Samsung has finally unveiled the Galaxy S23 series, and the Ultra is the main highlight as usual. Despite looking very familiar, Samsung believes that upgrades in the camera and processor department can make a big difference–especially if you intend to use the Galaxy S23 Ultra for serious content creation. We got our hands on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and here are our thoughts on the brand’s latest premium flagship phone in the Philippines.
How does the S23 Ultra look and feel?
It looks AND feels very familiar because barely anything has changed when you compare it to the Galaxy S22 Ultra. You still get that S-Pen stylus built inside its premium armor aluminum frame, along with a glass back and individual bumps for the rear cameras. It also has the same size and weight, along with the curves on the side.
The only actual difference with the Galaxyb S23 Ultra is its use of Corning’s new Gorilla Glass Victus 2. Corning claims that they improved the durability of their latest Gorilla Glass by being able to withstand a 1-meter drop onto concrete and a 2-meter drop onto the asphalt. We haven’t tested their claims at all (we’re not insane), though Corning has been pretty good with the claims of their glass when it comes to protection.
Is the display still awesome?
Absolutely. You still get the same 6.8-inch curved AMOLED display, and Samsung always reserves its best panels for its premium flagship devices like the Galaxy S23 Ultra. It has all the niceties you’d expect on a premium device such as a 120hz adaptive refresh rate, Quad HD+ resolution, and a 1750nits maximum brightness.
The colors are very vibrant, while the blacks are deep, making the display really shine when you are viewing HDR content. To complement the display, the Galaxy S23 Ultra also has an equally awesome set of speakers to complete the whole multimedia experience. Samsung makes the best smartphone displays in the world, so it’s not really surprising to see their flagship to get THE very best that they can produce.
What’s new with the cameras?
The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a new main camera with a 200-megapixel ISOCELL HP2 sensor. This is the first time Samsung is using a 200-megapixel sensor on any of their Galaxy phones, and the one on the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with Super Quad Pixel autofocus, which should improve overall autofocus performance. The new sensor also allows you to shoot 8K video at a more native 30FPS (previous Galaxy S-series phones shot 8K video at 24FPS).
During our limited time with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, the main camera still offered roughly the same flagship-level performance we saw on the S22 Ultra–but we will need to have more time with the S23 Ultra to really determine if the new 200-megapixel sensor offers significant improvements.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra also has a different selfie shooter, settling for a 12-megapixel one instead of the usual 40-megapixel affair found in previous Ultra models. Don’t be deceived by the drop in megapixels: based on our limited time with the S23 Ultra, the overall image quality appears to be just the same. But like the main camera, we will need more time with the Galaxy S23 Ultra before can give our final say on the front camera. Samsung claims that the new Super HDR feature should improve the quality of selfies–but we will need to test that out thoroughly in our full review.
Is there anything else that has changed with the Galaxy S23 Ultra?
Unlike previous Galaxy S-series models, the entire Galaxy S23 series will use a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor regardless of what country you live in. Samsung is specific that the Galaxy S23 series uses an exclusive version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Aside from reports that it has higher clock speeds than your usual version, we have yet to hear any other differences.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with 12GB RAM by default, while storage options include 256GB, 512GB, and a whopping 1TB for serious power users who demand a storage size that’s as big as SSDs in most laptops. There’s no MicroSD card slot with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but the entry-level variant should be large enough for most users.
Aside from the incremental processor upgrade, the Galaxy S23 Ultra still has a 5000mAh battery with support for 45w charging. Given the improved power efficiency of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, the Galaxy S23 Ultra should have better battery life than its predecessor on paper.
What is our initial verdict on the Galaxy S23 Ultra?
Unless you are already using a Galaxy S22 Ultra, the Galaxy S23 Ultra follows the same formula of Samsung going all-in and offering its best features and components to its premium flagship device. It also remains to be one of the very few phones to have a stylus built-on, so the Galaxy S23 Ultra is geared towards power users who work a lot with their phone.
How much is the Galaxy S23 Ultra in the Philippines?
The Galaxy S23 Ultra in the Philippines starts at Php 81,990 for the 256GB variant, while the 512GB variant is priced at Php 89,990. The top-end 1TB variant is priced at Php 103,990 and will be exclusive to Samsung’s online store.
Those who will pre-order until February 23 via Samsung’s online store get a free memory upgrade, along with a Php 5,000 E-Voucher, 50% off on the Galaxy Buds2 Pro, 30% off on the Galaxy Watch5 series, 1-year Samsung Care+ coverage, and double Samsung Rewards points.
For those who want to go all-in, Samsung will be offering a VIP Bundle for the Galaxy S23 Ultra at Php 119,738. The VIP Bundle includes a 1TB variant of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, Galaxy Watch5 Pro 46mm, Galaxy Buds2 Pro, Super Fast Wireless Duo Charger, Leather Cover, and 1-year Samsung Care+ coverage.