Evolution, not Revolution – three words that have been used a lot over the years to describe new technology. It’s often said because we expect more, but in reality we’ve hit a peak for innovation and technology so we do need to expect small steps for now in many gadgets. This year’s flagship smartphone from Samsung, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is for the most part an evolution but once again Samsung has found a way to blow our minds.
Focussing on the Ultra for the moment, this is the phone Samsung will sell the most of in 2023 if history is anything to go by. Last year the Ultra variant of the Galaxy S22 made up more than 50% of all S22 sales – staggering.
Design wise the S23 Ultra is squared off a touch more giving a far less rounded edge to the screen. While Samsung did nail the curved edge screen going way back, I think on a device like this and this size it’s better to get more usable screen than the style or comfort of the curve.
In particular you’re getting more S-Pen real estate because you wouldn’t bother using the curved edges of the S22 in your jottings.
Outside of that, and the colour options, this is very much the same. For me, as regular readers and listeners would know, it is just so big, and for me a touch too big and heavy. Very much looking forward to using the standard Galaxy S23.
Battery Life on the Galaxy S23
With a battery the same size as last year, Samsung’s reported battery life gains come in efficiency and software. Personally I found using it a strange experience, because there is so much battery life, I wasn’t at all put off by my super slow bedside charger, I never once woke to 100% battery, something that would normally freak me out.
Instead, day after day I got through, and when I’d charge to 100% it would be a stretch to see it lower than 30%.
There was a day I charged to 100% in the evening and then went through the night and day on battery. While the projections for usage had hours to go, it was never going to make that and I needed a charge again by Dinner time to avoid the dreaded 10% warning.
So for me, this is a genuine all-day battery, but as with any smartphone that is all dependent on what you do on the phone during the day.
It’s all about the Camera
Let’s be real – if you’re really shopping around between phones there’s not many features other than the camera you’re likely to be looking at comparisons on.
Samsung’s big news for the Galaxy S23 was a 200 Megapixel camera – a stunning number that trounces anything in the opposition.
Interestingly though, their RAW photos are only 50MP, but that’s enough to beat out Apple there too – just in sheer numbers. But how does it stack up.
Look, I’ll be honest – it’s good not great. I took a photo of the EFTM studio with the iPhone, S23 and used both RAW and 200MP options on the S23.
Here’s the wide shot:
And here’s a zoomed crop from all three:
Honestly, the iPhone shot in RAW is probably still a better job. But it’s utterly marginal – not even worth thinking about.
The data is amazing though, the Samsung 200MP image is a 35.5MB image, at 16320 x 12240 resolution.
Samsung’s RAW was a 168.4MB image at 8160×6120 while the iPhone’s 101.7MB was at 8064 x 6048
I think we need to agree that Samsung and Apple make amazing cameras. Simple.
In low light it might just be that Samsung has it – this shot taken in pitch black conditions with just the lights of the car:
And this one testing the capabilities of the vastly improved Selfie-camera. Not an amazing result to look at – but trust me, these conditions were DARK.
Can a smartphone do Astro Photography?
Well, Samsung have had “Space Zoom” for a few years. And it’s still great. Taking a photo of the moon is just impossible on ANY other phone:
But the moon always looks the same, so AI could be doing that. Hows this Ultra Wide shot of the Golden Gate Bridge:
See that flag and street warning sign on the other side of the bridge? OH NO – OF COURSE YOU CAN’T:
Now you can. Come on, it’s a shocking photo – but remarkable nonetheless.
But I’ve buried what I think is the true outstanding capability of this phone.
Here’s the iPhone 14 Pro taking a photo of a stunning night sky:
Look, I’ll be honest, not a bad effort for a smartphone. That was taken, on a tripod, with the longest (10 second) night exposure.
Now throw the S23 in that Tripod, open up Expert RAW and choose Astro Photography. Decide between 4, 7 and 10 minute exposures (i actually found 4 to be the best) and hit that shutter. Are you sitting down:
Honestly – WOW.
Those photos were taken 20 minutes South of Walcha in regional NSW, the darkest of areas, with a stunning night sky.
Even where there was a little light pollution at my mum’s pub from a streetlight at midnight, it did a good job:
Now don’t expect these results at your place. Unless you live out of town, and out of the city – it’s tough. Here’s one from my backyard:
Actually not horrible, but wayyyyy too much light pollution from the city.
Put simply, the Samsung Galaxy S23 has the most remarkable camera I’ve ever used on a smartphone.
Does someone buy a phone because of Astro Photography? I doubt it. Does it demonstrate Samsung’s push to be the best in the camera space? hell yes.
Galaxy S23 devices are already shipping to those who pre-ordered, but the rest and for those looking to walk in and buy, the range goes on sale Friday 17th.
Impressive without doubt, but remember the bulk of those buying this will have an S10 or older, so what you’re about to get is a genuine revolution.