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    Galaxy S23 Ultra vs S21 Ultra: A generational leap in specs and design

    Phone
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    Last updated: February 2nd, 2023 at 12:53 UTC+01:00

    After many leaks and rumors, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is finally official and presenting itself as a potentially worthwhile upgrade for existing Galaxy S21 Ultra users. At first glance, many things appear to have changed over the past couple of years. The new Ultra model boasts a refreshed design language with flatter surfaces and no traditional camera hump. And this year, there's no Exynos variant anywhere to be found.

    Samsung is now using a Snapdragon chipset exclusively, and it wrapped the hardware components in more resilient materials, including the next generation of Gorilla Glass. And if you care about the impact phones have on the environment, the Galaxy S23 Ultra uses more recycled materials for its non-critical internal components. Like the S22 series, the 2023 model reuses plastics from recycled fishing nets scooped up from the ocean.

    Below, you can find other key characteristics that set the 2021 and 2023 flagship models apart. You can also find our comparison device widget, which lets you compare hardware specs in greater depth.

    Galaxy S23 Ultra vs S21 Ultra: Design and build quality upgrades

    The Galaxy S23 Ultra and the 2021 flagship model truly feel like they're from different eras, for one simple reason: the 2023 model fully adopts the S Pen. Even though the S21 Ultra supports this accessory, it doesn't have a dedicated S Pen slot. The S23 Ultra, however, does.

    Aside from being more practical for S Pen users, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has a boxier design with squarer corners and flatter surfaces. It looks like the spiritual successor of the Galaxy Note series, and even the S Pen itself is better, boasting lower latency of 2.8ms, down from 9ms.

    Samsung improved build quality over the 2021 model even further. The new flagship uses an armor aluminum frame that claims to be more resistant to shock and scratches, as well as Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 instead of the original Victus series. The new glass supposedly has the same scratch resistance as Victus+ but provides better protection against drops on hard surfaces.

    Galaxy S23 Ultra vs S21 Ultra: How have specs improved?

    Smartphone customers expect hardware and software to improve with each new flagship, so it's only natural that a two-year gap makes an even bigger difference. In short, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has better performance and cameras, a brighter display with an improved refresh rate of 1-120Hz, faster charging capabilities, and Android 13 One UI 5.1 out of the box.

    Perhaps one of the most unexpected and welcomed changes for the 2023 flagship is that it no longer uses an Exynos chipset in what was traditionally known as the Exynos market. This year, it's Qualcomm for everyone. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, and it even boasts a fine-tuned version of the SoC with higher frequencies for improved gaming performance.

    The Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with more storage as standard, clocking in at 256GB rather than 128GB, and uses UFS 4.0 storage instead of UFS 3.1, which means it's faster.

    Another big change comes in the form of the 200MP ISOCELL HP2 primary camera. More megapixels means you can take photos that don't lose detail when they're overblown to the size of a poster. The telephoto cameras have also improved, along with low-light photography and additions such as nighttime hyperlapse for beautiful sky recordings. And the S23 Ultra can capture HDR selfie videos, even though it has a lower-resolution selfie camera.

    While each phone uses a 5,000mAh battery, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has faster 45W charging, up from 25W.

    Galaxy S23 Ultra vs S21 Ultra software

    The Galaxy S23 Ultra ships with One UI 5.1, which brings quite a few improvements and quality of life changes over One UI 5.0.

    One UI 5.1 adds new battery and weather widgets for the home screen, the option to use different wallpapers depending on which mode you're using in Modes and Scenarios, better split-screen and window snapping in Samsung DeX, as well as a handful of additions to the Camera and Gallery apps.

    With One UI 5.1, users get faster access to Expert Raw and an easier way to change the hue of selfies with an Effects button. The Gallery app has a new family album feature, improved processing for shadows and reflections, better tools for GIFs, and better search, allowing users to search photos by tapping on faces.

    Although the Galaxy S21 Ultra may get One UI 5.1 at some point, for now, it's missing out on all the new additions Samsung made to the Android 13 user experience.

    Galaxy S23 Ultra vs S21 Ultra: Conclusion

    The Galaxy S23 Ultra may not seem like a huge upgrade over the 2022 model, but it certainly is a more attractive proposition for Galaxy S21 Ultra users, especially those who like using the S Pen accessory but found the carrying case inefficient.

    The new camera system promises many upgrades, and the overclocked Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset alone will be worth the upgrade for some Galaxy S21 Ultra users. Faster charging, a brighter, better display, improved software, faster and more storage, and a fresh design is the icing on the cake.

    The Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at $1,199, same as the S21 Ultra when it went live a couple of years ago. Samsung will bring the new Ultra to the market on February 17.


    Samsung
    Galaxy S21 Ultra

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    General Information

    • Model Name

      Galaxy S23 Ultra

      Galaxy S21 Ultra

    • Model type

      Bar

      Bar

    • Colors

      Phantom Black ()Cotton Flower ()Botanic Green ()Misty Lilac ()

      Black (Phantom Black)Silver (Phantom Silver)Brown (Phantom Brown)Navy (Phantom Navy)Titanium (Phantom Titanium)

    • Announced

      2023, February

      2021, January

    • Released

      2023, February

      2021, January

    Physical specifications

    • Dimensions

      Bar: 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9 mm

      Bar: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm

    • Weights

      233g

      229g

    • IP rating

      IP68

      IP68

    Operating system

    • Operating system

      Android 13

      Android 11

    • One UI version

      5.1

      3.1

    Networks

    • SIM

      Dual SIM model

      Dual SIM model

    • SIM card sizes

      Nano-SIM

      Nano-SIM (4FF)

    • Networks

      2G3G4G5G

      2G3G4G5G

    • eSIM support

      Yes

      Yes

    Display

    • Kind

      Main Display

    • Name

      Infinity-O Display

      Infinity-O Display

    • Technology

      Dynamic AMOLED 2X

      Dynamic AMOLED 2X

    • Size

      6.8 inch / 172.72 mm

      6.8 inch / 172.72 mm

    • Resolution

      WQHD+ / 3088x1440 pixels

      WQHD+ / 3200x1440 pixels

    • Pixel density

      500 PPI

      515 PPI

    • Screen to body ratio

      ~89.9%

    • Refresh rate

      120Hz

      120Hz


    Phone Galaxy S21 UltraGalaxy S23 Ultra

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