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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review: Physical: 100? No, it's what's inside that matters more

By Liu Hongzuo - 18 Mar 2023
Launch SRP: S$1828

Benchmark performance, battery life, conclusion

Benchmark Performance

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra packs the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. Much has been said about how it measures up against its older counterparts, like the one in the Galaxy S22 series. It’s fitting that the first SD8G2 benchmark we’re doing goes to Samsung, so we’ll see whether it offers the supposed CPU, GPU, and efficiency gains it has against older processors.


  Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Xiaomi 12T Pro Google Pixel 7 Pro Vivo X80 Pro Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 5G OnePlus 10 Pro Oppo Find X5 Pro Huawei P50 Pro Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
  Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Xiaomi 12T Pro Google Pixel 7 Pro Vivo X80 Pro Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 5G OnePlus 10 Pro Oppo Find X5 Pro Huawei P50 Pro Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Launch SRP
  • From S$1828
  • From S$1099
  • From S$1299
  • From S$1699
  • From S$2398
  • From S$1299
  • From S$1699
  • From S$1548
  • From S$1718
  • Up to 5G NSA/SA
  • 5G/4G/3G
  • Up to 5G Sub 6GHz
  • 5G (NSA/SA), 4G, 3G
  • Up to 5G SA and NSA
  • Up to 5G SA and NSA
  • Up to 4G/LTE
  • Up to 5G NSA/SA
Operating system
  • Android 13 (One UI 5.1)
  • Android 12 on MIUI 13
  • Android 13
  • Android 12 (Funtouch OS 12)
  • Android 12L (One UI)
  • OxygenOS 12.1 based on Android 12
  • ColorOS 12 based on Android 12
  • Android 11 with EMUI 12
  • Android 12 (One UI 4)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 4nm
  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
  • Google Tensor G2
  • Titan M2 security co-processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
  • Vivo V1+ chip (AI-assisted image processing)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
  • MariSilicon X NPU
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 4G
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, 4nm
Built-in Memory
  • 8GB or 12GB RAM
  • 12GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 12GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 12GB RAM
  • 12GB RAM
  • 12GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 12GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 8GB RAM
  • 8GB or 12GB RAM
  • 6.8-inch, Edge, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 3,088 x 1,440 pixels (501ppi), 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate, HDR10+, Eye Comfort Shield, Vision Booster (1,750-nits peak brightness)
  • 6.67-inch, 2,712 x 1,220 pixels, AMOLED DotDisplay, 120Hz refresh rate, 480Hz touch sampling rate, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, DCI-P3
  • 6.7-inch, LTPO AMOLED, 3,120 x 1,440 pixels resolution, 10-120Hz refresh rate, HDR, 24-bit colour, 1,500-nits peak brightness
  • 6.78-inch / 3,200 x 1,440 pixels (~517 ppi) / 120Hz refresh rate / AMOLED Display
  • Cover Screen:
  • 6.2-inch, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz refresh rate
  • 2,316 x 904 pixels resolution (401ppi)
  • Main Screen:
  • 7.6-inch, Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex Display, 1~120Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • 2,176 x 1,812 pixels (373ppi)
  • 6.7-inch, LTPO AMOLED, 3,126 x 1,440 pixels resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, 10-bit colour
  • 6.7-inch, LTPO AMOLED, 3,126 x 1,440 pixels resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, 10-bit colour
  • 6.6-inches 2,700 x 1,228 pixels (~450 PPI) OLED, 120Hz refresh rate, 300Hz touch sampling rate
  • 6.8-inch, Edge QHD+, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 3,088 x 1,440 pixels (501ppi), 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate, Eye Comfort Shield, Vision Booster (1,750-nits peak brightness)
  • Rear:
  • 200MP, f/1.7, wide-angle 0.6µm, pixel-binning (16-in-1)
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.4µm, 120° FOV
  • 10MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.12µm, 3x Optical Zoom
  • 10MP, f/4.9, telephoto, 1.12µm, 10x Optical Zoom
  • Laser AutoFocus sensor
  • Front:
  • 12MP, f/2.2, portrait, 1.12µm, 2PD AF
  • Rear:
  • 200MP main, 0.64μm pixel size, 1.28μm 4-in-1 pixel binning, 2.56μm 16-in-1 pixel binning, f/1.69
  • 8MP ultra-wide, 120° FOV, f/2.2
  • 2MP macro, f/2.4
  • Front:
  • 16MP, f/2.45
  • Rear:
  • (Main) 50MP, 1/.31-inch sensor size, f/1.85 aperture, 1.2μm pixel size, Octa PD, Quad Bayer
  • (Ultra-wide) 12MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.25μm pixel size, 125.8° FOV, AutoFocus
  • (Telephoto) 48MP, f/3.5 aperture, 0.7μm pixel size, 5x optical zoom, 30x Super Res Zoom
  • Laser detect Autofocus, OIS, EIS
  • Front:
  • 10.8MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.22μm pixel size, fixed focus
  • ZEISS Co-engineered Imaging System
  • Rear:
  • 50MP main camera, f/1.57, ZEISS Gimbal Portrait Camera, OIS
  • 48MP ultra-wide, f/2.2
  • 12MP portrait, f/1.85
  • 8MP periscope telephoto, f/3.4, 5x optical zoom
  • Front:
  • 32MP main, f/2.45
  • Rear:
  • 50MP main camera, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, f/1.8, 1.0μm, 85 ̊ FOV
  • 12MP ultra-wide, f/2.2, 1.12μm, 123 ̊ FOV
  • 10MP telephoto, PDAF, OIS, f/2.4, 1.0μm, 36 ̊ FOV, 3x Optical Zoom
  • Cover:
  • 10MP selfie camera, f/2.2, 1.22μm, 85 ̊ FOV
  • Under-display:
  • 4MP, f/1.8, 2.0μm, 80 ̊ FOV
  • Rear:
  • (Main) 48MP, f/1.8 aperture, 1.12μm pixel size, OIS, EIS
  • (Ultra-wide) 50MP, f/2.2 aperture, 150° FOV
  • (Telephoto) 8MP, f/2.4 aperture, 3.3x optical zoom, 30x digital zoom, OIS
  • Front:
  • 32MP, f/2.2 aperture, 0.8μm pixel size, fixed focus, EIS
  • Rear:
  • (Main) 50MP, f/1.7 aperture, 1.0μm pixel size, 5-axis OIS
  • (Ultra-wide) 50MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1.00μm pixel size, 110° FOV
  • (Telephoto) 13MP, f/2.4 aperture, 5x hybrid optical zoom, 20x digital zoom
  • Front:
  • 32MP, f/2.4 aperture, 0.8μm pixel size, fixed focus
  • Rear:
  • 50MP True-Chroma Camera f/1.9, OIS
  • 40MP True-Chroma Mono Camera, f/1.8
  • 12MP Ultra-Wide-Angle Camera, f/2.2
  • 64MP Telephoto Camera, f/3.5, OIS, Support AF
  • Front:
  • 13MP, f/2.4
  • Rear:
  • 108MP, f/1.8, wide-angle 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF OIS
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.4µm, 120° FOV, Dual Pixel AF
  • 10MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.12µm, Dual Pixel AF, 3x Optical Zoom
  • 10MP, f/4.9, telephoto, 1.12µm, Dual Pixel AF, 10x Optical Zoom
  • Laser AutoFocus sensor
  • Front:
  • 40MP, f/2.2, portrait, 0.7µm, PDAF
Video Support
  • Up to 8K30FPS
  • 8K24FPS, 4K60FPS, 1080p60FPS
  • (Rear) 4K60FPS, Slow motion 240FPS, OIS
  • Up to 8K30FPS, 4K60FPS
  • (Rear) 8K24FPS, 4K120FPS, 1080p60FPS
  • (Rear) 4K60FPS, 5-axis OIS
  • Up to 4K60FPS
  • Slow motion at 1080p960FPS
  • Up to 8K24FPS
  • LTE / 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.3, A2DP, LE
  • NFC, UWB
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, L1+L5 GPS, G1 GLONASS, E1+E5a GALILEO, Beidou, USB-C, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2, Google Cast, Dual Band GNSS, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou
  • Up to Wi-Fi 6 (2.4GHz, 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, GPS, OTG, Type-C USB 3.1
  • LTE / 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6, mmWave)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.2, A2DP, LE
  • NFC, UWB
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, USB Type-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1), GPS, A-GPS, BeiDou, GLONASS, Galileo
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, UWB, USB Type-C, GPS, A-GPS, BeiDou, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, 4G FDD LTE, Bluetooth 5.2, BLE, AGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, GALILEO, QZSS, NavIC, USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1, NFC
  • LTE / 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.2, A2DP, LE
  • NFC, UWB
Storage Type
  • 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
  • UFS 4.0
  • No microSD card slot
  • 256GB internal storage (UFS 3.1), no MicroSD slot
  • 128GB (UFS 3.1)
  • 256GB (UFS 3.1)
  • 256GB internal storage
  • 256GB
  • 512GB
  • 1TB
  • No MicroSD slot
  • 256GB (UFS 3.1)
  • 256GB (UFS 3.1)
  • 256GB internal storage
  • Huawei Nano Memory expansion
  • 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB
  • No microSD card slot
  • 5,000mAh
  • 45W Super Fast Charging
  • 15W Wireless Fast Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • 5,000mAh
  • 120W wired fast-charging
  • 5,000mAh
  • 23W wired fast-charging (PD 3.0)
  • 23W wireless fast-charging (Qi-certified)
  • 4,700mAh
  • 80W FlashCharge
  • 50W Wireless FlashCharge
  • 4,400mAh
  • 25W Fast Charging
  • Fast Wireless Charging 2.0
  • Reverse Wireless Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • 5,000mAh
  • 80W wired fast-charging (SuperVOOC)
  • 50W wireless fast-charging (AirVOOC)
  • 5,000mAh
  • 80W wired fast-charging (SuperVOOC)
  • 50W wireless fast-charging (AirVOOC)
  • 4,360mAh
  • 66W Huawei SuperCharge
  • 50W Huawei Wireless SuperCharge
  • 5,000mAh
  • 45W Super Fast Charging
  • 15W Wireless Fast Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • 78.1 x 163.4 x 8.9mm
  • 163.1 x 75.9 x 8.6mm
  • 162.9 x 76.6 x 8.9mm
  • 164.6 x 75.3 x 9.1mm
  • Folded: 67.1 x 155.1 x 14.2~15.8mm
  • Unfolded: 130.1 x 155.1 x 6.3mm
  • 163 x 73.9 x 8.55mm
  • 163.7 x 73.9 x 8.5mm
  • 158.8 x 72.8 x 8.5 mm
  • 77.9 x 163.3 x 8.9mm
  • 223g
  • 205g
  • 212g
  • 219g
  • 263g
  • 201g
  • 218g
  • 195g
  • 229g


JetStream 2.0

JetStream 2 is a combination of a variety of JavaScript and Web Assembly benchmarks, including benchmarks that came before like SunSpider and Octane. It primarily tests for a system’s and browser’s ability in delivering a good web experience. It runs a total of 64 subtests, each weighted equally, with multiple iterations, and takes the geometric mean to compute the overall score. The higher the score, the better.


Geekbench 5

Geekbench CPU is a cross-platform processor benchmark that tests both single-core and multi-core performance with workloads that simulate real-world usage. Geekbench 5 scores are calibrated against a baseline score of 1000, which is the score of an Intel Core i3-8100. The higher the score, the better.


3DMark Wild Life (Unlimited)

3DMark Wild Life is a cross-platform benchmark for Windows, Android and Apple iOS for measuring GPU performance. Its graphics test consists of multiple scenes with variations in the amount of geometry, lights and post-processing effects, mirroring mobile games that are based on short bursts of intense activity. Wild Life uses the Vulkan graphics API on Windows PCs and Android devices. On iOS devices, it uses Metal.

In Unlimited mode, the benchmark runs offscreen using a fixed time step between frames. Unlimited mode renders exactly the same frames in every run on every device, regardless of resolution scaling. The higher the score, the better.


PCMark for Android - Work 3.0 and Storage 2.0

PCMark for Android is a benchmark for testing the performance of Android phones and tablets. The Work 3.0 test checks how the device handles common productivity tasks such as browsing the web, editing videos, working with documents and data, and editing photos. Storage 2.0 checks write-in and read-out performance for internal storage, external storage (if applicable), and SQLite database management. Together, the benchmarks can clue us in on how capable a phone is at handling everyday use. Work 3.0 scores are above, while Storage 2.0 scores are immediately below for each device - the higher the score, the better.


Benchmark Performance remarks

Samsung’s implementation of SD8G2 is impressive, although it’s still early to say if others can do better. Why we thought it fared well was how the phone kept a cool 34°c during moderate use and during benchmarking, didn’t heat up while gaming, and wasn’t as warm as we expected during recording or photography. Combined with the numbers it pulled and its snappy day-to-day performance, we’re quite pleased with the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s ability to deliver on its 2023 premium flagship promises.


Battery Life

Before we go into our battery uptime and charging results, please let us take a few moments to update you on our revamped battery review process.

We’ve embarked on a more holistic approach to our battery tests that looks beyond a single performance metric determining a phone’s overall battery life. The previous video-based version worked well for handsets from simpler times, but your modern smartphone is a digital window to your world.

Our new battery benchmark uses PCMark for Android’s Work 3.0 Battery Life test to determine a modern Android-based smartphone's battery uptime in minutes. This controlled benchmark simulates real-world usage with a combination of both web and social media browsing, video and photo editing, parsing data with various file formats, writing (on documents), and more.

To enhance consistency in battery results, we start the test at: 

  • 100% of the phone’s battery capacity until 20% left
  • A fixed display brightness is calibrated at 200cd/m2 (200-lux) with the help of a luminance meter 
  • Max resolution
  • Refresh rates unlocked
  • 0% audio, or completely silenced where possible
  • Full bars of Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth, and notifications enabled
  • Only one other battery recording app opened in the background
  • Scored in uptime minutes; the higher, the better

Using a fixed brightness level, and muted audio avoids “penalising” high-end phones with excellent hardware components that offer brighter, or louder experiences. The parameters are also achievable by most Android phones outside of the flagship class. The benchmark cuts off at 20% as most phones have aggressive power-saving features that can affect these parameters. We do not put an upper cap on refresh rates, since it lets us test for adaptive refresh rates playing a part in battery management. Resolution may play a part in battery consumption, but we’ll be testing at max available resolution and make a note if the phone doesn’t offer high-resolution displays.

With about 12.5 hours, the Galaxy S23 Ultra gave us an impressive uptime despite the increase in performance gains. The fast memory components and Qualcomm chipset should have played a part in its efficient use of power.

In real-world use, the Galaxy S23 Ultra expended about 22% battery during 60-120FPS online gaming for two hours, depleted 1% battery while idling for two hours, and used 15%+ for two hours of photography. 

The new benchmark will succeed our outgoing Battery Life benchmarking, which has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email

We tested its 45W fast-charging using a third-party Belkin BoostCharge Pro (a dual-USB-C GaN wall charging plug with a built-in 45/65W charging slot, PD 3.0, and PPS) because Samsung once again did not provide a compatible charger within its packaging. We did, however, use the provided USB-C cable. 

It took 26 minutes for the Galaxy S23 Ultra to draw in 50% charge, and a total of 70 minutes for a full load from zero. You should be able to get a decent amount of juice in the time it takes to complete a household chore, or an episode for a Netflix series that hasn’t been cancelled. Either way, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has decent uptime and charging facilities for its size and power, but that’s also not new to Samsung’s overall flagship phone capabilities. 


Should you get the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra?

As a premium flagship phone, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has all the hallmarks of a great Galaxy S handset, starting from its One UI 5.1, to its components, and all this translates into a premium, day-to-day experience with little compromise in key performance areas like its viewing experience, photo-taking, and stylus-wielding navigation. Getting one would usually boil down to wanting a handset with its bulk, its stylus offering, or its big battery and uptime.

If we had to choose, it's a contest between performance gains and its reduced curvature that we liked most about what's changed on this model. The upgrades are all within, and we feel the Galaxy S23 Ultra is made for users who care more about what's inside than how it looks (before you buy a phone case, that is).

The Galaxy S23 Ultra makes an enticing switch if you're coming from other brands, and it's never really just one standout feature that makes you pull the trigger. It combines its impressive photography capabilities, having a luxurious-looking display, and the meeting of all premium flagship expectations of like fast-charging and IP ratings come together on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. It takes a while to really get into Samsung's ecosystem, but that is mostly optional and relatively easy to setup if do intend to use it. 

Starting at S$1,828 for the 256GB variant, the Galaxy S23 Ultra isn't exactly affordable, but believe it or not, it's actually a tad cheaper than the Galaxy S22 Ultra when it debuted! However, it has gotten a tad more expensive for the more storage tier most would likely get - the  512GB edition now goes for S$2,098 while 1TB storage goes for S$2,458. But the brand has tried many methods to entice buyers to pre-order and get massive discounts, which helps make the switch easier.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. S22 Ultra Prices
Storage Size Galaxy S23 Ultra Galaxy S22 Ultra
128GB N.A. S$1,718
256GB S$1,828 S$1,858
512GB S$2,098 S$1,998
1TB S$2,458 N.A

Galaxy S22 Ultra users may find the new Galaxy S23 Ultra less attractive because of its incremental gains, but that's a benefit for these older phones. You're not obsolete within a year, and the price you pay is for the extra megapixels on a main camera, a more comfortable viewing experience, and smoother phone operation. All these gains aren't as apparent in your daily use, making it easy to decide if you want to drop close to two grand for these additions. The predecessor is already a good choice, so there's little to fret about (and no one can tell you have an older model at a glance anyway).

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra officially retails from 17 February 2023 onwards (that's today) in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB variants for the Singapore market. If you're itching to buy one after reading this review, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is over at the Samsung Online Store, Amazon, Lazada, Shopee, our popular consumer electronics retailers (Best Denki, Challenger, Courts, Gain City, Harvey Norman), and local telcos (M1, Singtel, StarHub).

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  • Design 8.5
  • Features 8.5
  • User-Friendliness 8
  • Performance 9
  • Value 7.5
The Good
High performance with respectable uptime
Kept everything lovable about Ultra models
Latest memory components
Larger storage options, UFS 4.0
The Bad
Minimal physical changes, therefore same handling and bulk
Incremental upgrades not for everyone
One UI getting cluttered, slowly
No charger in the box despite 45W fast-charging support
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