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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: is it time to upgrade?

Samsung has unveiled its latest top-of-the-line flagship smartphone: the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. This beast packs in the powerful new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip, an optimized version of Qualcomm’s latest, with clock speeds of up to 3.3Ghz. You also get an incredible 200-megapixel main camera, a super-sharp 6.8-inch AMOLED display with 500 pixels per inch (ppi), a massive battery, and more.

But what if you already have the Galaxy S22 Ultra? It remains one of the best phones in 2023, even a year after its release. Is it worth upgrading to the S23 Ultra? Let’s find out.

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: specs

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Size 3.07 x 6.43 x 0.35 inches 3.07 x 6.43 x 0.35 inches
Weight 8.25 ounces 8.04 ounces
Display 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED

120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate

500ppi

1,750 nit outdoor peak brightness

6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED

120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate

500ppi

1,750 nit outdoor peak brightness

RAM/Storage 8GB/256GB

12GB 512GB/1TB

8GB/128GB

12GB 256GB/512GB/1TB

Processor Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (U.S.)

Exynos 2200 (Europe)

Biometrics Ultrasonic FP & Face Recognition Ultrasonic FP & Face Recognition
Rear Camera 200-megapixel main (OIS) with Laser Auto Focus

12MP ultra-wide

10MP (OIS) telephoto and periscope telephoto

108MP main (OIS) with Laser Auto Focus

12MP ultra-wide

10MP (OIS) telephoto and periscope telephoto

Selfie Camera 12MP 40MP
Video

8K at 30 fps, 4K at 60 fps

FHD at 120 fps and 960 fps (Super Slow- Mo)

8K at 24 fps, 4K at 30/60 fps

1080p at 30/60/240 fps

720pat 960 fps

Zoom 3X/10X Optical

100X Space Zoom

3X/10X Optical

100X Space Zoom

Battery 5,000mAh 5,000mAh
Charging Super Fast Charging 2.0 (wired) up to 45W

Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 up to 15W

Wireless PowerShare

Super Fast Charging 2.0 (wired) up to 45W

Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 up to 15W

Wireless PowerShare

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: design

In terms of design, there’s pretty much no difference between the S23 Ultra and the S22 Ultra. Since the previous iteration did not have a camera island like the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus, the floating camera design on the new S23 series is not considered new for the Ultra device. Other design elements remain the same as well, from the sharp curves and square corners, and even the placement of the S Pen remains unchanged. The screen is less curved on the S23 Ultra compared to the S22 Ultra, but that’s about it.

The only other difference between the design of the S22 Ultra and the S23 Ultra is the colors. Previously, the S22 Ultra came in Phantom Black, Phantom White, Burgundy, and Green. The S23 Ultra comes in Phantom Black, Cream, Green, and Lavender. Phantom Black is largely the same across both phones, but the rest of the lineup is different.

While Phantom White is a bright, pristine white, Cream is more off-white, like it has a bit of a warmer temperature to it. Lavender is a very muted color, so it’s way more subtle than the Burgundy of the previous generation. The Green shades appear similar, with minor differences depending on the lighting.

Basically, the design of the S22 Ultra and S23 Ultra is the same; it just really comes down to which colors you want.

Winner: Tie

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: display

Using the S Pen with the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Both the S22 Ultra and S23 Ultra have a 6.8-inch Super Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 1-120Hz refresh rate, 1,750 nits peak outdoor brightness, and a resolution of 1440 x 3088 pixels (which equates to 500 ppi). What do those stats mean in practice? Essentially, both phones have utterly gorgeous and crisp screens. They’re bright and able to be seen even in strong sunlight, and the AMOLED tech means both have vibrant colors and deep, inky blacks.

However, there’s an edge in durability. The S23 Ultra uses the new Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2, which is an upgrade from the S22 Ultra’s Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+. With Gorilla Glass Victus 2, the S23 Ultra will have the same scratch resistance as the S22 Ultra, but with increased drop resistance. If you’re prone to dropping your device, the S23 Ultra is the way to go — though it’s still worth pairing with one of the best Galaxy S23 Ultra cases.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: performance and battery

Multitasking menu on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

The Galaxy S22 Ultra used the Exynos 2200 chip in Europe, whereas folks in the U.S. got the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. While these are certainly great chips that provide fast and reliable performance, the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset.

The “for Galaxy” moniker isn’t just a marketing ploy. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy is a chip that has optimized performance specifically for the Galaxy S23 lineup, including the Ultra. The clock speeds are up to 3.3GHz, which is faster than the regular Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that’ll be used in other phones. The S22 Ultra was already powerful, and the S23 Ultra with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy is even better. There was little we could do to push it to its limits. It handles the most demanding games with ease and showcased smooth performance throughout our review period.

Playing a game on the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The S22 Ultra came in four storage configurations: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB. The 128GB option had 8GB RAM, while the larger-capacity variations had 12GB RAM. With the S23 Ultra, there are three storage options: 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. You still get 8GB RAM with the base 256GB storage model, but it goes up to 12GB RAM for the 512GB or 1TB versions. The 256GB version should be a good option for most, with the higher storage upgrades only really being useful for those who want to take lots of 200MP images, 8K video, or who want to store loads of media on their devices.

Though the regular S23 and S23 Plus have 200mAh more battery capacity than their predecessors at 3,900mAh and 4,700mAh, respectively, there is no change in the battery size for the S23 Ultra. The previous S22 Ultra had a 5,000mAh battery, and the S23 Ultra keeps that same massive battery. The S23 Ultra benefits from better power efficiency, however, and can pretty easily get through two full days on a single charge.

It also still has up to 45-watt wired USB-C 3.0 fast charging, 15W output speeds for wireless charging, and 4.5W reverse wireless charging (Wireless PowerShare). While not the fastest charging specs around, this is still pretty fast, and charges the phone back up to full in about an hour.

The new processor really gives the new phone an edge here. The Galaxy S23 Ultra wins this battle.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: cameras

A person taking photos with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you use your smartphone for all of your photo and video needs, then you’ll definitely want to consider going for the Galaxy S23 Ultra for certain upgrades. The S23 Ultra has the S22 Ultra beat with an impressive 200MP main camera sensor compared to the 108MP camera on the S22 Ultra. Other elements remain the same, like the 10MP resolution for both regular telephoto and periscope telephoto cameras (3x and 10x optical zoom, respectively), and the 12MP ultrawide camera is the same, too.

As you might expect, the increased megapixel count gives the S23 Ultra an edge, but it’s the zoom that really sets it apart from its predecessor. While megapixel counts are the same, the S23 Ultra’s zoom really has been improved, and the 30x zoom is starting to catch up to the 3x and 10x zooms. This is especially impressive when you consider the amount of software tuning that has to go into a 30x zoom. It really sets the new phone apart.

One odd change is in the selfie camera. Samsung decided to downgrade from the 40MP front-facing camera on the S22 Ultra to a 12MP on the S23 Ultra. Though 12MP is still pretty good for a selfie camera, it’s a bit of an odd choice by Samsung to downgrade the megapixel count so drastically from the previous generation.

The new phone takes this category. Samsung really committed to improving an already great camera system, and it succeeded.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: software and updates

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, the Galaxy S23 Plus, and Galaxy S23's screens.
The Galaxy S23 (from left), Galaxy S23 Plus, and Galaxy S23 Ultra Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Samsung has been pretty good about offering long-term support for its flagship devices. Like the S22 Ultra, the S23 Ultra should get four years of Android OS updates, as well as five years of security updates. Samsung isn’t the fastest at getting out new versions of Android, but it’s not bad, and since both devices are from Samsung anyway, you can expect them to get new updates at about the same time.

The S22 Ultra shipped with Android 12 on it, but the S23 Ultra is shipping with Android 13 out of the box, and you’ll have Samsung One UI 5.1. In terms of longevity, the S23 Ultra will, of course, outlast the S22 Ultra because it’s the newer model. But if you currently have an S22 Ultra, then you’re still getting plenty of support on the software side of things.

Winner: Draw

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra: price and availability

All four colors of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Since the Galaxy S22 Ultra originally came out last year, it may be harder to come by brand new now that the Galaxy S23 Ultra has launched. If you want to save some money, you can probably find the S22 Ultra from authorized resellers who still have stock, or from people selling used units.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is available directly from Samsung’s website, as well as major carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. You can find it at retailers like Best Buy, Target, Amazon, and more.

Samsung has kept the pricing the same as the previous generation, so the Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at $1,200. Of course, there may be deals offered by carriers and retailers that allow you to get the phone at a lower price than retail, so make sure to keep an eye out.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra lying on a large rock.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

There are many similarities between the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Galaxy S23 Ultra, but even so, there are enough improvements with the S23 Ultra to make it our winner here.

Of course, the S22 Ultra is still a very capable device, and if you already have one, the question of whether or not you should upgrade really comes down to whether you want a 200MP camera over the 108MP. The most avid photographers may find the upgrade worthwhile, but for everyone else, you’re probably fine holding onto your S22 Ultra for another year.

And if you didn’t already have a Galaxy S22 Ultra, then the Galaxy S23 Ultra is a no-brainer. It’s incredibly powerful with the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor, you get a 200MP main camera, at least 256GB storage with 8GB RAM, a huge battery, and a gorgeous, crisp display. Plus, there’s S Pen support for those times when you need to scribble down notes or just doodle away. It’s not a monumental shift from the S22 Ultra, but that’s because it didn’t need to be.

Editors' Recommendations

Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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