This story is a part of, CNET’s assortment of reports, suggestions and recommendation round Samsung’s hottest merchandise.
Five months in the past, I went from being a die-hard Samsung Galaxy fan to a sellout iPhone proprietor. Since then, I’ve absolutely tailored to the world of Apple and have been basking within the perks of options like AirDrop and iMessage (largely to the delight of my mates, who had been sick of my inexperienced texts).
But I nonetheless have a gentle spot for Galaxy telephones, and when Samsung unveiled the S23 lineup in February, I used to be desirous to see how the top-of-the-line S23 Ultra would examine to my iPhone 14 Pro. So I received my fingers on one and commenced utilizing the telephones facet by facet to check the whole lot from the cameras to battery life to general design — and to see whether or not I’d have any regrets about switching to the “darkish facet.” Here’s what I discovered.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s show vs. Apple’s Super Retina display screen
First issues first: I’ve an iPhone 14 Pro, and never a Pro Max, so the Ultra’s large display screen positively stands out compared. I by no means really feel like I want an even bigger display screen than what I get on my 14 Pro, but it surely positively would not harm to have that bigger show when I’m watching a YouTube video or streaming a present — or spending an excessive amount of time on TikTok.
The trade-off to having that bigger display screen is making an attempt to suit it in my pocket and having to hold one thing a bit bulkier. Still, it is a fairly glossy cellphone for all that actual property.
The show high quality on each telephones is stellar, and I do not see a lot of a top quality distinction between the 2. Right out of the field, the S23 Ultra has a pleasant vibrant show, which you’ll obtain on the iPhone by turning off True Tone (a function that adjusts the colour and depth of your show relying in your setting). If the brightness on the Ultra is an excessive amount of, you possibly can inversely mimic the consequences of True Tone by going into Display settings and both toggling on Eye consolation protect or going to Screen mode and choosing Natural. You may also play with the White stability scale. Images on the iPhone look barely sharper, however colours pop a bit extra on the S23 Ultra. Overall, although, there’s actually not a lot of a distinction between the telephones.
There’s one side to having an iPhone that I have never fairly made peace with but, and it is the keyboard. I’m glad Apple added Slide to Type with iOS 13 just a few years in the past, adopted by haptic suggestions on the keyboard with iOS 16 (lastly), as a result of these are options I beloved on Android. But I nonetheless get annoyed that I’ve to change between numbers and letters when I’m typing on the iPhone. Meanwhile, on the Galaxy, the numbers sit simply above the letters, so you possibly can choose them extra rapidly, the best way you’ll on a laptop computer keyboard. You can obtain completely different keyboards on the iPhone like Gboard, but it surely’s not the identical. I’ll admit that is a minor grievance, however I do suppose the consumer expertise would profit from Apple taking a web page from Android’s e-book — you understand, like they’ve carried out many instances earlier than. Moving on….
The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s battery life is subsequent degree
I’ve had my iPhone for just a few months now and fortunately have not seen any noticeable drops in battery life but. My cellphone nonetheless lasts a full day of heavy use, however I all the time have to cost on the finish of the day.
The Ultra’s battery is subsequent degree. I can go a full day of use and nonetheless have some juice left over. That’s not shocking, given the S23 Ultra has a 5,000-mAh battery. Apple would not share battery capability for its telephones, however says the 14 Pro has as much as 23 hours of video playback. An iFixit teardown discovered the iPhone 14 Pro has a 3,200-mAh battery.
Even although the Ultra has an even bigger battery, Apple is definitely capable of crank out extra effectivity from its batteries due to iOS and its personal A-series chips. Meanwhile, Android has to work with a wide range of gadgets working completely different processors, so it turns into extra essential to have that greater battery.
Specs and logistics apart, I’m amazed by the Ultra’s battery life, as was CNET’s cell reporter Lisa Eadicicco when she reviewed the Ultra.
The S23 Ultra’s 200-megapixel digicam
Camera high quality is the most essential side of any cellphone for me. I take quite a lot of footage and movies for work and social media, together with for my very area of interest tea account on Instagram. The digicam on the Galaxy telephones stored me within the Samsung household for a decade, so I used to be keen to check the S23 Ultra’s cameras to the iPhone 14 Pro’s.
What I seen instantly is how rather more saturated images on the Ultra are. In most circumstances, that saturation provides a pleasant coloration increase to pictures and makes them stand out extra. Pictures of my colourful teacups look much more vibrant on the Ultra. Sometimes, that saturation could be a bit overwhelming and makes images look unnatural, as if there is a filter on them. But different instances, it makes colours and topics stand out, in a great way.
The 200-megapixel sensor on the Ultra punches up coloration and element much more. An image I took of an ornamental teacup emphasizes the intricate floral design and gold trim and one other picture of a Klay Thompson mural reveals vivid blues and yellows.
Not all moments are made for a 200-megapixel sensor, although. In one other picture taken outdoor, the sensor eliminated just a few too many highlights, so it was tougher to see element and make sense of what is going on on.
Overall, I respect the softness and brightness of images on the Ultra. Shadows on the iPhone are sometimes a bit too harsh and provides some photos a darker overtone. An picture of the sky on the Ultra will look good and vibrant, whereas on the iPhone, there is perhaps distracting shadows beneath clouds. The Ultra’s softness and brightness additionally make for extra flattering selfies. You can alter the iPhone’s digicam settings and mess around with issues like distinction, tone and coloration temperature, and even mimic images kinds on the Galaxy (and vice versa), however I do want the iPhone simply routinely adjusted for issues like shadows a bit of higher.
The digicam function that shocked me most was Portrait mode. I consider Portrait mode on the iPhone because the gold normal. The topic is often in good focus, the background is easily blurred and the colours are extra pure trying. But I seen there’s one thing the Ultra did higher than my iPhone. I took an image of my pal whereas she had sun shades on high of her head, and the iPhone struggled to maintain the bridge and sides of the glasses in focus, whereas the Ultra did not. It’s that small element that reveals how far Portrait mode has come on Galaxy telephones. I nonetheless choose the look of iPhone portraits due to the decrease saturation, and you may catch a bit extra element within the background, which is good.
Does the Galaxy S23 Ultra beat the iPhone at video?
Given the recognition of TikTok and Instagram Reels proper now, video is a large focus for each Apple and Samsung — and likewise essential for folk like me who take quite a lot of movies. Since switching to the iPhone, I’ve seen an uptick within the high quality of my movies. The colours are extra pure and the photographs sharper. Cinematic mode makes topics pop and lends a extra skilled look to my content material. Samsung has its personal Cinematic mode equal, referred to as Portrait video. It additionally does an important job of blurring the background, however objects and other people look rather less outlined than they do on iPhone.
One space the place the Ultra is a transparent winner is with video stabilization. Even strolling down the steps, the footage is extremely easy, as for those who’re utilizing a gimbal. With the iPhone, you possibly can nonetheless sense every step being taken, and there is much more motion.
The S23 Ultra’s design vs. iPhone 14 Pro
Let’s be sincere: the iPhone’s digicam bumps are ridiculous. The Ultra is a breath of contemporary air as a result of the cameras do not stick out as a lot, so it wobbles much less once you set it down.
The S Pen on the Ultra is a enjoyable further, although I by no means discovered myself reaching for it. There’s not a lot I need to write by hand, and I can simply faucet the display screen for just about all capabilities. Still, I’m glad the legacy of the retired Galaxy Note sequence lives on.
The in-screen fingerprint reader was a favourite function of mine on my Galaxy telephones, and it is good to have that possibility once more whereas utilizing the Ultra. I missed it once I first switched to the iPhone, however Face ID is strong sufficient that I rapidly received over it. Unlocking each telephones has been seamless.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s value is identical because the iPhone
The S23 Ultra is $1,200 for 256 GB of storage and is priced equally to the iPhone 14 Pro Max with the identical quantity of storage. The smaller iPhone 14 Pro is $1,100 for 256GB. Whether you are a Galaxy fan or an iPhone lover, $1,200 is so much. But on this case, you get what you pay for.
Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro remaining ideas
It’s been enjoyable to revisit a world I’ve deserted and examine the iPhone I’ve now to the one I might’ve had if I’d stayed within the Galaxy household. While there are elements to the S23 Ultra that I respect, like brighter and extra colourful photos, higher video stabilization and unimaginable battery life, there are benefits to having an iPhone that transcend specs that’ll doubtless hold me within the Apple ecosystem for some time. Features like Airdrop and iMessage have made the consumer expertise extra seamless. And I do not know if I might quit the iPhone’s video high quality for anything.
Still, I do know that if I need to take an image that makes folks’s jaws drop, I’ll doubtless attain for the S23 Ultra. Then I’ll look forward to the look of shock once I inform them it wasn’t taken with an iPhone.
Check out the video above to see extra of my expertise making an attempt out these two telephones, together with some side-by-side examples of images and movies taken on every.