Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra – the best made better?

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra backs on split color background
Vi jämför de två toppmodellerna från Samsung för att se vilken av dem som är bäst. (Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra could well be the ultimate Android phone of 2023. Why do we say that? Because the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra was one of the best phones of 2022, and so far the Galaxy S23 Ultra has stood above most of the competition this year.

With that in mind, the biggest threat to Samsung’s new flagship phone could come from within. With prices for the outgoing model dropping and tempting contract offers starting to come thick and fast, the Galaxy S23 Ultra needs to prove itself a worthy upgrade.

So how does it stack up to its masterful predecessor? Here’s how it compares to the Galaxy S22 Ultra on a spec-by-spec basis, and in practice.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra went on sale on Friday, February 17, 2023. That’s just shy of a year after the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which arrived on February 25, 2022.

With the global economy going a little downhill over the past 12 months, not everyone is going to be happy with the new Galaxy S23 Ultra’s pricing – especially if they recall how much the Galaxy S22 Ultra cost at launch.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra prices:

  • Galaxy S23 Ultra: 8GB / 256GB: $1,199.99 / £1,249 / AU$1,949
  • Galaxy S23 Ultra: 12GB / 512GB: $1,379.99 / £1,399 / AU$2,249
  • Galaxy S23 Ultra 12GB / 1TB: $1,619.99 / £1,599 / AU$2,649

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra prices:

  • Galaxy S22 Ultra: 8GB / 128GB: $1,199.99 / £1,149 / AU$1,849
  • Galaxy S22 Ultra: 8GB / 256GB: $1,299,99 / £1,249 / AU$1,999
  • Galaxy S22 Ultra: 12GB / 512GB: $1,399.99 / £1,329 / AU$2,149
  • Galaxy S22 Ultra 12GB / 1TB: $1,599.99 / £1,499 / AU$2,449

The first thing to note here is that Samsung has done away with the 128GB entry model for the Galaxy S23 Ultra. This means one fewer storage and pricing option, but it also means that buyers are effectively getting more for their money.

US buyers are paying the same price for a 256GB Galaxy S23 Ultra as they would have a 128GB Galaxy S22 Ultra 12 months prior. They’re also paying $20 less for 512GB, and $20 more for 1TB (a exclusive).

UK buyers, on the other hand, are paying the exact same for a 256GB Galaxy S23 Ultra as they would have a 256GB S22 Ultra, £70 more for 512GB, and £100 more for the range-topping 1TB model. Apple’s UK customers have been similarly stiffed, so the problem clearly lies with the local economy and the relative strength of the US dollar, but it still stings.

In Australia, the price of a 256GB Galaxy S23 Ultra is AU$50 less than the equivalent S22 Ultra model, while a 512GB S23 Ultra is AU$100 more, and a 1TB one is $200 more.

It's worth noting however, that stores are often now selling the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra at a discount, so in reality you'll probably pay less for that phone than the prices above, but the exact discount will vary.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra held in a hand facing backwards

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra looks a lot like the new model (Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Design

You might want to play a game of spot the difference with the Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Galaxy S23 Ultra, because they’re very similar-looking indeed.

Given that we called the Galaxy S22 Ultra “an inarguably beautiful device” in our review, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and indeed our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review noted that "it remains an undeniably good looking device."

Once again, Samsung has borrowed from the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra playbook, with curved left and right edges and flat top and bottom edges, while the rear camera lenses stick out individually.

One notable difference is that Samsung has flattened out the display a little for the Galaxy S23 Ultra, so while it’s still curved at the edges, the effect is less pronounced. This is a positive change, especially for landscape video watching and S Pen stylus usage.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra comes in Phantom Black, green, lavender, and cream color options. If you order from Samsung's own store then there are additionally Lime, Graphite, Red and Sky Blue shades to choose from. Check out our Samsung Galaxy S23 colors roundup to get eyes on every available finish, if you're curious.

That’s a similarly varied selection to the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s Phantom Black, white, burgundy, green, Graphite, red and Sky Blue.

Samsung has spoken of the green credentials of its new flagship, with recycled materials from discarded fishing nets, water barrels and PET bottles going into its build; it reportedly features twice as many components as the S22 Ultra that are, at least in-part, made from recycled materials (12 instead of 6).

Neither of these phones is small, and it’s nip and tuck as to which is bigger. The Galaxy S23 Ultra measures 78.1 x 163.4 x 8.9mm and weighs 234 grams, while the Galaxy S22 Ultra measures 77.9 x 163.3 x 8.9mm and weighs 229 grams. There really is precious little between them.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra hands on front apps drawer leaves background

The S23 Ultra's display is essentially the same as before, but that's OK (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Display

Both of these phones pack big, sharp, bright AMOLED displays. We’re not seeing a huge amount of difference here.

In both cases you’re looking at a 6.8-inch 'Dynamic AMOLED 2X' panel with a 1440 x 3088 (WQHD+) resolution and a variable 120Hz refresh rate, which can step right down to 1Hz as needed, in the name of saving power.

Again, this similarity is no bad thing, with the Galaxy S22 Ultra screen remaining one of the best on the market to this day. “Everything from games and videos to apps looks fantastic on the display,” we noted in our review, and in our Galaxy S23 Ultra review we said that it "offers a familiar viewing experience to its predecessor."

Both displays can hit 1,750 nits, too, which remains one of the brightest peaks in the business (with the iPhone 14 Pro line being the notable market leader). You do in theory get more accurate colors with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra's screen than with the S22 Ultra's but it's a negligible difference.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera array

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a 108MP main sensor (Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Camera

The headline difference between these two phones relates to their camera systems. Samsung has equipped the Galaxy S23 Ultra with a brand new 200MP sensor, which is purportedly an upgrade on the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s already-impressive 108MP sensor.

In practice, our Galaxy S23 Ultra reviewer found that this new sensor offers "just as consistent and impressive an experience as its predecessor" with improvements when it comes to low light shots.

Outside of that main sensor, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a very similar camera set-up to its predecessor, with a 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP telephoto capable of 3x zoom, and a 10MP periscope lens capable of a 10x zoom.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra hands on white camera close

A nearly all-black depth sensor is all that visually sets the S23 Ultra's new camera system apart (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Interestingly, Samsung has dropped the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 40MP selfie camera in favor of a 12MP unit. This isn’t necessarily the downgrade it would appear to be, as we found it delivered pleasing results with impressive dynamic range.

One other camera feature that’s worth mentioning is the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s ability to shoot Expert RAW shots at 50MP rather than the 12MP of the Galaxy S22 Ultra. This could well make its way to the older phone in a future update, though, so don’t count on it as a reason to upgrade.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra base

The S22 Ultra sports slower RAM and storage (Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Performance

“Over almost a week of intense testing, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra never let us down,” we said in our review of 2022’s phone. However, this was for the model that came with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, and therein lies the (fairly minor) problem with recent Samsung flagships.

Those in Europe got the Exynos 2200 chip inside their Galaxy S22 Ultras. While it’s still a capable chip, it’s not as fast or efficient as the Qualcomm equivalent.

There are no such problems with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra though, which packs a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 whatever country you buy it in.

This isn’t just any Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip either, but rather a specially enhanced one with its prime Cortex-X3 core clocked to 3.36GHz, rather than the usual 3.2GHz. This promises to make the Galaxy S23 Ultra one of the fastest phones on the market, which is precisely what it should be. Indeed, our review described the performance as "exceptional."

Elsewhere, you’re getting either 8 or 12GB of RAM with both phones, depending on the model you choose. We’d argue that you should really be getting 12GB as standard in a ‘Pro’ phone such as these are, but it’s only a minor gripe. The S23 Ultra also technically boasts marginally faster memory with LPDDR5X versus LPDDR5 in the S22 Ultra.

Storage options are generous, but more so with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. You can get 128, 256, or 512GB, or go crazy with 1TB. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra offers the same, except for the 128GB model. Again, given the ‘Pro’ nature of this line, we’re not sorry to see the lower-end option being culled.

The 2023 Ultra also boasts faster, more power efficient UFS 4.0 storage (one of the first phones on the market to do so), compared to its predecessor's UFS 3.1 storage.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra screen

The S22 Ultra is available in more storage configurations (Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Battery

While the rest of the Galaxy S23 series have increased the size of their batteries, the Galaxy S23 Ultra stays the same at 5,000mAh.

On the one hand, that’s a perfectly decent capacity for a modern flagship phone. On the other hand, we were hardly blown away by the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s stamina.

“We were a little surprised that such a large battery didn’t provide a day and a half of battery life,” we noted in our Galaxy S22 Ultra review.

It’s worth noting that the Galaxy S23 Ultra uses that improved processor, memory and storage, which proves to be a little more energy efficient.

Samsung claims you should get 20% greater longevity in this latest Ultra, and our reviewer was inclined to agree, saying that "What was a one-day phone at best now lasts a day and a half, in normal usage and will still see you through a full day, even if you plan on streaming Disney Plus with brightness pushed up or want to dive into an hour of CoD: Mobile or Wreckfest."

They also noted that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra delivered some of the longest screen-on time of any recently tested handset. So this offers a big upgrade in life from the S22 Ultra, and is just generally a strong performer on this front.

Samsung has kept its charging provision the same on both phones though, with 45W wired charging supported and 15W wireless. There’s no charging brick bundled with either phone.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra hands on colors S Pen stylus

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Features

Feature for feature, these two phones are pretty much identical, right down to their signature (pun intended) S Pen stylus. This is stored on the underside of both phones, and enables you to scrawl messages and reminders, with natural handwriting recognition translating your notes to digital text.

Both phones have access to Android 13 and Samsung’s One UI 5.1 user experience. The big difference here is that the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with an extra year of guaranteed software updates – that’s four years of Android OS updates and five years of security updates.

Which one should you buy?

Samsung created one of the best phones of 2022 in the Galaxy S22 Ultra, so it didn’t need to make sweeping changes with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and nor has it done.

The changes are fairly incremental with this year’s model, but we’re fans of the S23 Ultra’s tweaked Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, which even Europeans will be able to benefit from this time around. The battery life has also seen a significant boost, and the cameras are slightly better.

So if the Galaxy S23 Ultra a worthwhile purchase now those Galaxy S22 Ultra deals are dropping? Really, it comes down to how much you'll value better battery life and small improvements elsewhere.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is undoubtedly the better phone, but if you can find the S22 Ultra for hundreds less it might remain the better buy for a lot of people. And if you already have the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, there's probably not much reason to upgrade.