This little phone almost ruined the Galaxy S23 Ultra for me

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Before going away for a few days, I decided to switch from the phone I had just finished examining to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, making sure I have a great camera with me on my break. Nothing strange about that, is there? Usually, no, except that I came from the diminutive Asus Zenfone 10and taking the S23 Ultra afterwards, I felt like I had chosen to take a 12.9 inch iPadPro as a replacement device.

For a brief moment, the huge dimensions of the Galaxy S23 Ultra bordered on the ridiculously unmanageable. But then he redeemed himself in the best possible way.

A really huge difference in size

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Until you take the two phones together, it’s hard to really understand just how much of a difference in size there is between the two, but the specs on paper help illustrate it. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is 163mm tall and 78mm wide, while the Zenfone 10 is 146mm tall and 68mm wide. There’s a whopping 60 grams of weight difference, and the S23 Ultra’s 6.9-inch display is almost a full inch larger than the Zenfone 10’s 5.9-inch display.

The two may be different in size, but internally there are surprising similarities. Both have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor and high refresh rate AMOLED displays. The Zenfone 10 also trumps the S23 Ultra in some ways, as it can boost its screen refresh rate to 144Hz compared to the S23 Ultra’s 120Hz for gaming. The top version of the Zenfone 10 comes with a whopping 16GB of RAM, and there’s even a 3.5mm headphone jack too. Zenfone 10 East a flagship phone, but not very big.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I can’t reach for the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s display, but it’s easy to do with the Zenfone 10, which is truly a phone you can use with one hand. The S23 Ultra almost always needs two hands, unless you’re happy to risk it falling dearly to the ground. Weight change is also very noticeable. The Zenfone 10 is barely in my pocket, but the S23 Ultra is always there – and even manages to not fit properly in some less bulky pockets.

I didn’t think about the size difference until I retrieved the Galaxy S23 Ultra from its box, and it made me laugh when I took it out. The S23 Ultra borders on comical when you’ve gotten used to a phone the size of the Zenfone 10, and I thought at the time, “Do I really want to take this phone with me?” The wonderful, compact and so easy to carry Zenfone 10 was, at that time, so close to ruining the S23 Ultra for me.

The camera won me over again

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The reason I was thinking of switching to the Galaxy S23 Ultra was that I wanted to take good photos when I was away, and the versatility of the Samsung phone’s multi-camera system was too appealing to resist. I just need to get used to a huge phone again. The Zenfone 10’s camera isn’t great, but that’s not its strong point. So my SIM card left the Asus phone and I took the S23 Ultra for the weekend.

It was the right decision, and I’m so glad I did, because going beyond the size of the phone allowed me to take photos I’m proud of and captured my break in a way I’ll be happy to look back on in the future. The versatility of the camera made taking photos fun, as I experienced a lot of the 3x optical zoom mode in a museum. It allowed me to capture detail from exposures in a way that I wouldn’t have had I picked up the Zenfone 10 or any phone without an optical zoom.

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The weather conditions were changeable, so it took some hard work in difficult lighting conditions, but I rarely got it wrong, which gave me such confidence to just point the phone and take a picture. Even taking a photo directly into the evening setting sun didn’t phase it so much, and the resulting photo was much better than I expected.

While I like Samsung’s standard editing suite, I really enjoyed spending time editing some of the photos in the Lightroom for Samsung application, which is incredibly powerful and very easy to use. It helped make the photos I have research to take in reality, with a simple crop and a few adjustments impossible outside of a specialized app. The gallery below shows four images edited with Lightroom on the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

That I could do everything on my phone was pretty impressive, but it was at this point that I also accepted the screen size, because trying to carefully edit a photo in Lightroom on a smaller screen would have been a lot more tedious. The massive Galaxy S23 Ultra totally redeemed itself when I took photos – and when I edited them too.

Should we go big?

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I liked using the Asus Zenfone 10 during my review. The small size was refreshing, and I obviously never found it bulky or irritating because of it. Thought of this way, it’s actually the perfect vacation phone. It takes up no space, it slips into any pocket or bag, and from a security point of view, it’s never obvious that you have a phone on you.

However, I’m glad I traded the convenience of the Zenfone 10 for the camera of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. These two very different phones are aimed at very different audiences, and putting up with the Samsung phone messing with the seams of my pockets was well worth it. It’s been six months since the S23 Ultra was released, and it’s still the nicest, most versatile, and most powerful camera in any current smartphone.

It’s just a bit of a shame that he also remains one of the greatest.

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