Samsung’s new S23 lineup is in stores now.
I’ve been testing the top of the line Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, which features a new 200 megapixel camera.
It also comes with a starting price tag of $1200. So, is it worth it?
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To find out, I took over 500 photos and 175 videos with the phone in a combination of places including San Francisco, Los Angeles and the New York area.
I was especially interested in photos in lower light since Samsung is promoting the idea of “Advanced Nightography,” which is believe is a word they came up with.
This year’s phone is much easier to hold thanks to more squared off edges. I appreciate that since it’s one of my gripes with previous models.
Before I get to my results, just a word about the S23 Ultra. This is really the most unique phone in the lineup. It comes with a giant 6.8 inch screen, a long lasting battery and a stylus.
If you’re considering the other models, the S23 or the S23+, these are perfectly good phones and they’ll be a fine upgrade if you’re coming from an earlier Galaxy. The Ultra is if you want the best of everything Samsung has to offer.
So, how were the photos?
For starters, you won’t be taking 200 megapixel photos on a regular basis. They come in at a whopping 35 megabytes each. They look great and you can zoom in and still preserve a lot of detail, but unless you’re taking photos for billboards you won’t use this feature that often.
There are lenses for ultra wide, regular and even macro shots.
Zoom is incredible on this phone. You get 10x optical and up to 100x digital.
The 100x zoom is neat to have, but after about 30x it’s sort of useless. It’s more of a party trick than practical.
In low light, shots of anything that’s not moving is going to look fantastic. The pictures are bright and well composed.
In low light with anything moving, things get a bit more tricky. Sometimes the photos will be in focus, other times there will be some motion blur, especially visible if you zoom in.
Photos of people can sometimes look washed out in certain lighting conditions.
If you’re taking outdoor, well lit shots, they are always going to look incredible. Samsung nails it here.
With low light selfies, it’s an other story. Sometimes the phone will nail it, other times you might get a blurry picture. It’s best to hold the camera still for a bit longer than you might think.
Video in good lighting is excellent, although it can sometimes look a bit flat and has less contrast than the iPhone. The iPhone is still king of mobile video.
Video is also really stable. Samsung says they improved the stability and it shows.
Portrait Mode, which blurs the background of the photo is near professional quality. The results are quite amazing.
Portrait Video is also much improved since the last generation of phones. You can get really creative with various styles here, too.
Overall, this is still an excellent camera system that I think will improve over time as Samsung tweaks the software. Keep in mind, this sensor setup is still new to them and they will collect data as people use the camera and analyze the results.
Bottom line: if you love using various software, photo and video features, you’ll enjoy the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. It doesn’t always nail the photo or video on the first time shot like the latest iPhones or Pixel, but it is a powerful device that gives you just about every feature you could possibly need in the palm of your hand.
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