Ok guys we’re done! Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs the Z Flip 4. One of these is going back.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 and the Ultra are similar price-wise in the US. Around $1000. Here in the Netherlands the S23 Ultra is 300 euros more expensive. With that in mind, let’s break it down.
Battery and Battery Life
There are three things on the S23 Ultra that we absolutely LOVE. The biggest thing about this phone – quite literally – is its battery and battery life. And you know it’s not the raw battery capacity of 5000 mAh. The faster RAM, more efficient display, killer new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip that everyone including those of us in Europe have access to. Whether it’s really made for Galaxy – we’ll leave it up to you guys to decide. But what this means is that I’ve gotten some CRAZY battery numbers of up to 2 and half days!
That was with 8 hours plus of screen on time, so not heavy days admittedly, but STILL – that’s some killer battery life! In real life, the 45 watt fast charging may not be the best that phones offer today, but in combination with that battery life, it has really reduced charger anxiety for us. You know – the best thing about that number isn’t that you can last 2 days on a single charge. For us it’s more valuable knowing that if you start the day with 50% – you’re gonna be able to make it to the end. And that’s the real value here. The Z Flip 4 is a solid one day battery phone for us, which was quite surprising, but also very satisfying, even if it’s not quite ultra, with its piddly 25W charging speed.
The Ultra is also ULTRA smooth. Look – we’re not gamers, but that doesn’t mean we don’t put this device through its paces. Image and video editing and a whole variety of apps means we do push our devices. And in ALL the time we’ve had with the Ultra, there hasn’t been a single stutter we’ve faced. Admittedly we have a top of the line model here with 12 gigs of RAM. Still given all that, everything was smooth except with Google Drive. Google Drive crashes ALL the time. Seriously Samsung and Google – stop being such frenemies already. The Flip 4 was no exception to the Drive dilemma. But don’t get us wrong – the Flip 4 didn’t have a buggy user interface, but you can tell at times with certain apps that don’t run as ‘ultra’. But overall, we ARE satisfied in our daily use.
Also on the subject of performance – why is the system storage on the S23 Ultra already used up to such a large extent? Why do we need this? Not cool Samsung. This seems to be a Samsung thing, since the Flip 4 suffers the same system storage syndrome.
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👉🏾 Buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
👉🏾 Buy the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
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And what can you say about the S23 Ultra screen that hasn’t been said already? A 6.8” QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED with an insane 500ppi. HDR10+ certification and a max of 120Hz refresh rate. The peak brightness of 1750 nits isn’t the best on the market anymore, but come on – if you can see stuff in bright sunlight, the rest is just spec wankery. The Z Flip gets less brighter in direct sunlight, but to be honest we were fine with it. And the Ultra sports a Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the front and the back, whereas the Z Flip 4 has that plastic film action that enables it to fold. It also unfortunately has that rainbow effect with polarised glasses – which is VERY annoying in the summer. Or as a Youtuber who uses ND Filters on their camera lenses to record screens. The very subtle curves on the rails of the Ultra – well it’s fine. We’re not passionate one way or the other about curves, because we’re case people. In terms of handling, the Z Flip 4 is no slouch either and it fits much better in the pocket. And there’s the crazy novelty of a phone that changes form factors that you just can’t ignore. However, we did drop the Z Flip 4 – and it took a physical beating, but continues to function flipping well.
The big screen on the Ultra, of course, brings some real-life benefits. The immersive canvas for content is something really enjoyable. As is the fact that typing on this has been better than any other phone we’ve used in the recent past. Thanks to Mechnizmo on our Discord for sharing that very relatable nugget. The Z Flip 4 also has a cover screen, of course – and that is SUPER useful for checking notifications or taking selfies with the rear camera – more on the cameras later when we dive into the samples.
Let’s talk about daily use. The Ultra has a giant screen and it’s never going to be a two handed phone for everyone except for a few people on the planet. The size of the device is huge, so pocketability is really going to be challenging and you’ll usually be presenting some sort of bulge. No such issues for the Flip 4, it’s not only more compact when folded, but also narrower, which makes handling MUCH easier.
In the beginning of my phone life I always believed using phones without a case was the way to go. And then I dropped my OnePlus One and since then, I’ve pretty much always used a case, so all the fancy flat side rails that folks talk about made no difference to me. And also no difference to you guys, apparently. We ran a poll and MOST of you prefer to have some sort of protection on your phones. Maybe from an older phone you might be able to see a big difference, but otherwise not much to see here. On the other hand, the Ultra does have excellent haptic feedback as you’d expect from such a premium phone.
And about what the Speakers? Well, you’d expect the S23 Ultra to CREAM the Z Flip 4, but it’s not true. At least in terms of volume, both the speakers are similar, but you do get a bit more bass on the Ultra. And if you’re listening to music on speakers – may we suggest any of the BILLION earbuds we’ve reviewed on our channel.
The biggest WIN for the Z Flip 4 is the side-mounted fingerprint scanner. It’s just SO much faster than ANY in-display fingerprint scanner we’ve ever seen. And even faster than the Ultra. And this is something you WILL use MANY times as a day. Unlike the next ‘ULTRA’ feature.
What about the S Pen? It has no new features compared to the older generation, but it’s been our first time using it – and it was used sparingly. One – for taking notes in a pinch and sometimes to snap a picture while we were far away from the phone. But Rohan daily drives the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and it’s a much better option to remotely snap photos with. Oh wait – but the Z Flip 4’s cover screen is EVEN better – so there’s that.
Now the last few days have been controversial with all the fake moon stories that Samsung is being blamed for. And you know what – if you’re not buying this phone because it makes the moon look better when it’s fake – more power to you. But our cameras are much more earthbound and we took the S23 ultra on a day out and here are some comparisons with the Z Flip 4.
Starting with the selfie cameras: The selfie video quality is a bit different in daylight. The Z Flip seems to flatten out and brighten the face, whereas there’s more shadow on the S23 Ultra. Interestingly, we thought that the Z Flip picked up more background noise. What did you think?
The Ultra has a 12MP front camera with better HDR performance and auto-focus for selfies. And in low light – there’s a clear difference.
But here’s the thing – you can easily flip around the rear camera on the Z Flip 4- which arguably takes a better selfie. And here are those two side by side.
Now coming to the rear camera. Looking at these two portrait mode shots in bright daylight – the Ultra blurs out the background a bit more, but if we zoom in to the top of my hair – the edge detection isn’t amazing on either. Moving on… look it’s clear – you wanna zooooom? Get the S23 Ultra. It zooms and zooms well. Zoom to the moon… well maybe not quite.
But you know what – for most daytime shots the difference between the Z Flip 4 and S23 Ultra’s main sensor – are very negligible. In fact, sometimes we preferred the Flip 4, like this photo of the beer goblet. The S23 tended to overbrighten, but we really are splitting hairs here. Here are some other samples.
In lower light again, the Ultra starts showing a slight edge, like in this picture of the shoe, especially when you zoom in. When the light gets even worse, then it’s clear that the Ultra is the superior shooter. Like in this picture of the Pizetta. The Z Flip 4 really struggles to expose correctly and correct for handshake. This is also evident in the picture of this beanie, with both attempts on the Flip looking not great.
And in terms of video, aside from the ability to zoom, the stabilisation seems to be about the same on the main lenses because they have OIS. And as we said, the sound seems to be a bit better on the S23 Ultra, especially when it comes to reducing background noise.
So overall – yeah the Ultra is the better camera. But we really want you think about how you use your camera. Is the zoom important to you? Do you shoot in low light? Do you shoot a lot of video where sound matters?
And although the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is great, it’s going back. Because this is a loaner from Samsung. But if we had the choice, we’d probably keep it.
Let’s pause for a second here – is the 23 Ultra better than the one that came before it in any meaningful way? Does the 200 megapixel camera change the game in the same way? Some Gadget Guy’s Juan Bagnell has a beautiful breakdown of why 200 MP isn’t what you think it is, so we’d encourage you to check that video out.
We think the stability, expanded base storage of 256 GB, the new 12MP front camera with auto-focus for selfies are the most ULTRA things about this phone. And that insane battery life. With everything else, Samsung’s iterating and, in doing so, keeping the Ultra line of phones, ULTRA safe. And we can appreciate that, even if we don’t love it.
For us, it’s the Flips and the Folds where all the fun lives. And Samsung – come on! Stop artificially restricting those phones to sub-par cameras. We need more novelty in our lives. And we shouldn’t have to choose between fun and ultra-ness.
You’ve just realized that Samsung’s model numbers are the same as the year they’re released in… and we’ve been DHRME. Namaste!