The Galaxy S23 Ultra includes several key improvements over last year's model — namely a 200MP main camera and a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip customized for Samsung phones. That latter addition not only improves performance but battery life as well. Otherwise, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has much in common with its predecessor, including a familiar design.
- Powerful 200MP camera
- Superior Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip
- Very similar to S22 Ultra
While the Galaxy S23 Ultra has some notable improvements over the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the latter phone is still a top performer, and existing owners will likely want to stick with their current phone, which has very good cameras in its own right. If you do find the older model on sale, only pick it up if it's substantially less than the current $1,199 price for the S23 Ultra.
- Super bright display
- Low light photo improvements
- Sleek design
- Poor battery life compared to the S23 Ultra
As Samsung's latest premium flagship phones prepare for launch in Australia, a Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra comparison is just what you need if you're trying to figure out what's new and different about this year's models.
The new Galaxy S23 Ultra really focuses on cameras with a new 200-megapixel main shooter that promises to raise the bar for camera phone photography. Plus, it packs a new 12MP front camera with better HDR performance and auto-focus for selfies.
As you'll see in our Galaxy S23 Ultra hands-on review, this is a beast of a phone in other ways, including a faster new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip exclusive to Samsung phones that boasts world-beating graphics performance. And the display is slightly flatter, which makes using the included S Pen easier.
So what else is new and is it worth the upgrade if you really want the latest and greatest? Let's break down all the differences in our Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra comparison. Also check out our Galaxy S23 Ultra hands-on review.
Galaxy S23 Ultra vs S22 Ultra: Specs compared
|Galaxy S23 Ultra||Galaxy S22 Ultra|
|Display||6.8-inch QHD AMOLED||6.8-inch QHD AMOLED|
|Refresh rate||1 - 120Hz adaptive||1 - 120Hz adaptive|
|Rear cameras||200MP main (f/1.7), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 10MP 3x telephoto (f/2.4), 10MP 10x telephoto (f/4.9)||108MP main (f/2.2), 12MP ultrawide f/2.2), 10MP 3x telephoto (f/2.4), 10MP (f/2.4), 10x telephoto (f/4.9)|
|Front camera||12MP (f/2.2)||40MP (f/2.2)|
|Chipset||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy||Snapdragon 8 Gen 1|
|Storage||256GB, 512GB, 1TB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
|Battery||5,000 mAh||5,000 mAh|
|Charging||45W wired/10W wireless||45W wired/10W wireless|
|Size||163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm||163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm|
|Colors||Green, Phantom Black, Lavender, Cream||Burgundy, Phantom Black, Phanton White, Green|
Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Price
In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at AU$1,949, which is AU$100 more expensive than the Galaxy S22 Ultra was at launch. Fortunately, you get double the starting storage, which is now 256GB vs 128GB for the previous model, and the starting RAM is still 8GB.
If you want 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, you'll pay AU$2,249, and the 1TB model with the same amount of RAM will cost you AU$2,649.
It's worth noting that some retailers are offering a free storage upgrade to the next highest tier when you pre-order a handset from the S23 range, though this offer will expire once the phone is officially out.
As for last year's Galaxy S22 Ultra, the device is now cheaper than it was at launch, starting at AU$1,799 for the 128GB version, and going up to AU$1,949 for the 256GB version. Unfortunately, the S22 Ultra's 512GB and 1TB variants are seemingly no longer available.
Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Design and colours
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra looks practically identical to the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but there are some notable differences. For one, the camera array on the back is a bit larger due to the bigger 200MP camera, but not enough to be an eye sore.
One welcome upgrade is that the display on the S23 Ultra has a less severe curve, which makes writing and drawing using the S Pen a more natural and comfy experience as you approach the edges of the phone.
While both the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy S22 Ultra sport a sturdy armor aluminum frame, the S23 Ultra features new Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the display and rear of the phone, which should better protect the new Samsung S23 Ultra from drops and scratches.
Measuring 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm and weighing 233g, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is slightly narrower and heavier than the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which measures 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm and weighs 228g.
The main Galaxy S23 Ultra color options are Phantom Black, Cream, Green and Lavender. The Galaxy S22 Ultra colors are Phantom Black, Phantom White, Burgundy and Green, with four additional colours available exclusively from Samsung's online store. The online-exclusive colours are Graphite, Sky Blue, Lime and Red.
Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Display
Both the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy S22 Ultra sport a 6.8-inch AMOLED display with QuadHD+ resolution and a refresh rate that goes from 1 to 120Hz. And you still get a max brightness of 1,750 nits.
The S23 Ultra Samsung has an enhanced comfort feature allows users to adjust color tones and contrast levels, lessening eye strain from screen time at night. In addition, the Vision Booster feature now adjusts at three levels of lighting instead of two to fight glare in daylight.
Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Cameras
The biggest Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra differences come down to the cameras, starting with a new 200MP sensor that delivers enough detail to create poster-size prints.
The adaptive pixel sensor can also combine 16 pixels into one larger pixel for brighter and more detailed photos, especially in lower light situations. If you engage the 200MP mode, you can also crop in on photos after the fact and reframe your shot.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra also includes a new 12MP front camera, which seems like a downgrade compared to the the Galaxy S22 Ultra's 40MP front camera. However, Samsung promises better portraits overall thanks to better AI along with a compelling Night portrait mode.
Just like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the Galaxy S23 Ultra features dual 10MP telephoto cameras with 3x and 10x optical zoom, and a 30x digital zoom option. You can even go all the way up to 100x Space Zoom.
The S23 Ultra also builds on the Nightography features of the S22 Ultra, optimizing photos in low light while reducing noise and improved details and color tones. There's still an Expert RAW app for shooting in RAW format, but now you can tinker with multiple exposures or use Astrophoto settings to capture the stars.
Video gets a boost with the Samsung S23 Ultra, as you can now shoot 8K video at 30fps, up from 24fps. And you get double the optical image stabiliser angles for steadier footage.
Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Performance
The Galaxy S23 Ultra features a first for Samsung phones: an exclusive Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy. This chip promises more clock speed than the regular version along with the fastest graphics performance you can get on a phone.
In fact, Samsung says the graphics performance is 40% faster than the Galaxy S22 Ultra and the AI performance is 40% faster. A bigger vapor cooling chamber should also deliver stronger sustained performance.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is still a powerful phone with its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip with your choice of 8GB or 12GB of RAM. The S23 Ultra offers the same RAM options but doubles the starting storage from 128GB to 256GB. Both phones go up to 1TB, though it's hard to find the S22 Ultra with that amount.
Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Software
The Galaxy S23 Ultra runs Android 13 out of the box, and based on our Android 13 review the upgrades are nice to have, but not monumental. This release focuses on things like stability, permissions changes and Material You design personalization, along with better privacy and security.
There's also an updated media player in Android 13 and the ability to customize Bedtime mode to help your eyes adjust before going to bed. Other highlights include spatial audio support for the best headphones.
Samsung's new One UI 5.1 software delivers a bunch of new upgrades, though it's not clear which features are exclusive to the S23 Ultra. These include Bixby Text call for responding to incoming calls with a text; Bixby will literally answer the call for you in its voice and then you tell it what to say.
Other One UI 5.1 highlights include a Routines option for triggering a sequence of actions on your device and the ability to co-edit Samsung notes while on a Google Meet call.
Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Battery life and charging
On paper the Galaxy S23 Ultra is similar to the Galaxy S22 Ultra with the same 5,000 mAh battery. But Samsung says that the S23 Ultra should last 20% longer on a charge, which we will back up with our own testing.
The S23 Ultra continues to offer 45W fast charging, which promises 65% charge in 30 minutes with the right adapter (not included). The wireless charging speed stays the same as well.
Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Outlook
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra comparison really comes down to a few key areas. The biggest is the jump from 108MP to 200MP on the main camera, though we'll have to see how good the image quality is. The new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip is also a fairly big deal, as it offers super fast graphics performance. And the promise of 20% longer battery life sounds good, too.
Those who use the S Pen a lot will probably like the flatter display on the S23 Ultra as well. Is there enough here to justify an upgrade? Probably not given the high starting price, but since the S22 Ultra will likely remain on sale for a while, it's good to know what the biggest differences are so you buy the right flagship for you.
This phone is extremely similar to the S22 Ultra with the only major exception is the new camera sensor. This harkens back to the old Digital Camera Megapixel Marketing War days where the marketers know that you average Joe thinks "more is better." What ending up happening was quite the contrary... more pixels = more noise. But most consumers are pixel peepers and sensors and processing technology have evolved.
Still, the first comparisons I've seen of actual photos taken with the S22 and S23 Ultra point out there is no major leep in image quality. A small incremental improvement, IN CERTAIN CASES, and otherwise a very subjective improvement (or small step back) in others. The lenses are the same so this shouldn't be a total surprise but for those always jonesing to have the "latest greatest" they may need to exaggerate the improvements of this phone compared to the S22 to justify a purchase without having buyer's remorse.
Here's the CNET article where you can compare photos:
As you can see, the conclusions are mostly subjective opinions. My own opinions is that the main area that is most beneficial when improved is low-light performance. On the S23 compared to the S22, the low light performance looks to me to be about equal just depends on which color tint you prefer. Maybe one could argue the S23 is objectively better but if so, it's not a big enough difference to justify the higher cost. If the "improvements" were more night & day (no pun intended) I might have a different opinion.
I've got a Note 20 Ultra and am ripe for an upgrade. Gen 2 instead of Gen 1 and slightly flatter Victus 2 instead of Victus+ glass are also not changes that warrant the extra cost of an S23 over an S22 refurb in my opinion as these minor spec improvements are thrown out as bait for that person that's use to spending $90 a month on their service+discounted phone payment (as they never could afford to fork out $1K upfront.) The best deal on this phone right now is Amazon for $1,199 less $100 for a $100 gift card = $1,099. Samsung Store app with a Samsung Membership will be $1,199 for a factory unlocked model but they throw in a watch5 which you could hawk on Ebay for $150 but that's kind of a hassle. (I personally get unlimited on a Verizon MVNO with excellent service for $35 a month and always only buy factory unlocked, unbranded phones, last years model at a discount. I've probably saved at least $20K over the years compared to being lured into these latest free phone deals tying you to expensive monthly plans.
You can get a mint refurb S22 Ultra for as low as $700 on Ebay and eventually Amazon in another couple months I imagine. Is a new S23 Ultra worth $500 more? Not.