Samsung released its financial guidance for the first quarter, and if you’re an investor the news is depressing, but if you’re a smartphone fan, the news is good. The smartphone market is slow right now, but more Galaxy S23 phones were sold this year than Galaxy S22 phones at the same time last year. And if you bought a Galaxy S23, you probably sprang for the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Is that surprising? A little bit, because the Galaxy S23 Ultra has the highest starting price of any major flagship model that doesn’t fold in half, and that’s before you add more storage. The economy is a mess, which is why Samsung sales are up but profit is way, way down. Everything costs more, especially for the company that makes everything.
If you’re going to spend a lot on a new phone, though, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the best one to buy. That’s not just my opinion, it’s at the top of our Best Phones list, above the best iPhones and best Pixel phones. Overall, the S23 Ultra is the best, and it appears that buyers agree.
This makes sense now that folks are keeping phones longer. I would have run from a three-year payment plan in the past, but now I’m more likely to keep my personal (not work supplied) phone for as long as it works well. With an S23 Ultra, my phone works very well, and it already does things most smartphones can’t match. What’s more future-proof than that?
Samsung won’t be sitting still. The wheels in Seoul and Suwon are turning, working on the next big thing, presumably the Galaxy S24 family and its premiere headliner, a Galaxy S24 Ultra. Now that we know the Ultra sells best, I fully expect Samsung to embrace the Ultra and create the most Ultra-fied Ultra that has ever lorded its features over the rest of the smartphone world.
Here’s how Samsung could out-Ultra the S23 Ultra
The Galaxy S23 Ultra may be the best smartphone around, but smartphones are on the way out. The next big thing is glasses. Apple has started to talk more about its upcoming face-mounted wearable and what it sees as the next big step for the personal tech industry. Samsung could both revolutionize smartphones and beat Apple to the punch with this wild idea.
Wear your smartphone on your face. Seriously, put the Galaxy S24 Ultra into a headset and wear it on your face like Apple Glasses. The phone already has the processing power, the amazing display, and all of the motion-sensing technology needed. You could make an entire VR headset just by using the phone and wearing it right in front of your eyes, with special lenses to help you...
Okay, I’m being told Samsung already did this, it was called Gear VR, and it lasted for years before the Oculus Quest 2 basically wiped it off the map. It even had a partnership with Oculus and Facebook for the app store. Too bad this went away.
Not just a Galaxy Ultra, but an S Pen Ultra as well
The S Pen is far more than just a stylus, it has incredible technology packed into such a small device. Even though the S Pen doesn’t need to charge to write on the S23 Ultra’s display, it has a battery for low-power Bluetooth and other microcircuitry inside. There’s an accelerometer so you can wave the pen around in the air to control apps with gestures. The next S Pen on the Galaxy S24 Ultra should give the S Pen the Ultra treatment it needs.
Give the S Pen a display. Yes, it would be small, but you could fit a line of text for the weather or notifications. You could have cool graphical patterns for sound waves or to show your phone’s battery level. The possibilities are limited only by imagination and the incredibly small space where you'd be trying to fit that itty-bitty display.
The next logical camera upgrade will see everything
The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 10X zoom lens, and there isn’t a smartphone around that can see farther. With digital enhancements, you can even take some of the best astrophotography you’ll find outside of a professional DSLR camera. You can shoot the moon with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, so how much more can we expect from the camera?
If the Galaxy S24 Ultra is going to be a real super phone, shouldn’t it have X-ray vision, like Superman? Give the next Galaxy X-ray cameras. Good ones, too, that can see through walls and look for shampoo in luggage.
There are obvious drawbacks. I wouldn’t want perverts to use the S24 Ultra to see through my clothes, so we would need to make the X-rays especially strong. So strong that if someone tried to look at my bits, they would only see my smiling skeleton. Sure, there will be radiation concerns, but cell phones produce radiation already, so I don’t see the problem.
Seriously just make it stronger and last longer
If Samsung wanted to truly impress me with its next Ultra phone, it would be easy. Make the phone so durable that it passes military requirements for the MIL-STD 810H specification. My Galaxy S23 Ultra feels plenty tough, but I want a promise that it won’t break if I drop it onto a marble countertop.
Then make the battery much bigger. I haven’t seen any new phones with batteries that top 5,000 mAh this year. If I’m already accepting the larger size of the Ultra, I’ll take another millimeter or so and bump that battery 20%.
In reality, the next Galaxy S24 Ultra doesn’t need superpowers or gimmicks. It needs to nail some essential features that we’ve been missing since the dawn of the smartphone. Give us a phone that will never break, and that lasts for days, and it won’t just be the best-selling Galaxy S24 phone, it will be the phone for every competitor to beat.
- If you like the Ultra, check out our round-up of all of the best Samsung phones
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Phil Berne is a preeminent voice in consumer electronics reviews, having reviewed his first device (the Sony D-EJ01 Discman) more than 20 years ago for eTown.com. He has been writing about phones and mobile technology, since before the iPhone, for a variety of sites including PCMag, infoSync, PhoneScoop, and Slashgear. He holds an M.A. in Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University.
Phil was the internal reviewer for Samsung Mobile, writing opinions and review predictions about top secret new devices months before launch. He left in 2017. He worked at an Apple Store near Boston, MA, at the height of iPod popularity. He has been a High School English teacher at Title I schools, and is a certified Lifeguard. His passion is smartphones and wearables, and he is sure that the next big thing will be phones we wear on our faces.