We aren’t that far into 2023 yet but there are already two new heavy hitters in the Android phone world. Launched just days apart, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the OnePlus 11 already look set to be among the best phones of the year, but they’re actually very different devices.
On the one hand, there’s the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, a high-flying handset that upholds Samsung’s reign, it’s built for productivity with a big screen, stylus support, the latest hardware and a top-notch camera system built-in. But to get all of that, you’ll have to pay a pretty penny.
The OnePlus 11, on the other hand, is priced much more modestly. You’ll still get a generous display and top-tier internals but there are a few features that you’ll have to leave behind if you go for that phone.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs OnePlus 11: price and availability
Let’s talk money first. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of the priciest smartphones there is, you’ll be looking at paying an eye-watering £1,249 for it in the UK when it goes on sale on the 17th of February 2023. That’ll be about $1,299 in the US and AU$1,999 in Australia.
The price tag on the OnePlus 11 is a bit less fear-inducing, starting at a more palatable £729 in the UK when it’s released on the 16th of February 2023. In the US, we’d expect it to cost about $829. If you’re looking for more storage then you’ll be looking at paying a bit more for both devices.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs OnePlus 11: design and display
From looks alone, you can tell how different these phones are from one another. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has sharp edges and a flat screen while the OnePlus 11 has smooth curves wrapping the display around the edge of the handset.
Flip them over and they're even more different. Cutout camera lenses adorn the back of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, but the OnePlus 11 has a more traditional raised camera module, although its circular shape is less standard.
In terms of available colourways, you can buy the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in black, green, pink and white while the OnePlus 11 comes in a matte black or a reflective green.
Something you don’t get with OnePlus is the Samsung stylus which you pull out from the bottom of the frame. That will be a fantastic feature if you plan to use your next phone for getting work done.
But these things work both ways and something you won’t get on the Samsung is OnePlus’ alert slider. It sits on the right-hand side of the frame and makes it really quick and easy to switch between Ring, Silent and Vibrate. It sounds like a small attribute but it is actually really handy.
So what about the screen? The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a large 6.8-inch AMOLED panel with a 1440 x 3088p resolution, while the OnePlus’ is a little smaller at 6.7 inches with a slightly higher resolution of 3216 x 1440p (QHD+).
Both devices have a 120Hz refresh rate which can drop to as little as 1Hz for certain tasks to conserve battery.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs OnePlus 11: camera system
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts a 200MP main camera which is the first of its kind, that sits alongside a 12MP ultrawide camera, two 10MP telephoto lenses and a 40MP selfie snapper.
The OnePlus 11 uses a 50MP main camera, a 48MP ultra-wide camera and a 32MP portrait tele camera, with a 32MP selfie camera.
As well as offering a more advanced system, the Samsung delivers some features you won't get on the OnePlus including the 100x zoom which allows you to see way more than the human eye can pick up, and with impressive amounts of detail too.
How the cameras compare will remain to be seen in our testing of both phones, but given Samsung's track record, we'd expect the Ultra to be a step above OnePlus. That's not to say the OnePlus camera is bad, to the contrary, it's actually a fantastic piece of kit for simple point-and-shoot photography.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs OnePlus 11: performance and battery
Under the hood, both phones are loaded with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor which bodes well for performance.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra pairs it with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage, as well as the Adreno 740 GPU. The OnePlus 11 Pro takes the RAM a bit further, up to 16GB, and pairs it with up to 256GB of storage and Adreno 740 graphics. Ultimately what that means is both handsets will be able to cope with heavier workloads like mobile gaming or video editing.
Whichever device you pick, there’s a 5,000mAh battery inside although how well it fairs day-to-day could vary.
Charge times will be pretty different, however. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra only has 45W charging, and you’ll need to buy the charger yourself whereas the OnePlus 11 supports up to 100W charging which means you can take it from flat to full in as little as 25 minutes, and the charger is included in the box. Both phones can charge wirelessly.
What about software? You can expect Android 13 across the board. The Samsung layers that with One UI 5.1 whereas the OnePlus uses Oxygen OS. Which system you prefer will largely be down to personal taste, but Samsung’s is widely considered one of the best in the business.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs OnePlus 11: verdict
In comparing the two, what's clear is that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the OnePlus 11 are two different devices meant for different people, despite both being top-end flagships.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is an all-singing, all-dancing smartphone with literally everything you could need and more. If you have a big budget and you need a handset for work as well as play then this is likely to be the best Android phone for you.
If you don't want to spend so much, but you want a phone that's powerful and takes nice photos then the OnePlus 11 will be the better choice. Overall, it's a really good phone that's excellent value for money.