Samsung Galaxy S23 vs S23 Plus vs S23 Ultra: which camera phone is best?

From left to right: Samsung Galaxy Ultra, Samsung Galaxy S23+ and Samsung Galaxy S23
(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung has released its long-awaited camera phone series for 2023, consisting of the flagship Galaxy S23 Ultra, the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23+. If you're thinking of buying one of these new devices but don't know which one is right for you, we've compared the specs and features of all three below to help you decide.

February's Samsung Unpacked event saw the company announce some new photography features for the Galaxy family, and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of the best camera phones of 2023 so far. But should you just buy the most expensive Samsung Galaxy Ultra? Or do the other devices represent great value for money without compromising too much on features?

They could all arguably be classed as the best Samsung phones, but there are plenty of differences between the three – namely, price, size and camera performance. Let’s see how the trio stacks up against each other…

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs S23 Plus vs S23 Ultra: Specs

All three Galaxy S23 models are powered by the very latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which has been specifically tuned for Galaxy with a higher clock speed for additional performance.

We've listed all of the key specs below for each device below so that you can directly compare the three models at a glance. Then, we'll delve into the screen size, cameras and pricing in more detail.

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs S23+ vs S23
Header Cell - Column 0 Galaxy S23 UltraGalaxy S23+Galaxy S23
Dimensions78.1 X 163.4 X 8.9mm70.9 x 146.3 x 7.6mm76.2 x 157.8 x 7.6mm
Screen size6.8-inch QHD+ Edge6.6-inch FHD+6.1-inch FHD+
CPUSnapdragon 8 Gen 2Snapdragon 8 Gen 2Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Rear cameras200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x zoom), 10MP telephoto (10x zoom)50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x zoom)50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x zoom)
Front camera12MP12MP12MP
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB
ColorsGreen, Phantom Black, Lavender, Cream (others exclusive to, Phantom Black, Lavender, Cream (others exclusive to, Phantom Black, Lavender, Cream (others exclusive to
PriceFrom $1,119.99/£1,249/AU$1,949 (256GB)From $999/£1049/AU$1649 (256GB)From $799/£849/AU$1349 (128GB)

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs S23 Plus vs S23 Ultra: Cameras

  • S23 Ultra gets a new 200MP main sensor
  • S23 Ultra also has an extra 10x telephoto lens
  • S23 Plus and S23 have 12MP front-facing camera

Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23+ phones

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra hands on

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

A first for all devices is the Expert RAW app, which Samsung says enables DSLR-style image shooting and editing in RAW and JPEG file formats. The Galaxy camera has a slightly new design, thanks to the removal of the contoured housing.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
The flagship Galaxy S23 Ultra features a 200MP main camera, with an Adaptive Pixel sensor that uses pixel binning to allow high-resolution processing. This is an increase of almost double from the primary sensor on the S22 Ultra, which by comparison is 108MP.

The camera uses quad-pixel autofocus, using every pixel for focus, which Samsung claims are it's fastest and most accurate system yet.

Samsung Galaxy S23+ & S23
The camera systems of the Galaxy S23 and S23+ are identical, which simplifies the comparison process. They share the same cameras, both featuring a 50MP main wide-angle camera. They have also been upgraded to the same 12MP Ultra Wide front-facing camera shared with the S23 Ultra – a Super HDR selfie camera that goes from 30fps to 60fps.

Samsung Galaxy S23 camera comparison

Here's an overview of the Galaxy S23 Series cameras (Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs S23 Plus vs S23 Ultra: Design

  • S23 Ultra has two more color options
  • S23 Ultra has curved glass on the front
  • All three models have the same rear camera design

Perhaps screen and display are the most noticeable differences between the S23-series devices in everyday use. The first thing that strikes you about the S23 Ultra is its stunning 6.8-inch Edge Quad HD+ display with a resolution of 3088 x 1440 that curves into its edges. It’s a truly mesmerizing panel that elevates photo and video content viewed on it.

The Galaxy S23+ comes with a 6.6-inch FHD+ screen, and the S23 has a smaller 6.1-inch FHD+ screen. These are both flat screens, not curved like the S23 Ultra.

All three devices are easy to enjoy in direct sunlight, thanks to having a maximum brightness of 1750 nits. They have an Armor Aluminum Frame and a Water Resistant rating of IP68 to protect against accidental splashes and use in the rain.

Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23+ phones

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

In terms of design, the Galaxy S23 and S23+ are very pretty phones, and Samsung has refined the glass sandwich design further this year for a very clean minimalist aesthetic. Both devices sport a neatly segmented triple camera housing, which makes for a two-toned color scheme that is subtle, yet eye-catching.

The camera bump is no more, instead, the lenses are placed directly on the back sheet of glass looking like islands rising up from the ocean. The lack of a large camera bump does mean the phone now sits more peacefully on a flat surface instead of rocking back and forth like in previous Galaxy devices. It also means that the lenses lack a little protection, but as the majority of people use a phone case now, this won't be an issue for most.

See Best Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus cases & Best Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra cases

On looks alone, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra will have no shortage of admirers, with smooth lines, a minimal aesthetic, and a near-bezel-less curved screen, the S23 Ultra is a sight to behold. The camera cutout has gone, leaving only small lens islands on the rear of the device, and the S Pen continues to be secreted at the bottom of the device.

There are plenty of different color options for the devices, and you get extra options if you buy directly from Samsung. For the Galaxy S23 and S23+, Samsung has introduced new tranquil colors in forest green and very pale lavender to go alongside the usual cream and black colors. See the colorways below.

Samsung Galaxy S23 color options

Samsung Galaxy S23 color options (Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs S23 Plus vs S23 Ultra: Battery

  • Galaxy S23 Ultra gets 5,000mAh cell
  • Galaxy S23+ has 4,700mAh
  • Galaxy S23 has smallest 3,900mAh cell 

When it comes to batteries, the capacity of each Galaxy S23 phone scales up with their screen sizes: the S23 has a 3,900mAh cell, the Plus offers 4,700mAh, and the Ultra gets 5,000mAh. We haven't been able to test out the battery life yet, but Samsung quotes them as lasting 22 hours, 27 hours and 26 hours respectively. 

So although the Ultra has the largest battery, it's also the most power-hungry, suggesting that the S23+ is the winner in terms of battery life overall. It's a close call, though. Battery charging is another consideration, though. The Plus and Ultra feature a max charging speed of 45W, while the base S23 has 25W.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs S23 Plus vs S23 Ultra: Price

  • Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at around $1,120 / £1,249 / AU$1,949
  • Galaxy S23+ starts at $999 / £1049 / AU$1649
  • Galaxy S23 starts at around $800 / £849 / AU$1,349

The price varies depending on which device you choose and how much storage you want.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 is the obvious choice if you're on a budget as it's the most affordable. It comes in 128GB or 256GB versions, each with 8GB RAM, and costs $799 / £849 / AU$1,349 for the base model.

The S23 Plus can be bought in 256GB / 512GB / 1TB variants, with 8GB or 12GB RAM, from $1,120 / £1,249 / AU$1,949.

If you’re the type who doesn’t want to compromise, then the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is truly the king. You would have to shell out around an extra $200 / £200, but you get a lot more device for your money, including double storage, the option for more RAM, plus a stylus that can be used for notes and to remotely trigger the camera, as well as a significantly greater zoom range.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs S23 Plus vs S23 Ultra: Verdict

From left to right: Samsung Galaxy S23+, Samsung Galaxy Ultra and Samsung Galaxy S23

(Image credit: Samsung)

This year’s flagship devices from Samsung are all brilliantly refined with solid specifications and features across the board, so there isn’t a bad choice to make. But if you’re struggling to choose between the three and budget isn’t a concern, there’s no doubt that the flagship Galaxy S23 Ultra is the best camera phone overall.  

With a huge camera sensor, stunning display and note features, the S23 Ultra justifies its moniker in every way. Just consider if you'll find the larger size cumbersome and whether you need the extra zoom lens and S Pen functionality.

If you're on a budget you can’t go far wrong with the Galaxy S23, while the S23+ is perhaps the least compelling of the three – neither the best nor the worst.

You might also like our guides to the best Android phone, the best Google Pixel phone and the best iPhone for photography.

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Lauren Scott
Managing Editor

Lauren is the Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, having previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, a practical-focused publication that inspires hobbyists and seasoned pros alike to take truly phenomenal shots and get the best results from their kit. 

An experienced photography journalist who has been covering the industry for over eight years, she has also served as technique editor for both PhotoPlus: The Canon MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and DCW's sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine

In addition to techniques and tutorials that enable you to achieve great results from your cameras, lenses, tripods and other photography equipment, Lauren can regularly be found interviewing some of the biggest names in the industry, sharing tips and guides on subjects like landscape and wildlife photography, and raising awareness for subjects such as mental health and women in photography.