Galaxy S23 Ultra, Galaxy Watch 5, Galaxy Tab S7 FE, One U1 5.1 and 5G Unlimited Plans: Preordering via Verizon & 5G eCards
All three Galaxy S23 models will launch with some promising software upgrades, including Modes — a set of customizable profiles designed to help you avoid distractions while working, sleeping or hitting the gym. You can lock various settings and even wallpapers to specific Modes, which reminds us a lot of how Focus modes work on iOS 16. You can respond to incoming calls with an automatic-generated text in the new Bixby Text Call feature. These perks are part of Samsung’s latest One U1 5.1 software, which should roll out to older Galaxy devices in the coming months.
If you buy through Verizon, you can get up to $800 off the S23 Ultra with an eligible trade-in on a 5G Unlimited plan — on top of a free Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Tab S7 FE. Preordering via Verizon also gets you a free storage upgrade, and those switching from another carrier get a free $200 Verizon eCard.
This slight flattening makes the S23 Ultra look a little boxier than the S22 Ultra, and you know what? I like it. It is a late- ’80s chic in the cream color. I don’t know how else to describe it except for fancy. It is worthy of a high price.
Galaxy S23’s Badged’: A Demo of the iterative Launch of a Recycled Series of Low-Scale, High-Precision Cameras
We’ll have to put these cameras to the test in the real world to see just how much better they are, but the handful of shots I was able to capture in Samsung’s demo space — including the selfies I grabbed on the 12-megapixel front cam — looked excellent. Zooming in and out felt instantaneous, as did playing around with the usual smattering of camera settings and filters that come standard on a Samsung phone.
The iterative launch is what deflates the pomp around phone launches. Too often, a shiny, just-released phone fails to add anything exciting to the list of features we saw in the previous models. If there is a crazy new trick, it’s gimmicky; if there isn’t, well, there’s probably no need to upgrade, right?
The Galaxy S23 series isn’t the lone hardware announcement from the company. At a media event in San Francisco today, the company introduced five new laptops all of which are Badged with the new name of the flagship product, the sUnpacked. At the show, everything was announced by the company.
To make the screen tougher to scratch or crack, Samsung is employing Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus 2, a material that is purportedly more durable than Corning’s previous formulas and contains more post-consumer recycled material. And while Apple has long used stainless steel for its iPhone Pro models, a choice which improves those phones’ durability and scratch resistance, Samsung’s phones are weirdly all still made from aluminum. The S23 line does have more recycled components than last year, however; the company says it has doubled the number of recycled parts on the S23 Ultra to 12, from the speaker module to the volume keys.
The S23 Ultra for Galaxy: a new lineup of ultra-regular, ultra-wide, telescoping, and 200-megapixel cameras
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There’s a phone powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that’s not only in the US, but around the world. The “for Galaxy” moniker indicates that the chips have a slightly higher clock speed than the base Snapdragon chips, so they’re a bit faster, and there are additional optimizations to make them more efficient. The lineup also features a redesigned cooling chamber that’s two times larger, which should keep the phone cooler when gaming for extended sessions. All three models have the same 12-mm ultrawide camera, a similar 3X optical zoom camera, and a new 12-mm selfie cam.
The thing to know about the new 200-megapixel sensor is that taking 200-megapixel photos is one of the least interesting things you can do with it. The option is there. The shutter should be pressed and a couple of menu options should be taps. As long as the lighting is good, you’ll find a ridiculous amount of detail when you zoom into those photos. Images lack the wider dynamic range you’ll get in the standard shooting mode, but if it’s sheer detail you want, then that’s what you’ll receive.
In bright lighting conditions, you’d be hard pressed to find a significant difference between shots captured on the S23 Ultra and those from other flagship phones. While balancing out highlights and exposure is important, saturation still increases a tiny bit. You simply can’t take a bad picture with this camera.
200MP photos are also possible. There’s a button in the camera app that lets you turn it on, and boy is it fun to play with. You won’t want to use it all the time since it’ll eat away at your storage a lot faster than normal photos, but if you want to capture something with a ton of detail or plan to print the photo after it’s taken, this is the mode to be in.
Of course, the buck doesn’t stop at the main camera. A 12MP ultra-wide, a 10MP with 3x optical zoom, and a 10MP periscoping telephoto lens are included in the package. These cameras are basically identical to the S22 Ultra, save for one major improvement: optical image stabilization, which is so good that you’d think your phone was on a gimbal when taking zoom shots.
This is one of the best photographs you can have on a phone. The Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro come second to this phone in a lot of different ways, from sensor resolution and zoom capabilities to image quality and versatility. It is silly to think that this phone is worthy of the nickname, “Ultra”.
The back of the phone has some pretty striking cameras on it. Samsung uses a frosted glass finish for the backplate and shiny aluminum rails for the sides, which looks plenty premium. Speaking of the sides, they’re a lot flatter than they used to be, which gives the device a very similar feel to previous Galaxy Note devices.
The curves on the left and right sides have been reduced to make it harder for content to spill over. It’s especially helpful with the S Pen, since you have more room to draw. Since you won’t have to deal with light reflecting off the curves in the glass, it’s just a lot nicer to look at.
The S23 Ultra is the fastest skin out there: from Geekbench scores to One UUI 5.1, from software to user experience
The extra power is evident in the chart below, where we compare the OnePlus 11’s Geekbench scores to those on the S23 Ultra. Of course, Apple’s A16 Bionic inside the iPhone 14 Pro is still the most powerful chip, but the 8 Gen 2 For Galaxy doesn’t fall far behind.
In day to day usage, I found the S23 Ultra to be one of the fastest smartphones out there. I put it through the ringer, constantly cycling between apps, taking tons of pictures and videos, jotting down notes, using split-screen multitasking to arrange my calendar, and more. By no means was the phone lightly used, yet it was still able to keep up well with what I threw at it.
I ran Asphalt 9 perfectly when I fired it up, like I do with most phones. I didn’t experience any dropped frames or slowdowns, and the phone stayed nice and cool the entire time.
Speaking of software, One UI 5.1 — based on Android 13 — is what you’ll get out of the box with the S23 Ultra. This is the best version of the skin that I have come across. It’s almost identical to OneUI 5.0 in terms of function and appearance, but it is much more responsive and efficient this time around.
I used the Galaxy Z Fold 4 running One UI 5.0 for a good while, so I’ve got a feel for how snappy it was. In short, I really liked it, but it definitely felt a tad slower than Google’s Pixel software or Apple’s iOS. One UI 5.1 flips that on its head, as the S23 Ultra feels just as fluid and snappy. Is it the new processor? The storage is faster? Is that just good old-fashioned software improvement? I’m going with the latter, because everything from launching apps to scrolling Twitter feels more responsive than any Samsung phone I’ve reviewed in the past.
I am not a big S Pen user, but I love using it when I return to a phone that has one. The S23 Ultra’s S Pen — which lives in the same silo at the bottom — is identical to the one from the S22 Ultra which means you get a bunch of note-taking features like screen-off memos (which let you jot down notes while your phone is asleep), screenshot tools, a GIF creation tool, camera shutter controls thanks to the side button, and an insanely low 2.8-milliseconds of latency.
My typical day includes about four hours of screen-on time, and the S23 Ultra usually got me to the evening with somewhere around 30 percent left. That includes using the always-on display, which puts extra drain on the battery. I tried to put it through the wringer on a day that included navigation, a 30-minute zoom call, 40 minutes of streaming video, lots of camera use, and 4K video recording. That knocked the battery down to about 25 percent by the end of the day. Truthfully, I could have gone a little harder on the phone, but I came down with food poisoning in the afternoon, which put a damper on my ability to use the phone or do anything at all.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra: The Brick in Your Pocket, or How Much Does It Take to Make Sense of It? Review and Recommendations
The device is able to charge from 0 to 50 percent in 30 minutes, but it is not as fast as in the US. You also get 15W wireless charging and 4.5W reverse wireless charging, allowing you to recharge your earbuds on the go. Everything you need for juicing up was included.
It is also very heavy. The phone is six grams lighter than the Max and 22 grams heavier than the 7 Pro. This phone is the quintessential definition of a brick in your pocket.
If you don’t know how many apps there are with the S23 Ultra, then it doesn’t pose a problem. I counted 58 on my unit, and that doesn’t include other pre-installed apps like Microsoft 365 and Netflix. It eats up a fair amount of storage space, collectively reducing your phone’s overall capacity by about 20-30 gigabytes. It will feel like a waste of space for people that don’t use stock apps and prefer alternatives that are more in line with their tastes.
Samsung is also still displaying advertisements in its own apps, which looks and feels as crummy as you’d think it does. The amount of ads it shows has decreased, but they are still around. I always get reminders about the GALAXY S23 Ultra whenever I hold a device, but they like to advertise promotions from third parties.
$1,200 is a lot of money for a new phone, especially these days. If you can live without features like the 200MP camera and S Pen, the regular Galaxy S23 can be had for hundreds less and still gives you great performance, battery life, and software features. The most amazing deal you can find for thePixel 7 Pro is at least $599, which is almost always on sale.
That’s all good news. The bad news is that it remains a very expensive device at $1,200, which is a bit more than a $1,099 iPhone 14 Pro Max and a big leap from the Pixel 7 Pro’s $899 starting price. There are some sore spots with the software like the insistence on including its own app store. Although the camera system can produce stunningly good images, it can sometimes make strange choices and come up with a photo that is downright bad.
It’s still a large and heavy phone. There is a 6.8-inch screen with a top 120Hz refresh rate. It is lovely to use, and the same as last year. The fingerprint sensor is slow and inconsistent compared to the one I just used on the OnePlus 11 5G. Thankfully, face unlock is pretty speedy. I found that one of the two methods worked quickly enough with both enabled.
There are a lot of other features of a high-end phone, such as a robust ISO68 rating for water and dust resistance and a wide range of flavors of 5G, as well as a fast 45W wired charging.
The new chipset also runs much cooler than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 — after downloading Genshin Impact install files for 10 minutes with the loading animation playing (and the phone resting on a heat-insulating couch cushion), it was only slightly warm to the touch. After that, it was hard to hold the S22 Ultra. There is a little hiccup here and there as it loads even more data, but the overall experience is very smooth.
The latter worked well on my 2016-era TV. And despite it being an older model, the TV connects to the S23 Ultra via SmartThings, too. All the basic functions of the TV, including volume, channel, and source, are available through the SmartThings app on the phone. At long last, I thought I’d conquered my need to get off the couch and find the remote. My TV is old enough to not support the crucial feature of powered on via mobile. Looks like I’ll still need that remote after all.
Putting the S23 Ultra to Work: A Case Study on the Ease of Getting Better at Printing and Posterior Writing
The slight curve is less common in the S23 Ultra, but I still have one instance where it threw me off balance. I only had limited space to work with since my stylus kept running into the curve when I began writing in letters to mark days of the week in one of the notes app templates. I’m hoping for a totally flat display in 2024.
I found it useful to keep my running to-do lists pinned to my home screen, and as I am on a mission to reorganize my life I thought it would be useful to copy some of them. Is it making me more organized? The jury is still out on that one. It feels like a happy medium between the convenience of a to-do list and the feeling of writing something down.
A process called pixel binning is what it does, and it uses combining them into groups and treating them as bigger individual pixels in order to improve image quality in less-than great lighting conditions. The sensor uses a re-mosaic algorithm in bright light to mimic a traditional color pattern and capture more detail. Even when you’re in the default shooting mode, which downsizes images to 12 megapixels, you should see the benefits of all that extra detail capture.
It does a surprisingly good job all the way to 30x and comes up with images I’m perfectly happy using on Instagram. Would my 30x Space Needle photo look great as an 8×10” print hanging on my wall? Probably not. It is not good enough for social media. Digital zoom has changed a lot.
GalaxyS23 Ultra-Review Camera Battery Screen Pencils Pencil: Is It Easier than I Thought?
Low-light photos are generally fine, though I saw a couple of weird things happen in particularly challenging situations. In back-to-back portrait photos of my toddler taken at a Mexican restaurant, he looks distinctly orange in one and incredibly pale in the very next shot. Maybe the colored walls and light sources threw the camera for a loop, but whatever the reason, it took the photo seriously off the rails.
A few of my low- light portraits have over-brightened shadows, with a bit of an unnatural green look about them. It’s best to let the phone decide when it’s really dark enough for night mode, so it doesn’t look bad.
One of the best features in the game is its portrait mode. It’s hands down the winner when it comes to subject isolation and manages to hang on to incredibly fine details like individual hairs. Background blur, especially on the 1x setting, still looks a little too uniform, producing that classic cardboard cutout look. It’s not as noticeable in 3x zoom portraits, which generally look fantastic.
Video quality is good, too; recording is available at up to 8K/30p, though I stuck to 4K for the most part. Clips in good lighting show nice color and detail. Indoors, I saw a tendency to flatten dynamic range in a way that turns bright whites slightly gray. Bright colors look too saturated. I heard no complaints about the video quality from his grandparents, and it was good enough to get clips of a very active toddler.
What do you have to agree to use a smart device? The number of times you’ve had to sign up to use Smart Devices
It is not the most accessible device. A lot of people will be put off by the steep price of the cameras and deep menus. And unless you really love Bixby, it takes a little fiddling to de-Samsung the software. You wouldn’t need a $1,200 phone to do that.
You’re agreeing to a series of terms and conditions in order to use a smart device. It’s impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. The agreements we review are so restrictive that most people don’t read them and can’t negotiate, which is why we counted how many times you have to agree to use devices.