I have practically switched to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra full-time.
And, yes, I’m normally an iPhone user. I have been for many, many years.
This is surprising when you consider that the S22 Ultra was one of the most expensive, disappointing smartphones I’ve ever had the misfortune to purchase. Thanks to that Exynos chip, users like myself in the UK (and several other regions) never experienced what it was truly capable of.
Things are somewhat different now. The S23 Ultra features the same Snapdragon Gen 2 chip no matter where it’s purchased. It is, subsequently, in a different league from the device it replaced.
More importantly, and like several Android-based phones from recent times, the S23 Ultra has opened my eyes to what the iPhone should be doing.
Here are five ways the S23 Ultra beats the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
1. Pricing doesn’t have to be prohibitive
Both Samsung and Apple charge a lot of money for their flagship smartphones. Spec them up fully, and you’re knocking on the door of two grand.
For a portable telephone.
However, Samsung continues to be admirably generous with both its trade-in offers and its basket sweeteners. Fancy a discount on top of your discount? Here you go! Oh, and while you’re at it, have a free set of earbuds. And a discount on this laptop.
Just buy our smartphone – please!
I genuinely like this approach. It makes the process of buying these stupidly priced devices far less stressful and wallet-sapping. Whether or not it has any impact on the sales numbers is questionable, but who cares? I managed to bag myself an S23 Ultra for £650.
Apple really needs to do better with its trade-in offerings.
2. Fingerprint readers are STILL a thing
A lot of people can’t wrap their heads around the fact I want Touch ID to make a comeback on the iPhone (I appreciate it’s still a thing on the SE).
Why yearn for something slower and more archaic than Face ID, they ask me. It’s a fair question – Face ID remains one of, if not the fastest and most secure forms of biometric security on the market.
There’s just something about the fingerprint readers that reside under the displays of so many Android phones. The tactile nature of interacting with the display in order to authenticate my existence somehow feels more satisfying and, weirdly, more reassuring. On the S23 Ultra, it is super accurate and reliable, too.
There’s no justifiable reason for this desire, I’m afraid – I simply see no reason why we can’t have Touch ID back on all-display iPhones.
3. Styluses are marginally interesting
There are two groups of people I keep having run-ins with on YouTube.
The first is headphone people. Boy, they’re a tetchy bunch.
The second is S Pen fans. My word do they have a chip (stylus?) on their shoulder.
None of them knows how to spell or correctly capitalise the brand name of their favourite Samsung accessory, but if you say anything against it, they’ll come down on you like a tonne of bricks.
I don’t care. To me, the S Pen remains a gimmick. But that’s just my personal opinion, and many others are available. Clearly.
Despite my misgivings about Samsung’s smartphone stylus, I recognise it as a differentiator. It’s marginally interesting. It does some cool stuff (I even found a use case for its remote camera shutter option during a family meal when we needed to take a group selfie).
I quite like knowing the S Pen is there, even if I barely use it.
Maybe I will one day. Perhaps I’ll feel an overwhelming urge to start taking notes like a policeman off the telly. Who knows.
4. Pinhole selfie cameras are better than Monkey Islands
Someone challenged me – again – about the S Pen this weekend. They asked if I thought the iPhone’s Dynamic Island was a gimmick, too.
If we take my definition of the S Pen as read, then Apple’s resolute insistence on stuffing a bunch of cameras and sensors into the top of its smartphone displays is verging on gimmicky.
This is exacerbated by the fact that, as I’ve said numerous times, Monkey Island quickly fades into near non-existence. Like the S Pen, it isn’t pointless, but you do need to go looking for a use case.
Tellingly, I’d swap the Dynamic Island for a pinhole camera like the one featured on the S23 Ultra (and the aforementioned fingerprint reader) in a heartbeat. That is unless Apple really shows us the value of its undeniably unique feature, sharpish.
5. The iPhone DOESN’T have the best display
If you haven’t experienced a Samsung S-series display, I implore you to go and take a look at one. They are arguably the best smartphone displays money can buy.
By comparison, the iPhone is rather unexciting. It’s sharp, vibrant, and incredibly bright – yes. But there’s just something about the richness of the S23 Ultra display that wins the day for me.
It goes beyond the quality of that screen, though. It’s the sheer expansiveness, thanks to a slightly larger surface area than the iPhone 14 Pro Max and, as noted earlier, the absence of a Monkey Island.
Samsung, ironically, supplies the displays for iPhones, but it is clearly saving the best for itself. The quality of the S23 Ultra’s display plays a huge role in my desire to use it so much more than my iPhone 14 Pro Max.
There’s an in-joke rolling around YouTuber land where reviewers jump on the engagement magnet that is any piece of content featuring the following title structure:
Long-term iPhone user switches to <insert name of Android-based device>
Clearly, people are obsessed with this stuff. As soon as you suggest that you might be ditching the iPhone in favour of something from ‘the dark side’ you’re almost guaranteed a big audience.
I’ve never understood the smartphone wars. The rivalries are often akin to those found between warring factions of opposing Italian football teams. To me, these things are tools; incredibly capable – and in many cases, extremely likeable – tools, but nothing more. They’re certainly not worth setting your trousers on fire in defence of your allegiance to a specific brand.
I’m therefore not going to fan those flames by suggesting that I’ve switched full-time to the S23 Ultra. Because I haven’t. Like most reviewers, I straddle both iOS and Android equally, every single day. I’m just finding myself picking up the S23 Ultra far more than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and that’s a big turning point.
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