Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra: which phone should you buy?

Comparisons between the Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Ultra might assist you in selecting the right Samsung flagship. It comes down to weighing the value of the premium features of Samsung’s top-tier smartphone with whether the entry-level flagship has enough functionality to meet your needs.

The Samsung flagships’ competition may lead you to believe that it isn’t particularly close. According to our evaluation of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, Samsung built the greatest phone overall thanks to its excellent cameras, long battery life, and top Android performance.

While it’s true that the S23 Ultra provides more high-end features, our evaluation of the Galaxy S23 reveals that it shares a number of features with its more expensive sister, making it one of the finest Samsung phones. The Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Ultra both use the same processor and have displays with the same maximum brightness. The S23’s cameras are also rather excellent in their own way.

This comparison of the Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Ultra might help you decide which new Galaxy phone to buy. If you wish to compare the Galaxy S23 with the Galaxy S23 Plus and the Galaxy S23 Ultra with the Galaxy S23 Plus, we also have comparisons available.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S23 VS. GALAXY S23 ULTRA: SPECS

Galaxy S23Galaxy S23 Ultra
Screen size6.1-inch AMOLED (2,340×1.080)6.8-inch AMOLED (3,088×1,440)
Refresh rate48Hz-120Hz1Hz-120Hz
CPUSnapdragon 8 Gen 2 for GalaxySnapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
RAM8GB8GB,12GB
Storage128GB, 256GB256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Rear cameras50MP main,
12MP ultrawide,
10MP telephoto (3x zoom)
200MP main, 12MP ultrawide,
10MP telephoto (3x zoom),
10MP telephoto (10x zoom)
Front cameras12MP12MP
Battery size3,900 mAh5,000 mAh
Battery life
(Hrs:Mins)
10:2712:22
Charging speed25W wired45W wired
Size5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches6.4 x 3.1 x 0.35 inches
Weight6 ounces8.2 ounces
ColorsPhantom Black, Green,
Lavender, Cream
Phantom Black, Green,
Lavender, Cream

SAMSUNG GALAXY S23 VS. GALAXY S23 ULTRA: PRICE

The pricing difference between the Galaxy S23 and S23 Ultra is significant. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is expensive, coming in at $1,199, while Samsung’s entry-level flagship starts at $799. If you feel the features on the Galaxy S23 are sufficient for your requirements, there is a $400 price difference, which might result in some very considerable savings. You may save more money on both versions by taking advantage of the greatest Galaxy S23 discounts.

Just be aware that the Galaxy S23 Ultra has a larger storage right away. The $799 Galaxy S23 only has 128GB of storage space, but the $1,199 model has 256GB. The 256GB Galaxy S23 costs $859, which is what you would need to equal the base capacity of the S23 Ultra.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S23 VS. GALAXY S23 ULTRA: DESIGN

In a departure from how the company handled things a year ago, Samsung altered the Galaxy S23’s looks to make it more like the Ultra varian.

In the Galaxy S22 family, the base model had a contour cut design with cameras housed in a separate array that blended into the side of the phone; in contrast, the Galaxy S22 Ultra had rear camera lenses that were stacked in a vertical line that simply protruded from the back of the phone. Now that the Galaxy S23 has adopted this appearance, the Ultra cannot be distinguished from it.

There are many more resemblances in the designs. Both the Galaxy S23 and S23 Ultra include Gorilla Glass Victus 2 glass as protection against dings and scratches. Even the hues of the phones – Phantom Black, Cream, Green, and Lavender — are identical.

You have two phones that practically appear the identical owing to the similar design flourishes, except from varying proportions to accommodate the bigger screen of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The S23 Ultra’s slightly curved display contrasts with the S23’s flat panel as the primary additional distinction.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S23 VS. GALAXY S23 ULTRA: DISPLAY

The Galaxy S23 and S23 Ultra’s screens have more in common than you might expect, despite their different sizes (the Galaxy S23 has a 6.1-inch panel, while the S23 Ultra has a 6.8-inch screen). This is due to Samsung enhancing the Galaxy S23’s screen brightness, which now has a maximum brightness of 1,750 nits, which also happens to be the same rating as the S23 Ultra. (While we’re at it, let’s mention the Galaxy S23 Plus.)

In testing, the Galaxy S23 Ultra came closer to approaching that maximum brightness level. We measured the S23 Ultra’s display at 1,184 nits, while the S23 hit 1,158 nits on our light meter. In either case, you won’t have to struggle to make out details on either display in bright sunlight.

Galaxy S23Galaxy S23 Ultra
Peak brightness1,158 nits1,184 nits
sRGB %212.1% (Vivid), 128.6%
(Natural)
193% (Vivid), 111.2%
(Natural)
Galaxy S23Galaxy S23 Ultra
Peak brightness1,158 nits1,184 nits
sRGB %212.1% (Vivid), 128.6%
(Natural)
193% (Vivid), 111.2%
(Natural)
DCI-P3150.2% (Vivid), 91.1%
(Natural)
136.7% (Vivid), 78.8%
(Natural)
Delta-E03.4 (Vivid), 0.24 (Natural)0.37 (Vivid), 0.3 (Natural)

The Galaxy S23 really displays a broader variety of colors, whether it’s the less demanding sRGB spectrum or the more complex DCI-P3 spectrum, as you can see in the table above. Given the Galaxy S23 display’s 0.24 Delta-E rating in Natural mode compared to the S23 Ultra’s 0.3 score, colors are also somewhat more realistic.

The adaptive refresh rate is where the Galaxy S23 Ultra display outperforms the S23 panel. When there is a lot of activity on the screen, both phones can scale up to 120Hz for speedier navigation and richer visuals. The Galaxy S23 Ultra can scale down to 1Hz when the activity is stagnant, but the Galaxy S23 can only go as low as 48Hz to conserve power.

With the 200MP camera, you have more options for taking pictures since you may choose between 50MP shots, 200MP photos, or combining 16 pixels into one bigger pixel for a brighter picture. In the latter case, you may then zoom in for a picture that is more in-depth.

Similar to the Galaxy S23 Ultra, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra provides you with a more potent telephoto lens—two of them, in fact, as the phone is outfitted with two 10MP sensors that provide a 3x and 10x magnification. Additionally, only the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers the Space Zoom function, which allows for an optional 100x zoom.The Galaxy S23 tops out at a 30x digital zoom and its lone 10MP telephoto lens tops out at a 3x optical zoom.

Avoid discounting the Galaxy S23’s telephoto capabilities because of the comparison to the zooming powers of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The Galaxy S23 has an advantage over rival smartphones in its pricing range because the $799 iPhone 14 and $599 Pixel 7 don’t have a dedicated telephoto lens.

Both Samsung phones have 12MP ultrawide sensors built into their rear camera arrays, and all Galaxy S23 versions have the same 12MP selfie camera. Both phones have the ability to record 8K video at 30 frames per second.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S23 VS. GALAXY S23 ULTRA: PERFORMANCE

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor powers the entire Galaxy S23 series. The Qualcomm standard chip has been overclocked in order to provide Samsung’s flagships a performance advantage over other top Android phones. Although the base model of the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with the same 8GB of RAM as the Galaxy S23, several variants increase that with 12GB of RAM.

Galaxy S23Galaxy S23 Ultra
Geekbench 5
(single-core/multicore)
1,582/4.8761,578/5,081
3DMark Wild
Life Unlimited (fps)
87.387.5
Adobe
Premiere Rush video
transcode (Mins:Secs)
0:390:39

The Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Ultra posting comparable scores when we conducted benchmark testing on both devices shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. On GeekBench 5, the single-core results for the two devices were very similar, while the multicore score for the Galaxy S23 Ultra was significantly higher. When we used the 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited test to measure graphics, both phones also produced results of 87 frames per second. In our practical test, we used Adobe Premiere Rush to convert video, and the resulting timings for each phone were identical at 39 seconds.

The comparable testing results are significant if you’re trying to decide which phone to buy since they demonstrate that even if you choose the less costly Galaxy S23, you’ll still receive excellent performance.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S23 VS. GALAXY S23 ULTRA: BATTERY LIFE AND CHARGING

Due to Samsung’s ability to fit a bigger battery into that phone, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has an advantage in terms of battery life. Compared to the Galaxy S23’s 3,900 mAh battery, the S23 Ultra has a 5,000 mAh power supply.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra performs admirably on our battery test because to the bigger battery and the power-saving features of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. We time how long it takes mobile devices to run out of battery as they continually browse the internet through cellular. The Galaxy S23 Ultra achieved that, lasting 12 hours, 22 minutes, earning a position on our list of the top phones for battery life.

Galaxy S23Galaxy S23 Ultra
Battery size3,900 mAh5,000 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)10:2712:22
Recharge percentage
(30 mins)
55%57%

The battery life of the Galaxy S23 was far shorter, lasting only 10 hours, 27 minutes. Although it performed far better than the Galaxy S22 on the same test, the S23 Ultra was still able to outperform it.

In terms of charging, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has an advantage over the regular S23. Samsung’s entry-level flagship can only charge at a 25W wired pace, but the S23 Ultra can charge at a 45W rate. Despite this, the Galaxy S23 Ultra only slightly outperformed the S23 in our tests when it came to battery life after 30 minutes of charging, 57% to 55%.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S23 VS. GALAXY S23 ULTRA: SOFTWARE AND SPECIAL FEATURES

The real difference here boils down to the S Pen — the Galaxy S23 Ultra ships with one and the Galaxy S23 does not. If you’re the sort of person who views their smartphone as a productivity tool, you’ll appreciate the ability to jot down notes, edit photos and sketch out ideas using the included stylus. If that’s not on your wish list, you’ll be perfectly satisfied with the S Pen-free Galaxy S23.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S23 VS. GALAXY S23 ULTRA: BOTTOM LINE

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is designed for those who want and are prepared to spend top cash for the most powerful phone available. The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s $1,199 asking price is easily justifiable if you desire the versatility of a 200MP camera, the strength of an excellent telephoto lens, or the productivity-enhancing features provided by the S Pen. The Ultra will also appeal to those who desire a large screen, but you can save $200 by choosing the 6.6-inch Galaxy S23 Plus instead.

Nevertheless, choosing the Galaxy S23 is hardly settling for a subpar device. The display is just as vibrant and brilliant, and it has the same powerful CPU as the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

You sacrifice some photo features and battery life, but that’s about it.

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Galaxy S23 Ultra — here’s where the cameras beat the iPhone
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