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  • Bryan Tan

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review: Still Worth It One Month Later?

Well, we've kept you waiting; the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has been in our hands for about a month now, and we've been putting it through its paces in daily uses, benchmarks and the like.

So the 'big' question is...should you buy it?


Starting with the design, if you're an existing owner of the S22 Ultra, then you might want to skip over this portion since the design is almost identical.

It has a curved design that is flat at the top and individual bumps for each of the cameras and sensors; the back surface also has a matte texture, so it's comfortable to hold for long hours without getting greasy stains all over it, though the same can't be said for the sides.

At 234 grams, it's on the slightly heavier end of the spectrum, but with the larger screen, battery and even the S-Pen, you can't really complain there. But should you drop it anywhere, its IP68 rating and armour aluminium frame should allow it to withstand a few splashes and drops here and there. So no worries about the build quality; it's pretty solid.

The Ultra comes in four colours: Phantom Black, Cream, Green and Lavender. Depending on where you live, Samsung's online store also has it in Graphite, Sky Blue, Red and Lime—more than enough options for any user.

Like its predecessor, the S-Pen is housed at the bottom left and can be removed with a simple click. The pen will only come out partially thanks to a latch in place, so you won't have to fear losing it due to accidental presses.


The S23 Ultra sports a 6.8-inch AMOLED panel with an adaptive 120Hz. For the most part, the display does an excellent job of switching refresh rates depending on your on-screen elements. The usual Samsung vibrancy and brightness are also apparent here; with 1200 nits in High Brightness Mode and 1750 nits peak, you can use your phone just fine under direct sunlight.

The display is crisp, and the colours are well-defined with solid contrast and saturation, so it can handle any content you throw at it without issues, hopefully so down the line.


Speakers are pretty okay, I guess? It gets quite loud at max volume, and although it does get muddy the louder it gets, you can still discern the highs, mids and lows.

If there's anything to nitpick about, I don't really like the bottom placement of the speaker. My palm will block it entirely, holding it in landscape mode, which really depreciates the audio experience; alternatively, you can flip it around, but your fingers will then be resting on the camera bumps, which I don't find comfortable.

That being said, I'm sure many of you won't be affected by such a minor issue and, thus, nitpicks.


The latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SOC powers the S23 Ultra, and of course, it's currently the best-performing Snapdragon chipset by far, with improved GeekBench numbers over the 8+ Gen 1, although it still barely competes with the A15 Bionic.





S23 Ultra

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2



Redmagic 7S Pro

Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1



iPhone 14

A15 Bionic



iPhone 14 Pro

A16 Bionic



Conversely, GPU numbers fare much better; it's currently the highest scorer for WildLife Extreme in our smartphone department, and that's to be expected with the new Adreno 740 running things.




Wildlife Extreme

S23 Ultra

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

Maxed Out


Redmagic 7S Pro

Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1

Maxed Out


iPhone 14

A15 Bionic



iPhone 14 Pro

A16 Bionic



The gaming experience is pretty good, too; the phone can take Diablo Immortals in 'High' resolution, 60 FPS and even ‘image sharpening’ turned on over a sustained gaming session. The only time I've seen any form of stuttering is when I'm in more populated areas like towns, but that can easily be fixed by turning off image sharpening or reducing the resolution to 'Mid'. So no worries unless you absolutely have to play at the highest fidelity possible.


With OneUI 13, changes are mainly in the backend, so there's really nothing new regarding features. You get your range of customisation options and the usual plethora of Samsung apps that never fail to remind you that you are in their ecosystem. On the bright side, there isn't as much bloatware to worry about compared to other brands, and you can generally set up the phone to your liking reasonably quickly.

Aside from that, it also comes with handy functions for the S-Pen, which allow you to quickly launch note-taking apps or use it as a remote trigger for your phone.

Overall, OneUI has been very responsive during my time with it, with barely any hiccups. I mostly run into freezes while using Google Maps in navigation mode, but I believe that's more of the app thing rather than the phone itself.


Looking at the back of the phone, you'll be greeted with the 200MP main camera, the 10MP periscope camera, another 10MP telephoto camera and a 12MP ultrawide camera. The S23 Ultra really takes full advantage of the 200MP main with super detailed shots, especially in low-light conditions.

The colour reproduction and contrast are rich and sharp; even a shot off the front camera looks extremely crispy until you zoom the image in. Speaking of "zooming in", the camera can also go up to 100x digital zoom and depending on the subject, you may or may not get good results.

The phone can also take videos up to 8K 30FPS, but you can't expect the same quality for the video as you would the photos. In essence, do make full use of the 200MP cameras; I like how Samsung has designed their camera experience to basically allow users to shoot easily without thinking too much about the surrounding condition and now, with the improved low-light performance, it's a point-and-shoot in almost any situation.

Expert RAW

However, that doesn't mean that Samsung hasn't thought about the more informed users; Pro mode is available for those who can work around the manual camera settings. Samsung has also added a new mode called Expert RAW which allows you to take photos in RAW 'dng' format, but do take note that the size of your photos will exponentially increase to over 20MBs per shot, so be sure to pick the correct storage configurations if you wish to shoot more in RAW.

The implementation of Expert RAW should generally be a favourable one to photography enthusiasts, but there are a few kinks to iron out definitely.

For starters, having the function to manage RAW images should naturally come with the ability to edit one as well; instead of developing their own, Samsung has opted to work with Adobe for a proprietary "Lightroom for Samsung" app, essential functions like levels, colour balance and a small number of presets are available for free, but if you wish to unlock the more advanced functions like Masking or Healing, it'll cost you a good S$6.78 a month for it.

If you can afford it, good for you, but if you don't, fortunately, SnapSeed is free and supports 'dng' RAWs too.

Another thing I find pretty irritating is that you can only view your RAWs via the regular camera app when you switch to Expert RAW. Likewise, your standard 'jpg' photos can't be viewed from within the Expert RAW mode either; going to the Gallery does show all your shots regardless of their format, but there's no indicator or badge to tell you which are the RAW photos, so it gets pretty confusing sometimes.

By default, Expert RAW shoots a RAW and JPEG version simultaneously, so you'll always see two of the same shot. However, you can turn that off if it helps you better distinguish which are your RAW shots.


In the battery department, you get a beefy 5,000mAh battery, which is more than enough for me to last through the day with constant live stream and video playback, Diablo, general communications and Reddit. To help better put things into perspective, I typically have about 4-5 hours of on-screen time and usually end the day at about 35%

In our 10-hour video test (50% brightness and audio, Bluetooth and location off), the Ultra ended the video with about 43%, the best-performing one so far, which really isn't saying much since the only competition is the Find N2 Flip and Xiaomi 13 Pro, do stay tuned for our review on that too!

Pricing & Availability

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at S$1,828 for the 256GB config and goes up to S$2,098 and S$2,458 for the 512GB and 1TB versions, respectively.

Is it worth it? Um...yes and no. If your current phone is still relatively recent, say, within the last year or so, then we would really advise against an upgrade right now. However, if your phone is getting up there in age and you're keen to give the Samsung eco-system a try or stay in it if you are already using one, then the S23 Ultra is definitely an option for you.

That being said, the S23 Ultra is a smartphone made for those seeking the best in Samsung's lineup, which effectively translates to a slightly bigger screen, battery, megapixels and S-Pen availability for about S$300 to S$600 more than the base and plus models.

So if you're alright with cutting down specs here and there for a more affordable price tag, then the S23 base and plus models are also "note" worthy considerations.

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