Hot topics

Xiaomi 13 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Flagships Compared

NextPit xiaomi 13 ultra vs samsung galaxy s23 ultra standing
© nextpit

Read in other languages:

Xiaomi came back to the "Ultra" arena in 2023 with a splash. The Xiaomi 13 Ultra not only launched to be the company's flagship phone, it is also the main challenger in the Android realm to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in the battle to wrest the title of the best smartphone of 2023. nextpit compared both models in this article, lets you know of the similarities, differences, and everything else you need to know.

Although we are already deep in 2024, we can safely say that these two premium smartphones—the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the brand-new Xiaomi 13 Ultra—are among the best you can buy this year (for now). Let's jump right in by taking a look at the specifications:

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Xiaomi 13 Ultra: Technical specifications compared

  Samsung's flagship Xiaomi's flagship
Device
Image
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Xiaomi 13 Ultra
Price US: $1,199
EU: €1,199
US: n/a
EU: €1,500
Screen 6.8" OLED 6.73" OLED
QHD+ 1440 × 3088 px QHD+ 1440 × 3200 px
120 Hz LTPO refresh rate
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
RAM 12 GB LPDDR5X RAM 16 GB LPDDR5X RAM
Memory 256 / 512 GB / 1 TB UFS 4.0 512 GB UFS 4.0
Expandable memory
OS One UI 5.1 based on Android 13
4 Android updates + 5 years of security updates.
MIUI 14 based on Android 13
3 Android updates + 5 years of security updates.
Camera Main: 200 MP, f/1.7 aperture, OIS
Ultra-wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2 aperture, FOV 120°
3x telephoto: 10 MP, f/2.4 aperture, OIS
10x telephoto: 10 MP, f/4.9 aperture, OIS
Main: 50 MP, f/1.9, 1-inch Sony IMX989, OIS
Ultra-wide angle: 50 MP, f/1.8, Sony IMX858
3x telephoto: 50 MP, f/1.8, Sony IMX858, OIS
5x telephoto: 50 MP, f/3.0, Sony IMX858, OIS
Selfie camera 12 MP, f/2.2 aperture 32 MP, f/2.0 aperture
Video 8K at 24/30 FPS 8K at 24 FPS
Battery 5,000 mAh
Wired charging 45 W
Wireless charging 15 W
Reverse wireless charging 4.5 W
Charger not included
5,000 mAh
Wired charging 90 W
Wireless charging 50 W
Reverse wireless charging 10 W
Charger included
Connectivity 5G | eSIM | Wi-Fi 6 | Wi-Fi Direct | Bluetooth 5.3 | NFC
IP Certification IP68
Colors Black, Cream White, Green, Lavender Black, White, Olive Green
Dimensions and weight 163.4 × 78.1 × 8.9 mm
234 g
163.18 × 74.64 × 9.06 mm
227 g
Advantages
  • Superb AMOLED QHD+ screen at 120 Hz refresh rate
  • Highly polished finish
  • Most versatile 200 MP camera module on the market
  • Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 makes all the difference
  • Excellent battery life which is a feat for Samsung
  • 4 years of Android updates + 5 years of security updates
  • The integrated S Pen is as cool as ever
  • Incredibly good and flexible camera system
  • More grown-up with a bold design
  • Great performance from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC
  • Finally, USB 3.2!
  • Arriving in other markets
Cons
  • Nothing much new in One UI 5.1
  • Same design as last year
  • Archaic 45-watt charging speed
  • Lots of bloatware in MIUI 14
  • Probably very expensive
Rating
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review
Xiaomi 13 Ultra review
Check offer*

Fortunately, we were one of the first media companies to be able to have a hands-on with the Xiaomi 13 Ultra. After a full review of the Global model, we are now able to share our impressions on the Ultras.

Jump to:

Display and design

The workmanship of these two high-end smartphones already tells us that they are rightfully in the absolute top segment of the market. Both the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the Xiaomi 13 Ultra rely on very high-quality workmanship. Both are IP68 certified against water and dust ingress, and  feature an aluminum frame and safety glass from Corning. Xiaomi relies on Gorilla Glass Victus, while the South Koreans' Ultra model already uses Gorilla Glass Victus 2.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs Xiaomi 13 Ultra
Two top smartphones, with two completely different design approaches for the cameras. / © nextpit

The Galaxy S23 Ultra measures 8.9 mm thin and tips the scales at 234 g, while Xiaomi sends the minimally lighter (227 g) and minimally thicker (9.06 mm) device into battle. Samsung also offers us four colors to choose from: black, creamy white, green, and lavender. Xiaomi, on the other hand, offers only three colors, of which only two - black and olive green - will make it to Germany. It remains to be seen which region will receive all three colors.

In general, I found the look of both models to be extremely attractive, but that is, of course, also a question of taste. Samsung presented its top model in a more angular and minimalistic manner, which also applies to the design of the rear-mounted cameras. Xiaomi, on the other hand, focused more on curves and offers a real eye-catcher with a massive camera system that is modeled after the lens of a camera.

Xiaomi 13 Ultra
Another striking feature of the Xiaomi device is the nano-coating, which is supposed to have an antibacterial effect, and the leather-like texture. / © nextpit

If we were to look at the devices from other angles, we will neither find room for a headphone jack nor for a microSD card on the Xiaomi 13 Ultra and the Galaxy S23 Ultra. In return, the Galaxy scores points with an integrated S Pen. This is a major plus point in Samsung's favor that Xiaomi has nothing to counter with.

The display normally falls under Samsung territory, but Xiaomi does not let itself be beaten easily in this case. Both rely on 1440p resolution for their similarly sized OLED panels (6.8-inch for Samsung and 6.73-inch for Xiaomi). Furthermore, both have LTPO technology on board, which gives us an adaptive 120 Hz refresh rate in each case.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs Xiaomi 13 Ultra
Good for you: You cannot make a wrong decision when it comes to the display either - both are convincing! / © nextpit

However, Xiaomi might even be a nose ahead in terms of the display panel: It has a minimally higher resolution, offers a higher pixel density, and is also brighter. While the Galaxy S23 normally achieves 1,200 nits and 1,900 nits at its peak, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra (1,300/2,600 nits) goes one up.

Performance and connectivity

Both the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the competitor from China have the best that Qualcomm's semiconductor wizards currently offer underneath the hood: the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC. Samsung relies on a special "For Galaxy" edition that overclocked the SoC (System on a Chip) slightly. However, this is not noticeable in the benchmark duel between the Xiaomi 13 Ultra and the Galaxy S23 Ultra, as you can see in the table below.

  Xiaomi 13 Ultra Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Xiaomi 13 Pro
3D Mark Wild Life Too powerful Too powerful Too powerful
3D Mark Wild Life Stress Test Best Loop: 12,930
Worst Loop: 11,684

Best Loop: 12,278
Worst Loop: 7,386

Best Loop: 13,232
Worst Loop: 10,402
Geekbench 6 Single: 1,500
Multi: 5,106
Single: 1,170
Multi: 4,813
Single: 1,403
Multi: 5,106

And despite some issues with overheating during the earlier Xiaomi 13 Pro review, MaTT did not find similar issues on the Ultra, which returned a lower maximum score on the 3D Mark benchmark, but also a better lower score, resulting in a more stable performance over a simulated longer gaming session.

Otherwise, we get LPDDR5X RAM (12 GB for Samsung, 16 GB for Xiaomi). In terms of UFS 4.0 storage, the sole 512 GB configuration will have to suffice for the Xiaomi 13 Ultra. Samsung fans can select from 1 TB or 256 GB for their Ultra of choice as an alternative to the 512 GB offering. In terms of connectivity, both devices are once again on par: Bluetooth 5.3 as well as Wi-Fi 6 and, obviously, 5G support.

Camera and picture quality

The Xiaomi 13 Ultra has a camera that looks like it was designed to bring the best of every element. Instead of somehow throwing in sensors of different sizes at random, mixing up resolutions or even manufacturers, Xiaomi relied on 50 megapixels in all four cameras, with all four from Sony. The main camera is equipped with the 1-inch IMX989, which already impressed in the Xiaomi 12s Ultra, while the ultra-wide angle and both telephoto cameras rely on the IMX868 sensors.

Samsung's picture is a bit more disjointed. The Galaxy S23 Ultra offers a 200-megapixel main camera, two telephoto lenses at 3x and 10x respectively at 10 megapixels, and an ultra-wide angle at 12 megapixels. Thus, you first have an enormous amount of megapixels on paper and finally a huge gap between 3x and 10x.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Xiaomi 13 Ultra
These two diagrams illustrate the different philosophies of Samsung and Xiaomi in terms of effective megapixels and available sensor sizes in square millimeters depending on the focal lengths. / © nextpit

The theory can also be understood in practice, as the following series of zoom photos show. For optimal comparability, we have left the resolution on the Xiaomi 13 Ultra and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra at the factory setting of 12 and 12.5 megapixels, respectively. Below you will find a series of pictures, each in bright and low-light conditions, so that you can compare the camera quality.

The shots on the Xiaomi 13 Ultra were taken with the Chinese model, but the results on the Global version are roughly equivalent, all things considered.

In ultra-wide angle, the duel is relatively close. The night shot shows just how much more Samsung processes its photos. It colors whole walls blue that weren't there at all. The night pictures of the S23 Ultra are much brighter. What else is noticeable? Samsung's micro-contrast is higher, which gives the pictures an artificial degree of sharpness.

Clearly, with the main camera, both the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the Xiaomi 13 Ultra do very well. An important thing to note: We did not activate the night mode on either smartphone as we will do so soon. Again, the outcome is similar: Samsung is much brighter at night, while Xiaomi is closer to the actual scene.

Things don't look much different when using the 2x zoom - both smartphones output a 12.5- and 12-megapixel photo, respectively. The Xiaomi 13 Ultra generates this from its native 12.5-megapixels in the center of the sensor, while the S23 Ultra relies on pixel binning with a 50-megapixel crop from the center of the sensor.

At the 3x zoom, both manufacturers jump to the next telephoto camera. Thus, Samsung uses the 10-megapixel telephoto lens while the Xiaomi 13 Ultra has a full 50 megapixels on the IMX868 to draw from. At first glance, the difference is not that big, but the difference in details is noticeable when you zoom in.

Similar to the 3x zoom, everything looks the same at 5x. The night picture of the Xiaomi 13 Ultra turned out to be strangely washed out in certain segments. We will find out in the coming days and weeks whether this was a random issue or an actual weakness in the camera. Otherwise, Xiaomi is clearly ahead in detailed reproduction.

There's also another dropout in the night photo when it came to 10x shooting - with Samsung this time around. Just like before, we will test if the problem lies with the hardware or software. In daylight, both smartphones are on a very similar level.

Software and updates

The pre-installed software is largely a matter of taste. That is true when it comes to Android skins like One UI 5 and MIUI 14. Both are based on Android 13 and turn the original software into something that they can claim as their own. Both interfaces have their fan base, both offer numerous customization options, so it all boils down to your preference.

MIUI makes me cringe because it is often accompanied by plenty of advertisements and bloatware. Unfortunately, this bloatware is also found on the Xiaomi 13 Ultra.

Samsung also scored well when it comes to implementing new Android versions. Their implementation is faster and more consistent - and Samsung is known to support its smartphones for a very long time. You can expect four Android versions and five years of support for security updates. This matter has not been officially detailed by Xiaomi, but you can at least expect five years of security updates, but only three Android versions.

Battery and quick-charging

Just like we always know that we can only expect the best from Samsung when it comes to software, we also know that the South Koreans have a bit of an aversion to adopting fast charging speeds with its battery. We have nothing against the battery capacity—the 5,000 mAh that Xiaomi offers for the Ultra is also available for the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The problem lies more in its charging speed.

Samsung still manages a relatively slow 45 W, whereas Xiaomi's offering is slower than the 120 W found in the Xiaomi 13 Pro, but still equipped the Ultra model with 90 W charging speed. Even wireless charging is faster at 50 W than Samsung's wired charging speed. Both offer wireless reverse charging, but that is also faster in Xiaomi's case. Another difference? Xiaomi packs the charger in the box. Samsung, the "sustainability professionals", do not do that, unfortunately.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 takes 20 minutes of charging to reach 50 percent. A complete charge takes almost an hour. On the Xiaomi 13 Ultra, a full charge took less than 50 minutes, while 20 minutes on the wall was enough for a 70% charge.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs Xiaomi 13 Ultra
The manufacturer accommodates large 5,000 mAh batteries in both models. / © nextpit

Prices and availability

When it comes to pricing, at first glance the Xiaomi 13 Ultra is more expensive but there is a good explanation for that: The base configuration for the Chinese flagship has double the storage of its Korean rival. If you compare the Xiaomi 13 Ultra's €1499 MSRP with the similarly specced S23 Ultra, the Galaxy phone is slightly more expensive.

For the US, we can only buy one model officially, which is the Galaxy S23 Ultra. While the Xiaomi 13 Ultra can be found in online retailers such as Amazon, it is only available through third-party marketplace sellers.

  Xiaomi 13 uLTRA Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
256 GB n/a $1,199
€1,199
512 GB n/a
€1.499

$1,379
€1,579

1 TB n/a $1,619
€1,819

If you ask me, both companies are basically selling smartphones at insane prices. But I digress.

Conclusion

In the conclusion, we actually wanted to clarify which of the two models you would rather sell your kidney for - the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra or the Xiaomi 13 Ultra? Of course, it will depend on where your priorities lie.

Samsung has two particular trump cards: The S Pen and a longer software update policy. The latter is not so much of an issue if you upgrade between phones every 2 or 3 years, though.

If we were to look at the Xiaomi 13 Pro vs Galaxy S23 Ultra comparison, Samsung has two trump cards in particular: the versatile camera system and S Pen. Unfortunately, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra does not have a stylus as well, but Xiaomi could possibly beat Samsung in terms of camera technology. Samsung once again scores with superior software support.

Xiaomi, on the other hand, offers a brighter display, and a much faster charging system, with the bonus of better performance consistency in gaming tests. Here, two sensationally good smartphones are neck and neck with each other down the home stretch that a photo finish will probably be used to declare the winner. On the other hand, perhaps personal preference and also the user's bank balance might be the final deciding factor. You cannot go wrong with picking up either of the two premium smartphones in the first place.


Article updated in February 2024 with full impressions on both phones.

The current best Samsung phones to buy

  Editor's choice S23 with a bigger display 2023 flagship 2023 foldable flagship 2022 fodlable flagship 2023 compact foldable 2022 compact foldable Affordable flagship The popular mid-ranger
Product
Image Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Product Image Samsung Galaxy S23+ Product Image Samsung Galaxy S23 Product Image Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Product Image Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Product Image Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 Product Image Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 Product Image Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Product Image Samsung Galaxy A54 Product Image
Review
Review: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Review: Samsung Galaxy S23+
Review: Samsung Galaxy S23
Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Not yet tested
Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
Review: Samsung Galaxy A54
Price
  • $1,199.99
  • $999.99
  • $799.99
  • $1,799.99
  • $1,799.99
  • from $999.99
  • $999.99
  • $699.99
  • $449.99
Offer*
nextpit receives a commission for purchases made via the marked links. This has no influence on the editorial content and there are no costs for you. You can find out more about how we make money on our transparency page.
Go to comment (0)
Carsten Drees

Carsten Drees
Senior Editor

I started blogging in 2008 and have written for Mobilegeeks, Stadt Bremerhaven, Basic Thinking and Dr. Windows. I've been at NextPit since 2021, where I also discovered my passion for podcasts. I have been particularly interested in Android phones for many years now, and would like to get involved with the highly exciting smart home market. LEt's see, did I miss anything else? Oh yes, I love Depeche Mode and suffer with Schalke 04.

To the author profile
Liked this article? Share now!
Recommended articles
Latest articles
Push notification Next article
No comments
Write new comment:
All changes will be saved. No drafts are saved when editing
Write new comment:
All changes will be saved. No drafts are saved when editing