It's been a while since Samsung shelved the Galaxy Note smartphone series, and a new spiritual successor with a built-in S Pen just got announced at Unpacked. It's the Galaxy S23 Ultra: Big, beautiful, and massively upgraded in some areas. The Galaxy S23 Ultra brings one of the most significant camera upgrades yet for these series.
The new setup isn't just out of this world, it's out of this galaxy (pun intended). We got to spend some time with the new flagship S-series phone for our early impressions and hands-on video below, and we think it might just be the best Galaxy Note ever made.
Like the rest of the Galaxy S23 series and the Galaxy S22 Ultra from last year, Samsung's new flagship sports a series of circular cut-outs on the back panel, one for each rear-facing camera. It's the same design language we endorsed last year, but the Galaxy S23 Ultra seems to bring some, albeit small, refinements. It now has flatter surfaces, which makes for a better grip and S Pen experience.
Although the Galaxy S23 Ultra may look too similar to its predecessor, this is one of those “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” situations. The S Ultra series appears to have peaked, and given the high standard set by the S22 Ultra last year, too many design changes for the 2023 model could have been for the worse. Check out our hands-on video below for a closer look at this beautiful smartphone with a new bonkers camera.
Features: Some old, some new, and a few key upgrades
The same feeling of sameyness goes beyond the Galaxy S23 Ultra's exterior design and touches some hardware areas. Because, indeed, some features haven't changed much from last year's model. The S Pen and digitizer are virtually the same, and the Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel shares its peak brightness level and refresh rate capabilities with the 2022 model.
But beyond the surface, Samsung brought a few significant changes to the Galaxy S23 Ultra. One of them is the new 200MP ISOCELL HP2 camera, which has too many advanced features to count. There's 16-to-1 pixel binning, 8K@30fps recording with a wider FOV, and improved astrophotography capabilities, to name a few.
Furthermore, the Galaxy S23 Ultra now sports the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, and there's no Exynos variant anywhere in the world, ending the eternal conflict between Exynos and Qualcomm. The phone also brings the new UFS 4.0 storage standard and 256GB minimum, along with faster LPDDR5x RAM. Performance-wise, this phone is a beast, but we'll talk more about that — and One UI 5.1 — in our upcoming full review.
Until then, check out the Galaxy S23 Ultra in our hands-on video below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel if you don't want to miss out on future content.