Which flagship should you buy in 2023?

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Samsung made a splash earlier this month with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which turned some heads with top-tier specifications and upgraded cameras. The company has its eyes set on the top spot of the best phones list, but it has to fight through competitors like OnePlus, which already has a flagship ready to lock horns with the best — the OnePlus 11.


There’s a significant price difference between the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the OnePlus 11, but they have much more in common than you think. If you’re scratching your head wondering which smartphone to pick between the two, then here’s a Galaxy S23 Ultra and OnePlus 11 comparison in which we break down some key differences.


Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs OnePlus 11 5G: Pricing and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra was the first to get revealed on the global market this year. It’s currently up for preorder, and you can reserve your unit starting at $1,200. It goes on sale on Feb 17, but preordering the device will make you eligible for some deals and other offers, including a free storage upgrade and a $375 discount for the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro bundle. The official Samsung web store also has some exclusive colors for the Galaxy S23 Ultra that are not available anywhere else: Graphite, Sky Blue, Red, and Lime. Otherwise, the phone is available in Phantom Black, Green, Lavender, and Cream colorways.

OnePlus was quick to enter the battle, and it announced the OnePlus 11 on Feb 7. It’ll go on sale on Feb. 14, but you can preorder one right now to be one of the first to receive their unit on release day. The OnePlus 11 starts at just $699 for the base variant, with opportunities for deals and discounts. If the price difference is enough to make you pick up the OnePlus 11 over the Galaxy S23 Ultra, then you can hit the link above to find the best price online.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs OnePlus 11 5G: Specifications

Before we begin, here’s a quick look at the specifications to find out what each of these phones brings to the table:

Specifications

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

OnePlus 11 5G

Build

  • Gorilla Glass Victus 2
  • Armor Aluminum
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
  • Gorilla Glass 5 back panel
  • Gorilla Glass Victus for display
  • IP64 dust and water resistance

Dimensions & Weight

  • 3.06 x 6.42 x 0.3 inches (77.9x 163.3x 8.89mm)
  • 8.24 ounces (233.8g)
  • 2.91 x 6.42 x 0.3 ounces (74.1 x 163.1 x 8.5 mm)
  • 7.23 ounces (205g)

Display

  • 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O
  • QHD+ edge screen with 500ppi
  • 120Hz Adaptive refresh rate
  • 1,750 nits (Outdoor Peak)
  • Aspect ratio:19.3:9
  • 6.7-inch Super Fluid AMOLED LTPO 3.0
  • QHD+ curved screen with 525ppi
  • 120Hz Adaptive refresh rate
  • 1,300 nits
  • Aspect ratio 20.1:9

SoC

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

Storage

  • RAM: 8GB/16GB
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB

Battery & Charging

  • 5,000mAh
  • 45W wired charging
  • Up to 15W
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • 5,000mAh
  • 80W wired fast charging
  • No wireless charging

Security

  • Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner
  • Facial recognition
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Facial recognition

Rear camera(s)

  • Wide: 200MP (OIS), Laser Auto Focus (LAF), f1.7
  • Ultrawide: 12MP, f2.2
  • Telephoto: 10MP (OIS) 2PD, f2.4 / 10MP (OIS) 2PD, f4.9, up to 10X optical and 100X Space zoom.
  • Wide: 50MP wide (f/1.8, 1/1.56-inch)
  • Ultrawide: 48MP ultra-wide (f/2.2)
  • Telephoto: 32MP telephoto (f/2.0)
  • Video: 8K@24FPS/4K@60FPS/1080p@240FPS

Front camera

12MP (2PD AF), f2.2

16MP, f/2.5 Video: 1080p@30FPS

Port(s)

USB Type-C

USB Type-C

Connectivity

  • 5G (sub-6GHz, mmWave)
  • 4G LTE
  • Wi-Fi 6E
  • Bluetooth 5.3

Software

One UI 5.1 based on Android 13

OxygenOS 13 based on Android 13

Colors

  • Default color options:
    • Phantom Black
    • Cream
    • Green
    • Lavender
  • Samsung.com exclusive colors
    • Lime
    • Graphite
    • Sky Blue
    • Red
  • Titan Black
  • Eternal Green

Design and display: Very similar sizes

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the OnePlus 11 may look a lot different from each other, but they have almost the same footprint overall. The OnePlus 11 is just a hair thinner and slightly lighter than the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but you probably won’t notice it unless you hold them both side by side. They’re both big phones but the OnePlus 11 is a bit narrower, which is why it’s slightly easier to hold and use with one hand.

Both phones have an aluminum frame, but the Galaxy S23 Ultra is more durable overall as it’s fitted with the Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on both front and back, while the OnePlus 11 comes with a Gorilla Glass Victus and Gorilla Glass 5 for the front and back, respectively. The new Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection doesn’t make the Galaxy S23 Ultra entirely immune to scratches or cracks, so you should consider buying one of the best cases, but it is stronger than what’s on the OnePlus 11. Lastly, the Galaxy S23 Ultra also carries an IP68 rating, which is better than OnePlus 11’s IP64 rating, so it should be able to handle the occasional splash of water slightly better in comparison.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra OnePlus 11 3

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra looks identical to its predecessor, so you’ll feel right at home if you tried the Galaxy S22 Ultra. The display on the Galaxy S23 Ultra isn’t as curved, and the camera lenses are slightly bigger now, but those are about the only differences.

OnePlus, on the other hand, made bigger changes to its new flagship, so it’s relatively easier to distinguish between a OnePlus 11 and a OnePlus 10 Pro. The camera module at the back, for instance, is circular as opposed to the squared one we saw on the last year’s model. Design is entirely subjective, so we’ll leave that to you. But please note that the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with an S Pen, and it’s also available in many more color options compared to the OnePlus 11.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra OnePlus 11 7

As for the display, you are looking at a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O on the Galaxy S23 Ultra versus a 6.7-inch Super Fluid AMOLED LTPO 3.0. They both look very similar to each other but the Galaxy S23 Ultra has its punch-hole cutout for the camera at the center towards the top, whereas it’s located in the top left corner of the OnePlus 11. Both panels support QHD+ resolution and up to 120Hz refresh rate, but the one on the Galaxy S23 Ultra has higher peak brightness, coming in at 1,750 nits versus 1,300 nits on the OnePlus 11.

Internal hardware and battery: The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 isn’t the whole story

Both flagships in this particular comparison are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, the company’s newest chip that’s going to power a lot more flagships over the next few months. The Galaxy S23 Ultra, however, is using a slightly modified chip that’s made specifically for the new Galaxy flagships. Compared to the regular ones, the modified chip for Galaxy flagships has slightly higher clock speeds and uses an upgraded Snapdragon Hexagon processor for better AI performance. It’s also the first to use Snapdragon’s Cognitive ISP to enable real-time Semantic Segmentation to enhance images. You may not notice any significant difference in performance in the real world, but there is a lot going on behind the scenes. The base variants of both phones come with 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage, but you can splurge more to add additional memory and storage.

Galaxy S23 Ultra White

The Galaxy S23 Ultra tops out at 12GB RAM and 1TB storage, while the OnePlus 11 can be configured with up to 16GB RAM and 512GB storage. All models of the Galaxy S23 Ultra come with UFS 4.0 storage, but it’s limited to just the top-end variant in the case of the OnePlus 11. There’s no expandable storage on either of these phones, so be sure to pick the right storage variant based on your usage. The base variants with 128GB storage should be enough for most users, but you might want to consider spending more if you are a power user.

OnePlus-11-2-Watermarked

Both Galaxy S23 Ultra and the OnePlus 11 pack a 5,000mAh battery, which should be enough to keep the lights on for an entire day, even with moderate to heavy usage. We expect both phones to be on par with one another regarding battery life (although we haven’t tested them yet), but the OnePlus 11 has a clear advantage with charging. The OnePlus 11 units sold in the U.S. support blazing-fast 80W charging speeds that can top up 45% battery in just 10 minutes. The Galaxy S23 Ultra, on the other hand, is still limited to slower 45W fast charging. The best thing about the OnePlus 11 is that it even comes with a compatible 80W charger inside the box, whereas Samsung forces you to buy one separately.

It’s not all bad news for Samsung fans because the Galaxy S23 Ultra still supports wireless and reverse wireless charging, both of which the OnePlus 11 doesn’t. You don’t get the fastest wireless charging speeds with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but it’s still there when you don’t want to fiddle with a charging cable. Is that really a deal breaker for those looking to buy the OnePlus 11? Well, that comes down to your personal preference because some people would happily accept faster-wired charging speeds over the comfort of being able to wirelessly charge and vice versa.

Cameras: Samsung has the most versatile system

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 3

As far as the optics are concerned, the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with a quad-camera setup which includes a new 200MP f/1.7 wide camera along with a 12MP ultra-wide sensor. Additionally, you also get a 10MP telephoto lens with up to 3x optical zoom and a 10MP Periscope lens with up to 10x optical and 100x digital Space zoom.

The OnePlus 11 also has a good set of cameras that handles all the basics well, but it’s not as versatile as the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The OnePlus 11 has a 50MP f/1.8 main camera, a 48MP f/2.2 ultrawide camera, and a 32MP f/2.0 telephoto sensor with support for 2x optical zoom. The OnePlus 11 takes advantage of the Hasselblad color science to deliver some great shots, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra uses Samsung’s in-house camera processing to deliver the results.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is arguably better than the OnePlus 11 for those who like zooming into their subjects thanks to the Ultra’s 3x optical and 100x Space Zoom. The Galaxy S23 Ultra also has some other thoughtful extras, including the astrophotography mode that’s now built right into the main camera. The rest of the camera features are almost the same, so you’re not missing out on anything in particular. You do have the option to download Samsung’s Expert RAW app or Camera Assistant for more granular controls and other features.

We’ve included samples below for both phones, so you can make the decision for yourself which takes better images. But you can’t go wrong with either option.

OnePlus 11 camera samples:

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra samples:

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs OnePlus 11 5G: Which one should you buy?

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, as we mentioned earlier, starts at $1,200, whereas the OnePlus 11 will only set you back $699 for the base variant. If pricing is one of the most crucial factors, you already know which phone to buy. Even the 256GB variant of the OnePlus 11 with UFS 4.0 at $799 is hard to beat considering the base Galaxy S23 Ultra model would still cost at least $400 more.

If you don’t mind splurging on a top-tier flagship in 2023, you should definitely get the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Yes, it can’t charge its battery as fast as the OnePlus 11, but that’s probably the only downside. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is the superior phone in this comparison. It comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a premium Android flagship, including a beautiful display, powerful internals, a versatile set of cameras, an S Pen with some neat tricks, and Samsung’s One UI with good software support to round off a solid package. It’s one of those phones that’s destined to stay on top of the list when it comes to the best phones on the market.

The fact that we didn’t pick the OnePlus 11 as the better phone here doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just fell short in this particular comparison going against the mighty Galaxy S23 Ultra. If anything, the OnePlus 11 has been a pleasant surprise after some lukewarm releases in the U.S. over the past few generations. It’s also a great phone that checks many right boxes to deliver a good experience overall.

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