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Sony Xperia 1 V vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Which camera flagship is better?

The overkill phones go neck-and-neck in several specifications, making it a very close call.
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Published onDecember 19, 2023

Sony Xperia 1 V rear cameras closeup cameras background
Harley Maranan / Android Authority

Sony is one of those rare OEMs that has stuck to its vision of offering the best set of features for photographers and audiophiles, even when the rest of the industry has moved on. But how well does its most recent flagship compare to the de-facto choice for many photography enthusiasts? We pit the Sony Xperia 1 V vs the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in this comparison.

Sony Xperia 1 V vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: At a glance

Here's a quick look at the main differences between the two phones:

  • The Xperia 1 V is significantly lighter than the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
  • The Xperia 1 V has a higher resolution display than the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
  • The Xperia 1 V has expandable storage, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a dedicated two-step shutter button, which the Galaxy S23 Ultra does not have.
  • The Galaxy S23 Ultra has faster wired charging than the Xperia 1 V.
  • The Galaxy S23 Ultra has S Pen support, which the Xperia 1 V completely lacks.
  • The Galaxy S23 Ultra has better software support than the Xperia 1 V.

Keep reading to know in-depth how the phones differ from each other.

Sony Xperia 1 V vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Specs

Sony Xperia 1 VSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Display
Sony Xperia 1 V
6.5-inch OLED
Flat display
4K resolution
21:9 aspect ratio
120Hz refresh rate
Not LTPO, lowers to 60Hz only
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Edge display (curved)
QHD+ resolution (3,088 x 1,440)
19.3:9 aspect ratio
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (1Hz to 120Hz)
LTPO 3.0
Processor
Sony Xperia 1 V
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
RAM
Sony Xperia 1 V
12GB
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
8GB or 12GB
Storage
Sony Xperia 1 V
256GB
MicroSD card support up to 1TB
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
No microSD card support
Power
Sony Xperia 1 V
5,000mAh battery
30W wired charging
15W wireless charging
No charger or cable in box
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
5,000mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W wireless charging
No charger in box
Cameras
Sony Xperia 1 V
Rear:
- 52MP primary, but effectively 48MP
1/1.35-inch sensor
OIS

- 12MP ultrawide
1/2.5-inch sensor

- 12MP 3.5x-5.2x telephoto
1/3.5-inch sensor

- Dedicated two-step shutter button

Front:
- 12MP wide
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Rear:
- 200MP primary
1/1.3-inch sensor
OIS

- 12MP ultrawide
1/2.55-inch sensor

- 10MP 3x telephoto
1/3.52-inch sensor

- 10MP 10x telephoto
1/3.52-inch sensor

Front:
- 12MP wide
Software
Sony Xperia 1 V
Android 13
2 Android updates
3 years of security updates
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
One UI 5.1 based on Android 13
4 Android updates
5 years of security updates
S Pen support
Sony Xperia 1 V
No, not included
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Yes, embedded with storage slot
Audio
Sony Xperia 1 V
3.5mm headphone jack
Front-facing stereo speakers
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
No headphone jack
Stereo speakers
IP rating
Sony Xperia 1 V
IP65/68 certified
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
IP68 certified
Dimensions
Sony Xperia 1 V
165 x 71 x 8.3mm
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm
Weight
Sony Xperia 1 V
187g
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
233g
Materials
Sony Xperia 1 V
Gorilla Glass Victus 2 front and back
Aluminum frame
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Gorilla Glass Victus 2 front and back
Armor Aluminum frame

The Sony Xperia 1 V and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra are top-tier flagships. But while the Galaxy S23 Ultra represents the best that Samsung offers in the traditional glass-slab smartphone format, the Xperia 1 V is the second best from Sony as the company sometimes goes even crazier with a Sony Xperia Pro flagship.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is the overkill phone for the masses, while the Xperia 1 V is the overkill phone for the enthusiasts.

The differences in approach to the two flagships are fairly apparent. Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra is meant to appeal to the average user who wants the best of the best, while Sony is focusing deeply on photographers, audiophiles, and enthusiasts.

Sony Xperia 1 V front black magenta background plain
Harley Maranan / Android Authority

Starting from the front, the Xperia 1 V retains the signature Xperia look with a flat display that has decent bezels on the top and bottom. It looks fairly outdated, but it is highly functional. The Galaxy S23 Ultra goes all-in on a curved display with minimal bezels all around.

samsung galaxy s23 ultra samsung apps
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Don’t let the Xperia 1 V’s dated look fool you, as the OLED display is a whopping 4K in resolution. It’s not an LTPO display, though, and can only cycle between 60Hz and 120Hz. The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s AMOLED display has a relatively lower QHD+ resolution but has higher peak brightness and a better 1Hz-120Hz refresh rate.

Sony Xperia 1 V SIM SD card tray
Harley Maranan / Android Authority

The internals on the two phones are fairly similar, with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 powering both of them. The one. You get options for more RAM and storage on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. But on the flip side, the Xperia 1 V comes with microSD expandability of up to 1TB, which is a significant advantage for enthusiasts.

Sony Xperia 1 V headphones plugged in
Harley Maranan / Android Authority

Enthusiasts will also appreciate the front-facing stereo speakers and amplifier setup on the Xperia 1 V. The Galaxy S23 Ultra has stereo speakers, but one is on the bottom edge of the midframe, and the other is in the earpiece.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a weapon that no other phone has: an integrated S Pen. This lineup of phones is the only one where you can get a stylus that integrates within the body of the phone, enabling some exclusive features.

samsung galaxy s23 ultra home screen and s pen
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The software experience is where the Galaxy S23 Ultra maintains a big lead. The phone launched with One UI 5.1 based on Android 13 and has been updated to One UI 6 based on Android 14. Samsung promises four Android updates and five years of security updates.

In contrast, Sony only promises two Android updates and three years of security updates. The Xperia 1 V comes with Android 13 out of the box and has also been updated to Android 14. Sony’s Xperia UI skin makes fairly lightweight changes to the experience with just a handful of extra apps.

Sony Xperia 1 V vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Size comparison

Sony Xperia 1 V in hand brick background
Harley Maranan / Android Authority

There’s a noticeable difference in the size of both phones. The Xperia 1 V measures 165 x 71 x 8.3mm, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra measures 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm. The Xperia adopts a taller and narrower stance that accommodates its 21:9 display aspect ratio. The Galaxy feels chunkier and thicker, though it is also a big phone by itself.

samsung galaxy s23 ultra home screen in hand
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Xperia 1 V weighs only 187g, which is surprisingly lightweight for a device of this footprint. In contrast, the Galaxy S23 Ultra can be firmly categorized as heavy at 233g.

The Xperia 1 V's taller aspect ratio and textured frame and back make it easier to hold and grip confidently.

Neither phone is a one-handed phone. But the Xperia 1 V’s aspect ratio and light weight make it easier to grip and use, though you still have to do some finger gymnastics to reach the top of the phone.

Sony Xperia 1 V vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Design and build

Sony Xperia 1 V in hand outside metal background
Harley Maranan / Android Authority
Xperia 1 V

The Sony Xperia 1 V follows the same design language as several predecessors before it. The Galaxy S23 Ultra also does so, but the lineup had a big shakeup a generation ago when it adopted a more Note-esque style with the S Pen.

The Xperia 1 V retains a lot of flat edges but no sharp corners. The Galaxy S23 Ultra has curved edges on its display, but it has sharp corners. You’ll probably be well served with a good S23 Ultra case to ease out the corners.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Black color in hand
Aamir Siddiqui / Android Authority

Both Samsung and Sony have adopted the typical glass sandwich design, with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the front and back. There’s an aluminum midframe providing strength and rigidity on both phones.

While the Galaxy S23 Ultra is smooth all around, Sony has chosen to add a bumpy texture to the glass back on the Xperia 1 V, making it feel quite unique. The aluminum midframe on the Sony is also ridged, adding to the grip on the phone.

Sony Xperia 1 V vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Camera

samsung galaxy s23 ultra camera app
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Both the Sony Xperia 1 V and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra are great camera phones, but they have different approaches. Sony trusts its enthusiast users with a lot of manual control, while Samsung offers a simpler experience that gets the job done for just about everyone.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra flies high as a point-and-shoot style camera, while the Xperia 1 V encourages you to take control.

The primary camera on the Sony Xperia 1 V is a 52MP CMOS sensor that crops into a usable 48MP, further binning down to 12MP. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 200MP sensor that bins down to 12.5MP images.

Both cameras produce excellent photos with great dynamic range. We’ll be adding camera samples from the Sony Xperia 1 V very soon.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra primary camera samples

The ultrawide camera performs similarly on both phones, with just a small difference in sensor size.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra ultrawide camera samples

The telephoto is where things get a little interesting. Sony adopts two zoom levels on the telephoto, 3.5x and 5.2x, whereas Samsung uses dedicated sensors for a 3x telephoto and a 10x telephoto.

Samsung Galaxy S23Ultra zoom camera samples

The front camera on both phones is a 12MP shooter, and both rely on software magic for portrait-mode photos.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra front camera samples

Sony’s trick with the Xperia 1 V is offering three Pro camera apps (one for photo, two for video) with a whole bunch of parameters that you can play around with. Samsung also offers manual photography and videography modes that are fairly hands-on but do not match the level of control that Sony offers. Sony goes one step further with a dedicated two-stage shutter button that photography enthusiasts will appreciate.

Sony Xperia 1 V cineamtograph pro app
Harley Maranan / Android Authority

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra should be the choice for users who want more of a point-and-shoot experience, while the Sony Xperia 1 V should be preferred by enthusiasts who want the last bit of control over every image.

Sony Xperia 1 V vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Battery and charging

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra charger
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Both devices are fairly similar in their battery and charging situation. Both come with a 5,000mAh battery that should last through the day without issues. We’ve gotten about six to eight hours of screen-on time with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and we expect the Xperia 1 V to come close to this figure as well. We’ll update this comparison once we have the final figures from the Sony phone.

When it comes to wired charging, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has a small lead. It offers 45W of wired charging, which takes about 60 minutes for a full charge. The Xperia 1 V offers 30W of wired charging, which is fairly slower.

Both phones have 15W wireless charging. On the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, it takes about 100 minutes for a full charge.

Best Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra chargers
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

While neither phone comes with a charger in the box, Sony does not even include a cable in the box. So you’ll need to pick up a recommended fast charger for either phone.

Sony Xperia 1 V vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Price

  • Sony Xperia 1 V (12GB/256GB): $1,399
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (8GB/256GB): $1,199.99
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (12GB/256GB): $1,299.99
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (12GB/512GB): $1,379.99
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (12GB/1TB): $1,619.99

The Sony Xperia 1 V is available in the US for $1,399 for the singular 12GB/256GB version. The phone went on sale in July 2023. Pre-orders received a $50 gift card and free LinkBuds. Sony has discounted the phone to $1,099.99, which makes it more competitive.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a lower starting price of $1,199.99 for the 8GB/256GB version, while the comparable 12GB/256GB version is $100 cheaper than Sony’s launch price. Samsung also regularly offers the phone on good deals, clubbing in $50 Samsung Credit, enhanced trade-in, and a bump up in the storage as part of the deal.

See price at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
See price at Amazon
Sony Xperia 1 V
1%off

Both phones are expensive. The Galaxy S23 Ultra often has better offers, while Sony’s price cut makes the Xperia 1 V cheaper and more competitive.

Sony Xperia 1 V vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Which flagship should you buy?

The Sony Xperia 1 V and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra are surprisingly similar to each other, but there’s a fair distinction in what their target audience is.

Sony Xperia 1 V rear cameras closeup rgb lighting background
Harley Maranan / Android Authority

The Sony Xperia 1 V makes the most sense for photography enthusiasts and creators, as the company offers unparalleled control over all the hardware that is in your hand. The phone also makes a lot of sense for media enthusiasts, as that 4K display offers the highest pixel density on a current-gen smartphone. The presence of a 3.5mm headphone jack, front-facing stereo speakers, and expandable storage are also appreciated by both of these segments.

ditch pixel 7 pro for galaxy s23 ultra 2
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the overkill flagship for the masses. It’s the recommendation for people who want a smartphone that just works without needing their intervention. It is also the only choice for people who value the S Pen and its features. If you plan to hold onto your phone for a longer period, the longer update promise is the best in class, even better than Google’s. Keep in mind, though, that the Galaxy S24 Ultra is around the corner, and Samsung will either deeply discount the Galaxy S23 Ultra soon or discontinue it in favor of its successor.

You should buy the Sony Xperia 1 V if:

  • You want a phone with manual camera controls coupled with excellent camera hardware and a physical camera shutter button.
  • You want a flagship that is still lightweight without compromising on any features.
  • You want a current generation flagship with a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot.
  • You want a lightweight stock Android UX with thoughtful app and feature additions.

You should buy the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra if:

  • You want a camera experience that works autonomously and still offers some level of manual control.
  • You want greater versatility with the zoom camera.
  • You want an S Pen.
  • You want a phone with best-in-class software update promise.

Would you buy the Sony Xperia 1 V or the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra?

1614 votes

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