Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs

Reviews

  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in Green

    Source: Samsung

    Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

    Jack of all trades

    Performance for years to come

    The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a powerful device capable of doing anything you could want a phone to do. Its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and 200MP quad camera system will allow this device to keep up with the best phones for years to come. It may be expensive upfront, but it will give you years of joy.

    Pros

    • Extreme power and performance
    • Stunning display
    • Takes amazing photos
    • Built-in S-Pen slot

    Cons

    • Incredibly expensive
    • Charging speeds are slower than the competition
    • Less RAM compared to the Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

    Source: Samsung

    Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

    Older but still capable

    The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is aging like fine wine thanks to Samsung’s software support. After two years, it still has good to great specs that can hang with newer devices. Its quad-camera setup is still superb, and overall performance remains enough for general use.

    Pros

    • Gorgeous display
    • Camera system is still good
    • Still has two OS upgrades left

    Cons

    • No built-in S-Pen slot
    • Not as fast as it used to be
    • Unwieldy in one hand

ANDROIDPOLICE VIDEO OF THE DAY

When Samsung launched the Galaxy 21 Ultra a few years ago, it instantly became one of the best phones you could get. It was so good, that it negated the need to upgrade to the S22 Ultra a year later. It’s not that the S22 Ultra wasn’t an improvement over its predecessor, it’s just that Samsung packs so much into its Ultra devices that a year’s time isn’t enough to make a substantial leap forward. Now that the S21 Ultra is two years older, and Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy S23 Ultra, it’s time to see how they stack up in a head-to-head comparison. While these two devices are more similar than they are not, the Galaxy S23 Ultra brings some new enhancements to the table.

Phone

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

SoC

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

Snapdragon 888

Display

6.8-inch QHD+ AMOLED, 120Hz

6.8-inch QHD+ AMOLED, 120Hz

RAM

8GB, 12GB

12GB, 16GB

Storage

256GB, 512GB, 1TB

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

Battery

5000mAh, 45W Super Fast Charging 2.0, Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare

5000mAh, 25W Super Fast Charging, Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare

Front Camera

12MP f/2.2

40MP f/2.2

Rear cameras

200MP f/1.7 primary, 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, 10MP f/2.4 telephoto, 10MP f/4.9 telephoto

100MP f/1.8 primary, 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, 10MP f/2.4 telephoto, 10MP f/4.9 telephoto

Connectivity

5G (sub-6GHZ, mmWave), Wi-Fi 6E

5G (sub-6GHz), Wi-Fi 6E

Dimensions

163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9 mm, 234g, IP68 certified

165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm, 229g, IP68 certified

Software

Android 13/One UI 5

Android 13/One UI 5

Software Support

OS updates through 2027 and security patches through 2028

OS updates through 2025 and security patches through 2026

Colors

Standard: Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender/ Exclusive: Graphite, Sky Blue, Lime, Red

Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, Phantom Brown

Price

$1200

No longer sold as new (prices vary)

Price and availability

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is available for preorder all over the world, but the official release date is February 17, 2023. In the United States, all major carriers and most of the smaller ones will have it available for you. As a premium device, it will carry a hefty price tag of $1,200. The S21 Ultra, however, isn’t sold new anymore unless you find some old stock. It can be purchased used but isn’t worth it if it’s priced anywhere near the S23 Ultra.

Design

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Source: Samsung

From a design perspective, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is a continued evolution of the S21 Ultra’s design. Samsung has made small refinements each year, which has resulted in the Galaxy S23 Ultra looking slightly sleeker than the S21 Ultra. The S23 Ultra clocks in at 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9 mm, while the S21 is relatively the same size at 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm. The S23 Ultra weighs a hefty 234g, and the S21 Ultra is a little lighter at 229g.

The front of both phones is dominated by their respective displays, although the S23 Ultra has slightly more uniform bezels. Both displays have a hole-punch selfie camera located at the top-middle of the display. Flipping the phone over is where you can see the most apparent difference. The S23 Ultra has a completely flat back except for three protruding camera lenses. The S21 Ultra has a camera island that bumps out a bit, but it allows the lenses to sit flush with the housing.

Being two years newer gives the S23 Ultra an edge in protection. Its combination of Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and armor aluminum should keep the S23 Ultra well-protected. The S21 Ultra uses Gorilla Glass Victus with an aluminum frame. Both devices have an IP68 rating. Another notable difference between that the S23 Ultra has a built-in S-Pen slot. The S21 Ultra did not have this slot, although case manufacturers were quick to add it to their designs.

The two phones come in a variety of colorways. The S23 Ultra is available in phantom black, cream, green, and lavender. The S21 Ultra is available in phantom black, phantom silver, phantom titanium, phantom navy, and phantom brown.

Display

Up-front, both devices stare back at you with their gorgeous 6.8-inch Quad HD+ displays. Due to a slightly different aspect ratio, the new S23 Ultra has a slightly lower pixel density of 500ppi vs the S21 Ultra’s 515ppi. In real-world use, you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Both devices have a 120Hz refresh rate for fast and fluid animations. The S23 Ultra is capable of going all the way down to 1Hz depending on what you are doing, such as when you are on the lock screen. The S21 Ultra will typically swap between 60Hz and 120Hz for its refresh rate. The S23 Ultra has one of the brightest displays on the market with a peak brightness of 1,750nits. The S21 Ultra isn’t too far behind at 1,500nits. While the S23 Ultra may get a bit brighter, it won’t be overly noticeable without seeing them side by side. They both feature an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor built into the display and face unlock for quickly unlocking your device.

Performance and connectivity

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Source: Samsung

Being two years newer, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is going to get the performance crown pretty easily. Samsung went with the latest and greatest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which is a pretty major bump compared to the Snapdragon 888 that is used in the S21 Ultra. In benchmarks, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is 52% faster in AnTuTu 9, 31% (single-core) and 35% (multi-core) in GeekBench 5, and up to a whopping 159% faster in 3DMark.

You can get the Galaxy S23 Ultra with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, or 12GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. The S21 had 12GB of RAM with 128GB or 256GB storage capacities, or 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The S21 Ultra can have slightly more RAM but has less onboard storage.

Both Samsung devices support sub-6GHZ and mmWave 5G. The newer Galaxy offers Wi-Fi 6E support and will be able to tap into the new Snapdragon satellite once it goes live. Being able to send messages in times of an emergency, even when you have no cell service, is sure to save many lives over the next few years.

Software

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Source: Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy S23 ships with Android 13 and One UI 5 out of the box. It comes with 4 Android OS upgrades and an additional year of critical bug fixes. The Galaxy S21 Ultra shipped with Android 11 and One UI 3.1, but has since received Android 13 and One UI 5.0 updates. It gets the same four Android OS upgrades and an additional year of critical bug fixes. This puts the S21 Ultra halfway through its potential upgrades but will get two additional ones.

Samsung’s One UI is very customizable and one of the better software experiences available on Android. Samsung throws everything except the kitchen sink into its software. It often implements features long before Google adds them to Android. You will get a very similar, if not identical, software experience between both devices.

Cameras: What’s the difference?

Samsung has always been near the top of the pack with its camera performance, and they are pushing the bar even further this year. The Galaxy S23 Ultra will have a 200MP f/1.7 main lens, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens, a 10MP f/2.4 telephoto lens, and a second 10MP f/4.9 telephoto lens. It can record 8K video at 30fps, 4k at 60fps, and 1080p at 120fps. The selfie camera is a 12MP f/2.2 lens capable of 4K at 60fps recording.

The Galaxy S21 also utilizes a quad-camera setup. It has a 108MP f/1.8 main lens, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens, a 10MP f/2.4 telephoto lens, and a 10MP f/4.9 telephoto lens. It can record 8K at 24fps, 4K at 60fps, and 1080p at 60fps. The front-facing camera has a 40MP f/2.2 lens that can record video at 4K 60fps.

The S21 Ultra is still a capable camera setup, but the upgrades to the S23 Ultra’s camera setup are going to leave it in the dark. In fact, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has a significantly improved night mode thanks to its ISOCELL HP2 sensor. Both are capable of up to 10 times optical zoom and up to 100 times digital zoom.

Battery life and charging

Both devices have a 5000mAh battery, which should get you through an entire day. The more efficient Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 should allow the S23 Ultra to edge out the S21 Ultra in terms of battery life. This is especially true if your battery has degraded a bit over the past few years. They both support Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 and Wireless PowerShare (reverse charging). The S23 Ultra supports wired 45W Super Fast Charging 2.0, and the S21 Ultra tops out at 25W when plugged into the wall.

Should you upgrade?

Both of these devices are beautifully designed and offer a tremendous amount of value. Even the two-year-old Galaxy S21 Ultra can compete with the best 5G phones available today. The upgrade path is always a tricky one, and it’s going to depend on a few factors.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a much faster chipset, more graphics power, a much-improved camera setup, gives you satellite connectivity, and two additional years of software updates. Those are pretty substantial upgrades, but you need to evaluate your needs and determine if the S21 Ultra still meets your needs. If your S21 Ultra is still in good shape, has good performance, decent battery life, and you don’t need the improved camera system, then you should probably stick with your current device. If the S21 Ultra is starting to get a bit long in the tooth, you can’t go wrong with the new Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.

If you decide to upgrade to the newer Galaxy S23 Ultra, make sure you pick up a great case to keep your investment from acquiring any kind of damage throughout its life.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in Green

Source: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a powerful device capable of doing anything you could want a phone to do. Its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and 200MP quad camera system will allow this device to keep up with the best phones for years to come. It may be expensive upfront, but it will give you years of joy.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Source: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is aging like fine wine thanks to Samsung’s software support. After two years, it still has good to great specs that can hang with newer devices. Its quad-camera setup is still superb, and overall performance remains enough for general use.



This article originally appeared on https://www.androidpolice.com/samsung-galaxy-s23-ultra-vs-galaxy-s21-ultra/

Brian Jones

Author and owner of WantedDroid.com - scouring the internet for all the news related to Android. Contact me here: https://wanteddroid.com/contact/

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