Samsung stays in sync. As every year at the end of January, the Koreans present their new S series. Again, there are three models: S23, S23 Plus and S23 Ultra. Samsung is going high. The S23 for 950 euros is upper middle class, the plus for 1200 euros belongs to the upper class. With the Ultra it goes even higher into the absolute high-end segment. This model contains all the technology that Samsung can currently use, so the Ultra lures for a test.

Marco Dettweiler

Editor in business.

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Against the choice speaks that prices of 1400 euros could attract fewer customers. But far from it. Last year, 40 percent of German buyers of an S model opted for the Ultra. Samsung expects the share in Germany to continue to grow, even if the premium market is weakening more and more globally. But should someone buy the S23 Ultra if he already owns the previous model? The differences to the S22 Ultra are not particularly big. A year ago, it looked different, because the Ultra inherited the pen of the Note series, which Samsung had buried with it.

200 megapixel camera

Now it's time again to use moderate words like a little "better" or "faster" and "more". The new processor unit Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 from Qualcomm is faster than its predecessor. The camera's sensor resolves more with its 200 megapixels. The S Pen is even better integrated into Samsung's One UI user interface. The camera now records videos in 8K at 30 frames per second. Thanks to AI support, the new Ultra illuminates images taken at night a little better, and the starry sky appears even sharper thanks to reworked astro-hyperlapse.

It's a bit like ski racing. Of course, the S23 Ultra crosses the finish line first, but the S22 Ultra is already a tenth behind. If both were to ski down the piste at the same time, the difference would hardly be visible. To stay in the picture: The S23 Ultra drives again in the absolute top of the world and should win the most races. The 6.8-inch screen still convinces with top values for brightness, colors and contrasts. The battery with 5000 milliampere hours sometimes lasts two days. The already chic design has been refined by flattening the edges on the side, which benefits the seat in the hand.

4K at 60 frames per second is recommended

What the 200 megapixels bring in everyday life is difficult to identify. The new sensor could have the most impact on how light is handled. The software always allows a lot of light on the images, so that they often look brighter, sometimes more pointed than with other smartphones. The optical triple and tenfold zoom continue to please. For videos, the 4K setting with 60 frames per second is recommended. The running images are surprisingly sharp and smooth without stuttering.

There is not much going on at the top of the superpremium segment. Competition can only be seen on the iOS horizon with the iPhone Pro Max. Xiaomi could still keep up with the 13, which the Chinese will introduce soon. The question remains open whether the grip at the top of the smartphone box is always necessary. If you don't use the pen, you should definitely take a look at the S23 Plus or the Pixel 7 Pro from Google. For supporters of the Ultras, another question arises: Switch now or wait another year? The jump from the 21 model to the current one is worthwhile because of the pen. If you already have the S22 Ultra in your pocket, you don't necessarily have to change.