Samsung just announced its new flagship, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, at its annual bi-annual Galaxy Unpacked event. I've been fortunate to use the phone ahead of time and able to explore many of the goodies it offers.
Thing is, I'm conflicted. I mean, I love the Galaxy S23 Ultra already, because it's plain and clear it's a contender for the best Android phones right off the bat. I've long been an advocate of this flagship, because Samsung is just so good at polishing things into tip-top shape and making the best phones around.
So what's my conflict? Well, if you put an S23 Ultra next to an S22 Ultra and asked almost anyone to pick their favourite out of the two, they'd probably base it on the colour finish. Because the two handsets are visually almost identical, when I was pining for a more substantial change.
There are differences, of course, in that the S23 Ultra ups the main camera to 200-megapixels and brings Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 platform to the fore, but that's more or less your lot. What I hate, therefore, is that the Galaxy S23 Ultra's price will surprise you, given just how much cheaper the earlier Galaxy S22 is for much of the same (see the shopping widget below and you'll see exactly what I mean).
In the final quarter of 2022 smartphone sales were down globally by 18% or thereabouts. That's unprecedented and it's been almost a decade since such a decline was last experienced. I think it shows us a couple of things: one, people are tightening their belts when it comes to buying shiny new things; two, technology is now so good that generational updates are such minor increments that people are less likely to quickly take action on a purchase.
I have a feeling that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is affected and, in some ways, the victim of both those above points. I love it, it's a great phone for sure, but it's just such a minor incremental upgrade over the S22 Ultra that pre-ordering an S23 model is only going to really make sense for most people if you can get a good trade-in or you're coming from a much older generation device.
I also hate that: that the Galaxy S23 Ultra might not get the kudos it deserves because of economic climes, and therefore lower potential demand. So you can see my love-hate conundrum is double-edged already. I'm not the only one either: my colleague penned a letter pondering whether now is the time for Samsung Galaxy fans to try a different phone.
I'll be using the Galaxy S23 Ultra extensively and loving in its languish, then, but also pondering if compared to the Google Pixel 7 Pro or similar flagship that there's any sense in buying one – unless, of course, you're a major S Pen stylus fan, which is where the S23 Ultra rules.