Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: The biggest upgrades

A Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra comparison is just what you need if you're trying to figure out what Samsung has changed with its top-of-the-line flagship. With the help of the testing we did for our Galaxy S23 Ultra review, we can see exactly how the latest version compares to its predecessor.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra really focuses on cameras with a new 200-megapixel main shooter that promises to raise the bar for camera phone photography and improve upon the 108MP shooter found on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Plus, the latest Ultra packs a new 12MP front camera with better HDR performance and auto-focus for selfies. The other big change is a faster new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip exclusive to Samsung phones that boasts world-beating graphics performance.

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. 

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs S22 Ultra: Specs compared

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Galaxy S23 UltraGalaxy S22 Ultra
Price$1,199 / £1,249$1,199 / £1,149
Display6.8-inch QHD AMOLED6.8-inch QHD AMOLED
Refresh rate 1 - 120Hz adaptive1 - 120Hz adaptive
Rear cameras200MP 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 camera12MP (f/2.2)40MP (f/2.2)
ChipsetSnapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Battery5,000 mAh5,000 mAh
Charging45W wired/10W wireless45W wired/10W wireless
Water/dust resistanceIP68IP68
Size163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm (6.4 x 3.0 x 0.35 inches)163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm (6.43 x 3.07 x 0.35 inches
Weight233g (8.2 ounces)228 grams (8.04 ounces)
ColorsPhantom Black, Cotton Flower, Botanic Green and Mystic LilacRow 14 - Cell 2

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Price

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at $1,199, which is the same high starting price that the Galaxy S22 Ultra featured when it debuted in 2022. Fortunately, with the S23 Ultra, you get double the starting storage, which is now 256GB vs 128GB for the previous model. The starting RAM remains 8GB.

If you want 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, you'll pay $1,379, and the 1TB model with the same amount of RAM will cost you $1,619. The Galaxy S22 Ultra with 256GB of storage cost $1,299 last year, and the 512GB model cost $1,399, though if you can still find the older model on sale, its price has likely dropped since the Galaxy S23 Ultra's arrival.

Our look at Galaxy S23 Ultra deals can help you find ways to save on your new Samsung phone purchase.

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Design and colors

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Ultra back

(Image credit: Future)

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 on the newer phone due to its 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. Even so, in our Galaxy S23 Ultra testing, we still found it difficult to tap on icons or buttons on the extreme edge of the display where there still is some curve.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra back showing cameras

(Image credit: Future)

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 6.4 x 3.0 x 0.35 inches and weighing 8.2 ounces, Galaxy S23 Ultra is slightly narrower and heavier than the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which measures 6.43 x 3.07 x 0.35 inches and weights 8.94 ounces.

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. Samsung had been offering additional color options if you ordered your phone from the phone maker's website, but the Graphite, Lime, Light Blue and Red options appear to be gone.

Similar though the phones may be, if you do opt for the Galaxy S23 Ultra, you're going to want one of the best Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra cases since those are designed to fit the new phone perfectly.

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Display

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra display showing Mandalorian season 3 trailer

(Image credit: Future)

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. In our testing, the Galaxy S23 Ultra screen hit 1,225 nits, which was actually less than the 1,359 we recorded when testing the S22 Ultra last year. Regardless, both screens are bright enough to be seen in sunlight.

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

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra zoom camera on bowl of lemons

(Image credit: Future)

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 on the S23 Ultra 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.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera close up

(Image credit: Future)

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 stabilizer angles for steadier footage.  

We've tested the Galaxy S23 Ultra's cameras, but against phones like the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the Pixel 7 Pro — not against its predecessor. Still, the S23 Ultra's camera capabilities impressed us enough to declare that Samsung's latest is the best camera phone, so we would say the changes from the S22 Ultra add up to an improved experience.

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Performance

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra One UI 5.1 feature

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S23 Ultra features a first for Samsung phones: the 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. 

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Samsung Galaxy S23 UltraSamsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Geekbench 5 single/multicore scores1,396/4,8821,240/3,392
Wild Life Unlimited result (FPS)79.357
Adobe Premiere Rush result (Mins:Secs)0:400:47

In our Galaxy S23 Ultra benchmarks, the new phone beat the Galaxy S22 Ultra and its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 silicon in every way. More impressively, the graphics scores even topped the latest iPhones, so the Galaxy S23 Ultra is quite the powerhouse handset.

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Software

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra widgets

(Image credit: Future)

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 in reality, the newest Ultra lasts a lot longer on a charge, which we credit to the S23 Ultra's more efficient Snapdragon silicon.

We test the battery life of phones by having them surf the web continuously over cellular until they run out of power. The Galaxy S23 Ultra lasted for 12 hours and 22 minutes. That lands it on our list for the best phone battery life. The Galaxy S22 Ultra finished 2 hours behind the S23 Ultra's time, and that was with the display's dynamic refresh rate feature turned off. That's quite an improvement.

The S23 Ultra continues to offer 45W fast charging, which promises 65% charge in 30 minutes with the right adapter (not included). Sadly, our S23 Ultra only got to 57% in our testing. The wireless charging speed stays the same as well. 

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: Verdict

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, with image quality really making this a critical upgrade for the Ultra. The new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip is also a really big deal, given its terrific graphics performance and how it helps the new phone last longer.

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 is still on sale in some places, it's good to know what the biggest differences are so you buy the right flagship for you. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.

With contributions from
  • Jeff_145
    This is not a compelling upgrade from the S22 Ultra, however, very few people out there are going to do a one model year upgrade on a ultra expensive smartphone anyway.

    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.
  • Kidd704
    Keep your Note 20 as long as you can. I've had the s22 ultra and most Notes and I'm 100% sure the Note 20 is a better phone no matter what the specs say. Not sure what it is, possibly the chip, but since new the ultra will sometimes just freeze up like a pc with low memory- the Note doesn't. The s23 is essentially the same as the s22, the new one has a larger rear camera but the old one has a larger front one. New is smaller in size but appears slower on the performance tests.