Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra First Look – Unboxing and preview of their most powerful phone ever made
At first blush, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is aesthetically similar to its immediate predecessor the Galaxy S22 Ultra but there’s more to it than meets the eye as Samsung’s latest flagship phone is chock full of features and cutting-edge tech that make it the most powerful Android phone in the market.
We managed to get our hands on an early unboxing sample ahead of Galaxy Unpacked 2023 and here’s our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra first look where we share what we’ve discovered in our first 72 hours of testing.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra First Look – What’s in the Box
In keeping with Samsung’s efforts at sustainability for all their products, the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s packaging is made from 100% recycled paper and primarily consists of the phone itself, a SIM eject pin, a USB-C charging cable and the obligatory warranty and quick start manual.
@hitechcentury We got a test sample of the new Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra! Here’s what’s in the box. The new Cream finish is beautifully classy indeed.@Hitech Century Stay tuned for a full review! #withgalaxy #nextgalaxy #sharetheepic #galaxys23ultra #tech #singapore #malaysia #hitechcentury #unboxing #fyp ♬ I Really Want to Stay at Your House – Rosa Walton & Hallie Coggins
The phone itself is also made of more ecologically sustainable materials too with a dozen key components made of recycled material up from the half dozen used in its predecessor.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra First Look – Design and Aesthetics
While the phone supports 45W fast charging, you’ll have to purchase a compatible charger separately though plenty of third party chargers that support the USB Power Delivery standard can handle the task nicely. There’s also no pre-applied screen protector on the Galaxy S3 Ultra’s display but both the front and rear of the phone are sheathed in Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 armoured glass that’s even more drop and scratch resistant than their prior Gorilla Glass Victus+ used in the Galaxy Z Fold4 last year.
Not only is it tougher, the new Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 also incorporates 22% of recycled materials in its design which further adds to the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s sustainability credentials. In keeping with its distinguished lineage, the Galaxy S23 Ultra also retains a solid IP68 water and dust resistance rating.
In Malaysia, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is available in Phantom Black, Green, Lavender and in the case of our sample unit, a shade of Cream. If you preorder it from the official Samsung online store, you can acquire it in four more exclusive colourways which consist of a lighter grey shade of Graphite, a sleek Sky Blue, Lime and Red.
Aesthetically speaking our Galaxy S23 Ultra first look sample’s Cream colourway has a slightly off-white pearlescent frosted finish that has the incidental benefit of repelling fingerprints nicely.
While it seems unremarkable at first, the Cream finish did grow on me with its subtle, classy look that’s complemented by its silver hued sides. The middle quadrant of the backplate also allows for 15W wireless charging and reverse wireless charging for other peripherals like the Galaxy Buds Pro2 earbuds.
When eyeballed side by side, our Galaxy S23 Ultra has a similar silhouette to the older Galaxy S22 Ultra down to the separate camera housings on the backplate but closer inspection reveals a number of subtle differences. The new Galaxy S23 Ultra is slightly longer by 0.1mm and wider by 0.2mm, while weighing just 6g more while featuring more pronounced chromed rings around each camera housing.
The biggest difference though is when you hold it up in your hands as the 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X 120Hz display has been redesigned so that the side edges have steeper curves to both make it easier to wield and to offer more screen real estate for both your fingers and the provided S Pen stylus. When viewed from above, the new phone shows a flatter, almost squarish side profile compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s more rounded flanks.
When I held the new phone, the flatter sides did make it more comfortable and easier to hold, especially when held one handed. Jotting notes with the S Pen also felt easier on account of the squarer display with its steeper curves.
The base of the phone features an S Pen stylus well emplaced on the left much like the S22 Ultra, a USB-C port, a grille for half of the matching pair of stereo speakers and a dual nano SIM card port. While the left and top of the phone are otherwise unremarkable, the right side features a power button and volume rocker, both components of which are manufactured from recycled materials.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra First Look -The Processor
While the new Galaxy S23 Ultra’s aesthetic changes primarily fall towards refining its ergonomics, the most important differences it has to offer are its subtle but significant improvements to its cameras and its performance.
Powering Samsung’s latest flagship phone is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor that is a customised variant unique to Samsung’s Galaxy S23 series with a faster prime core and Adreno 740 GPU. Where the stock CPU runs at 3.19GHz, Samsung’s customised CPU ticks in at a nippier 3.36GHz while the Adreno 740 is clocked at a faster 719MHz versus the stock variant’s 680MHz. At present, this is the world’s fastest Snapdragon chipset.
Complementing the processor is a fast brace of 12GB LPDDR5X RAM along with 256GB UFS 4.0 storage. That’s not all as the Galaxy S23 Ultra also mounts a larger vapour chamber to ensure improved performance under sustained heavy loads.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra First Look – More Powerful 200MP camera array
On the rear, the Galaxy S22 Ultra retains a similar 12MP F/2.2 ultra wide angle camera with a dual 10MP telephoto camera setup with one camera offering 10X zoom and the other 3x zoom with both featuring optical image stabilisation. The biggest change is the inclusion of a vastly improved 200MP ISOCELL HP2 sensor on the primary camera with an F/1.7 aperture which is almost double the Galaxy S22’s 108MP F/1.8 sensor.
The combination of enhanced firmware, updated neural processing unit (NPU) for the cameras and a newer, more powerful processor means that the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s rear camera array is more capable than ever before with vastly improved low light capabilities dubbed as Nightography in Samsung’s official literature, the same 100x zoom but with additional stability and detail as well as an improved 8K@30fps video capture versus the 8K@24fps of its predecessor.
The optical image stabilisation has been enhanced as well with the cameras able to accommodate about 1.5-degrees of additional stabilisation on each side to ensure more stable, judder free footage even when sprinting.
Perhaps the most baffling change that is seemingly a downgrade is the front selfie camera which has been swapped from a 40MP sensor in the Galaxy S22 Ultra down to a 12MP sensor in the Galaxy S23 Ultra though the new selfie camera leverages the new ISP as well as their Dual Pixel tech for better image quality and for up to 4K@60fps video. With the juiced up NPU, shots on the front selfie camera actually look better than its predecessor off the cuff with good separation of foreground and background while retaining good detail and skin tones.
Shots on the rear camera after an initial whirl around Singapore’s vaunted Marina Bay Sands showed the sheer power of the rear 200MP primary camera that was able to serve up excellent shots in dim, if not outright challenging light conditions that would make an older phone weep tears of despair if not grainy, pixelated shots.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra First Look – Battery
One of the few things that the Galaxy S23 Ultra retains that is similar to its predecessor is its 5,000mAh battery which has 45W fast wired charging on top of wireless charging and wireless powershare. While it is somewhat quaint for charging speeds like this in a flagship phone when the competition are implementing almost double and occasionally triple charging speeds in their phones.
There’s still merit for Samsung keeping it at such conservative levels as it helps with battery longevity and their past history has also advocated a more conservative approach to battery implementation and design. In any case, the updated processor and larger vapour chambers ought to contribute to better battery life.
Swapping over to the new Galaxy S23 Ultra was as easy as it gets via Samsung’s Smart Switch app that migrated my apps and documents in a relatively intact fashion and the fluidity, smoothness and power of the new phone are apparent especially when scrolling through, swapping between and using both work and gaming apps.
For anyone that’s on the fence or owns a phone that’s a couple of years older, swapping over to the new Galaxy S23 series looks like a fantastic upgrade that offers tangible performance improvements straight off the bat.
It’s a bit early to tell on our Galaxy S23 Ultra first look sample’s battery life as I’m only 3 days into the review but early indications are promising with a full charge easily lasting a day of usage with plenty left in reserve.
At present, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is officially priced from RM5,699 in Malaysia with the 12GB RAM/ 256GB model retailing for RM5,699, the 12GB RAM/612GB model for RM6,199 and the 12GB RAM/ 1TB model for RM7,199. If you take advantage of the pre order, you can double up storage capacity for free, get a free e-voucher and also get exclusive colourways if you order online at the official Samsung website. For more details, check out https://www.samsung.com/my/smartphones/galaxy-s23-ultra/buy/
Stay tuned for our full review where we present our findings on whether Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra is truly worth your money.