Friday, March 1, 2024

Review: The Samsung s23 Ultra – Is This Phone Worth the Huge Price Tag? An Android Novice Gives it a Hoon

We try the fancy Samsung Galaxy s23 Ultra – is it worth buying? Kelly Bertrand looks into it

Ok, let’s get this out of the way at the beginning – this is not tech-y phone review. Capsule is not the place you want to come if you want to know the fancy inner workings of the Samsung Galaxy s23 Ultra because honestly, terms like 120Hz, Qualcomm SM8550-AC and Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mean absolutely nothing to me (well that’s not entirely true, Snapdragon was a great little bar in Auckland’s viaduct in the early 2010s but I have a suspicion that’s not what we’re talking about here).

No, this Samsung Galaxy s23 Ultra review will be focussing on the things that we, normal everyday people, measure phones on. So, of course, we’re talking cameras, battery life and overall *aesthetic* because let’s be honest, it’s the jazzy stuff we care about in phones!

So let’s get cracking and figure out the answer to the big question – is the Samsung Galaxy s23 Ultra worth buying?

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what Samsung’s biggest issue is – it’s not Apple. For people of my generation – kia ora millennials – for the most part, we’re used to iPhones. They were our first smart phones, and right from the iPhone 4 era, it’s been hard to claw our little hands away from the easy familiarity of what we know.

But, it doesn’t mean they’re better phones.

Enter the chat, Samsung.

In the month or so I was using a loan s23 Ultra, I’ve been forced to come to the conclusion that the Samsung Galaxy is simply a superior product to the iPhone, and honestly I feel like Ross cheating on Rachel with the copy girl right now, but facts are facts.

The Samsung Galaxy s23 Ultra Camera

A lot of this conclusion has been drawn from the camera, or should I say cameras. There’s a whopping four – FOUR – lenses that offer a huge range of fancy photo things – we’re talking an adaptive pixel sensor so you can use the best resolution for your surroundings, a nightography option that makes it look like you went to photography school and even an Astrolapse function where you can track trails of stars.

Importantly, there’s an epic front camera for selfies and you can even optimise your selfie right from the second it’s taken (and it has that famed auto-take function where you just hold your hand up to the screen or say ‘cheese’ and the photo takes, without you having to awkwardly outstretch your arm).

Bottom line? It takes mint photos with minimum effort or knowledge. Win.

The Samsung Galaxy s23 User Experience

When you only know one operating system, trying to switch to another one takes time, and if you are planning on making the switch, make sure you factor this in. But, like anything, it doesn’t take too long to get used to a different way of doing things, and Samsung phones are actually quite intuitive, so it’s actually quite easy.

The biggest difference with the s23 Ultra is that it comes with the S Pen, which at first, I had no idea what I was going to use it for.

The pen, which pops pout from the bottom of the phone, literally turns your phone into a mini tablet. I honestly didn’t think I would have any use for it – after all, I’ve gone all these years without it – but now the phone is gone I’m pining for it.

I always use headphones to answer calls, and when I’m chatting hands free, the pen turned my phone into the best little notepad a girl could have – it lets you jot down notes, sketches, drawings and notations which were surprisingly helpful for netball coaching diagrams.

Everything else about the Samsung Galaxy s23 Ultra

Ok, here’s the checklist of everything else you want to know:

  • Battery? SO GOOD, I got two full days out of a single charge, including Netflix watching and an Instagram reels wormhole of weird Formula 1 memes – thanks, Drive to Survive.
  • Screen? Crystal clear and so much bigger than I’m used to. In fact, this could be a drawback if you have tiny hands like me, but it’s easily solved with a popsocket or other grippy back thing
  • Actual phone: Solid alimunium gives you a premium feeling and it does feel more boujee than an iPhone. Would definitely recommend a case though because we’re not savages, rendering the colourways a bit redundant.
  • Other cool stuff? You can customise your homepage widgets which my Virgo soul really appreciated. A long press on your wallpaper will give you SO many customisable options around themes and style. Androids are so good for customisable experiences! You can also use video auto tracking to keep the focus on the thing you’re videoing (people with Instagrams for your pets and/or babies, rejoice) and you can even take a photo of a page of text, and it’ll copy them and paste them into notes. WILD.
  • Price? Yeah well look, the news isn’t great. There’s no sugar-coating this, it’s $2,300. If you content create for a living, or you don’t have a proper camera and want to take good-quality photos for memories and albums, this is a phone for you and you can totally justify the investment.

Would I buy it? Yeah, I actually would – I take notes and photos for a living, so it’s a no brainer for me. If you need a phone to do either of those things, or you want the flexibility of a hard-working phone that acts like a mini tablet, then perhaps you would too.

Accommodation Review: Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel

Welcome to Capsule Travels, where we bring you stories, reviews and experiences of all the best the world – and New Zealand has to...

How Are You, Today… Brooke Fraser? The Kiwi Singer Talks Motherhood, Turning 40 and The Magic of The Creative Process

In our story series ‘How Are You Today?’, we have a meandering, mental-health focused chat with some of our most well-known New Zealanders. Check...

The Divorce Diaries: ‘The Text Message That Prompted the End of My Marriage’

Maria and Jake divorced because of a text message. That's how it started. From there, Maria watched as their marriage completely dissolved. Welcome to...

‘I Thought Covid Wasn’t Really a ‘Thing’ Anymore. Now I Have Long Covid’ One Woman’s Regret & Her Warning to Others

In the early days of hearing about the condition, many of us furiously Googled 'How to not get Long Covid'. When we were exposed...