The Galaxy S20 Ultra was the first Samsung phone to bear the “Ultra” badge. It had a lot weighing on its proverbial shoulders, as it needed to prove to the mobile world that its moniker was justified. And justified, it was, partly because of its bonkers “Space Zoom” camera. Nevertheless, it’s been almost three years since the Galaxy S20 Ultra debuted, and a new Ultra flagship is on the way, i.e., the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
The question now is whether Galaxy S20 Ultra users have any reasons to upgrade to the Galaxy S23 Ultra. We’d say yes, there are plenty of reasons, especially if they can get a good discount on the new flagship via trade-in. Based on leaked specifications, the upcoming Galaxy S23 Ultra is superior in many ways, from hardware and software to features and build quality. Let’s have a closer look at what S20 Ultra users would gain by switching to the newer flagship phone.
A brighter, better Super AMOLED display
The Galaxy S20 Ultra has a marginally larger 6.9-inch display, but the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 6.8-inch panel has squarer corners and less curvature around the side edges, which means it’s more practical.
More importantly, although both the S20 Ultra and S23 Ultra use Dynamic AMOLED 2X technology, the 2023 model has a brighter display and a lot more control over the refresh rate.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra reaches 1400 nits of brightness and supports 60Hz at a resolution of 1440 x 3200 pixels. The panel can also achieve 120Hz, but at the maximum refresh rate, the resolution drops to 2400 x 1080. Users can choose one of the two modes.
In contrast, the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s display can reach 1750 nits of brightness, a resolution of 1440 x 3088 pixels, and has an adaptive refresh rate of 1-120Hz, without changing the resolution. The panel is capable of running at a low 1Hz when static content is displayed but can instantly jump to 120Hz when needed. This can have positive effects on battery life and heat management.
Better cameras, especially in low light
Although the Galaxy S20 Ultra will always be the first Samsung phone to adopt a periscope lens system for the so-called “Space Zoom” feature, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is simply the superior phone in terms of mobile photography.
The 2023 flagship comes with a 200MP primary camera, a 12MP ultra-wide sensor, and two 10MP telephoto cameras, one of which can achieve 10x optical zoom.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra has a 108MP primary shooter, a 12MP ultra-wide sensor, and a single 48MP periscope telephoto camera with only 4x optical zoom. The telephoto camera does have a higher pixel count on the Galaxy S20 Ultra, but a higher resolution won’t help it against the much more advanced dual-telephoto camera system used by the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra camera system offers better zoom-in quality, even next to Galaxy S22 Ultra (let alone the S20 Ultra), and it’s an entirely different beast in low-light conditions.
Samsung’s 2023 flagship has a 12MP selfie camera versus the S20 Ultra’s 40MP, but chances are that the newer, lower-resolution sensor will do better justice to your selfie photos for social media. This is to be determined.
Better connectivity features, including UWB
Since it is a newer phone, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has better connectivity features, such as Wi-Fi 6e tri-band rather than Wi-Fi 6 dual-band and Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity instead of Bluetooth 5.0.
In addition, the Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts UWB (ultra-wide band) connectivity, which means it’s much easier to find your phone via SmartThings Find in case you lose it. And you can use the 2023 smartphone as a digital car key (if your vehicle supports the feature).
Snapdragon chipset, no matter where you are in the world
For the first time in the history of the “Ultra” flagship, the Galaxy S23 will use one type of chipset worldwide. Rather than splitting the market between Exynos and Qualcomm, Samsung’s new Galaxy S23 Ultra uses the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 everywhere.
Needless to say, this is an opportunity for Samsung fans in Exynos markets to see what the Snapdragon craze is all about. But regardless of where you are in the world, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is simply more powerful than the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Even more so, considering that the 2023 flagship reportedly uses a specially-tuned version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 with higher frequencies, which will be unique to Samsung’s phone.
To top it all off, the Galaxy S23 Ultra may use faster UFS 4.0 storage instead of UFS 3.0. This detail is to be determined.
S Pen support
After the Galaxy S20 Ultra was introduced in 2020, the flagship series experienced some changes, the most important of which was the addition of S Pen support.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is a mix between the now-retired Galaxy Note and the Galaxy S. It incorporates an S Pen, which means you can finally experience this iconic input device on an S-series flagship. It might not replace your fingertip in most situations, but the S Pen can be a handy precision device when editing photos. You can also use the S Pen to sign documents or as a remote shutter button for the powerful camera.
Better support for future firmware updates
Android 13 was the last major update for the Galaxy S20 Ultra, and chances are that the phone won’t get One UI 5.1.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra ships with One UI 5.1, and what’s more, the phone is eligible for Samsung’s upgraded four-year firmware update policy. It will eventually run Android 17, or whatever the OS will be called four years down the line.
Android 13 for the Galaxy S20 Ultra went live relatively recently, and S20 users could continue using the phone for at least one more year to get the most value out of this last firmware update. But if you want access to One UI 5.1, you may as well upgrade to the Galaxy S23 Ultra this year.
A modern design and improved build quality
Last but not least, the Galaxy S23 Ultra adopts a more modern design. But more importantly, the Galaxy S23 Ultra uses better materials than the Galaxy S20 Ultra, including a stronger aluminum frame and the latest Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection, which offers better resilience against scratches and drops.
Both phones are IP68-certified for dust and water resistance, but the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s shape, combined with better materials, makes it a much more suitable phone to use without a protective case.
Are you giving up on any features by switching to the Galaxy S23 Ultra?
So far, upgrading from the Galaxy S20 Ultra to the Galaxy S23 Ultra seems to be a no-brainer. But let’s give the 2020 flagship the benefit of the doubt and ask whether or not you’re giving up on some features if you upgrade to the 2023 flagship.
And to be fair, you will give up on two main features. One is the FM radio, which was market-dependent and exclusive to the Snapdragon version in the first place. The other is the microSD card slot. So if you plan on taking tons of photos and videos, you may have to offload them to a different device (like an external storage unit or a PC) more often. But it depends on your current S20 Ultra configuration.
The base Galaxy S23 Ultra model gives you more storage (256GB) but less RAM (8GB) than the 128GB/12GB Galaxy S20 Ultra. So, in theory, if you use a 128GB S20 Ultra with a 128GB microSD card installed, you’ll get the same storage by upgrading to the base S23 Ultra model, even if it doesn’t have a microSD card slot.
All things considered, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is still a superior phone to the Galaxy S20 Ultra in nearly every aspect, and it is a worthy upgrade if you’re looking for one this year.