Undoubtedly it’s cool to pull out a stylus and use it as a remote to take photos – and just one of the many party tricks of the new Samsung S23 Ultra.
In terms of talking points, this handset certainly has you covered, and most of the features revolve around the camera.
Take the phone’s “astrophotography” mode, for example, which allows users to take high-resolution 100x zoom images of the moon.
A demonstration of this feature elicited a “Wow” from Elon Musk, though whether the average person would actually use it is another question.
Too many Android handsets today feel boringly the same. The S23 Ultra (the spiritual grandchild of Samsung’s massive, discontinued Galaxy Note phones) certainly doesn’t.
The S23 Ultra has a mind-boggling 200-megapixel camera – putting the iPhone’s mere 48-megapixels to shame
The stylus almost fits into the bottom of the handset (Samsung)
You have to be a fan of large handsets to enjoy it: the 6.8in of screen and even ‘big’ phones like Google’s Pixel 7 Pro feel dainty next to it – only Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro Max is in same heavyweight bracket as the S23 Ultra.
So there’s more to love here, although Samsung hasn’t torn up the rulebook in terms of looks since last year’s S22 Ultra.
There are plenty of upgrades under the hood though, most notably the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, the fastest Android chipset out there, and a 200-megapixel rear camera, a component so over-the-top that it’s the S23 puts Ultra in a class of its own.
To put that in context, the iPhone 14 Pro Max (Apple’s flagship device) has just 48 megapixels.
The build quality is solid and high quality, with a metal finish and the latest Gorilla Glass Victus 2, which I accidentally tested by dropping the handset face down on concrete while setting it up (it was fine).
In terms of talking points, this handset certainly has you covered, and most of the features revolve around the camera
The latest Samsung S23 allows users to take 100 times zoomed, high-resolution photos of the moon
The 120Hz display is absolutely gorgeous, making videos look incredibly clear: for our money, it’s at least on par with anything out there right now, including the latest iPhones.
The real reason you’d buy this is the powerful array of cameras on the back.
How to take a 100x zoomed photo of the moon
Ideally, you’ll need a tripod for this: to take a moon photo at 100x zoom, just squeeze out the screen in the normal camera app to 100x zoom.
The camera app does the rest.
For other astrophotography effects you’ll need Samsung’s Expert RAW app – you can access it from Samsung’s own app store or download it from the camera app (go to Modes to access it).
Once you’ve got the app, go to Modes > Expert Raw > the star icon in the top left, and you’ll be able to set the duration and toggle the sky guide on and off.
This is pretty much the ultimate camera phone on the market right now, especially in terms of the variety of features on offer.
Samsung Electronics America describes it as “the most advanced camera ever on a Galaxy device,” and it’s far ahead of the competition on Android.
In addition to the 200-megapixel main camera, there’s an ultra-wide 12-megapixel lens and two 10-megapixel telephoto lenses – great for zooming in on photos.
Google’s Pixel 7 Pro, with its machine learning-enhanced powers, is probably (just) the best for amateur or bad photographers, as it can salvage pretty mediocre photography.
But if you’re looking to stretch your creative wings, the S23 Ultra is in a league of its own – download Samsung’s Expert RAW camera app and you’re looking at a range of controls that wouldn’t put an SLR to shame.
In standard shooting mode, the 200-megapixel sensor combines 16 pixels into a single 12.5-megapixel shot – making the end result very colorful and bright.
But you can shoot in the unrestricted 200-megapixel mode, so you can crop and zoom to your heart’s content.
Night photography is a lot better, with AI boosting the shots – overall, this is definitely the ultimate Android camera phone, and it offers plenty of modes that even Apple’s mighty iPhone 14 Pro Max can’t match.
The ability to remotely trigger the shutter adds another feather to the S23 Ultra’s cap – in fact, if you’re looking to try new ideas in photography on a phone, it’s very hard to match.
It can shoot video in 8K resolution (four times sharper than Ultra HD TVs) and should also make it appealing to filmmakers (or just people who want to make sure their vacation videos look great 20 years from now).
Of course there is a ‘but’.
Unlike Google’s top-of-the-line Pixel, the price here strays where the buses don’t run – Apple’s land.
It’s $1199, which is very, very expensive for an Android device (Google’s flagship Pixel 7 Pro is $899 for comparison).
If you’re an avid photographer, or just a die-hard stylus enthusiast, this more than justifies the price tag – but there’s no doubt it’s a hefty price.
The S23 Ultra outperforms just about every Android out there (included)
You can write messages or doodles on the screen with the stylus (included).
The stylus fits in the bottom (Samsung)