Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Rory Greig Updated on by

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Many people are wondering just what exactly is different between the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, so we’re going to break it down.

The next generation of Galaxy phones was released on February 17th. This makes them the first major smartphone release of the year and they did not disappoint. The most powerful phone announced was the Galaxy S23 Ultra, a phone with incredibly high specs including a 200MP main rear camera sensor and up to 1TB of storage space.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra came out a full 2 years ago now, though is far from being outdated. It too has incredible storage options, as well as a stunning display and a high and variable refresh rate. In fact, for several key specs, such as RAM count and resolution, these two phones are identical. While for others, such as camera resolution and CPU, there are significant differences.

This is leading many to wonder whether these improvements make the S23 Ultra worth buying or upgrading to. While neither device is cheap, thanks to its older age, the S21 Ultra is available for a significantly lower price. So which one is best for you?

To keep things simple we’ve broken down our comparison into 4 sections: specs, features, design and price. We’ll be pointing out the key areas of difference and similarity, so you know exactly what you get with each phone and which one suits your needs.

So let’s get the ball rolling. Here is everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – Specs

SpecsSamsung S23 UltraSamsung S21 Ultra
Screen size6.8-inch AMOLED6.9-inch AMOLED
Resolution1440 x 3200p1440 x 3200p
Refresh rate120Hz120Hz
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 8 gen 2Qualcomm Snapdragon 875
Rear cameras200 MP, 50MP, 10MP (3x zoom), 10MP (10x zoom)108 MP, 48MP, 12MP, 0.3MP
Front camera12MP 8MP
Battery size5,000 mAh5,000 mAh

Just 2 years separate the release date of these two phones. While the specs may make them look like very similar phones, Samsung has made improvements in two key areas: the cameras, and the CPU.

We’ll start with the CPU. The Samsung S21 Ultra comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 chipset. At the time this was one of the most powerful on the market with a 2840MHz clock speed and 5 nm transistors.

However, the brand-new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 gen 2 blows it out of the water. With a 13% higher clock speed, impressively small 4 nm transistors and a 4 MB larger L3 cache. So what does this actually mean?

Read More: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro Max – which one should you pick

Well, the CPU is essential to the ‘brain’ of your device. It is in charge of sending instructions and processing commands. This means that having a faster CPU will increase your phone performance in all areas, from scrolling to gaming.

As for the camera, the numbers speak for themselves. The S23 Ultra has an insane 200MP main sensor, one of the highest we’ve ever seen on a smartphone. This is versus the still very impressive 108 MPs on the S21 Ultra. Both devices have the same resolution across the other 3 sensors, and both come with the same zooming abilities.

The phones have very similar AMOLED displays with highly variable refresh rates and impressive brightness. Their battery size is also the same, though we’ll need a bit more time to know the exact battery performance of the S23 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – Features

One of the things we loved most about the Galaxy S22 Ultra was its embedded Samsung S pen so it’s great to see that feature continued into the S23 Ultra. This means you can pop it in and out of the bottom of your device to quickly jot down an idea.

Once you get in the habit of using this for note-taking or digital drawing it can be hard to go back. While the S21 Ultra is compatible with the S Pen it does not ship with it, nor does it have a space for it built into the device.

Read More: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Google Pixel 7 Pro – which one should you go for?

Connectivity is another area where the S23 Ultra that reigns supreme. The phone is compatible with WiFi 7. This is a full 4.8x faster than the, already very quick, Wifi 6E, which the S21 is compatible with. It should be noted however that to get access to the high speeds that WiFi 7 is capable of, you’ll need a suitable modem.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – Design

The Samsung Galaxy S23 does look like the more up to date phone, even from appearances alone. That’s not to say that the S21 Ultra is ugly though. It has a sleek and premium look with a matte glass back and a close to bezel-less front screen panel.

The S23 just makes some great improvements on this look. It ditches the bulker protruding camera housing of the S21 Ultra and replaces them with individual camera cutouts. It also got more rectangular corners which might sound clunky, but is, in our opinion, executed in style.

Read More: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra alternatives – our top picks

The S23 Ultra is also built from stronger materials. There is a reinforced aluminium frame with more up-to-date scratch and drop protection than we see on the S21 Ultra. There’s also Gorilla Glass Victus 2 which is great for keeping your phone’s display free of scratches and cracks.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – Value for money

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is cheaper than the S23, which has a starting price of $1199. In terms of bang for your buck, we’d say the S21 Ultra does deliver, but we do think the S23 Ultra packs some seriously impressive hardware under the hood and its camera is truly epic…

For a cheaper, but still impressive phone – the S21 Ultra still has some appeal. The choice is yours!

Price check: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra on Amazon

Price Check: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra at

Which one should you go for?

In the world of technology, things tend to move fast, with more recent devices almost always being more desirable.

It is true that, if you’re looking for the most up to date phone, one that has one of the highest performances we have ever seen on a smartphone, the Galaxy S23 Ultra certainly fits the bill, outperforming the S21 Ultra.

However, for many money is tighter than ever, so dropping over $1000 dollars on phone might not be an option. For those who are more budget conscious, the S21 Ultra is a very tempting offer. You are still getting an incredibly high-end phone, with a stunning camera, long battery life and S pen compatibility.

What’s more, with a bit of hunting you should be able to find the phone for cheaper than ever before, thanks to this Galaxy S23 Ultra announcement.

Ultimately it comes down to preference, and whether you think the increased performance of the S23 Utltra is worth its increased price.