expect more out of the loudspeakers on a flagship smartphone. For those still wondering, a 3.5mm headphone jack will NOT be present on the S23 Ultra.

Galaxy S23 Ultra Competitors

In the US and most Western countries, the Galaxy S23 Ultra will face competition from two big players.

The arch-rival is of course Apple's iPhone 14 Pro Max. The iPhone comes with industry-leading battery life which the Galaxy will find hard to match, plus it has iOS and the whole wide Apple ecosystem. However, it lacks the zoom capabilities, the openness and multi-tasking of Android, and the S Pen.

Another worthy option is the Google Pixel 7 Pro, a phone with a clean Android build, faster updates than the Galaxy, and clever Google AI features built in, but one that would not match the Ultra in terms of performance, zoom quality, video quality, and S Pen.

Galaxy S23 Ultra Summary

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is without a doubt one of the most important phones of 2023.

It's Samsung very best flagship in a traditional, non-folding form factor.

With a new Snapdragon heart for all models, it has way better chances to sell well, plus a new 200MP camera might just be the motivation buyers need.

We are excited about the S23 Ultra, but there is one last piece of the puzzle that we know nothing about: the price. Will Samsung follow the industry trend and raise the price of the S23 Ultra? We are yet to see, but be sure that we will be updating you with the latest on the phone as the news comes in.

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