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16 Things That Sets the S23 Ultra Apart From the S22 Ultra

Samsung recently unveiled their 2023 flagship phone model, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra last week. Cannot tell them apart? We don’t blame you. At first glance, the new phone looks very similar to the one it is replacing leaving even the techiest of TechTubers scratching their heads.

We’ve gotten our grubby paws on the S23 Ultra for review so you can expect the thorough shakedown of Samsung’s 2023 flagship to come soon. Having reviewed the S22 Ultra as well, a comparison piece is inevitable. So allow us to point out the key differences between last year’s hero model to the one replacing it.

Hopefully this helps your decision on whether to splash a small fortune on the latest model or save a bit by either sticking with or opting for the S22 Ultra instead.

Left, S22 Ultra, Right, S23 Ultra

 

1. New chip = overall better performance

The S23 Ultra runs on a custom Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. Running on most advanced smartphone chip in the market should, theoretically promises an even smoother experience due to faster computational performance and better power management to boot.

2. Higher storage & RAM in base model

One of the common gripes from last year’s model was the relatively low specs for the base version of the S22 Ultra. A paltry 8GBs-worth or RAM and 128GB non-expendable memory are nowhere adequate for a modern, flagship-tier smartphone. Thankfully Samsung listened resulting in the lowest-spec S23 Ultra now equipped with 12GBs worth of RAM and double the size of internal storage, at 256GB.

3. S23 Ultra is slightly heavier

The S22 Ultra was a chonky boy and the 23 is chonkier. As shown here, this year’s model weighs about 7g heavier. At this rate, Samsung should ship every Ultra device with a proper belt. For pants.

4. S23 Ultra has a smaller speaker grille

The speaker grille on the S22 Ultra was already small. The boffins at Samsung somehow managed to make it even smaller without sacrificing sound quality. This results in a cleaner, unintrusive look when consuming media such as movies on your device. Props for that!

5. S23 Ultra has a boxier feel

The S22 Ultra had a curved screen which bled into the side panels of the phone. This results in a somewhat slippery feel to it. Physics, see. Less surface area to hold equals less grip. To remedy this, the S23 Ultra have a distinctively angular feel, with flat side panels allowing for a more confident grip when operating the device.

Left, S22 Ultra; Right, S23 Ultra.

6. S-Pen base on the S23 is square-ish vs the more oval in S22-Ultra.

On-brand with the ‘boxier’ theme of the S23 Ultra, the S-Pen which comes with the device also sports a squarish base. It still feels the same in hand. We tested the S-Pen from the S22 Ultra on the S23 Ultra test unit and it works interchangeably.

7. 12 MP front camera in S23 Ultra vs 40 on S22 Ultra; Less Means Better (?)

One noticeable ‘downgrade’ – at least on paper – on the S23 Ultra is the front-facing camera. Last year’s model had a 40MP camera. We only get a 12MP one this year. HOWEVER, Samsung kept reiterating that this does not equate to a lesser setup, as this year’s model comes with a larger and more advanced sensor. The spiel is that the front camera on the S23 Ultra also supports Super HDR and can now shoot clips at 60 fps, an improvement from the 30 fps found on last year’s model.

8. 200MP main camera vs 108 main camera on S22 Ultra

From one noticeable ‘downgrade’ to an upgrade that’s been one of the main highlights. If you thought the 108MP main camera on the S22 Ultra was ridiculous and overkill, Samsung pushed the envelope with a 200MP main shooter this year. Couple that with improved processing, any bad photos taken with an S23 Ultra henceforth is the photographer’s skill. Or lack thereof.

9. Slightly different camera modules placement; slightly larger camera bump on the S23 Ultra

At a glance, you may have a hard time discerning the two but upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that the camera rings on the S23 Ultra are larger. Also, you can tell them apart by looking for the laser Auto Focus sensor. It is bright red on the S22 Ultra while on the S23 Ultra, it’s more muted.

10. S23 Ultra comes with One U.I 5.1 out of the box. S22 Ultra still running on 5.0

Out of the box, the S23 Ultra comes with the One U.I version 5.1 installed. The S22 Ultra is still on the 5.0, but expect it to receive the same 5.1 treatment pretty soon. It is worth mentioning that Samsung has promised a four years worth of major operating system updates on their phones, plus five years of security updates. This basically translates to guaranteed, longer software support if you get the S23 Ultra.

11. S23 Ultra has similar battery capacity but better power efficiency

Despite carrying batteries of the same capacity, expect better power efficiency from the newer device mostly due to the new chip. However, battery performance on the S22 Ultra is no slouch. Normal users can easily go through a full day without charging and still cap off the day with about 35% capacity left. In layman’s terms, incremental but significant power efficiency with this year’s device.

12. S23 Ultra now shoots 8K 30fps video vs a ‘mere 24fps with the S22 Ultra

A godsend for 8K video aficionados out there. 6fps may seem miniscule but makes a whole lotta difference once you experience it. The bigger storage size also helps as these larger format videos, even for a short clip, eats a ton of space.

13. S23 Ultra OIS range has been doubled

Optical Image Stabilizers is super helpful when you are recording while on the move. Imagine recording your kids during sports day, or your pet while walking them in the park. OIS sensors compensates the micro-movements while recording for a more ‘professional’ and stable outcome. A larger OIS range means increased area to compensate resulting in even smoother outcome. Airplane takeoff videos – let’s go!

14. S23 Ultra is tougher with the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2

It’s got to be tougher than last year’s one right? It’s got a ‘2’ in it. And we all know most sequels are the best movie in a trilogy. Terminator 2, The Two Towers, Empire Strikes Back … OK maybe not Attack of the Clones.

15. Slightly faster fingerprint sensor on the S23 Ultra

Now this may be just a placebo effect or recency bias but we feel that the newer device reads our fingerprints and unlocks slightly faster. Possibly only noticeable to those coming from the S22 Ultra, this improvement nonetheless adds a bit more zippiness to the S23 Ultra.

16. S23 Ultra is ‘technically more affordable’ vs S22 Ultra due to bigger RAM & storage in base model (2x); But you may do well with the S22 Ultra anyway. 

Both retail at the same price point but the S23 Ultra offers double the storage capacity at 256GB and larger RAM making it overall, when compared side-by-side at launch, the more attractive offer. However, due to the incremental improvement the S23 Ultra carries over from the S22 Ultra, you may not lose much even if you opt for the ‘older’ model. The S22 Ultra surely have taken a significant dip in its value – it is a year’s old now anyway – and you should be able to snap up some good deals if you look hard enough.

So there you have it. We’d love to go up to 23 differences but somewhat ran out of steam. We may edit this piece down the road once we spot more significant differences, but for now, these 16 will do. Also, stay tuned for our full review of the S23 Ultra which is coming soon.

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