The Galaxy S23 Ultra could get a big camera upgrade — but I hope Samsung focuses on this one thing

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra back showing cameras
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Image credit: Future)

We are just a few weeks away from the official launch of the Samsung Galaxy S23 series. Galaxy Unpacked is set to take place on February 1 where we could see Samsung launch a trio of phones, amongst other possible devices. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is expected to lead the pack, being the premium flagship that the company will offer.

The most persistent rumor we have heard about the S23 Ultra is the big camera upgrade that it could get this year. Samsung could give the S23 Ultra a big jump in megapixels with an apparent 200MP sensor. That itself is enough to make competitors sit up and take notice — in fact, recently, a leaked teaser of the 200MP camera showed its apparent capabilities, including a stellar night mode.

If the rumors are true, it seems like the star of the show could be Samsung’s 200MP sensor. Even the Samsung Unpacked invite has three spotlights that look a lot like the camera array on a Galaxy S phone. 

Galaxy Unpacked 2023 on Feb. 1 in San Francisco

(Image credit: Samsung)

For comparison, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have a 48MP camera and the Google Pixel 7 Pro has a 50MP main sensor. The alleged 200MP camera on the S23 Ultra may well put Samsung on our list of the best camera phones, if not right at the top. And while that truly could be a big upgrade, I am worried that design might get a raw deal this year with the S23 Ultra.

When picking a new phone, design is almost just as important as battery life, camera and overall performance of a phone. The way a phone looks and feels in the hand along with using it, is that je ne sais quoi that also plays a big part in what attracts people to the device.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra rumored design 

We recently saw new renders of the S23 Ultra tweeted out by leaker Ice Universe and produced by Dutch site Nieuwe that probably give us the best look at what the eventual phone could look like.  

The design showcases a slightly curved screen and with the rear camera array reminiscent of what the Galaxy S22 Ultra introduced. The individual rear cameras, squared-off profile, curved sides and punch-hole selfie camera and the built-in S Pen slot, all still look to be similar. But the camera array could be larger. 

This also ties in with other renders of the device that have leaked previously. Some rumors point to thicker bezels, although we would take that with a pinch of salt. We could also see a slight increase in the phone's height and width, although just at a fraction-of-an-inch of a difference, so we doubt those will even be noticeable. 

Going by the leaked renders, Samsung doesn’t seem to be reinventing the wheel with design this time. The company has followed a similar block-ish, squared-off angles look right from its Note series which evolved into the Galaxy S Ultra — all while maintaining a similar design language. 

On the other hand, Apple has always managed to turn heads with its designs. Most recently, the iPhone 14 Pro debuted the Dynamic Island that impressed with its sheer simplicity and brilliant use of space. Apple added fluidity to the banal notch and gave the extra space some actual function that showed certain app activities. There was not much else in the hardware of the phone that changed except for a larger camera bump on the back of the device. 

Dynamic Island set a new design benchmark and also proved that new design upgrades don’t necessarily have to do with just hardware.

I hope Samsung takes a page out of Apple’s book for the S23 Ultra. Something that marries hardware and software as a step forward. 

We are not looking for anything groundbreaking, as Samsung already does that with its foldable phones, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Flip 4 — but I wish Samsung would surprise us and give us something uniquely different even if it is on the display of the phone.

Even with colors, things seem pretty blah for the S23 Ultra. The colors that we see on the leaked renders point to black, white, a dark green and a light pink color. Samsung could go for this nude color palette with the S23 series but I would love to see a bright pop of color on its flagships as well. I like Google’s color scheme with its Pixels, and I hope Samsung picks up on that. 

With the S22 Ultra, we did get a new Burgundy color, but I personally preferred the white color, just because it was more eye-catching.

Basically, we can hope that Samsung brings us camera upgrades, better battery life and a whole lot of Pixel-like AI smarts. But even with a 200MP camera, the S23 Ultra will need a lot more to take on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, as we note in our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro Max preview face-off.

Luckily we don’t have to wait too long now to find out what Samsung has in store for us with its flagships this year. 

Sanjana Prakash
News Editor

Sanjana loves all things tech. From the latest phones, to quirky gadgets and the best deals, she's in sync with it all. Based in Atlanta, she is the news editor at Tom's Guide. Previously, she produced India's top technology show for NDTV and has been a tech news reporter on TV. Outside work, you can find her on a tennis court or sipping her favorite latte in instagrammable coffee shops in the city. Her work has appeared on NDTV Gadgets 360 and CNBC.