The Galaxy S23 Ultra: The best Android smartphone... that I can't use

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This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
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The Galaxy S23 Ultra: The best Android smartphone... that I can't use
Over the last couple of years, I have felt that the smartphone industry has moved past my conception of what constitutes the perfect handset. For better or worse, many of the things which bug me in modern-day smartphones have become the norm, rather than the exception.

For example, I have always loathed the idea of oversized smartphones, or ‘phablets’. Naturally, the concept of what is a ‘big’ smartphone has evolved drastically over time, but, as a customer, I have always been drawn to the smallest devices on the market.

This is, in part, why I have always been more of an Apple user. The iPhone has historically retained a more reasonable size footprint than its Android counterparts. This trend has seemingly come to an end with the iPhone 14. By the looks of it, Apple will be even more focused on its bigger devices next year, in light of the rumored iPhone 15 Ultra.

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It seems we are in the era of 6”+ smartphones for good. This is why I have decided to undertake a small experiment. I will be substituting an iPhone 13 mini for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. After all, go big or go home.

In these following paragraphs, I will give you my take on how it feels going from the smallest mainstream smartphone to arguably the largest. Have I been wrong all along? Let’s find out.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: A beast of a smartphone



Let me first start off by saying that I have always been a low-key fan of the Ultra lineup. I never wanted to like it, because of the ridiculous dimensions, but there was something that made it stand out, in a sea of big handsets.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is currently the best Android smartphone money can buy. And while benchmarks give the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max an edge in the performance department, under real-life circumstances, this does not make much of a difference. All of the aforementioned smartphones are ridiculously fast.

Now for the elephant in the room: the display. The Galaxy S23 Ultra features a 6.8” (admittedly gorgeous) screen. You don’t need me to tell you that this panel looks stunning - if there is one thing Samsung knows how to do, it’s displays.

You might laugh at me, but I have always wondered why the edges of the Ultra were more rounded, compared to those of the vanilla and Plus models. I never gave it much thought, because I was always more interested in the smallest handset in the lineup to begin with.



Previously, my theory was that the slightly more rounded design was meant to differentiate the Ultra from its less-premium siblings. In light of the fact that the current trend is for high-end smartphones to feature a squared-off, industrial design, I was rather perplexed by this choice of aesthetic for the most premium model.

Now, however, I understand why Samsung made this decision and I am very happy that it did. You see, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a stunner when it comes to looks, but it is also, easily, the most painful smartphone to use. Those edges hurt even on the 6.1” model, but the bigger, heavier version is much, much worse.

I have found a new appreciation for the design of the Ultra, because the device is about as ergonomic as it can be, with these dimensions. And it does make a difference - I would argue that the design is what makes the Ultra usable in the first place. But was it usable for me?

Living with the Galaxy S23 Ultra: The Good, The Bad, The Painful


In this section I will share my personal experience with the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Bear in mind that it is, to an extent, subjective and heavily influenced by my personal preference for smaller smartphones… which, unfortunately, has not changed.

The Good


I will begin with some of the highlights of this experience. But, I will firstly have to give you a bit of context - namely, what type of smartphone user I am. Unlike most tech enthusiasts, I consider myself the opposite of a power user.

I use one app at a time (multitasking is still a myth for me) and I mostly spend my screen time on web browsing, news reading and messaging. I generally do not consume a lot of media on my smartphone, as I still prefer doing that via my laptop.

This is where I need to give credit where credit is due. I have never imagined that watching a video on a smartphone could be this enjoyable. There is something about the Ultra’s slightly curved display that makes the experience very immersive. Reading content online was also much more pleasurable, as the added screen real was a game changer.

Additionally, the Galaxy S23 Ultra made me do something I never thought was possible - I actually ditched my trusty Kindle. Given that I mainly used it to read newspapers, it goes without saying that the latter looked infinitely better on the screen of the Ultra. As a minimalist, I was extremely happy about charging one less device.

Therefore, I have come to understand the appeal of a bigger screen. Nevertheless, does that mean I now prefer one? Most certainly not.

The Bad


Now is the time for more practical considerations. Like most people, I generally tend to take my smartphone everywhere with me - not only to remain connected, but also as a substitute for my physical wallet (shoutout to the Apple MagSafe Wallets).

It goes without saying that it is much more difficult to find a place for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, than it is for the iPhone 13 mini. Regardless of what anyone tells me, I do not believe your pocket is an option.

Luckily, I almost always go around carrying a backpack, so I could simply slip the Ultra in it. A working solution, but also far from ideal given the hassle such an arrangement could cause when you need to answer a call in a crowded place. Perhaps this is why so many people enjoy wearables, other gadgets I find it hard to warm up to.

Thus, I am inclined to say that the Galaxy S23 Ultra is markedly less portable than a more reasonably-sized handset. This will likely not bother many people, but for me it was a huge (pun intended) problem.

The Painful


But the former pet peeve paled in comparison with the last inconvenience (to put it mildly) I would like to highlight. You see, I have very small hands. I cannot comfortably reach the top of the screen on a device like the standard iPhone 14, what’s left for the S23 Ultra.

This made using the Galaxy S23 Ultra on a daily basis, frankly speaking, a painful experience. Especially, when I had to handle the device with a single hand. Some tasks like taking photos were particularly tedious.

Lastly, because of the size, my grip was never as firm as I would have liked. This led me to live in constant fear of dropping my $1200 smartphone - not a feeling I would recommend.

Is bigger necessarily better?



In conclusion, I would like to assert a number of crucial points. Just because the Galaxy S23 Ultra is not a good match for me, does not mean that it is not an excellent smartphone - on the contrary, the Ultra is, once again, an exceptional device that many would fall in love with.

However, it is simply not meant for everyone and this is something I would like more manufacturers to acknowledge. Small smartphones might be less popular amongst mainstream consumers, but this does not mean that every smartphone should be 6+ inches.

Options are something that should be cherished in a lineup, not abolished, and portability is not only my chief concern when it comes to a smartphone, but also that of many other users. This is why I would always choose a mini over an Ultra

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