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Samsung was the first major player to create the Ultra segment. Right from the start in 2020, the Galaxy S20 Ultra established that Ultra means more than Pro (or Pro Max) – it means ultra-sized display and battery, an ultra-high pixel count main camera, ultra-versatile camera system, and ultra performance.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the embodiment of the Ultra phone and it’s easily Samsung’s most popular phone on the market. While some might think the design is a bit stale at this point, it’s undoubtedly a case of form following function. The rectangular body is ideally suited to carry a big four-camera island, a potent chipset with its accompanying cooling, a large 5,000mAh battery, and a stylus. Not to mention the biggest display you can find on a phone that doesn’t fold.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra long-term review

Now in its fourth generation, the Galaxy Ultra has embraced its S Pen-carrying identity, solidifying another feature that only the Galaxy Ultra has. Samsung made sure the Galaxy S23 Ultra has another ultra-worthy feature added in the form of the new 200MP camera.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra long-term review

But let’s come back to that word, “stale”. Looking at the Galaxy S23 Ultra, very little has changed compared to its predecessor. While the Galaxy S22 Ultra was somewhat of a paradigm shift from the S21 Ultra, the S23 Ultra is a subtle evolution. The S Pen is not news anymore, the rest of the cameras, the display, and the battery are practically the same, as is the design and build, for the most part. The biggest changes are the move to Qualcomm’s silicon and the new 200MP imager – changes that likely didn’t motivate most S22 Ultra users to upgrade.

Ultimately, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is a safe space for Galaxy Ultra (and the old Galaxy Note) loyalists who want a familiar do-it-all big Samsung. It’s an important device for Samsung and the company painstakingly keeps true to its roots. It’s a situation not unlike that of the iPhone Pro Max – people want this package year after year.

So now that the Galaxy S23 Ultra has been dutifully serving as the best smartphone money can buy for about 8 months, it’s time to see how it’s held up and what, if anything, has changed.

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