Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra – Still the Best Far-Reaching Smartphone Camera?
March 24, 2023 Andrew Cheng

Camera performance has always been one of the winning qualities of the Samsung Galaxy S series, so it’s no surprise that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has one of the most far-reaching (and sophisticated) camera configurations in the flagship segment.

Compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the latest S23 Ultra features an upgraded camera system: the quad camera array is now headlined by a 200MP primary sensor. Complemented by a 12MP ultra-wide angle shooter, a 10MP telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom, and another 10MP periscope telephoto sensor with 10x optical zoom, it is without a doubt a versatile camera setup with various focal lengths.

Yes, it is largely the same camera system as its predecessor, except for the 200MP main sensor that bins 16 pixels into one to output 12.5MP images. This makes for an even more capable camera system than the S22 Ultra’s. Even if the improvement is not by a huge margin, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Photographing with the S23 Ultra feels just as effortless as it was with last year’s model. It performs well regardless of lighting situation, it can lock in focus very quickly, and its far-reaching zoom is still my favourite aspect of the camera system.

Just take a look at these sample images:

Beyond the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 200MP main sensor, the sheer focal range of the phone is certainly class-leading. Even at 10x zoom, the image quality is still more than acceptable. There just aren’t many phones that can rival the zooming capability of this flagship.

Of course, the image quality of the 10x periscope telephoto lens does show its limits in low light conditions. Noise becomes more evident, and detail preservation isn’t as good anymore. That being said, the image output at this level of zoom is still a step above the competition, in my opinion.

Beyond its camera performance, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is also a very capable flagship smartphone. It has a fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, much improved battery life out of the 5,000mAh battery – thanks to the power efficiency of the chip, among other things – and of course, a stunning 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate.

There’s also the signature hardware of the S23 Ultra, the built-in S Pen. It still feels natural to scribble on the screen with the stylus, and the various Air Actions are easy to execute. All in all, it’s the same S Pen loved by many, and it’s one of the best reasons to get the S23 Ultra – or even its predecessor.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a competent, premium flagship smartphone, so that also entails an equally premium price tag. Retailing from RM5,699 for the 256GB model, the starting price of the flagship phone went up by RM600 compared to its predecessor. That being said, it’s worth noting that the S22 Ultra had a 128GB variant that went for RM5,099; the equivalent 256GB configuration was priced at RM5,499.

It’s a costly phone, to be sure, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Galaxy S23 Ultra is a fantastic high-end phone. It may not have some revolutionary new features, but the upgrades that Samsung did implement with the S23 Ultra – such as the 200MP main camera – do lend to much improved user experience in many areas.