I've been using the Galaxy S23 Ultra since it dropped back in February, and needless to say, I love this phone. But does that mean it's perfect? No, but it certainly comes way closer than every phone I've used in the past. On paper, you might call the S23 Ultra an iterative upgrade because you won't see many changes here. I mean, the design is basically the same, and even the internal components are the usual year-over-year upgrades. However, when you actually start using the phone, you realize this isn't just an annual refresh but perhaps the biggest upgrade the Ultra phone got in recent years.
Battery Life Surprise
Let's start with what I absolutely love about this phone. The biggest surprise this phone offers is the battery life. As an Android user, I'll admit it - I used to be low-key envious of Apple users and the amazing battery life they get with their iPhones. When I got the iPhone 14 Pro Max last year, I was surprised that I was getting more than 2 days of battery life, whereas it was just a little more than a day on my S22 Ultra at the time. Although I'm not a huge fan of Apple, the fact was Apple was in its own league when it came to battery life. That, however, changed with the S23 Ultra. Not only is it way better than the S22 Ultra, but it's on par with the 14 Pro Max. Earlier, whenever I used to go out for a full day, I used to be very cautious with how I used the phone, especially when I knew that I wouldn't get to charge the phone in the middle. But with the S23 Ultra, I don't care because I know, no matter how heavily I use it, it's going to last me an entire day, and that makes a world of difference.
The second big upgrade this phone offers is with the performance and overall fluidity. Phones these days have gotten so much better that it's hard to tell the difference, especially in performance, but you can actually feel the difference with this phone. It can handle anything you throw at it and it doesn't stutter at all. Speaking of stuttering, Twitter used to stutter quite a lot on the S22 Ultra, but not on this phone. And it's not just Twitter, take any app, and this phone handles it with ease while giving you the best experience.
Another great thing about this phone is the thermals. I don't even remember when's the last time this phone got hot. You see, I'm not a mobile gamer; I prefer to play games on PC instead. But I do occasional gaming on the phone, and this phone just doesn't get hot. Of course, if you push it to its extreme, it will, but it remains significantly cooler than the S22 Ultra and even the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Samsung just nailed it with the thermals on this phone.
In case you don't know, the Samsung Discover sale is going on right now, and the company is offering up to a whopping 81% off on the S23 Ultra. There are other crazy offers too. If you are interested, the link to the offer is in the description.
Coming back to the phone, the outdoor viewing is not a problem at all because of the crazy brightness. Even though on paper it's not as bright as the latest iPhone, but honestly, in real life, you can't even tell the difference. The colors and contrast were on point. There's nothing you can complain about the display, and it's a visual treat to watch content on this display.
By the way, here's an interesting thing that happened to me with this phone. I accidentally tested the durability of the phone. You see, the S23 Ultra has the latest Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection that offers twice the shatter resistance as last year. One day, as I was getting out of my car, the phone slipped out of my pocket and dropped face up on the road. And surprisingly, the phone survived. There wasn't a single scratch on the glass nor was there any dent on the frame. But when I flipped the phone over, I saw that one of the camera lenses broke. Not only did the camera ring take quite a beating, but there was a hairline crack on the periscope zoom lens. Surprisingly, it didn't affect the quality of images with the lens, but yeah, it doesn't matter how strong the glass is, it's always safer to invest in a case because glass is glass and glass breaks.
Speaking of the camera, it's another big upgrade this phone offers. On paper, Samsung has only upgraded the main camera to 200MP while keeping everything else the same, but this phone offers a significant upgrade with every camera thanks to great optimization and a better ISP. There's no bad photo you can take with this phone. The photos coming out of this phone look absolutely amazing. And that holds true for video as well. It produces bright, vibrant videos which look pleasing to the eyes. Interestingly, as you can see in this video, the S23 Ultra produces warmer colors and it's a bit sharper whereas the 14 Pro Max is cooler and is not as sharp. Personally, I still think the 14 Pro Max takes slightly better videos, and what's weird is that you only notice the difference after you export the video to PC. On phones side by side, the video from the S23 Ultra was looking so much better.
Now coming to things I didn't like. First is the color. I don't know what I was thinking when I picked this color. It's too bright, and it only looks good in the video. In real life, it's way too bright and not my type. I'll never buy bright color phones ever again.
The second is the thickness. It feels a little bulkier in hand compared to the S22 Ultra even though they both have the same thickness, and that has to do with the frame and the display curve. They made the side frame thicker while making the display curve less aggressive. I'm a huge fan of curved displays so I didn't like what they did here, but the upside is the phone feels solid in the hand. It doesn't feel like it's going to slip, which I felt sometimes with the S22 Ultra.
Another thing Samsung needs to improve is the charging speed. While 45W is decent, it's nowhere near the competition. Is it a deal breaker? No, but I think Samsung should at least offer 65W charging with their future phones.
So, overall, the S23 Ultra is an amazing phone! Sure, it's not perfect, but it's the only phone so far that comes this close.