The Galaxy S23 Ultra is just a week away from its official launch. All the information leaked so far has painted a positive picture. Samsung has updated almost every aspect of its upcoming flagship for 2023, and the Galaxy S23 Ultra is an exciting proposition for Samsung flagship customers, especially those living in markets where trade-in values are stellar.
We’ve already listed plenty of reasons why the Galaxy S23 Ultra could be a worthwhile upgrade for Galaxy S20 Ultra customers. But what about Galaxy S21 Ultra users? Should they consider the Galaxy S23 Ultra as their next flagship phone? Let’s answer that by looking at all the improvements the 2023 flagship has made over the 2021 model, and what you might be missing out on by upgrading to the newer phone.
Better, brighter display with 1-120Hz refresh rate
Both the Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy S23 Ultra have 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X displays with similar resolutions. However, the 2023 model increases peak brightness from 1,500 nits to 1,750 nits, and reports indicate that Samsung has fine-tuned color accuracy to a higher level, especially for low-light usage conditions.
Additionally, the Galaxy S23 Ultra supports a refresh rate of anywhere between 1Hz and 120Hz, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s panel can only go up to 48Hz. This means that the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s panel is friendlier to battery life, which may compensate for the higher brightness.
All in all, the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s display is brighter and technologically superior.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra fully embraces the S Pen
Although the Galaxy S21 Ultra was the first S-series flagship to adopt S Pen support, the phone does not have a built-in case for this iconic input device. You could say that the 2021 model is the last pure Galaxy S Ultra flagship, and you could see that as a plus.
However, if you’re interested in the S Pen, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is a worthy upgrade over the Galaxy S21 Ultra on the S Pen case alone. The 2023 model fully incorporates the S Pen and offers better stylus technology with lower latency. You no longer need to buy an S Pen case for your device, and the accessory will always be close at hand.
Better build quality and a newer design
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But even if you prefer the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s bulky camera housing, there’s something to be said for the consistency of the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s design.
The 2023 flagship has a squarer footprint and a much more minimalistic camera setup without a traditional ‘hump’. It looks more modern than the 2021 model, and the thicker metal frame makes the phone look sturdier.
In addition to its updated aesthetics, the Galaxy S23 Ultra also uses better construction materials, such as a stronger aluminum frame with improved scratch and drop resistance, along with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 instead of Glass Victus screen protection. The former should offer better protection against falls from hard surfaces such as concrete pavements. Essentially, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is better suited for use without a protective case than the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Snapdragon SoC throughout and more (possibly faster) core storage
For the first time, Samsung will no longer split the flagship market between Exynos and Qualcomm chipsets. The Galaxy S23 Ultra ships with a 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 worldwide, which means the support should be better and you’ll be able to experience Qualcomm’s best SoC yet, even if you buy the Galaxy S23 Ultra on -called “Exynos market”. .”
And needless to say, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is a more powerful solution than the Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 SoCs. In addition, it seems that the Galaxy S23 Ultra uses an exclusive version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which boasts higher frequencies for better performance.
In addition, the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers more storage as standard. The base model has 256GB of storage, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra has 128GB or more. On the other hand, you get 8GB of RAM with the Galaxy S23 Ultra instead of 12GB of RAM for the base model, but you can comfortably compensate with RAM Plus, as the phone offers more storage.
Finally, if the rumors are true, the Galaxy S23 Ultra ships with faster UFS 4.0 storage instead of UFS 3.1, which should make file transfers faster and help the RAM Plus performance.
Better cameras with a 200MP primary sensor
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is the first Samsung smartphone to feature a 200 MP main camera. The new ISOCELL HP2 offers many improvements, especially in low-light performance and autofocus.
Telephoto cameras are also better, even if they offer the same zoom capabilities. The AI processing has been improved and enlarged photos should look much better on the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
A possible downgrade could be the 12MP selfie sensor, down from the S21 Ultra’s 40MP unit. However, the 12MP sensor appears to be brand new, which could mean that it takes advantage of newer technologies to create better selfies with more accurate colors.
If you’re looking for a camera upgrade from the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the S23 Ultra definitely qualifies as one.
Faster battery charging (wired)
One of the more unusual choices Samsung made for the Galaxy S21 Ultra was to reduce the charging speed to 25W. Fortunately, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has better specs. Even though both phones have 5,000mAh batteries, the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers super-fast 45W charging.
However, Samsung also made an unusual choice for the Galaxy S23 Ultra. While the 2023 model boasts faster wired charging than the 2021 flagship, it appears to have 10W wireless charging instead of the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s 15W wireless capabilities.
So, you win something, you lose something. But if you’re looking for faster wired charging, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the way to go.
Newer software and support up to Android 17
Although the Galaxy S21 Ultra was recently updated to Android 13 and One UI 5.0, Samsung will ship the Galaxy S23 Ultra with the newer One UI 5.1 firmware.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra may finally get One UI 5.1, but the 2023 model will have a head start. More importantly, even though both phones qualify for Samsung’s improved four-year Android OS update policy, support for the 2021 model will stop at Android 15. On the other hand, the Galaxy S23 Ultra will receive Android 17 on May near the end of this decade. .
Reasons not to upgrade from the Galaxy S21 Ultra
The Galaxy S23 Ultra undoubtedly offers many upgrades over the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but what’s the downside? Are there any reasons you should consider not upgrading to the 2023 model other than the money you’d have to spend?
Well, as mentioned before, you might lose 5W of your wireless charging speed, down to 10W, if you upgrade to the Galaxy S23 Ultra. If you care about wireless charging, this may be a problem.
You also lose 4GB of RAM for the base model, though you get more (and possibly faster) storage. However, if you appreciate multiple apps running in the background and don’t want to use RAM Plus, you may get a lesser experience on the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
In terms of software, it is true that the Galaxy S23 Ultra will receive support for longer, but the Galaxy S21 Ultra is not lost. It has two more major OS upgrades planned for the future, so you won’t miss out on the next One UI builds if you decide to keep using the Galaxy S21 Ultra for a few more years.
And finally, a relatively smaller user base might like to know that the Galaxy S23 Ultra does not have an FM radio. This feature was already market-dependent and only available on the Snapdragon-powered Galaxy S21 Ultra (no FM for Exynos). But now, the Galaxy S23 Ultra may drop FM radio support everywhere.
If you think the Galaxy S23 Ultra is a worthy upgrade, keep an eye out for Unpacked 2023. The event will take place on February 1, and the new flagship should be available for pre-order for about two weeks before shipping to early buyers. Until February 1, you can reserve the phone online and earn $50 in Samsung Credit.
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