Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review: A Dominant Android Phone

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Audio Quality, Performance And Battery Life

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Audio, Data, and Call Reception

We used the unlocked Galaxy S23 Ultra review unit primarily on T-Mobile and Telus’ sub-6GHz 5G and 4G LTE networks in San Francisco, New York City, and Vancouver (Canada), and didn’t run into any issues with call quality or data speeds. The S23 Ultra is compatible with every 5G band currently deployed in North America, including C-band and mmWave. Obviously, it’s certified for T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon in the US.

The S23 Ultra packs AKG-tuned stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos that sound loud and clear. Audio performance is on par with its predecessor, the S22 Ultra, and other Android flagships like the Pixel 7 Pro. The S23 also supports aptX HD and LDAC for wireless audio over Bluetooth, but you’ll need an external DAC for wired playback because the USB Type-C port only works with digital accessories (not analog dongles).

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Performance

The Galaxy S23 series boasts a special version of Qualcomm’s 4nm flagship SoC manufactured by TSMC. It’s dubbed the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, and it’s basically a binned chip that’s capable of higher peak clock speeds on its prime core (3.36GHz). This means there are no Exynos-equipped models at all this year, which is probably for the best.

On the S23 Ultra, the SoC is paired with 8 or 12GB RAM (LPDDR5x), and 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage (UFS 4.0), without micro SD expansion support. In terms of subjective performance, this phone is pleasantly quick. Everything runs smoothly and efficiently, and it juggled our everyday apps – productivity, communication, entertainment, and gaming – without skipping a beat. We didn’t observe any hiccups, even when multitasking between numerous apps.

The benchmark results show that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 delivers blazing performance. This is especially obvious with GPU workloads, which benefit from major speed gains compared to last year’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Throttling is also far less pronounced than on the S22 Ultra, and efficiency is significantly better overall.

Galaxy S23 Series Geekbench Results

geekbench galaxy s23 performance

GeekBench is a purely synthetic benchmark and can be heavily targeted for optimization. Regardless, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor delivers a notable improvement in single and multi-threaded performance over previous generation Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-equipped Android flagships.

Galaxy S23 Series PCMark For Android Benchmarks

Futuremark's PCMark for Android is an excellent suite of tests if you want to benchmark a wide range of tasks on any handset -- things like image and video editing, as well as lighter-duty, everyday workloads such as email and web browsing. When you see the test running live, it's clear the scripted application tests are carefully selected and tuned to make use of the each mobile platform in a very controlled way...

pcmark galaxy s23 performance

Here Samsung's latest flagship shows similar performance to previous generation models, with the Galaxy S23 Ultra falling just behind the ROG Phone 5 and 6.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Series AnTuTu 8 Benchmark Results

AnTuTu’s latest benchmark returns a number of metrics ranked with somewhat nebulous scores, rather than frame rates or time to complete. Here we're running the latest version of AnTuTu across multiple Android devices. AnTuTu returns four top level performance results which are all included here: CPU, RAM, 3D, UX (or User Experience), along with a total score...

antutu galaxy s23 performance

aitutu galaxy s23 performance

According to AnTuTu, the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers a slight increase in performance vs. previous generation Android handsets, beating the ROG Phone 6 in terms of its overall score.

However, in AITuTu, which is specifically an image recognition and classification benchmark for AI and machine learning workloads, we see a different picture. Here there are big gains for Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 powered devices like the Galaxy S23 Ultra, putting it right alongside the OnePlus 11 5G.

3D Graphics And Gaming Benchmarks With Samsung's Galaxy S23 Series

Next we're checking how the Galaxy S23 Ultra compares in GFXBench, which has been one of the standard mobile graphics/gaming performance benchmarks for years. To ensure that display refresh (v-sync) and resolution aren't limiting factors, we're comparing off-screen test results here. GFXBench tests OpenGL ES graphics workloads and we're specifically testing OpenGL ES 2.0 and 3.0.

trex galaxy s23 performance

manhattan galaxy s23 performance

aztec ruins galaxy s23 performance

Now we're seeing the kind of performance improvement we expected from Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-equipped devices like the Galaxy S23 Ultra. This phone clearly beats Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-powered devices like the ROG Phone 6 in these graphically rich benchmarks.

Futuremark's 3DMark Sling Shot is a newer benchmark module that's been added to the 3DMark mobile suite. Unlike previous gen 3DMark mobile tests, Sling Shot is a much more advanced OpenGL ES 3.1 and Metal API-based benchmark that employs more advanced rendering techniques, like volumetric lighting, particle illumination, multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback.

3DMark Sling
Shot Test
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Benchmark

We're running this test in off-screen mode once again to remove display resolution differences from the equation. This lets us compare cross-platform results more reliably...

slingshot galaxy s23 performance

Here we only see a slight improvement to the overall score over Snapdragon 8 Gen-1-equipped flagships. Still, the Galaxy S23 Ultra perform extremely well in this test.

Galaxy S23 Series 3DMark Wild Life Benchmark Tests

3DMark Wild Life is the latest cross-platform test from UL. Its primary purpose is to measure GPU performance across platforms, and two distinct tests are available. The standard Wild Life test is designed to give feedback on how a game performs over a short period of time. With mobile games, people typically play in brief spurts when they find some free time; be it on the bus, on the subway, or a quick battle royale session over lunch break. The 3DMark Wild Life Stress Test, on the other hand, shows how a device performs over a longer stretch of time, and takes note of performance degradation that might crop up due to increased heat levels and throttling.

3dmark wild
life screen shot

wildlife galaxy s23 performance

3DMark Wild Life is a significantly more taxing graphics benchmark that employs cutting-edge mobile game engine technologies to deliver impressive visuals -- as you can see in the screen shot above. Here the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-powered Galaxy S23 Ultra delivers a massive improvement in performance versus the fastest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-equipped devices, and even comes out ahead of the RedMagic 8 Pro, which is an actively-cooled, gaming-oriented phone that's also powered by the Snapgradon 8 Gen 2.

S23 Ultra sustained performance

Fortunately, the Galaxy S23 Ultra does not exhibit the kind of excessive throttling we experienced with the Galaxy S22 Ultra in the Wild Life Stress test, managing a stability score of 82.7%.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Other Features and Battery Life

The remaining specs are pretty much what you’d expect from a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 flagship, including sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G (SA / NSA), CAT 22 LTE, dual-band WiFi 6e (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3 (LE), NFC, UWB, dual-band A-GPS / GLONASS / BeiDou / GALILEO positioning. You’ll also find the usual collection of sensors on board (ambient light, proximity, accelerometer, gyro, compass, and barometer).

Haptics feel great thanks to a high-quality linear vibration motor, and the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate. Face unlock, which is also available, performs well. On the charging front, the S23 Ultra features 45W wired charging (via USB PD 3.0) and 15W Qi wireless charging (with reverse wireless charging up to 4.5W). As you’d expect from Samsung, there’s a USB C-to-C cable in the box, but no charger.

battery galaxy s23 performance

When it comes to battery life, the S23 Ultra is a champ, and easily beats last year’s S22 Ultra. The 5,000mAh battery lasted a whopping 15 hours and 2 minutes at 120Hz (adaptive, 1080p) in the PCMark battery test. Basically, this means that for the majority of users, the battery will easily keep on ticking for an entire day on a single charge. In fact, two days aren’t out of reach with moderate use, which is just outstanding.

Next up: the software, pricing, and the review verdict...

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