At its first Unpacked event of the year, Samsung took the wraps off its Galaxy S23 series smartphones. As we’ve come to expect from previous generations, the Galaxy S23 Ultra sits at the top of the stack. But despite its impressive spec sheet, it’s not the South Korean giant’s highest-end smartphone on the market. That crown technically goes to Samsung’s premier foldable, the Galaxy Z Fold 4. So which one is the best for you? Let’s compare the Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 4 and help you decide.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 4: At a glance
Need a quick rundown? Here’s an express summary of the differences between the Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 4:
- When unfolded, the Z Fold 4 offers 60% more display area than the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
- The Galaxy S23 Ultra uses a 200MP primary camera. We expect it to outperform the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s 50MP camera.
- The Galaxy Z Fold 4 relies on a smaller battery and slower wired charging compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
- The Galaxy S23 Ultra features dust and water resistance, but the Galaxy Z Fold 4 lacks the former due to its exposed hinge.
- Both smartphones support Samsung’s S Pen, but only the Galaxy S23 Ultra houses a slot for it. You’ll also need to buy a Fold Edition S Pen for the Galaxy Z Fold 4.
- The Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at a lower price point than the Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Keep reading to know more about the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 4 and how they differ from each other.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 4: Specs
|Galaxy Z Fold 4||Galaxy S23 Ultra|
– 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED
– 120Hz refresh rate
– 2,316 x 904 resolution
– Gorilla Glass Victus Plus
|6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Edge display (curved)
19.3:9 aspect ratio
QHD+ resolution (3,088 x 1,440)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (1Hz to 120Hz)
|Processor||Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2|
|RAM||12GB||8GB or 12GB|
|Storage||256, 512GB, or 1TB
No microSD card support
|256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
No microSD card support
25W wired charging
10W wireless charging
No charger in box
45W wired charging
15W wireless charging
No charger in box
– 50MP wide
– 12MP ultrawide
– 10MP telephoto
– 200MP wide
– 12MP ultrawide
– 10MP 3x telephoto
– 10MP 10x telephoto
Upgradable to Android 13
One UI 5.1
|S Pen support||Yes, sold separately||Yes, embedded with storage slot|
|IP rating||IPX8 certified||IP68 certified|
– 155.1 x 67.1 x 15.8mm (measured at hinge)
|163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm|
Samsung hasn’t rocked the boat with either of its flagships this generation; the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and S23 Ultra both offer incremental improvements over their respective predecessors. When compared to each other, however, you’ll find plenty of differences between what are undoubtedly two of the best Android phones money can buy.
Let’s start with the most obvious difference: the display (or displays, in the case of the Galaxy Z Fold 4). The Galaxy S23 Ultra packs perhaps the best AMOLED display on the market, which comes in at 6.8 inches along the diagonal and refreshes at a fast 120Hz. The company also sprung for the newest AMOLED tech from Samsung Display this generation. That means it’s slightly more efficient than other smartphones on the market.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra doesn’t fold in half, but it still packs some impressive display specs.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 takes on a more maximalist approach with its dual-screen, foldable form factor. If you ever find the outer 6.2-inch display too cramped for your liking, simply unfold the smartphone to reveal a large 7.6-inch canvas. Both AMOLED displays feature 120Hz refresh rates, so you won’t compromise on visual fidelity or smoothness when moving between them. They don’t get as bright as the S23 Ultra’s display, but it’s not a groundbreaking difference in the real world.
That said, it’s worth noting that the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s cover display is significantly narrower than most smartphones. It’s plenty usable, but you might find the keyboard a little cramped if you have larger hands. Similarly, you might notice significant black bars while watching content. Luckily, unfolding the Galaxy Z Fold 4 will keep your position in the app and give you approximately 60% more display area vs the S23 Ultra.
Moving on to processing power, the Galaxy S23 Ultra enjoys the benefit of a later release and packs Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. As the flagship Android SoC for 2023, it offers a marginal step up in peak CPU performance and a significantly better GPU compared to last year.
That said, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is no slouch either, especially since it benefitted from Qualcomm’s mid-cycle chip refresh. The foldable’s Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chip featured some of the best thermals and efficiency figures of any smartphone chip at the time. Put simply, it’s a capable chip and will likely hold up in day-to-day usage just as well as the newer chip.
One advantage that goes to the foldable is the extra 4GB of RAM you get in the base 256GB storage tier. You’d have to upgrade to the 512GB variant of the S23 Ultra to get the same amount of memory.
As a side note, this is the first time we’re seeing Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips across the board. Up until this year, the Galaxy S series has always used Samsung’s own Exynos chips in select markets. Luckily, you can expect global parity this time around. Consequently, we get the same suite of connectivity options, including fast 5G speeds, Wi-Fi 6E, and ultra-wideband (UWB), on both smartphones.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 comes with a few durability compromises vs the S23 Ultra.
With the objective differences out of the way, it’s worth addressing the elephant in the room: long-term durability. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 suffers slightly in this department due to its reliance on moving parts. While the hinge will likely survive the lifetime of the device (and then some), you’ll have to keep it away from sandy and dusty environments. Unlike the S23 Ultra, Samsung’s foldable flagship doesn’t feature any dust resistance whatsoever.
And while foldable durability has improved with each passing generation, the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s Ultra-Thin Glass on the inner display is still susceptible to damage. From accidental fingernail pressure to total display failure along the crease, there’s a lot that could go wrong. So if you pick up the foldable, consider paying for Samsung Care Plus as well. On the plus side, both phones are rated for immersion in water for up to 30 minutes at approximately 1.5 meters (4.9 feet).
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 4: Size comparison
As you’d expect, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and S23 Ultra feel nothing alike in the hand. The folding design of the former makes it twice as thick as a typical smartphone when folded. That said, it’s much narrower in this state. The Galaxy S23 Ultra might as well be the opposite. It features a relatively slim profile but is one of the widest phones on the market, making one-handed use somewhat challenging.
The Z Fold 4 is thicker and heavier, but it unfolds to reveal a 60% larger display than the S23 Ultra.
You’ll notice a similar stark divide in terms of weight between the two Samsung flagships. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is already pretty substantial at 233g, but it’s still 30g or 12% lighter than the Z Fold 4. That might not sound like much, but it’s a noticeable difference in the hand.
What’s more, the Galaxy S23 Ultra also houses an entire S Pen within that weight budget. If you want stylus functionality on the foldable, you’ll have to lug it around separately.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 4: Camera
With the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s more premium positioning, you’d expect it to have the most capable camera system. However, that’s not the case. The Galaxy S23 Ultra has proven to be the best camera phone in the business and it ekes out a win, primarily because of its improved primary camera this generation.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s star of the show is the new 200MP wide-angle camera, which uses pixel binning to improve low-light performance and fine detail. You’ll find that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 uses the same technology on its 50MP shooter, but of course, doesn’t go quite as far. Stay tuned for our full review over the coming weeks as we put the 200MP camera through its paces.
The S23 Ultra is Samsung’s first phone to feature a 200MP camera sensor.
Samsung hasn’t improved the ultrawide or telephoto sensors on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, so expect identical performance in these areas on the Z Fold 4. If you care about optical zoom beyond 3x, the Galaxy S23 Ultra takes the lead once again. With its 10x periscope lens, you can extract a surprising amount of detail from far-away objects. The foldable can reach this zoom level too, but it has to rely on inferior digital zoom. And only the periscope hardware can reach 100x Space Zoom if that’s something you care about.
As for the video recording mode, both phones can record in 8K resolution. However, the newer Galaxy S23 Ultra can go up to 8K at 30fps, while the foldable peaks at a slightly lower 24fps.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 features two front-facing cameras, one for each display. Practically speaking, the outer 10MP selfie shooter shouldn’t be too far off from the S23 Ultra’s 12MP camera. The secondary selfie camera isn’t really a selling point for the foldable as image quality suffers from its position under the display.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 4: Battery and charging
Both phones feature decent-sized batteries and should comfortably last through the end of the day for most people. Our testing suggests you can expect around five and a half hours of screen-on time from the Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Having said that, the Galaxy S23 Ultra features a 600mAh larger battery than the Z Fold 4. That amounts to a 13% difference, which you’ll likely notice in heavy use. The Z Fold 4’s inner display will also draw more power due to its sheer size, so don’t expect it to be an endurance champ.
As for fast charging, the Galaxy S23 Ultra again has the upper hand with Samsung’s 45W Super Fast Charging technology. But even though that sounds a lot better than the Z Fold 4’s 25W spec, it won’t translate to a massive difference in charging times. It’s also worth noting that neither phone ships with a charger in the box — you’ll need a USB PD PPS charger to get the top recharge times.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 4: Price
- Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Starts at $1,199
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Starts at $1,799
The Galaxy S23 Ultra and Z Fold 4 both comfortably exceed the premium $1,000 price point, but does the latter offer enough to justify the $600 upcharge? If you’re someone that already carries around a smartphone and tablet, it’s easy to see the value proposition of combining them into a single package.
Barring any sales on the slightly older Galaxy Z Fold 4, though, you’d be hard-pressed to beat the value of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. And that’s before you even consider potential add-ons like the S Pen, which is an optional extra purchase on the foldable.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 4: Which one should you buy?
Both Samsung flagship smartphones boast unique strengths that set them apart from not just each other, but also the broader smartphone market. The S23 Ultra’s cutting-edge camera hardware and premium build make it one of the best phones on the market. And while the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is undoubtedly expensive, its foldable form factor puts it in a league of its own.
Ultimately, if you care about living on the bleeding edge of smartphone technology above everything else, consider the Galaxy Z Fold 4. But if you’re a pragmatic shopper, you’ll be better served by the cheaper Galaxy S23 Ultra with its included S Pen and proven long-term durability. Which Samsung flagship smartphone will you pick?
- Marvelous multitasking
- Large internal display
- Long-term software support
- New 200MP main camera
- Beautiful display
- S Pen functionality