Hands on with the new Samsung S23 Ultra: Is it worth upgrading?



The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is Samsung’s newest, most-advanced smartphone. It doesn’t officially come out until Feb. 17, but we were lucky enough to get our hands on one early to test out. Find out whether the new Samsung device is worth the upgrade.

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Samsung Galaxy S23, $800 and up

Samsung Galaxy S23+, $1,000 and up

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, $1,200 and up

Here at CBS Essentials, we’ve been updating you on all of the announcements and deals on Samsung’s latest Galaxy S23 smartphone lineup. Now, we’re here to give you all the details on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, based on our hands-on testing. I’ve spent the last week with the smartphone, and I’m going to share all of my first impressions and thoughts to help you decide whether the phone is worth the upgrade.

Keep reading to learn more about the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and find out whether you should upgrade to the latest premium smartphone from Samsung.

What’s new in the Samsung S23?



The Samsung Galaxy S23 offers a 6.1-inch screen with a dynamic AMOLED display. It features a super smooth 120Hz refresh rate and a 240Hz touch sampling rate in Game Mode. It runs on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile platform. It is compatible with wireless charging and includes Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 for a more efficient charge. It is also Samsung’s first smartphone made with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 for advanced screen durability.

The S23 features a 50-megapixel wide camera, 10-megapixel telephoto camera, 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera and an upgraded 12-megapixel selfie camera to help you take clear photos.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 will start at $800, with 128GB and 256GB storage options. It is available for preorder today and will be available on Feb. 17. If you preorder the device now through Feb. 16, you can score a free memory upgrade and up to $100 in Samsung credit.

Samsung Galaxy S23, $800 and up

The Samsung Galaxy S23+ features all of the top-of-the-line features included in the S23 along with a few extras, such as a larger 6.6-inch display screen and longer battery life. 

The Samsung Galaxy S23+ will start at $1,000, with 256 GB and 512 GB storage options. It is available for preorder today and will be available on Feb. 17. If you preorder the device now through Feb. 16, you can score a free memory upgrade and up to $100 in Samsung credit.

Samsung Galaxy S23+, $1,000 and up

What’s new in the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra?



The S23 Ultra features a 6.8-inch screen, compared with the standard S23’s 6.1-inch screen. It includes an embedded S Pen and the largest battery of the three models.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra also offers a pro-grade camera. Samsung even filmed the presentations shown during the Samsung Unpacked event with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra to demonstrate the high camera quality. The smartphone’s camera can film in 8K at 30 frames per second. It also includes a new 200MP adaptive pixel sensor to easily adapt to different lighting conditions.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra will start at $1,200, with storage capacity options of 256 GB, 512 GB and 1 TB. It is available for preorder today and will be available on Feb. 17. If you preorder the device now through Feb. 16, you can score a free memory upgrade and up to $100 in Samsung credit.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, $1,200 and up

Hands-on with the Samsung S23 Ultra

I spent the last few days with the new Samsung S23 Ultra. Here are my key takeaways. 

Setup process

The Samsung Galaxy S23 was very simple to set up. This was my first time setting up an Android, and it was very quick and easy. One thing that I did like was that there is an option to import your data from an iPhone and iPad. I like that they make it easy for people switching from other device types.

Another thing that stood out to me about the setup process is that the S23 Ultra gives you several options for how you want to lock and unlock your phone. You can choose a PIN, facial recognition, Touch ID or any combination of these options. I loved that there is an option for Touch ID because Apple abandoned that option when it got rid of the iPhone home button, and it’s honestly my preferred method of unlocking my phone.

Camera quality



If you watched the Samsung Unpacked event earlier this month, you’ll recall that the Samsung S23 Ultra’s camera was the star of the show. The S23 Ultra features a pro-level camera with a 200MP main camera sensor and 8K video recording capabilities.

The S23 Ultra does offer exceptional camera quality. One thing that I like about the phone is that while it offers high-level camera settings and lots of options, it’s not difficult to use. I was worried that it’d be hard to adjust the camera or find the right settings, but it was truly a breeze to switch back and forth between night mode, portrait mode, pro mode and the other options.

I was pleased with the photos that I was able to take with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s camera. I think that it performed really well in night mode and that the video quality was particularly impressive. Compared to my normal phone, the iPhone 14 Pro, I think that it offered really impressive detail in low lighting. The S23 Ultra’s camera specs are a bit better than the S23 and S23+, so I personally think that it is worth splurging on the premium model if you want an excellent camera. 

User Interface and Accessibility


Kaylyn McKenna / Samsung

I was incredibly impressed with how easy-to-navigate this phone was. I am a tech writer, but I’m not necessarily someone who adapts to new interfaces and technologies super quickly. After a decade of using solely iPhones, I expected to have a bit of a learning curve with my first in-depth Android experience. However, the Samsung S23 Ultra provides a seamless user experience right out of the box.

The home screen offers a more minimalist design, but you can swipe up to view all of your apps. Adjusting the setting was also really easy. Smartphone interfaces are a huge point of personal preference, so definitely check out the UI. It may or may not be your cup of tea, but it is definitely easy to navigate.

The Samsung Galaxy also offers a lot of accessibility tools and customization settings to make the phone even easier to navigate for everyone. You can adjust the font contrast, use TalkBack to navigate the phone with help of a screen reader (similar to Apple’s VoiceOver), turn off animations and make other adjustments to tailor the user experience to your needs.

Overall performance

The Samsung S23 Ultra includes an updated Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. It’s fast and responsive when taking photos, searching the web or playing smartphone games. The audio and video playback was very clear when watching videos or listening to music. The display is also quite bright and clear, even outside in direct sunlight. I feel that the battery life and processing speed are great for the average smartphone user. 

Is it worth upgrading to the Samsung S23 Ultra? 

The Samsung S23 Ultra does offer a lot of improvements. I don’t have an S22 on hand to compare it to, but from looking at the specs and trying out the new phone firsthand, the Samsung S23 Ultra does seem to offer some significant improvements over prior models that would make upgrading worthwhile for many users. 

The most notable improvements do relate to the phone’s pro-level camera and gaming functionality. The pro-level camera is certainly a compelling selling point for avid social media content creators, aspiring filmmakers and hobbyist smartphone photographers. If you’re someone who is going to take advantage of the improved camera or 8K video capabilities, it’s likely worth upgrading to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. If you’re not into photography or gaming, an older model or the standard Samsung Galaxy S23 may be perfectly fine for you.

If you’re a Samsung user looking to upgrade, I do think that you’ll enjoy the S23 Ultra’s new camera, optimized display and improved processor. Samsung is also offering some special deals and discounts, including a free memory upgrade, on S23 Ultra preorders right now. If you’re ready to upgrade, now is an excellent time to do it.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, $1,200 and up

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