samsung galaxy s23 ultra review cream finish

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review – Is this magnificent flagship the best phone of 2023?

Since its global launch, we’ve managed to put our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review sample through its paces after an initial unboxing and hands-on experience. Costing RM5,699 and up in Malaysia , it doesn’t come cheap but is it worth the money? Read our full Galaxy S23 Ultra review and find out!

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review front

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review – Performance and Benchmarks

Unlike earlier incarnations of the Galaxy S-series where some regions got Exynos processors and others got Snapdragon chips, the entirety of the latest Galaxy S23 series including the Galaxy S23 Ultra all get the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor.

The new Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is not only the largest design out of the entire Galaxy S23 series but is also the most powerful from a performance perspective in several ways.

While all of the Galaxy S23 series feature the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor that has been overclocked to a faster 3.6GHz clock speed over stock processors seen in other phones, the Galaxy S23 Ultra also features a larger vapour chamber to ensure sustained performance while also packing the most RAM out of the entire series with 12GB LPDDR5X RAM along with fast UFS 4.0 storage in 256GB, 512GB and 1TB denominations. 

Under the hood, the phone runs the latest Android 13 overlaid with their OneUI 5.1 user interface along with their RAM Plus option to allocate storage as virtual RAM in 2GB, 4GB, 6GB and 8GB increments. 

Of particular importance is that Samsung will offer 4 years of OS updates and 5 years of security updates for their flagship phones so the Galaxy S23 Ultra will be viable and get updates all the way to Android 17 which radically adds to its value and longevity. Power and performance aside, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has a secret superpower when you hook it up via a HDMI cable or wirelessly to a monitor – DeX mode.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra First Look cover

For the uninitiated, this turns the phone into an ersatz desktop PC with a virtual desktop interface akin to Windows with all of the usual apps you’ll need including Windows Office, Google’s suite of docs and the like at your disposal. While you can use the phone as a touchpad and virtual keyboard, DeX mode comes into its own with the provision of a wireless mouse and keyboard for some serious productivity wherever you go.

Here’s how our Galaxy S23 Ultra review sample stacks up on paper:

Price RM5,699 (12GB RAM/ 256GB) | RM6,199 (12GB RAM/ 512GB) | RM7,199 (12GB RAM/ 1TB)
Display 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X QHD (1,440 x 3,088 pixels), 120Hz, HDR10+, 1,750 nits (peak)
Processor Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy 3.6GHz
OS Android 13 + One UI 5.1
Memory 12GB LPDDR 5X / 256GB (review sample) / 512GB / 1TB available
Cameras 200MP F/1.7 Isocell HP2 sensor w/ OIS,12MP F/2.2 ultrawide angle camera, 10MP F/2.4 3x optical zoom w/ OIS + 10MP F/4.9 10x optical zoom w/ OIS [rear] | 12MP F/2.2 Dual Pixel {front}
Battery  5,000mAh w/ 45W fast charging, 15W wireless, reverse wireless charging, 65% in 30 mins (wired)
Size/Weight 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm/ 234g
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review – Specifications

When put to the test in synthetic benchmarks on the Standard performance settings with 4GB of RAM Plus virtual RAM, our Galaxy S23 Ultra review sample quite simply blew everything else in the market out of the water in terms of sheer performance with the highest single core score to date on Geekbench 5 with samples tested by other reviewers scoring even higher.

Samsung’s emphasis on a powerful, customised processor paired with superior cooling tech as well as the fastest RAM and storage in the market has yielded impressive dividends indeed. Here’s how it scored in Standard mode:

3DMark Wild Life Maxed out
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited 10,859
3DMark Wild Life Extreme 3,550
3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited 3,153
Geekbench 5 Single core 1,551
Geekbench 5 Multi core 4,779
Geekbench 5 Vulkan 9,670
Geekbench 5 OpenCL 10,628
PCMark Battery Life 15 hours 9 minutes
PCMark Battery Life 15,784
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review – Benchmarks with Performance mode, 4GB RAM Plus

To save on battery life, OneUI 5.1 has the option to put the phone into a Light performance mode which approximately dials down the processor clock speed by about 10% but improves efficiency by about 50% according to @Golden_Reviewer.

The negligible reduction in performance for enhanced power efficiency is a viable trade-off to make especially when you’re out in the field with nary a power bank or charger in sight. 

In Standard mode performance settings, our Galaxy S23 Ultra review unit is a force to be reckoned with, with the ability to tackle everything from gaming to editing video off CapCut smoothly without issue. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review gaming

While it generally runs cool for the most part, extended heavy use can make the upper portion of the phone somewhat warm with temperatures ranging from 36°C to 46°C. When undergoing wired charging, temperatures are well managed and there was minimal heat if at all. 

As the apex design out of Samsung’s foundries, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has the largest and sharpest display in the Galaxy S23 series with a huge 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel that has a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate, a rated 1,750 nits peak brightness, adherence to the DCI-P3 colour gamut as well as support for HDR10+ content and, most important of all, is sheathed in Gorilla Glass Victus 2 for additional resistance to drops and nicks. 

Where its lesser brethren have flat displays, the Galaxy S23 Ultra maintains a curved display though it has steeper side edges compared to its predecessor the Galaxy S22 Ultra to make it easier to grasp and to offer more usable screen surface area for the use of the S Pen stylus. 

Videos and games look absolutely stunning on screen and screen clarity was excellent with the 120Hz refresh rate ensuring silky smooth scrolling and web browsing.

By default, it’s set to FHD+ and a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate out of the box which is already exceptionally crisp for day to day use while offering a great compromise on battery life but you can optionally set it to its full QHD+ resolution in the display settings to see it in its full glory.

The provided stereo speakers were top notch and were loud enough to fill a room with sound. Even when cranked to maximum, there was no distortion and they offered great volume and detail for movie watching and gaming duties.

While I typically eschew testing delicate orchestral tracks on smartphone speakers, Vaughan Williams’ challenging ‘The Lark Ascending’ was handled in a surprisingly competent fashion with sufficient detail to enjoy the subtle track. If you invest in an appropriate case with a kickstand, you have a remarkably potent and portable means to enjoy movies anywhere on the go.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review – S Pen stylus

The S Pen stylus hasn’t seen any radical improvements for this generation and retains the same functionality as that used in the Galaxy S22 Ultra. You get a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) enabled stylus with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity that can doodle and write on the display.

It can also act as a remote control with gestures like waving a wand around to browse or navigate the menus and, more importantly, act as a shutter release for the camera. While there are no major hardware improvements, Samsung has added additional functionality and you’re able to collaborate with other users via Samsung Notes to edit a shared document in real time as well as during video calls on Google Meet. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review s pen

To date, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is ultimately the only phone in Samsung’s current 2023 inventory thus far that comes with an integrated S Pen stylus. It’s too early to tell what shape or form their next foldable Galaxy Z Fold flagship phone will take or if it will even come with an integrated S Pen, which makes the Galaxy S23 Ultra the only safe bet for now if you absolutely need a stylus.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review – Battery Life

In terms of battery life, our Galaxy S23 Ultra review unit with its huge 5,000mAh battery and power efficient Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset managed to impress with a whopping 15 hours and 9 minutes on PCMark’s battery benchmark.

In practical scenarios with liberal usage of social media, YouTube, texts, heavy usage of the cameras for photos and filming 4K video and a few CODM gaming sessions across the better span of a work day from 9AM till sundown, it managed to still have 65% battery life left and with frugal usage, it’s easily able to last close to a day and a half. 

Additional useful features seen in OneUI 5.1 include a sophisticated array of battery management options that can further stretch out battery endurance including the option to limit battery charging to 85% to extend the lifespan of the battery, tweak display brightness and saturation to taste and also adjust refresh rate from adaptive to 60Hz to save even more on battery life.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review pcmark battery life

Charging speeds are about the same as last year’s Galaxy S22 Ultra at 45W which supports USB Power Delivery standards like those used by UGreen and with the UGreen Travel Fast Charger it managed to go from dead zero to 60% in about 30 minutes and was fully charged in just over an hour.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review – Camera performance

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra retains the same ‘Floating Camera’ design as the Galaxy S22 Ultra with each of the cameras featuring a separate housing though this time around it has more prominent chrome rings around each camera. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review cameras

In terms of upgrades, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s retains the same telephoto camera arrangement with a 10MP OIS-stabilised camera that has 3x optical zoom and another 10MP camera with OIS and 10X optical zoom along with a 12MP ultra wide angle camera with autofocus to achieve up to 100x digital zoom and a 0.6x wide angle shot.

Galaxy S23 Ultra creme brulee food

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review portrait mode

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review – Portrait mode has been improved with better recognition of fine details like hair and glasses along with a more natural looking bokeh

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review moon shot

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review – The classic moon shot is easily achievable with the phone

Where it sees the biggest life-changing improvement is the inclusion of the new 200MP ISOCELL HP2 camera sensor. Effectively almost double the megapixels offered by the older 108MP camera in the Galaxy S22 Ultra from last year, the new 200MP primary camera in our Galaxy S23 Ultra review sample is able to take full-sized 200MP or 50MP shots and, by default, pixel-binned 12.5 MP shots. 

The upgraded 200MP primary camera takes advantage of Samsung’s Adaptive Pixel tech that combines four pixels into one larger pixel to achieve sharper, more stable shots at higher resolutions and for the 12MP standard mode, combines 16 pixels into one. You can also optionally download the Samsung Expert Raw app to capture shots in raw format for more precise post-processing later.

In tandem with the new, more efficient neural processing unit (NPU), improved machine learning models and the better Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor, the phone is now capable of capturing up to 8K@30fps video which is up from last year’s 8K@24fps, has a wider by 3-degree angle of OIS compensation for even more stable shots and is able to offer Super Steady mode video for 4K@60fps footage which is a massive step up from last year’s Galaxy S22 Ultra which capped Super Steady to just 1080p@60fps.

While the average user will consider features like these as massive overkill, these are welcome upgrades for serious content creators.

In general, the improved NPU along with the massive 200MP ISOCELL HP2 sensor offer reduced noise, crisper images, the classic Samsung emphasis on vibrant hues and better high dynamic range across the board with significant gains especially in low light photography. 

In daylight, you’re able to expect excellent shots from ultra wide all the way to 30x zoom and the enhanced stability of the cameras means that 100x Space Zoom shots all the way across the horizon are surprisingly good with viewable detail; you won’t be able to pick out a car plate number from that far off but you can recognise a face or a billboard which is nonetheless an impressive feat. 

The provided Portrait mode also shows improvements here with better background and detail separation especially for subtle details like hair.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review low light

Where the Galaxy S23 Ultra stomps the competition flat is in low light scenarios with its primary 200MP camera where it is able to capture more light, more detail, retain better colours and generally create better quality images from ultrawide all the way to 10x zoom.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review whirlpool

samsung galaxy s23 ultra trees

While it retains a Night mode which adds a slight delay to capture more light in the sensor, you can get excellent shots straight off the cuff on Auto mode. Better yet, it’s one of the few cameras that actually have a dedicated astrophotography mode to take star trails in the night sky. 

While it seems like a downgrade from the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 40MP selfie camera, the 12MP selfie camera on our Galaxy S23 Ultra review sample benefits from a better computational photography model to offer up mug shots with accurate skin tones, good background separation and excellent detail as well as great dynamic range even in low light conditions. This is the perfect example of how computational photography can beat sensor size.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra portrait

In terms of video quality, all of the Galaxy S23 Ultra cameras can capture 4K@60fps video though only the rear camera can go up to 8K@30fps. The wider field of view is especially noticeable when comparing to the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 8K video footage and the addition of better stabilisation as well as a better NPU just makes for better, steadier footage across the board. 

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra?

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the preeminent flagship Android phone to get for 2023 with the fastest Snapdragon processor currently in service, a beautiful display, chart-topping battery life and a powerful new rear camera that offers the best low light shots that a smartphone can currently offer. 

Add in its enhanced Gorilla Glass Victus 2 glass and Armor Aluminum chassis as well as its IP68 water resistance and you have a tough and powerful flagship phone with no compromises. Those who already own the older Galaxy S22 Ultra may see less of an incentive to swap over but the tangible improvements in low light photography and performance are well worth a look.

If money is no object, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the phone you need to get. If you’re looking for much of the same performance but can live with a smaller screen and more modest endurance and camera performance, the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23+ are viable alternatives.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review rear

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review sample courtesy of Samsung Malaysia. To purchase, please visit

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
  • Display
  • Performance
  • Cameras
  • Battery Life
  • Value

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra commands a premium but what you get is the most powerful Android phone that money can buy with the world’s fastest Snapdragon processor, a fantastic display, great battery life and a truly impressive 200MP rear camera array that makes superb night shots as easy as pressing a button. This is truly a flagship phone in every respect with serious longevity too as Samsung has committed to offering 4 years of Android and 5 years of security updates. If you want a no-compromise flagship Android phone, this is it.


-Superb performance with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset

-Excellent cameras with jaw-dropping zoom and low light capabilities

-Great battery life Fantastic display


-Somewhat similar design to its predecessorConservative charging speeds compared to the competition

Not cheap