Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review – 6 Months Later

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review - 6 Months Later
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review – 6 Months Later – Six months ago, I embarked on a journey with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, a flagship smartphone boasting an array of impressive features. Today, I’m here to share my experiences and insights into this device. While the S23 Ultra shines in many aspects, there are also areas where it may not be the perfect fit for everyone. Join me as I delve into the details and provide answers to some of your burning questions about this smartphone.

The Camera System: A True Marvel

One of the standout features of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is undoubtedly its camera system. Samsung has pushed the boundaries by equipping this phone with what can be considered one of the most advanced camera setups in the smartphone industry. This system, featuring a main camera, ultra-wide lens, 3x telephoto, and a remarkable 10x optical telephoto, is a true marvel for photography enthusiasts.

The main wide camera, now boasting a staggering 200 megapixels, delivers exceptional low-light performance and allows for cropping without significant resolution loss. The photos it captures are rich in detail and sharpness, and I’ve been consistently impressed with the results.

However, it’s the 10x optical telephoto that steals the spotlight. Compared to its predecessor on the S21 Ultra, the improvements are significant. It excels not only in capturing still photos but also in delivering exceptional video quality. Stabilized videos shot with this lens display impressive sharpness, color accuracy, and focus. It’s a testament to the strides that smartphone camera technology has made in 2023.

Yet, it’s important to note that the 10x telephoto may not always perform optimally in close-up scenarios. While it excels in most situations, capturing subjects like a gecko or a live event under stage lights may present challenges. Nonetheless, when compared to other top-tier smartphones like the Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra holds its ground, thanks in large part to its remarkable 10x optical zoom.

Samsung’s color processing continues to improve, offering natural skin tones and pleasing results. While Google’s color processing still holds a special place in my heart for its cool and contrasty look, Samsung and Apple also deliver pleasing color results. The S23 Ultra’s HDR capabilities stand out, particularly in handling the nuances of a sunset’s spectrum of colors.

External Design: Aesthetic Appeal and a Few Quirks

Samsung has a reputation for crafting well-designed hardware, and the S23 Ultra doesn’t disappoint. The exclusive green color variant adds a touch of allure to the device. The slightly flatter sides, compared to its predecessor, enhance the phone’s grip, making it easier to hold.

However, there’s one design quirk that deserves mention—the placement of the SIM card slot. It’s positioned close to another nearly identical hole, which can occasionally lead to confusion when trying to access it. Nonetheless, the overall design exudes a premium feel.

Stellar Performance and Battery Life

In terms of performance, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has consistently delivered a snappy and responsive experience. Powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, it has effortlessly handled everything thrown at it during my six months of usage. Importantly, there hasn’t been a noticeable decline in performance over time, which is a testament to its robust hardware.

The device’s battery life is another standout feature. With a 5,000 milliamp-hour battery, it boasts impressive longevity. In typical daily use, I’ve consistently ended the day with around 40-45% battery remaining, a commendable achievement. Even on travel days, the S23 Ultra’s battery performed admirably. While I can’t definitively claim that the battery life has improved over time, it was already excellent from the outset.

The S Pen: A Unique Addition

The S Pen, a hallmark feature of Samsung’s Ultra line, is another aspect I’ve come to appreciate over the past six months. While I didn’t anticipate the S Pen’s impact on my usage, it has pleasantly surprised me. Beyond note-taking capabilities on the large screen, the S Pen fundamentally changes the way I hold the phone, making it more comfortable and precise in certain scenarios.

Samsung has packed a plethora of features into the S Pen, including remote photo capture, magnification, screen note-taking, and handwriting-to-text conversion. These features cater to diverse needs and preferences, making the S Pen a valuable addition to the phone’s toolkit.

Display: Vibrant but with a Quirk

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts a 6.8-inch display with vibrant colors, though slightly saturated. However, this can be adjusted in settings to suit individual preferences. Like other modern smartphones, it features an adaptive refresh rate and impressive peak brightness, ensuring excellent visibility even outdoors.

It’s worth noting that the display employs pulse-width modulation (PWM), which can potentially cause discomfort for users sensitive to this technology. The S23 Ultra’s PWM operates at 240 Hz, lower than some competitors like the iPhone 14 Pro at 480 Hz and the Nothing Phone 2 at 1920 Hz. While manufacturers don’t always provide this information, it’s a consideration for those who are PWM-sensitive.

Downsides and Frustrations

Despite its many strengths, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has its downsides. Its considerable weight, at 234 grams, makes it noticeably heavier than other phones of similar size. While it’s not as bulky as the Galaxy Fold, it’s still a factor to consider when choosing this device.

Another frustration that many Samsung users can relate to is Bixby, Samsung’s virtual assistant. Bixby’s limited appeal and functionality compared to Google Assistant make it a less-than-ideal choice for users who want voice assistance. The inability to easily remap the Bixby button to trigger Google Assistant only compounds this frustration.

One UI: A Mixed Bag

Samsung’s custom Android skin, known as One UI, has made strides in improving user experience over the years. However, it still falls short of the seamless and minimalist experience offered by other Android versions like Nothing OS. While One UI is fluid and fast, it occasionally feels like a vehicle for promoting third-party services.

Preloaded apps like Facebook and Microsoft products, along with the absence of a proper app drawer, can be irksome for users seeking a cleaner Android experience. Despite this, One UI does offer a wealth of features, from the S Pen integration to Samsung DeX and enhanced camera controls.

Is the S23 Ultra Worth It?

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a remarkable smartphone that excels in various aspects, particularly its camera system and S Pen integration. If you’re seeking the best camera experience on a Samsung device and appreciate the S Pen’s versatility, this phone is an excellent choice.

However, the phone’s bulkiness and the persistence of Bixby may deter some users. For those who prioritize simplicity and a lighter device, alternatives like the Pixel 7 Pro or Nothing Phone 2 offer compelling options. Both these phones deliver a similar screen size and a more streamlined Android experience.

Ultimately, your choice will depend on your specific preferences and priorities. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra shines brightly in many areas, but it’s essential to weigh its pros and cons against your individual needs. Regardless of your decision, the smartphone market in 2023 offers a plethora of choices to suit a wide range of preferences.

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