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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra tipped for a bad battery surprise

Tom's Guide logo Tom's Guide 8/8/2022 Sanjana Prakash
a photo of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra © Provided by Tom's Guide a photo of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

While Samsung's focus these days is on its Samsung Unpacked event this week, that's not stopping Galaxy S23 rumors from bubbling to the surface — yes, even though we're not likely to see that latter device until early next year.

Already, the Ultra version of the Galaxy S23 is rumored to be getting an all-new 200MP camera, and that same leaker has some details about the flagship phone's chipset and battery specs. 

Specifically, reliable leaker Ice Universe expects the Galaxy S23 Ultra to run on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. That's not an earth-shattering claim, as we've already heard earlier reports that the Galaxy S23 would commit entirely to Qualcomm's next-generation chipset, instead of shipping some models with its own Exynos silicon.

It's another Ice Universe claim that made us sit up, though. The leaker also says that the S23 Ultra will get a 5,000 mAh battery — the same size used by the Galaxy S22 Ultra as well as the Galaxy S21 Ultra before that.

In one sense, that's to be expected. Outside of a handful of gaming phones, a 5,000 mAh cell is usually the largest battery you'll see in a smartphone. Bigger batteries also take up more space, and Samsung likely want to keep the Galaxy S23 Ultra roughly the same size as its predecessor.

Still, battery life might be a concern with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, precisely because the Galaxy S22 Ultra didn't exactly impress with its battery life in our tests. The phone lasted 8 hours and 50 minutes, about an hour behind the average smartphone in our battery test, in which we have phones surf the web until they run out of power. Only when we turned off the adaptive refresh rate on the S22 Ultra's display did the phone turn in a more respectable time of 10 hours and 18 minutes.

Compare those results to the OnePlus 10 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max, both of which landed on our best phone battery life list, with their adaptive refresh rates enabled. That leaves the Galaxy S23 Ultra with some work to do when it arrives next year, especially if other upcoming devices like the iPhone 14 excel at battery life.

If increasing the battery capacity isn't an option — and the Ice Universe leak would suggest that's off the table — Samsung could turn to some other methods to boost battery life for the S23 Ultra. For one, it could make its adaptive display feature more power-efficient since other phones that can scale up their refresh rate to 120Hz don't see as big a battery drain. 

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 also could go a long way in helping, with a boost to power-management features. So far, in our testing, the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 — a successor to the chipset inside the Galaxy S22 — has proven to be a more efficient system-on-chip. Perhaps the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 continues that momentum.

Like the Galaxy S23 itself, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset is just a rumor at this point. Qualcomm tends to announce new silicon toward the end of the year, giving us a preview of what will power the top phones of the upcoming year. We'll get a better idea then of whether the Galaxy S23 Ultra can improve upon its predecessor's performance.

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