Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra First Look: Going Big On the Camera

This story is a part of Samsung Occasion, CNET’s assortment of reports, ideas and recommendation round Samsung’s hottest merchandise.

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Extremely is getting a 200-megapixel digicam, the cellphone line’s largest digicam improve in years. Roughly double the decision of its predecessor, the Galaxy S22 Extremely, the cellphone made its debut on the Samsung Unpacked occasion on Wednesday, with pricing that begins at $1,200 (£1,249, AU$1,949). It is accessible on Feb. 17, with preorders stay now

The Galaxy S23 lineup, which additionally contains the $1,000 Galaxy S23 Plus and $800 Galaxy S23, is Samsung’s newest effort to encourage folks to improve because the smartphone business has struggled. The addition of a 200-megapixel digicam on the Galaxy S23 Extremely would not come as an enormous shock, contemplating Samsung introduced a brand new picture sensor with that very same decision simply final month. 

Samsung’s all-new Galaxy S23 flagship lineup is now accessible to preorder, with units transport on Feb. 17. It can save you on the newest units with a number of Galaxy S23 preorder offers already accessible at Samsung, Finest Purchase, all the main cellphone carriers and extra.

It does recommend, nevertheless, that Samsung views the digicam as being probably the most instrumental a part of a cellphone — and expects us to pay high greenback for it. With the Galaxy S23 Extremely, Samsung is clearly concentrating on photographers who desire a big display screen and an excellent digicam. We’ll have to attend till we have examined the cellphone to see if it delivers on these guarantees. 

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In any other case, the Galaxy S23 Extremely contains routine upgrades reminiscent of a brand new processor, recent colours and further storage for the bottom mannequin, together with extra elements which are constituted of recycled supplies.

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The Galaxy S23 Extremely’s new digicam

Samsung Galaxy S23

The Galaxy S23 Extremely’s digicam.

Bobby Oliver/CNET

On paper, the Galaxy S23 Extremely’s 200-megapixel digicam feels like a serious step up. It seems to be like the largest digicam leap Samsung has made in years, contemplating the final three generations of Galaxy S Extremely telephones have had 108-megapixel predominant cameras, courting again to the Galaxy S20 Extremely in 2020. 

However megapixels alone do not inform the entire story. Sensor measurement, velocity and picture processing algorithms additionally have an effect on the digicam’s picture high quality, so we’ll have to check the cellphone earlier than deciding whether or not this can be a really monumental improve.

These algorithms certainly play an enormous position within the Galaxy S23 Extremely’s digicam enhancements. Joshua Cho, head of Samsung’s visible options crew, mentioned synthetic intelligence performs a extra distinguished half in all the things from night time mode to the best way the digicam captures excessive dynamic vary. 

“As quickly as you press the button on the digicam, the AI operate kicks in,” Cho mentioned in an interview with CNET through an English language translator forward of Samsung’s Unpacked occasion. 

The Galaxy S23 Extremely takes 12-megapixel images by default, grouping 4×4-pixel squares into one larger pixel utilizing a expertise known as pixel binning. This, mixed with higher efficiency for every pixel, permits the sensor to collect extra mild, which might be helpful when taking pictures in dim environments. 

It’s also possible to shoot on the full 200-megapixel decision, which Samsung positions as being best for individuals who need massive prints of their images. If you need one thing in between, it’s also possible to seize images at a 50-megapixel decision. Earlier Galaxy S Extremely telephones additionally allowed you to shoot on the sensor’s full decision, however bear in mind that you will have to take care of massive file sizes if you happen to accomplish that. 

The selfie cameras throughout all the brand new Galaxy S23 telephones have an upgraded 12-megapixel sensor, which is a lift in decision from the S22 and S22 Plus’ 10-megapixel entrance digicam however decrease than the S22 Extremely’s 40-megapixel sensor. As a substitute, Samsung says the selfie digicam makes use of synthetic intelligence to enhance object identification in order that it could possibly optimize photos accordingly fairly than prioritizing decision. Which means it ought to be higher at distinguishing folks from their backgrounds extra precisely. 

The Galaxy S23 Extremely inherits the identical zooming capabilities as its predecessor, providing an optical zoom at 3x or 10x magnification and as much as a 100x digital zoom. Just like the S22 Extremely, the S23 Extremely makes use of two 10-megapixel telephoto cameras to perform this. Though night time mode was an enormous focus for the Galaxy S22 lineup, Samsung says it is additional improved the best way the Galaxy S23 Extremely can seize images at nighttime, providing much more brightness this time round. 

Samsung Galaxy S23

The Galaxy S23 Extremely in lavender.

Bobby Oliver/CNET

Video recording will get a slight change throughout the lineup, with the S23 household supporting 30 frames per second when taking pictures at 8K decision. That is a rise from the S22 Extremely’s body charge of 24fps when recording on the identical decision. In comparison with 24fps, 30fps is often preferable for broadcasting stay footage in line with Adobe, which is sensible contemplating Samsung’s efforts in interesting to social media influencers, streamers and Gen Z buyers. You will additionally be capable of shoot 1080p video at 120fps as a substitute of 60fps, which ought to enhance the standard of slow-motion photographs. 

Samsung additionally says the correction angle for its optical picture stabilization has doubled. I am curious how a lot of a distinction that makes since I discovered the iPhone 14 Professional’s Motion Mode to be extra dependable than Samsung’s Tremendous Regular mode throughout my testing. The S23 Extremely can even shoot video at a wider angle, Samsung says. 

Nevertheless, it would not appear that Samsung added any new taking pictures modes for the Galaxy S23 lineup. Given the S23 Extremely’s huge give attention to digicam high quality, I had hoped to see new instruments and options that might put that new {hardware} to raised use. 

However Samsung is doing one thing fascinating with its exterior digicam apps, Knowledgeable Uncooked and Digital camera Assistant. After you obtain these apps for the primary time, the extra digicam settings that these apps present shall be built-in immediately into the native digicam app. That would make it simpler for photographers who need extra enhancing management to customise the feel and appear of their images with out having to change between apps. 

Galaxy S23 Extremely has a brand new chip, acquainted design

Samsung Galaxy S23

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Extremely in inexperienced.

Bobby Oliver/CNET

Samsung’s new telephones are powered by a particular model of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor that is been optimized for the brand new Galaxy S23 lineup, which it claims ought to lead to sooner efficiency. We’ll have to check the cellphone to see if it lives as much as these claims. 

But when it does, it’d assist set the Extremely other than different telephones that embody Qualcomm’s new chip, just like the OnePlus 11 5G. The choice for satellite tv for pc connectivity is noticeably absent from Samsung’s new smartphone lineup, coming after Apple added the flexibility to contact emergency providers through satellite tv for pc to its iPhone 14 lineup. Qualcomm additionally introduced an analogous characteristic, which shall be launching later this yr. 

Just like the Galaxy S22 Extremely, Samsung’s latest Extremely cellphone additionally has a 5,000-mAh battery capability and contains the S Pen. You can get the cellphone in 256GB, 512GB or 1TB storage capacities.

The Galaxy S23 Extremely would not look all that totally different from final yr’s Galaxy S22 Extremely. It has the identical boxy design however is available in a brand new number of colours: black, cream, inexperienced and lavender. Samsung additionally says it is elevated the usage of recycled supplies within the Galaxy S23 Extremely’s design by utilizing ocean-bound plastics within the cellphone’s exterior parts for the primary time. 

The display screen nonetheless measures 6.8 inches like final yr’s mannequin, making it one of many largest telephones you should buy. (The Pixel 7 Professional and iPhone 14 Professional Max every have a 6.7-inch display screen.) That cellphone can also be protected by Gorilla Glass Victus 2, a brand new model of Corning’s glass that the corporate says gives higher drop resistance on robust surfaces like concrete. There’s additionally an adaptive refresh charge of as much as 120Hz to permit for smoother scrolling and animations, a characteristic that is turn into frequent even on inexpensive telephones.

Samsung is launching the Galaxy S23 lineup because it’s turn into more and more tough to persuade smartphone house owners to improve their units. Financial challenges slowed smartphone shipments all through 2022, in line with estimates from The Worldwide Knowledge Company, Canalys and Counterpoint Analysis. 

Knowledge from Assurant, an insurance coverage supplier that helps firms develop trade-in packages, additionally means that clients are holding onto their units longer. The corporate reported in September that the common age of traded-in units surpassed three and a half years for the primary time.

However Counterpoint Analysis’s Peter Richardson does describe the premium smartphone section as “extra resilient” than the marketplace for low to midrange telephones within the firm’s report. Maybe clients usually tend to spend money on pricier telephones with the hope that they will not should improve as typically. Samsung dabbles in all three markets, however the $1,200 Galaxy S23 Extremely and $1,800 Galaxy Z Fold 4 sum up the tech big’s imaginative and prescient for what a premium cellphone ought to be.

As telephones have advanced, annual {hardware} upgrades have began to really feel much less revolutionary and extra incremental. Whether or not that sentiment holds true for the Galaxy S23 Extremely all comes all the way down to how a lot of a distinction that new 200-megapixel digicam really makes. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 lineup specs in contrast

Galaxy S23 Galaxy S23 Plus Galaxy S23 Extremely
Show measurement, tech, decision, refresh charge, brightness 6.1-inch AMOLED; 2,340×1,080 pixels; 120Hz Adaptive Refresh Price; 1,750 nits 6.6-inch AMOLED; 2,340×1,080 pixels; 120Hz Adaptive Refresh Price; 1,750 nits 6.8-inch AMOLED 3,088×1,440 pixels; 120Hz Adaptive Refresh Price; Edge Display screen; 1,750 nits
Pixel density 425 pixels per inch 393 pixels per inch 500 pixels per inch
Dimensions (inches) 2.79 x 5.76 x 0.3 in 3 x 6.21 x 0.3 in 3.07 x 6.43 x 0.35 in
Dimensions (millimeters) 70.9 x 146.3 x 7.6 mm 76.2 x 157.7 x 7.6 mm 78 x 163.3 x 8.9 mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 168 g (5.93 oz) 196 g (6.91 oz) 234 g (8.25 oz)
Cellular software program Android 13 Android 13 Android 13
Digital camera 50-megapixel (huge), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 10-megapixel (telephoto) 50-megapixel (huge), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 10-megapixel (telephoto) 200-megapixel (huge), 12-megapixel (ultrawide) 10-megapixel (telephoto) 10-megapixel (telephoto)
Entrance-facing digicam 12-megapixel 12-megapixel 12-megapixel
Video seize 8K at 30fps 8K at 30fps 8K at 30fps
Processor Galaxy-optimized Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Galaxy-optimized Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Galaxy-optimized Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
RAM/storage 8GB RAM + 128GB; 8GB RAM + 256GB 8GB + 256GB; 8GB + 512GB 12GB + 256GB; 12GB + 512GB; 12GB + 1TB
Expandable storage None None None
Battery/charging speeds 3,900 mAh (25W wired charging) 4,700 mAh (45W wired charging) 5,000 mAH (45W wired charger)
Fingerprint sensor In-display In-display In-display
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack None None None
Particular options 5G (mmw/Sub6), IP68 score, sooner wired charging, wi-fi PowerShare to cost different units 5G (mmw/Sub6), IP68 score, sooner wired charging, wi-fi PowerShare to cost different units, UWB for locating different units 5G (mmw/Sub6), IP68 score, sooner wired charging, wi-fi PowerShare to cost different units, built-in S-Pen, 200x House Zoom, 10x Optical Zoom, UWB for locating different units
US value off-contract $800 (8GB/128GB) $1,000 (8GB/256GB) $1,200 (12GB/256GB)
UK value £849 (8GB/128GB) £1,049 (8GB/256GB) £1,249 (12GB/256GB)
Australia value AU$1,349 (8GB/128GB) AU$1,649 (8GB/256GB) AU$1,949 (12GB/256GB)

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