Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Ultra Review: Cruise Control
I’m with one Crossing. Just a few weeks ago I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G and called it a phenomenal phone that only costs $200, proving that you really don’t have to shell out hefty piles of money to get a great smartphone. Now I’m reviewing Samsung’s top-of-the-line $1,200 Galaxy S23 Ultra and $800 Galaxy S23 — and damn, sometimes it’s nice to treat yourself, you know?
Samsung’s Galaxy S23 lineup (which includes the S23+, a model I haven’t reviewed yet) aren’t groundbreaking devices in the slightest – and most people don’t need all those high-end cameras and massive power. But I have to remind myself that sometimes it’s okay to pay for the best of the best. It’s nice not having to squint at a dim screen on a sunny day and being able to play a demanding game with the highest fidelity.
If you’re coming from a Galaxy S22 or S21 or any other flagship device released in the last two years, these new Samsung phones don’t really give you a reason to upgrade. But if you’ve got something older in your pocket, or a more wallet-friendly device that you think offers a compromised experience, then it’s definitely worth taking a look at.
I won’t bore you with the exact specifications of these phones. Instead, you can read my explainer on how the Galaxy S23, S23+ and S23 Ultra differ and how they are similar. (Hell, you can read last year’s S22 series review to see what most of these new devices are all about.) What you can’t quite figure out by reading the specs is how these phones feel – the The 6.1-inch S23 is my personal favorite because it fits in my hands and leaves most of the screen easily accessible when I want to use it with one hand. The S23 Ultra’s 6.8-inch display isn’t terribly unwieldy, but as I use it, I find my thumbs expanding more and more to the point where my other hand has to match – and I have big hands.
The best change is the S23 Ultra’s edges, which are much flatter than last year’s curvy S22 Ultra. The edges aren’t as flat as the edges of an iPhone 14, but the Ultra still feels better in the hand than its predecessor, and my grip almost never breaks the screen. Outside of it, color me overwhelmed what the Galaxy S23 series looks like. I still think Samsung’s S21 series offered a sharper design language with the Contour Cut camera module in an accent color. These new phones, with their understated and accent-free camera arrangement, look like the textbook definition of a “smartphone” – they’re undeniably elegant, but there’s not much character.
The three handsets share many of the same characteristics, such as the 120Hz AMOLED screens can now each reach 1,750 nits of peak brightness. This is a feature that is often overlooked; High brightness makes it so much easier to read the screen when you’re outside on a sunny day. Too often my fiancé has to squint at her Pixel smartphone and that’s never a problem here. (It’s also getting pretty damn dark for anyone who appreciates low light at bedtime.)
They’re all powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 “for Galaxy” chipset, which is slightly faster than the base Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 you’ll find on other flagship Android phones like the OnePlus 11. My benchmark tests backed this up, but it’s not a huge leap. This chip is special in two ways. Year after year it’s really hard to notice meaningful performance gains these days, but I’ve found phones with this processor to feel more responsive and faster than ever.
https://www.wired.com/review/samsung-galaxy-s23-and-s23-ultra/ Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Ultra Review: Cruise Control