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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Plus vs Galaxy S23: Which one to buy?

We help you pick your next premium Samsung handset.
By
December 20, 2023
Samsung Galaxy S23
MSRP: $799.00
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Positives
Compact size
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 power
Larger battery
Negatives
No UWB support
Limited charging power
No RAM options
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
MSRP: $999.00
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Positives
Large AMOLED display
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 power
Bigger battery
Negatives
Ultra has better cameras
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
MSRP: $1,199.00
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Positives
Powerful, flexible camera setup
Great battery life with solid charging
Convenient S Pen
Excellent software update promise
Premium materials and display
Great performance
Negatives
Will be too large for some
Limited base RAM for the price
Expensive, especially for extra storage

The Samsung Galaxy S23 series has been around for some time now. In fact, it’s almost time for the Galaxy S24 series to make its debut. But we’re here to talk about this year’s Samsung flagships, which, might we add, are still some of the most powerful Android phones you can buy right now.

As tradition holds, the Galaxy S23 lineup comprises three new flagships: the Galaxy S23 Ultra, the Galaxy S23 Plus, and the regular Galaxy S23. The Ultra model sits at the top of the pack with the best Samsung has to offer in terms of hardware. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23 Plus slots in the middle with a few extras compared to the standard Galaxy S23, the most affordable flagship of the lot.

This year, Samsung made some welcome changes to the Galaxy S23 trio. We’ve got bigger batteries, higher storage capacities, and an unchanged launch price tag for all three phones. This means that if you were holding off and didn’t invest in the Galaxy S22 series, you’d be paying the same price as 2022 for better hardware. That said, not all Samsung Galaxy S23 phones are made equal. While they share many characteristics, including the design, to some extent, you might be better off getting one device over the other two. It all depends on what you need and how much you’re willing to spend. Here’s a quick Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Plus vs Galaxy S23 comparison to help you pick your next premium handset.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Plus vs Galaxy S23: At a glance

Wondering what are some of the main differences between the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, Galaxy S23 Plus, and Galaxy S23? Here's a quick summary:

  • The Samsung Galaxy S23 is the cheapest phone in the lineup at $799. It's followed by the Galaxy S23 Plus at $999, and the Galaxy S23 Ultra at $1,199.
  • The Galaxy S23 Ultra sports a higher resolution curved edge display compared to the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23, which have flat Full HD+ displays.
  • The Galaxy S23 Ultra is the only phone in the series with Samsung's new 200MP image sensor. It also gets four rear cameras at the back, compared to three identical ones on the Plus and vanilla variants.
  • The Galaxy S23 Plus and S23 Ultra both support faster 45W wired charging, whereas the Galaxy S23 sticks to 25W.
  • The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is also the only phone with S Pen support and a storage slot.
  • The Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra offer higher base storage than the Galaxy S23. This means you have more space for your apps, documents, music, and whatever else you want to store on the mid and top-tier S23s.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Plus vs Galaxy S23: Specs

Galaxy S23Galaxy S23 PlusGalaxy S23 Ultra
Display
Galaxy S23
6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat display
19.5:9 aspect ratio
FHD+ resolution (2,340 x 1,080)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate
Galaxy S23 Plus
6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat display
19.5:9 aspect ratio
FHD+ resolution (2,340 x 1,080)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate
Galaxy S23 Ultra
6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Edge display (curved)
19.3:9 aspect ratio
QHD+ resolution (3,088 x 1,440)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (1Hz to 120Hz)
Processor
Galaxy S23
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Galaxy S23 Plus
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Galaxy S23 Ultra
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
RAM
Galaxy S23
8GB
Galaxy S23 Plus
8GB
Galaxy S23 Ultra
8GB or 12GB
Storage
Galaxy S23
128GB or 256GB
No microSD card support
Galaxy S23 Plus
256GB or 512GB
No microSD card support
Galaxy S23 Ultra
256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
No microSD card support
Power
Galaxy S23
3,900mAh battery
25W wired charging
15W wireless charging
No charger in box
Galaxy S23 Plus
4,700mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W wireless charging
No charger in box
Galaxy S23 Ultra
5,000mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W wireless charging
No charger in box
Cameras
Galaxy S23
REAR:
- 50MP wide
- 12MP ultrawide
- 10MP telephoto

FRONT:
- 12MP wide
Galaxy S23 Plus
REAR:
- 50MP wide
- 12MP ultrawide
- 10MP telephoto

FRONT:
- 12MP wide
Galaxy S23 Ultra
REAR:
- 200MP wide
- 12MP ultrawide
- 10MP telephoto
- 10MP telephoto

FRONT:
- 12MP wide
Software
Galaxy S23
Android 13
One UI 5.1
Galaxy S23 Plus
Android 13
One UI 5.1
Galaxy S23 Ultra
Android 13
One UI 5.1
S Pen support
Galaxy S23
No
Galaxy S23 Plus
No
Galaxy S23 Ultra
Yes, with storage slot
IP rating
Galaxy S23
IP68 certified
Galaxy S23 Plus
IP68 certified
Galaxy S23 Ultra
IP68 certified
Weight & Dimensions
Galaxy S23
146.3 x 70.8 x 7.6mm
168g
Galaxy S23 Plus
157.7 x 76.2 x 7.6mm
196g
Galaxy S23 Ultra
163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm
229g
Other specs
Galaxy S23
IP68
WiFi 6E
Gorilla Glass Victus 2
Vision Booster (Adaptive)
Selfie Night Portrait
Galaxy S23 Plus
IP68
WiFi 6E
UWB
Gorilla Glass Victus 2
Vision Booster
(Adaptive)
Selfie Night Portrait

Galaxy S23 Ultra
IP68
Embedded S Pen
Dual HighResolution
WiFi 6E
UWB
Gorilla Glass Victus 2
Vision Booster (Adaptive)
Selfie Night Portrait
Wider OIS
Laser AF

The Samsung Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 Plus, and Galaxy S23 Ultra can all be considered powerful and premium. That’s because the custom Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy rests at the heart of these phones. Qualcomm calls it its fastest Snapdragon yet, because it has an accelerated 3.36GHz Cortex-X3 CPU compared to the 3.19GHz default CPU on the regular Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. The Adreno 740 GPU also improves clock speed from 680Mhz to 719Mhz, promising performance and power efficiency gains alongside ray tracing support.

In essence, you’re getting equally capable phones, as far as pure performance is concerned. Especially considering all phones will come with the same processor globally, as there is no Exynos variant with the Galaxy S23 series.

We have tested the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, putting it against other phones with a standard Spandragon 8 Gen 2. There is a slight performance difference on paper. We honestly can’t notice a significant improvement when using any of these high-end smartphones, though.

samsung galaxy s23 lineup standing
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The differences between the Galaxy S23 Ultra, Galaxy S23 Plus, and Galaxy S23 emerge in the more obvious hardware traits like display resolution, screen size, battery size, storage, and camera specs. These vary across the series every year.

The regular and Plus Galaxy S23 models feature identical FHD+ display resolutions. The former is more compact at 6.1 inches, while the latter stretches to 6.6 inches. So if you’re aiming for one-handed use, you might be better off with the vanilla Galaxy S23. The S23 Ultra is Samsung’s Note replacement. As such, it gets a large 6.8-inch display with curved edges and a QHD+ resolution. All S23 phones get AMOLED panels with a 120Hz refresh rate. If you’re looking for the device with the absolute best screen, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the one to go for. Of course, it comes with the added advantage of S Pen support, which makes note-taking a pleasure on this phone.

samsung galaxy s23 settings on table
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The base storage is where the Samsung Galaxy S23 is left behind compared to the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra. The regular S23 starts with a 128GB built-in storage option, even though Samsung upgraded the base storage on the Plus and Ultra variants to 256GB for the same price as last year. You’re also stuck with 8GB of RAM on the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus, and while that should be good enough for all your multitasking needs, the S23 Ultra is the only device in the series that’ll offer you that extra boost to 12GB RAM.

Thankfully, Samsung’s software commitment remains consistent across the series. No matter which Galaxy S23 phone you get, you’re assured four years of Android updates and five years of security patches. They all come with Android 13-based One UI 5.1, which brings a host of new features, some of which are exclusive to the S23 series.

Lastly, you don’t have to worry about one of the Galaxy S23 series phones having better water and dust protection than the other. They all come with an IP68 rating, which means they are water resistant in fresh water to a maximum depth of 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes and are protected from dust without needing extra cases or covers.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Plus vs Galaxy S23: Size comparison

samsung galaxy s23 lineup displays
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

If you look at the design of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Plus vs Galaxy S23, you’ll notice the obvious size differences between the three phones. The regular S23 measures 146.3 x 70.8 x 7.6mm. The Plus model comes in taller and wider at 157.7 x 76.2 x 7.6mm. Lastly, the Ultra is the tallest and thickest, measuring 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm. Needless to say, the Galaxy S23 will be the most pocketable phone out of all three. It’s also the lightest one to carry around, weighing 168g. The S23 Plus is just shy of 200g, and the S23 Ultra is the heaviest at 229g.

All the new Samsung flagships are made of “Armour Aluminum” and feature Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection. The S23 and S23 Plus also get the same floating camera design as the S23 Ultra. This means you’re not getting drastically different-looking phones, even at the lower end. This is a good thing and makes the series feel more uniform than before.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Plus vs Galaxy S23: Camera

samsung galaxy s23 series cameras white
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

If the camera specs make or break your purchase decision, you might not have a tough time choosing between the Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus. They have an identical camera setup featuring 50MP primary + 12MP ultrawide + 10MP telephoto shooters. They are the exact same cameras as the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus. However, you can now record smoother 30fps 8K videos on the new phones, compared to 24fps on the S22 series. Thanks to the upgraded Image Signal Processor on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, you can also expect improvements in AI image processing.

If you want Samsung's best camera, you'll only get it on one phone

The most significant change comes from the Galaxy S23 Ultra camera array, which now features Samsung’s new 200MP ISOCELL HP2 sensor. It has 200 million 0.6-micrometer pixels in a 1/1.3-inch optical format, a sensor size that is also widely used in 108MP main smartphone cameras. The sensor can shoot 12.5MP, 50MP, or even the full 200MP images using various pixel-binning options. Samsung also claims significant improvements to HDR and low-light photography.

If you want Samsung’s best camera, you’ll only get it on one phone, and that’s the Galaxy S23 Ultra, since this also has a telephoto shooter with 10x optical zoom, improved optical image stabilization (upgraded from 1.5 to three degrees), and Samsung’s 100x Space Zoom feature.

All said and done, we’ve tested the camera in our Galaxy S23 Ultra review and find it an exceptional shooter. The camera app is much more complex and full-featured than that of competitors like the Pixel 7 series and iPhone 14 series. The primary lens produces excellent pixel-binned photos with preserved detail, and the color profile is pretty accurate. Secondary cameras aren’t as impressive, but they are still very good. And image stabilization creates very sharp images, even when zoomed in 30x. It also handles low-light photos with ease.

In our Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus reviews, we also went over the devices’ cameras. And while they don’t impress us like the Ultra’s 200MP shooter does, these still have remarkable cameras that offer plenty of detail, excellent color reproduction, and the same experience outside the primary sensor. They are awesome cameras; they just aren’t as impressive as the 200MP sensor in the Ultra version.

Elsewhere, the Galaxy S23, S23 Plus, and S23 Ultra have the same 12MP selfie camera. This may seem like a downgrade for the Ultra model compared to last year’s 40MP snapper on the S22 Ultra. But in our tests, we found the newer 12MP shooter to be just as good, if not better, because of the larger pixels. This means the S23 and S23 Plus are actually upgraded, as they have the same selfie shooter, and we found nothing to complain about during our reviews. The phones also get most of the same camera features, including Samsung’s Nightography feature (a fancy name for night mode).

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Plus vs Galaxy S23: Battery and charging

samsung galaxy s23 lineup ports
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Coming to battery life, the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus now sport bigger batteries that offer 200mAh more capacity compared to last year. The S23 still features the smallest battery at 3,900mAh, while the S23 Plus has moved closer to the Ultra model’s 5,000mAh battery with a 4,700mAh powerhouse of its own. So if you’re looking for the phone with the best battery life in the series, you should get comparable results from the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra.

We’ve seen a massive improvement in battery life for all three devices. In the case of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, we could make a full charge last two days, with 6-8 hours of screen-on time. The Galaxy S22 Ultra would last just over one day. This energy efficiency is primarily due to the more efficient chipset and screen improvements, such as a variable refresh rate feature.

Both the Galaxy S23 and the Galaxy S23 Plus can also easily make it over a full day on a single charge, based on our review experiences and tests. In fact, we mentioned you can likely push the Galaxy S23 Plus to two days with normal to casual usage. Even if the 200mAh difference isn’t substantial, the energy efficiency improvements provided by the chipset and screen seem to be making the difference.

You shouldn't worry too much about which phone gets faster charging this year.

There’s a difference in wired charging speeds between the flagships. The standard model gets 25W charging, and the bigger variants get 45W charging. We weren’t expecting much difference at first, as we tested Samsung’s 45W charging on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, and it was barely faster than 25W charging.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra seems to do better, with the ability to hold a 45W charging speed for 10 minutes, as opposed to closer to two on the S22 Ultra. It took a bit under an hour to charge it from zero to full. There’s only a few minutes difference compared to the previous generation. There is a bigger difference between the Galaxy S23 series’s 25W and 45W charging times, though. The 25W charger took 73 minutes to charge the S23 Ultra. That’s a pretty significant gap compared to the 57 minutes the 45W charger took. We have a full report on charging speed tests with the Galaxy S23, so check it out for more details.

Charging speeds were just as good on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus. In our tests, we managed to take the phone from zero to 100% in almost exactly one hour.

If we move to the base Galaxy S23, which only supports 25W charging, it took us about 80 minutes to fill up the 3,900mAh battery. That isn’t too bad, but it is slower than the Galaxy S23 Plus and Ultra take to charge significantly larger batteries.

That said, you will need the right charger to juice up your Galaxy S23 device as fast as possible. We have a list of the best Samsung Galaxy S23 chargers if you need some help picking one, as you won’t get one in the box. All three phones also share 15W wireless charging, so they are equal on that front too.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Plus vs Galaxy S23: Price

  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (8GB/256GB): $1,199
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (12GB/512GB): $1,299
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (12GB/1TB): $1,619
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus: (8GB/256GB): $999
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus: (8GB/512GB): $1,049
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 (8GB/128GB): $799
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 (8GB/256GB): $849

Samsung has kept the prices of the Galaxy S23 series unchanged compared to last year. Apart from the Galaxy S23, the rest of the phones in the new series start with 256GB storage. Yet they cost the same as the 128GB variants from last year.

The Galaxy S23 phones have been available in stores since February 17, 2023, in the US.

You can buy the phones from Samsung.com, where you’ll also gain access to exclusive Galaxy S23 colorways you won’t find anywhere else. These include Lime, Graphite, Sky Blue, and red. Those exclusive colors join the four you can get anywhere else: Phantom Black, Cream, Lavender, and Green. Additionally, you can get $100 off if you purchase the Plus or Ultra variant straight from the manufacturer’s website. Galaxy S23 buyers will get $50 off.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Plus vs Galaxy S23: Which should you buy?

samsung galaxy s23 series colors
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

There’s a $200 difference between the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus. These have identical specs except for a higher base storage, higher 45W charging, better battery life, and a bigger screen on the latter. So if those three things don’t matter as much to you, the regular model is the obvious choice here. Even the 256GB version of the S23 is cheaper than the same storage variant on the S23 Plus. It really all comes down to the screen size you prefer.

Of course, many changes on the Galaxy S23 Ultra vs the Plus and standard models. You’re paying a premium for the top-end Samsung flagship for its 200MP primary camera, an additional telephoto shooter, more storage, a higher resolution and bigger display, fantastic battery life, and S Pen functionality. As such, it’s up to you if you want to spend $200 more and get the base S23 Ultra instead of the base S23 Plus, given the added features you gain with the same amount of RAM and storage.

Regardless of your choice, you should probably get a case to protect your investment. We have lists of the best cases for the Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 Plus, and Galaxy S23 Ultra. You may also want to consider getting one of the best screen protectors.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs Galaxy S23 Plus vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Which phone will you buy?

439 votes
See price at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23
Samsung Galaxy S23
Compact size
Brighter screen
Larger battery
See price at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Large AMOLED display
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 power
Bigger battery
See price at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
New 200MP main camera
Beautiful display
S Pen functionality

FAQs

Only the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with an S Pen. The Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus don’t. They also have no support for an S Pen at all.

Everyone has different needs and wants, so it depends on what you give priority to. All three phones are top-tier handsets. They all come with a powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. Every variant also has at least 8GB of RAM and a great overall experience.

That said, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is definitely the most capable. It has a 200MP primary camera, an additional telephoto shooter, more storage, a higher resolution and bigger display, and S Pen functionality.

The price will depend on which version of the Galaxy S23 series you get. The base Galaxy S23 starts at $799. The Galaxy S23 Plus starts at $999. Samsung’s higher-end Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at $1,199.

All Galaxy S23 devices are technically expensive. You can get the base Samsung Galaxy S23 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for $799.

All Samsung Galaxy S23 cameras are excellent. They will likely make it to our list of the best camera phones around. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra offers the best setup, though. It comes with a higher-resolution 200MP primary sensor and an additional telephoto camera.

Samsung Galaxy S23 series devices come with a couple of types of fast charging. The Galaxy S23 can charge at up to 25W. Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus and Ultra can take advantage of 45W charging. Check out our list of the best Galaxy S23 chargers for more details and recommendations.

Pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy S23 series started on February 1, 2023. They became available in-store on February 17, 2023.