Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review: This one is just right
The Galaxy S23 Plus hits all the high points, with the latest Snapdragon chip, a phenomenal OLED screen, and Samsung’s killer update promise. It’s near-perfect if you want a big, no-nonsense Android phone.
What we like
Market-leading update policy
What we don’t like
Weaker zoom than the S23 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
The Galaxy S23 Plus hits all the high points, with the latest Snapdragon chip, a phenomenal OLED screen, and Samsung’s killer update promise. It’s near-perfect if you want a big, no-nonsense Android phone.
It can be easy to forget that the Galaxy S23 Plus even exists, overshadowed as it is by the more premium and feature-rich Galaxy S23 Ultra. And those looking for a cheaper flagship smartphone might gravitate toward the cute little Galaxy S23. There’s no reason to ignore this phone, though — the S23 Plus shares most of its features with the rest of the S23 family, including an overclocked Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, a fantastic OLED screen, and Samsung’s class-leading update guarantee. Most smartphone OEMs don’t have the scale to release three different versions of the same phone, but Samsung does. That means you can play Goldilocks and skip the phone that’s too big, ignore the one that’s too small, and settle in with one that might be just right for you.
About this Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review: I tested the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus (8GB/256GB) over a period of about a week (after using the S23 Ultra for several weeks). It was running Android 13 with One UI 5.1 and the January 2023 security patch. The unit was provided by Samsung for this review.
What you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Launched in early 2023, the Galaxy S23 Plus is the middle child in Samsung’s new family of flagship phones. It’s made of Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the screen and rear panel, with a frame of Samsung’s custom Armor Aluminum alloy. The phone has a 6.6-inch flat OLED screen; slightly smaller than the 6.8-inch curved OLED on the Galaxy S23 Ultra and substantially larger than the 6.1-inch OLED on the base model Galaxy S23. The screen steps down to 1,080 x 2,340 from the 1440p resolution offered by the S23 Ultra, but you still get the same 120Hz adaptive refresh rate (that can drop to 48Hz) and peak brightness at an impressive 1,750 nits. Under the display is the latest Qualcomm ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, which can recognize your biometrics without the annoying flash required by optical sensors.
Samsung unified the body style with the Galaxy S23 series, giving all three models the floating camera lenses on the back. The S23 Plus looks like a scaled-up version of the S23, and like the smaller phone, there’s no S Pen support. Samsung was able to boost the battery capacity versus the Galaxy S22 Plus from 4,500mAh to 4,700mAh, while also upping the base storage from 128GB to 256GB. There’s no headphone jack, but what else is new? The only I/O is the bottom-mounted USB-C 3.2 port, with support for up to 45W charging speeds.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus Review After 1 Month | Long Term Review
One of the most notable changes from the Galaxy S23 Ultra is that the Galaxy S23 Plus doesn’t get that fancy new 200MP camera. It sticks with the same setup as the Galaxy S22 Plus: a 50MP primary, a 10MP 3x telephoto, and a 12MP ultrawide. The S23 Plus does, however, get the same overclocked Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip as the S23 Ultra. This is, by most measures, the fastest processor available in an Android phone. As we’ll see, it even beats Apple’s custom A-series chips in some benchmarks.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus is available unlocked or from carriers in Phantom Black, Lavender (pictured), Cream, and Green colors. If purchased directly from Samsung, you can also get one of two exclusive colors: Lime and Graphite. The S23 Plus works on all major 5G networks across both sub-6GHz and mmWave frequencies in the US.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus design: Has it changed?
If you’ve touched a Galaxy S22 Plus at some point in the past year, you have a good idea of what the S23 Plus looks and feels like. The two phones are extremely close in size and shape, with the S23 Plus just a fraction of a millimeter wider. The aluminum frame encircling the phone doesn’t bleed into the back panel to surround the cameras like on the S22 Plus. Instead, you get individual camera cutouts for each of the three rear-facing sensors. This style is more consistent with Samsung’s Ultra phones.
The 6.6-inch OLED screen dominates the front of the phone, and we love the extremely slim and symmetrical bezels surrounding it. The edge-to-edge display with perfectly even bezels looks elegant — even more so than the S23 Ultra in some ways, which has a noticeably larger chin at the bottom. The S23 Plus’ OLED panel is also completely flat, whereas the S23 Ultra curves down on the left and right edges. That’s necessary to make a phone as huge as the S23 Ultra comfortable in the hand, but the S23 Plus is just below that limit. It’s easy enough to hold in one hand, the flat display won’t show as much glare in bright light, and you won’t get as many accidental touches.
The Galaxy S23 Plus is much less ungainly than the Ultra, but it still offers plenty of screen real estate.
The Galaxy S23 Plus is not a small phone, but it’s not a major imposition like the Galaxy S23 Ultra is. The latter, which is almost 40g heavier than the Plus, always seems on the verge of tumbling out of my hand or leaping from my The S23 Plus is much less ungainly, but it still offers plenty of screen real estate. It’s a great size if you want a big phone that isn’t going to stick out of your
Speaking of the screen, it’s not as much of a downgrade from the Ultra as you might expect. The 1,080 x 2,340 OLED looks crisp — it may not be QHD, but almost 400 pixels per inch is nothing to sneeze at — and the peak brightness of 1,750 nits ensures you’ll be able to read it even under bright outdoor light. It gets glossed over sometimes, but Samsung’s OLEDs are also notable for how readable they are in low light. At minimum brightness, many phone screens are dingy, but the Galaxy S23 Plus is still contrasty and sharp with the brightness all the way down.
The aluminum frame has a glossy finish that shows smudges and fingerprints, but the back is a pristine expanse of silky matte glass. We adore Samsung’s glass texture because it almost doesn’t feel like glass. The smooth finish repels oils, and it’s not as slippery as glossy finishes on phones like the Google Pixel 7 and OnePlus 11. It’s the same Gorilla Glass Victus 2 as the front panel, which should hold up well even if you opt not to cover it with an S23 Plus case.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus performance: How fast is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy?
All the members of Samsung’s S23 family get the same Qualcomm system on a chip (SoC), and they’re the only phones that have it. The S23 Plus runs Samsung’s customized version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which has an overclocked prime CPU core and GPU. This isn’t just marketing fluff — the Samsung-exclusive chip is faster than other Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones in some benchmarks (notably those with mixed or CPU workloads), but the margin is small enough that it doesn’t make a noticeable difference in day-to-day use. For more detailed testing on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, check out our deep dive at the link.
However, if you’re upgrading from last year’s Samsung flagships, you will definitely notice an improvement. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in the S23 Plus offers better performance than the Gen 1, particularly in games. All mobile SoCs throttle to some degree under sustained load; the S23 Plus is no different despite its unique chip design. Yet even when it heats up, the bespoke Snapdragon chip is still faster than most flagships at its peaks and it performs well enough in GPU stress tests.
We ran the S23 Plus through several benchmarks, including the new Geekbench 6 and the venerable 3DMark. Naturally, the flagship-class hardware put up impressive numbers. It scored within the margin of error for the entire Galaxy S23 series in Geekbench, topped the PCMark Work 3.0 test, and registered a 3,818 in 3DMark Wild Life Extreme — the latter a big jump the Galaxy S22 Plus’ 2,538 in the same GPU test. Interestingly though, we found thermal performance lagging slightly behind the S23 Ultra, which begins at a higher score in the 3DMark Wild Life Stress Test and plateaus at a marginally higher mark for repeated runs.
As for memory, Samsung only offers 8GB of RAM in the S23 Plus, no matter if you get the 256GB or 512GB storage option. The S23 Ultra has a SKU with 12GB of RAM, which is more future-proofed and in line with other flagships like the Pixel 7 Pro and OnePlus 11. However, we didn’t notice much difference between the two with regard to background apps. The Galaxy S23 Plus can instantly recall an app from the background that might not have been open for hours. Phones will less RAM will usually have to reload apps in that scenario.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus battery: How long will it last?
We never had any issues with battery life on the Galaxy S22 Plus, but some felt the 4,500mAh capacity was too small. Samsung upped the battery in this year’s non-Ultra phones, giving the S23 Plus 4,700mAh to work with. Based on our testing, you could spend the better part of a day streaming video on the S23 Plus and still have enough left in the tank to head out for the evening without fear of a dead battery. With more typical usage, the Galaxy S23 Plus will easily last a full day, and two days is within reach if you take just a few precautions, like making sure you’re fully charged before you unplug.
The Galaxy S23 Plus charges at a maximum power of 45W, which is higher than the 25W max of the baby Galaxy S23 and the same as the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The 45W rating isn’t the best you can get — that crown goes to OnePlus’ SuperVOOC-powered OnePlus 11 with 80-125W peaks depending on your region. But Samsung does still clobber Google’s piddly 23W charging on the Pixel 7 Pro.
Even when Samsung’s phones do ostensibly support higher speeds, the phones can be picky about how the power is delivered. Thankfully, the necessary Power Delivery PPS-equipped plugs are easy enough to find now — check out our guide for the best Galaxy S23 chargers for some great options. The S23 Plus has shown that, like the S23 Ultra, it maintains higher power for longer and with sharper peaks (up to 42W based on our testing), resulting in faster overall recharges — almost exactly one hour to go from zero to 100%.
Samsung is moving in the right direction, but at these prices, it would be nice to have even higher speeds. The 15W wireless charging option is appreciated, though only Samsung’s “Fast Wireless Charging 2.0” chargers are guaranteed to hit 15W. Most other wireless pads max at 10W via the S23 Plus’ Qi charging support.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus camera: Can it keep up with the best?
Samsung upgraded the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s primary camera this cycle, but the Galaxy S23 Plus and base model S23 are still using the same setup as their Galaxy S22 counterparts. That means you’re looking at a 50MP primary camera, which shoots pixel-binned 12.5MP photos by default. You can shoot in full 50MP resolution with the S23 Plus, but the binned photos usually look better unless you start cropping and zooming. If you like Samsung’s trademark photo processing, you’ll still like the S23 Plus just fine, but can it compete with the very best camera phones?
Photos taken on the S23 Plus are bright, with pumped-up colors and contrast. This can make some fine details a bit blurry, but the overall image may still look sharper if you don’t crop in. When light is low, Samsung leans toward longer exposures that make it harder to get clear photos of moving subjects. Both the Pixel 7 and Galaxy S23 Ultra shoot sharper, brighter photos. Night mode (which Samsung insists on calling “Nightography”) has gotten better over the past few generations, but the S23 Plus is at a disadvantage compared to the Ultra. That phone’s binned 200MP sensor can collect more light than the S23 Plus with its 50MP sensor even though the final image resolution is the same. While the S23 Ultra can trade blows with Google in night mode, the S23 Plus still runs behind.
The main sensor is optically stabilized, which helps a bit but cannot work miracles when the phone selects a 1/15 exposure time indoors. There’s no periscope zoom camera here, but you do get the lesser of the two telephoto lenses seen on the S23 Ultra. This 3x optical shooter will get you closer to your subject without losing pixels, but the sensor is only 10MP. If you push the zoom beyond 3x, the image quality rapidly deteriorates. The Ultra can push digital zoom to 100x, known as Space Zoom. The S23 Plus tops out at 30x, and even that is uselessly blurry.
S23 Plus 10x digital zoom
S23 Plus 20x digital zoom
S23 Plus 30x digital zoom
While phones like the OnePlus 11 have moved to much higher resolution ultrawide cameras, we much prefer what the Galaxy S23 Plus can do here with its 12MP camera. Samsung’s aggressive photo processing evens out exposure across the frame while preserving most details. Since you’re not taking ultrawide photos to zoom in, the lower resolution isn’t a problem.
Samsung Galaxy S23/S23/S23 Ultra
While the Galaxy S23 Ultra can trade blows with Google’s flagships in night mode, the Galaxy S23 Plus still runs behind.
Likewise, the front-facing camera is only 12MP, but Samsung’s photo processing jives well with selfies. They’re crisp, evenly lit, and the pumped-up colors make everyone glow. You can do portrait mode with either front-facing or rear-facing cameras, but the results are better with the rear-facing array. As for the camera app, Samsung’s stock software is full-featured with slow-motion, pro modes for photo and video, and an Expert RAW mode if you want to process photos manually.
Samsung has been pushing video resolution for several years, first offering 8K on its 2020 flagship phones. You can shoot 8K at 30fps with this phone, not that you should. These files are huge, and you probably don’t even have an 8K display. interesting is the sharp and more usable 4K option at up to 60fps, and you can even activate HDR10 recording for better lighting. However, these videos are recorded in HEVC format, which some systems won’t understand.
Want to pixel-peep our samples? You can see the full-res images in this Google Drive folder.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra: Which premium Android phone should you buy?
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- Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Plus is a large phone with specs and features you’d typically expect on a premium Android phone.
- The Galaxy S23 Ultra is in a league of its own with its four cameras, S Pen stylus, and the biggest screen on a phone available in the US.
- The Galaxy S23 Ultra also has a 1,200 price to match its extra features, so we generally point most people towards the 1,000 Galaxy S23 Plus.
The Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra are two phones with big screens that represent a dividing line in Samsung’s latest Galaxy S23 lineup.
On one hand, the Galaxy S23 Plus is what you’d expect in a premium high-end phone, and its competitors include other high-end phones like the Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max or Google Pixel 7 Pro with similar specs and features.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is its own thing in a different league with no competitors in the US market. No, the iPhone 14 Pro Max or Pixel 7 Pro aren’t on the same plane — their screens are smaller, they have one less camera, and they don’t have a built-in stylus. Plus, they’re both less expensive.
So, should you go with a “normal” premium phone, or something that goes even further and costs more? We lean towards the Galaxy S23 Plus for its comprehensive performance and features for a more traditional price point. But it’s great to have the option to go bigger with “more” — though not necessarily better — with the Galaxy S23 Ultra if you want to.
Save 150 on Amazon for the Galaxy S23, a larger-screen version of the S23 (6.6 inches versus 6.1). While it shares the same performance specs, it has a larger battery and has 256GB of storage standard.
Amazon’s 200 deal on the Galaxy S23 Ultra is an all-time low price for Samsung’s most powerful smartphone to date. It runs on a modified Qualcomm Snapdragon Gen 2 processor that improves battery life and performance. It has the largest display of the S23 models, and comes with the S-Pen stylus for writing on-screen. It’s also the first Samsung phone to have a 200-megapixel camera.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra: Specs
Galaxy S23 Plus
Galaxy S23 Ultra
6.6 inches OLED, 1080p, 120Hz
6.8 inches OLED, up to 1440p, 120Hz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Optimized for Galaxy
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Optimized for Galaxy
Battery and charging
4,700mAh, 45W charging speed
5,000mAh, 45W charging speed
50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 3x zoom
200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 3x zoom, 10MP 10x zoom
Dimensions and weight
6.21 x 3.00 x 0.30 inches, 6.91 ounces
6.43 x 3.07 x 0.35 inches, 8.25 ounces
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra: Design and screens
The Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra might be in the same family, but they look very different.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra has sharper corners that make for a more rectangular look than the Galaxy S23 Plus’ more rounded appearance. The Galaxy S23 Ultra also has slightly curved screen edges on the left and right compared to the Galaxy S23 Plus’ flat display.
Both have rear cameras where each individual lens protrudes slightly rather than being part of a larger camera module. It’s a Smart, minimalist look that’s easy to love.
There’s only a 0.2 inch screen size difference between the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra, and it makes a difference — the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 6.8 inch display with sharper corners is noticeably bigger than the Galaxy S23 Plus’ 6.6 inch display with more rounded corners.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra also gives you the option to set the display resolution from the default 1080p to a sharper 1440p, whereas the Galaxy S23 Plus is stuck on 1080p. With that said, we never felt the need to set the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s display to 1440p, as the default 1080p resolution is easily sharp enough for everything we did during testing and regular use, and it doesn’t use up extra battery.
Weight is a factor worth including these days, as big premium phones are getting heavy to the point that it could have an impact on whether you buy a phone or not.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is, indeed, a rather heavy phone at 8.25 ounces — it’s much heftier than the 6.91-ounce Galaxy S23 Plus, which achieves a more comfortable balance of size and weight.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra: Performance and battery life
Both the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Plus run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Optimized for Galaxy. It’s a version of the standard Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that’s been optimized specifically for Samsung’s Galaxy S23 phones for a slight performance boost compared to other Android phones.
It also means both models are equally powerful for running any app or game in your library, and both models will last as long as the other in terms of performance.
The Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra differ in battery life. The Galaxy S23 Plus finished our battery stress test with 67% remaining, and the Galaxy S23 Ultra with 61%, which was unexpected. We anticipated the larger Galaxy S23 Ultra to perform better in our battery stress test than the smaller Galaxy S23 Plus, as most larger phones do.
Both models support 45W charging speeds, but neither come with a 45W charger. If you don’t already own a charger that supports up to 45W charging speeds, you’ll need to buy one to make the most of each phone’s charging speeds. With that said, it’s not necessary to charge at 45W — it’s more of a convenience factor that gives you a boost in battery life quickly when you need it.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra: Cameras
One of the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s main differentiating factors is its camera system. It has a 200 megapixel (MP) main camera, a 12MP ultrawide, a 10MP 3x zoom lens, and a 10MP 10x zoom lens.
Compare that to the Galaxy S23 Plus’ 50 megapixel (MP) main, 12MP ultrawide, and 10MP 3x optical zoom cameras. For getting crisp, clear photos of subjects very far away, the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 10x zoom lens offers a major advantage over the Galaxy S23 Plus.
However, we didn’t find the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 200MP main camera offered much of an advantage over the Galaxy S23 Plus’ 50MP shooter, whether for brightly lit photos or those taken in low light situations.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra: S Pen
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is the only model in the Galaxy S23 lineup that includes Samsung’s S Pen stylus built into the phone itself. It’s not a must-have feature for most people, and Galaxy S23 Ultra owners who aren’t interested in using the S Pen can ignore it and forget it’s even there.
Still, it’s a useful tool for note takers and those who use a stylus for more accurate tapping, whether for generally navigating around Android and apps, or making finer photo edits where a clunky finger just isn’t precise enough.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra: Price
The combination of the S Pen, large screen size, and quad-lens camera makes the Galaxy S23 Ultra and its 1,200 starting price one of the most expensive phones you can buy, even beating out Apple’s 1,100 iPhone 14 Pro Max. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23 Plus starts at 1,000.
Galaxy S23 Plus
Galaxy S23 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus — seriously, who needs this?
Excitement is building for the Samsung Galaxy S23 launch, which is just two weeks away if you assume that the phones will arrive at the February 1 Galaxy Unpacked event. Naturally, the Galaxy S23 Ultra and its rumored 200MP main camera are getting the bulk of the chatter, but you’ll also find a decent amount of speculation about performance boosts, display features and other changes coming to the entire Galaxy S23 lineup.
What you won’t hear a lot of is any speculation about the Galaxy S23 Plus. The Ultra model commands a lot of attention, as it’s the premium phone receiving all the high-end updates and features Samsung has planed. The base Galaxy S model generates some interest, too, as it contains enhancements finding their way to all three new phones. But the Plus version? It’s often lost in the shuffle.
Part of that is by design, as Samsung has tended to position the Plus as essentially a bigger-screen version of the standard Galaxy S handset. You want the basics in a Samsung flagship, you pick between the standard version and Plus model; anything more, and it’s the Ultra for you.
It’s hard to quibble with Samsung’s approach, given its dominance over the rest of the Android phone market. But this time around, the lack of buzz surrounding the Galaxy S23 Plus seems especially noticeable. You may even find yourself asking whether there’s still a place for a Plus-sized phone in Samsung’s flagship plans.
The case for the Galaxy S23 Plus
The short answer to that speculation is of course there’s a place for the Galaxy S23 Plus if for no other reason than people love big-screen phones.
Smartphones with screens smaller than 6 inches are practically unheard of these days. Research firm Omdia reported in January 2022 that the average screen size for a phone was 6.3 inches — the best small phones notwithstanding — and there’s no reason to believe that’s inched downward in the last 12 months. With more of us relying on phones as our primary device, people seemingly prefer the ample screen space over a more compact design.
Well, not me necessarily — one of my favorite things about last year’s Galaxy S22 was how it could easily fit in my hand despite a 6.1-inch display. But for anyone who finds that space too constraining, Samsung offers a 6.7-inch Plus model for a couple hundred dollars more. (It’s widely believed that the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus are going to keep the respective 6.1- and 6.7-inch screen sizes of their predecessors.)
A Plus phone also gives smartphone shoppers some pricing flexibility when it comes to the Galaxy S lineup. Maybe you want a bigger screen, but you’re not inclined to pay up for Samsung’s Ultra phone. For the last couple years, a Plus version has allowed you to enjoy a large-screen phone with a starting price that’s less than 1,000. Assuming Samsung isn’t considering a price hike, that could continue with the Galaxy S23 Plus.
There are other benefits to a larger phone beyond the increased display real estate. A bigger phone can contain a bigger battery, for example, so it’s no surprise that the Galaxy S22 Plus lasted 2 hours longer on our battery test than the S22 did when we tested both phones last year. We’d expect the Galaxy S23 Plus to also outlast the upcoming base model (though hopefully, both phones improve upon the battery life of their predecessors, as none made our list of the phones with the longest battery life).
Samsung tries to distinguish the Plus from the base model in other, more subtle ways. The Galaxy S22 Plus, for example, offered the same peak brightness as the Galaxy S22 Ultra, and those phones both supported 45W charging speeds to the 25W charging available on the Galaxy S22. For the S23 family, we’re anticipating those distinctions continue.
Galaxy S23 Plus concerns
As nice as it is to have the extra screen space on Plus version of the Galaxy S — and the battery life boost that comes with it — it sometimes feels as if there’s not enough distinguishing the Plus from the base model. That feels especially true with the upcoming Galaxy S23 release, with rumors doing little to separate the 6.1- and 6.7-inch phones from one another as you can see in our Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra comparison.
|Galaxy S23 (rumored)||Galaxy S23 Plus (rumored)|
|6.1-inch AMOLED (2,340×1.080)||6.6-inch AMOLED (2,340×1,080)|
|Snapdragon 8 Gen 2||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2|
|128GB, 256GB||128GB, 256GB|
|50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x zoom)||50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x zoom)|
|3,900 mAh||4,700 mAh|
|25W wired||45W wired|
|5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches||6.2 x 3 x 0.3 inches|
|6 ounces||7.3 ounches|
|Phantom Black, Green, Lavender, Cream||Phantom Black, Green, Lavender, Cream|
For example, while Samsung’s Plus flagship gives you extra screen space, it doesn’t take the extra step that the Ultra enjoys by adding support for the S Pen. We’re not talking about including a built-in stylus with the Plus as Samsung started doing with the Galaxy S22 Ultra. But just adding support for an optional accessory would give shoppers another reason to consider the Plus over the regular Galaxy S phone.
Cameras would be another area where Samsung’s different flagship models are becoming too similar. Last year, the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus shared the same camera hardware, and that’s likely to continue with this year’s Galaxy S23 models if rumors are to believed. That’s great news for base model owners — who doesn’t appreciate a telephoto lens in a 799 phone? But it doesn’t really incentivize you to upgrade to the 999 Plus model.
Galaxy S23 Plus outlook
In the end, the likely similarities between the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus are probably not going to dissuade too many people from picking their model based on the screen size they find most appealing. Assuming Samsung holds the line on and the S23 Plus still comes in around 999, you’d imagine most people would have no problem ponying up the extra 200 over the S23 if it means a larger screen.
My Plus-sized concerns are more long-term ones. If the standard model gets the basic enhancements and the Ultra gets the premium additions, where does that leave the Plus in future years? Over time, that’s a question Samsung’s going to need to answer.
The Galaxy S23 doesn’t differ too much to its predecessor, and that’s okay.
Android Central Verdict
Samsung played it safe with the Galaxy S23, and the phone misses out on the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 200MP camera and a larger battery. That said, it is still one of the best phones around, and the switch to Qualcomm hardware globally makes the device an enticing option in countries where Samsung only sold Exynos variants. The customized Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset is the fastest you’ll find on any Android phone today, and Samsung optimized One UI 5.1 to take full advantage of the hardware. Combine that with excellent cameras, all the extras you could possibly want, long-term software updates, and a manageable design that’s great in daily use, and the S23 is a terrific overall choice.
- Terrific AMOLED panel
- Incredible performance
- Better battery life over S22
- Standout cameras for photos and videos
- IP68, wireless charging, and eSIM
- Four guaranteed Android OS updates
Why you can trust Android Central
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These days, it feels like Samsung can do no wrong. The Korean brand is in a dominant position in the foldable category, and the Galaxy S portfolio features some of the best Android phones you can get today. The Galaxy S23 Ultra in particular is a terrific phone that sets a high standard for flagships in 2023, and while the internal hardware obviously plays a big part, Samsung is doing all the right things with One UI 5.1.
As much as I like the S23 Ultra, it can be cumbersome to use at times on account of its size, and that’s where the Galaxy S23 comes in. Like previous years, the S23 is the middle child in Samsung’s portfolio, and it has the same design as the vanilla S23 while picking up a few features from the S23 Ultra — all in a manageable size.
It doesn’t have the 200MP camera that adorns the back of the S23 Ultra, but if you’re after a phone that’s comfortable to hold and use while still offering a premium feel, the Galaxy S23 may just be the ideal choice for you.
Samsung Galaxy S23: Pricing and availability
Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S23 alongside the standard Galaxy S23 and the Galaxy S23 Ultra on February 1, 2023. The phone is now available globally, and retails for 999 in the U.S. for the 256GB version and 1,119 for the 512GB model. As always, Samsung has very generous trade-in deals going up to 750, and the 512GB model is already down to 999 — the same as the 256GB edition.
The S23 retails for £1,049 (1,297) in the U.K. for the 256GB model and £1,149 (1,421) for the 512GB version, and over in India you’ll need to shell out ₹94,999 (1,155) for the 256GB model and ₹104,999 (1,276) for the 512GB edition.
Samsung Galaxy S23: Design
If Samsung just shrunk the S23 Ultra and called it the S23, it would have been one of the best-looking phones of the year. I really like what Samsung did with the Ultra; even though it’s a massive phone, it feels much better to hold and use than the S22 Ultra, and a big part of that is down to the decreased curvature around the screen.
However, the S23 doesn’t have much in the way of resemblance with its Ultra sibling, with Samsung instead opting to go with flat sides that make the phone look bulky. The standard S23 also has a similar aesthetic with flat sides, and Samsung has been doing this for a few years now, with the Ultra variant getting the curved screen with the other two models featuring a flatter look.
Samsung isn’t the only brand doing this either; Xiaomi went with a similar style with the Xiaomi 13 Pro and the standard model this year. And as for the S23, while I don’t prefer phones with flat sides, the design is polished, and the cream color variant I’m using looks premium. That said, the sides have a glossy finish that takes away from the upmarket look, and Samsung should have used a matte texture here. There are no such issues at the back, and the frosted glass panel looks great and is comfortable to hold and use.
On that note, Samsung nailed the dimensions of the S23, and you get a large screen without sacrificing usability; as much as I like the S23 Ultra, it gets cumbersome with extended use, and that wasn’t a problem on the S23. And like all Samsung flagships in the last seven years, the Galaxy S23 offers IP68 dust and water resistance as standard.
The back also has a minimalist design for the camera housing, with the three modules encased in rings. Samsung deserves credit for not going overboard here, unlike its Chinese rivals — the Xiaomi 13 Pro and Find X6 Pro have massive camera islands that dominate the attention. Elsewhere, you’ll find the SIM card tray at the bottom, and it holds two SIM cards (one in North America) and you get the ability to use eSIM.
While I’m not a fan of phones with flat sides, it’s inarguable that the Galaxy S23 is a well-rounded package that holds its own against other flagships. Samsung continues to do a brilliant job with a cohesive design language across generations, and the S23 feels familiar and modern at the same time.
Samsung Galaxy S23: Screen
What I particularly like about the Galaxy S23 is that it has a flat 6.6-inch panel, so if you’re not a fan of curved screens, this is the best option in Samsung’s portfolio. The AMOLED screen itself is among the best you’ll find on a phone today, going up to an insane 1,750 nits for HDR content. There are zero issues with color vibrancy or contrast, and the S23 holds up incredibly well for gaming and streaming TV shows and movies.
The screen does a great job dynamically adjusting the refresh rate from 10Hz all the way to 120Hz, and you won’t notice any slowdown whatsoever in this area. There’s good customizability when it comes to color management as well, and while the always-on mode isn’t as feature-rich as ColorOS 13, you get a decent set of options.
The Galaxy S23 also excels at gaming, and is able to play games at the full 120hz for titles that allow it. This has been a limitation on a few phones I used this year — like the OnePlus 11 — so it’s good to see Samsung unlocking the full potential of the screen here. There’s stereo sound as well, and while it isn’t as detailed as the Xiaomi 13 Pro, it makes a difference in daily use.
The front and rear panes of glass are covered by a layer of Corning’s latest Gorilla Glass Victus 2, and I have no doubt that it will prove to be just as resilient as last year. I don’t use a case with any of my devices, and in the three weeks I used the S23, the phone weathered the occasional tumble without any issues.
Samsung Galaxy S23: Performance and battery
Samsung overhauled its strategy this year, doing away with dual-sourcing Qualcomm and Exynos and instead using the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 as standard globally. This is a huge deal for the Korean manufacturer, and what’s even more enticing is that it is using a slightly overclocked version of Qualcomm’s latest chipset, dubbed Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy.
Right off the bat, what’s evident with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is that it delivers much better sustained performance than last year, and that means you get lag-free gaming even during extended sessions. In fact, the customized version of the chipset in the Galaxy S23 is the fastest you’ll find on an Android phone today, and it is the closest Qualcomm has come to challenging the might of the A16 Bionic.
|One UI 5.1 based on Android 13|
|6.6-inch 120Hz AMOLED (2340 x 1080), HDR10, Gorilla Glass Victus 2|
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, 1 x 3.36GHz Cortex X3, 2 x 2.8GHz Cortex A715, 2 x 2.8GHz Cortex A710, 3 x 2.0GHz Cortex A510, Adreno 740, 4nm|
|256GB/512GB UFS 4.0|
|50MP f/1.8, 1.0um pixels, OIS, 8K at 30fps, 4K at 60fps|
|10MP f/2.4 telephoto, 1.0um pixels, OIS, 3x optical zoom|
|12MP f/2.2 wide-angle, 1.4um pixels, 120-degree FoV|
|12MP autofocus, 4K at 60fps|
|IP68 dust and water resistance|
|In-screen ultrasonic fingerprint module, face unlock|
|Wi-Fi 6e, Sub-6 5G (global), mmWave 5G (NA), Bluetooth 5.3, NFC|
|Stereo sound, USB-C, 32-bit/384kHz, AptX HD|
|4700mAh, 45W wired charging, 15W wireless charging, 4.5W reverse wireless charging|
|157.8 x 76.2 x 7.6mm, 196g|
|Black, Cream, Green, Lavender|
There’s a noticeable difference in fluidity versus last year, and there are no slowdowns whatsoever in daily use. Considering the S23 uses Qualcomm hardware globally, it is the ideal upgrade path for those using Exynos variants of Samsung’s phones.
The ultrasonic module is larger than previous years, but it still isn’t quite as fast as its optical counterparts. That said, it is better than last year, and other than an infinitesimal delay to authenticate, it is reliable in daily use. There isn’t much missing on the hardware side of things, with the S23 offering Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.3 with LE, dual-Band GPS, NFC, AptX HD codecs, and UWB.
As for battery life, the 4700mAh battery easily manages to last well over a day, and I didn’t have any battery anxiety in the three weeks I used the Galaxy S23. This has been the case with all phones powered by Qualcomm’s latest silicon, and even with heavy use you’ll be able to get to the end of the day with some charge left over.
And when you need to charge the device, there’s 45W wired and 15W wireless charging. Samsung is still being conservative when it comes to charging tech, and that’s understandable given the brand’s history. Although the S23 takes longer to charge than its Chinese rivals, it hits 60% in 30 minutes, and that should be more than adequate if you need to charge the device in the middle of the day.
Samsung Galaxy S23: Cameras
Samsung isn’t one to tweak a winning formula, and as a result the Galaxy S23 uses a similar camera array as last year. You’ll find a 50MP main camera with OIS that uses Samsung’s S5KGN3 imaging module, and it is joined by a 10MP Samsung S5K3K1 telephoto lens that has OIS and goes up to 3x optical zoom and a 12MP wide-angle Sony IMX564. Up front, you’ll find a new 12MP selfie camera with autofocus.
Given that nothing has changed on the hardware side of things, the S23 shoots photos in the same 12MP resolution as last year, and the interface itself is identical. Samsung has one of the best Pro modes available on any device, and it gives you much more flexibility when it comes to editing shots taken on the phone. All three sensors work with Night mode by default, and can shoot 4K video at 60fps.
Although the camera hardware hasn’t changed, you’ll notice a distinct difference in the photos taken by the Galaxy S23. The resultant images still have Samsung’s signature contrast look, but it is toned down versus previous generations, and you get photos that are much more accurate. This is particularly true of shots taken outdoors, with the sky rendered accurately — last year’s devices tended to boost saturation levels to the point where it felt like there was a filter in use.
As you’d imagine, the S23 has no problems whatsoever in daylight scenarios, delivering photos with plenty of dynamic range and detail. There’s no visible noise, and foliage doesn’t look too soft — another uptick over previous models. The telephoto lens also does a brilliant job in daylight situations, producing photos of the same caliber at up to 3x. It can go up to 30x, and while you miss out on the insane 100x factor that the S23 Ultra can handle, the digital 30x mode delivers usable shots.
In a similar vein, the wide-angle lens does a terrific job retaining color balance and accuracy, and I don’t really have any negatives in this area. All three cameras fare really well in low-light situations as well, with Night mode kicking in automatically once ambient lighting going under a threshold. Overall, the S23 has fantastic cameras across the board, and while Samsung didn’t change the hardware, it made the necessary tweaks to its imaging algorithms to bring the device up to par with the Pixel 7 Pro and the Xiaomi 13 Pro.
Samsung Galaxy S23: Software
I’m going to keep this section relatively short as there isn’t much to add that my colleague Nick hasn’t already covered in his Galaxy S23 Ultra review. Samsung deserves a lot of credit for modernizing its UI, and One UI 5.1 feels modern and fluid while still retaining a lot of the legacy features.
Samsung integrated all the new features Google introduced with Android 13, and while you don’t get the same Material You aesthetic, most of its salient parts are intact — including the dynamic color picker. While there isn’t much new in Android 13 itself, I like that notifications are opt-in by default; apps can no longer send notifications after they’re installed, and you’ll see a dialog box seeking notification access upon first launch. This builds on the work Google is doing with notification management with the likes of notification channels, and it’s good to see that feature available in One UI 5.1.
Elsewhere, you’ll find a taskbar listing any app that’s running in the background, but it has been pushed to the overview menu instead of the notification shade. There is still a lot of customizability, and the biggest difference in my use case is the general fluidity. I noticed this on the S23 Ultra as well, and Samsung did a good job optimizing the interface to be smoother during general navigation.
Another area where Samsung is doing all the right things is software updates. The Galaxy S23 will get four guaranteed Android version updates and five years of security updates, and the brand has consistently shown that it is able to deliver platform updates on time. The S22 Ultra picked up the stable Android 13 update in under two months of Google introducing the version, and Samsung continues to be the only brand other than Google to deliver monthly security patches to its phones.
Samsung Galaxy S23: The competition
The Galaxy S22 is still a fantastic device in 2023, and considering just how little has changed with the S23, it is the ideal alternative. You get the same vibrant AMOLED panel, similar design, same caliber of cameras, identical software, and similar connectivity. The S23 lasts a little longer and is better-suited for extended gaming, but the S22 is no slouch in this regard, and it manages to last all day without breaking a sweat. So if you want a better value, get the S22.
The Pixel 7 Pro continues to be dominant, delivering outstanding cameras in an elegant design. The phone won’t get as many updates as the S23, but it is first in line to get new Android releases, and I like the Material You aesthetic. It doesn’t miss out in any key areas, and as it has been in the market for a few months now, you can pick it up for a few hundred dollars less than the S23.
Another device to consider is the Xiaomi 13 Pro. Xiaomi nailed the basics this year, and the 13 Pro looks and feels fabulous. It holds its own against the best Android phones when it comes to the cameras, and while MIUI 14 hasn’t changed too much, it is fluid. The only issue with the Xiaomi 13 Pro is that it will not get the same number of updates as the S23, and Xiaomi has been lackadaisical in rolling out timely platform and security updates.
Samsung Galaxy S23: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if:
- You want a flagship that’s easy to hold and use
- You’re looking for a vibrant screen with plenty of customization
- You need a powerful phone that’s terrific for gaming
- You want reliable cameras that shoot great photos and videos
- You’re looking for all the extras
You shouldn’t buy this if:
Ultimately, the Galaxy S23 doesn’t differ too much from its predecessor, with Samsung tweaking things in a few areas instead of making wholesale changes. While this strategy clearly works for Samsung, I would have liked to see the S23 Ultra’s 200MP camera on the S23, as it would have made the phone that much more alluring.
Not everyone would want a massive phone, and having used the iPhone 14 Pro for an extended duration this year, I can’t help but feel that Samsung needs to go a similar route and offer a device with the same camera hardware as the S23 Ultra in a smaller chassis. That isn’t the case this time, but even then, the S23 strikes the ideal balance in Samsung’s flagship portfolio, and is a viable option if you want a phone that’s a little easier to use.
Of course, if you’re in the U.K. or any other European country, you’ll want to considering switching thanks to the Qualcomm hardware. Samsung traditionally offered the Exynos version of its phones in the region over the last seven years, and having used those Exynos-powered phones, I can say with some confidence that the Qualcomm version is significantly better. So if you’ve held out on buying a new phone, now is the ideal time to switch.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Review
I love portable technology—if you can put it in a or a bag, I’m probably into it. I’ve covered phones and tablets of all shapes and sizes, and reviewed everything from game consoles to laptops in my decade-plus career. Prior to joining PCMag, I wrote articles for Android Authority, How-To Geek, MUO, New Atlas, Tom’s Hardware, and plenty of other tech publications.
The Bottom Line
The S23 has the most mainstream appeal in Samsung’s Galaxy phone lineup, with many of the same features as the S23 Ultra in a more comfortable size for a couple of hundred dollars less.
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- Excellent performance
- Big, vibrant display
- Fantastic cameras
- Impressive battery life
- Industry-leading software upgrade policy
Samsung Galaxy S23 Specs
Starting at 999.99, the Galaxy S23 is Samsung’s most traditional flagship smartphone. It offers lots of the same features as our Editors’ Choice, the Galaxy S23 Ultra (starting at 1,199), but it’s a little smaller and drops the S Pen stylus. The S23 still packs a top processor and loads of functionality in a stylish piece of hardware, making it a great choice if you want a phone with better battery life than the standard Galaxy S23 (starting at 799.99) but don’t need the over-the-top capabilities of the pricier Ultra model.
Just the Right Size
Samsung hardly recast the mold in updating from the Galaxy S22 to the S23. The outgoing phone measures 6.20 by 2.98 by 0.3 inches (HWD) and the new phone is just a touch larger at 6.21 by 3.0 by 0.3 inches. The weight hasn’t changed; both the S22 and the S23 weigh in at 6.91 ounces. In comparison, the S23 (5.76 by 2.79 by 0.3 inches, 5.93 ounces) is less to tote about while the S23 Ultra (6.43 by 3.07 by 0.35 inches, 8.25 ounces) is decidedly more. Ultimately, the S23 is big enough to offer the large display that many smartphone shoppers want without being obnoxiously huge. You might prefer the standard S23 if you want the most portable model, but we think the S23 is the best size for most people.
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Importantly, the S23 and S23 share almost every spec other than size and battery capacity. The experience of using them will be mostly the same, save for a few small differences here and there.
Samsung assembles the phone from an attractive mix of glass and metal. The durable Armor Aluminum frame is partially made with recycled materials. Both the front and back of the handset are made with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2, which can handle higher drops than earlier versions of Gorilla Glass while still preventing scratches. The matte finish on the back of the phone isn’t prone to fingerprints, which we appreciate. And it meets the IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, which means it can handle up to 30 minutes in about 4.5 feet of water without issue. This is the same level of protection offered by the Pixel 7 (699) and the iPhone 14 (799).
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Samsung offers a few different color options for the S23. Cream, Green, Lavender, and Phantom Black are widely available at retail, while Graphite and Lime are exclusive to Samsung‘s website. Samsung sent us the Lavender device which is a subdued yet attractive shade of purple.
Samsung has made some intelligent changes to the camera design, removing the extra framing around the lenses and letting them stand apart on the back of the phone. It’s a nice look that creates a cleaner overall style.
You’ll find a volume rocker and a power button on the right edge. The top and left sides have no controls, but the bottom has a dual SIM slot (yes, it supports physical SIM cards in addition to eSIM), a USB-C port, and a downward-firing speaker.
You can unlock the phone by using the in-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader or facial recognition. We tested both and found each of them easy to use, though the fingerprint scanner seemed slightly snappier. Samsung notes that the fingerprint reader is the more secure option of the two. Either way, you can get into the phone quickly without entering a PIN each time.
A Stellar Screen
The S23’s 6.6-inch Super AMOLED 2X Infinity-O screen is beautiful. It’s not vastly improved from last year’s S22, but we’re not complaining.
The screen features FHD resolution with 2,340 by 1,080 pixels, which makes for a pixel density of 393ppi. The S23 Ultra offers a QHD (3,088 by 1,440) display with a density of 501ppi. You can also opt for the 6.1-inch S23, which has the same resolution as the S23 but a higher pixel density of 425ppi because it’s smaller.
The display is vibrant with the same 1,200 nits (typical) and 1,750 nits (peak outdoor) brightness as the Ultra. It’s brighter than the Pixel 7 and the iPhone 14 Plus, which peak at 1,400 nits and 1,200 nits, respectively.
Speed is important in the world of displays and the S23 features an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate. It can run as slow as 1Hz to save battery when the always-on display is on and as fast as 120Hz for smooth scrolling in high-performance apps and games.
The selfie camera is a small hole in the screen centered near the upper edge. The S23 features thin bezels between the display and the frame, and an approximate 87.6% screen-to-body ratio.
Tuned to Perfection
The Galaxy S23 is a top performer thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy running the show. Instead of using a stock 8 Gen 2 like the OnePlus 11 5G, Samsung worked with the chipmaker to create a faster version of the SoC. This leads to better performance and improved benchmark scores across most categories. The S23 is powered by the same SoC.
The chip is made with a 4nm process and has a single Arm Cortex-X3 core at up to 3.36GHz (the standard 8 Gen 2 runs at 3.2GHz). It also includes four performance cores at up to 2.8GHz and three efficiency cores at up to 2.0GHz. The Adreno 740 GPU is also improved over the base model, though Qualcomm doesn’t specify by how much.
Samsung includes 8GB of RAM with the S23/S23. The S23 Ultra, meanwhile, is available with up to 12GB of RAM. As for storage, the S23 is offered with 256GB or 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage, while the S23 is matched with either 128GB (UFS 3.1) or 256GB (UFS 4.0) of storage. The S23 Ultra’s storage options range up to 1TB. As is standard with modern flagships, there’s no microSD memory card slot, so make sure to get the right storage for your needs. We tested the 256GB version.
For benchmarks, we started with PCMark Work 3.0, which tests the phone’s ability to handle a variety of tasks such as data manipulation, photo editing, and so on. The S23 scored 14,954, which is a marginal improvement over the 13,974 put up by the S22, but a bit less than the 15,841 of the S23 Ultra. It beat the OnePlus 11 5G’s Performance Mode score of 12,941, the Pixel 7’s rating of 10,571, and the 7 Pro’s score of 11,369 on the same test.
We also ran the device through GeekBench 5 to check the raw CPU performance. The S23 notched 1,526 on the single-core test and 4,743 on the multi-core test. This is a bit lower than the S23 Ultra (1,545/5,078). It surpassed the OnePlus 11’s single-core score of 1,485, but fell behind its multi-core score of 4,902.
Finally, we tested the graphical capabilities of the S23 via the 1440p Aztec Ruins GFXBench test and found that it averages 59 frames per second (fps). This is on par with other phones in the class, such as the OnePlus 11 5G, which achieves 61fps, and the S23 Ultra, which runs at 62fps. For comparison, the Galaxy S23 also achieved a similar frame rate of 58fps. All of these results blow away the gaming performance of the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, which run at just 25fps on the same test.
Benchmarks aside, real-world performance matters just as much, if not more. Whether you want to browse the web, watch videos, play games, or edit photos, the S23 will handle these tasks with ease. In our testing, the phone excelled at everything, including graphically intense games like Call of Duty Mobile and Genshin Impact, which ran without a single hitch or dropped frame.
Snapdragon 5G Power
All three Galaxy S23 phones rely on the Qualcomm Snapdragon X70 modem, which is designed to leverage the latest 5G and Wi-Fi connections to ensure good performance no matter the type or strength of the signal. We put the S23 through a range of tests to determine how its modem compares with that of the iPhone 14 Pro Max. We tested both phones on T-Mobile’s cellular network in southern Connecticut to assess their ability to make the most of the 5G.
Starting in an area with strong T-MobileG Ultra Capacity service, we found the S23 achieved max speeds of 728Mbps down and 77Mbps up. For comparison, the iPhone 14 Pro Max (which has a Snapdragon X65 modem) reached 723Mbps down and 102Mbps up in the same location. In an area where the 5G signal was weak, Samsung’s phone posted download speeds of 18Mbps while the iPhone reached 16Mbps. Both phones were able to connect calls in the weak-signal area with no issue. We had expected more of a real-world distinction between the two phones given the generational difference between the modems.
Samsung includes support for Wi-Fi 6E, the latest standard, and it makes a difference in Wi-Fi speeds. When tested near an Xfinity Wi-Fi router with 1.2Gbps service, we saw download speeds reach 805Mbps on the Galaxy S23 and 711Mbps on the iPhone 14 Pro Max (which is limited to Wi-Fi 6). We also tested connectivity near the edge of the router’s range. There, the S23 and iPhone 14 Pro Max had Wi-Fi download speeds of 9Mbps and 6Mbps, respectively.
The S23 doesn’t feature satellite messaging, so the iPhone 14 Pro Max might be a better companion if you frequently travel beyond cell coverage.
Phone calls sound fantastic on the Galaxy S23. We tested calls in a range of signal areas and the people we spoke to were able to hear us perfectly. Further, we could clearly hear callers via the earpiece even if the signal was spotty.
A Bluetooth 5.3 radio makes for stellar connectivity with a range of wireless headphones and Bluetooth speakers with minimal power usage. There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack, so wireless audio is your only option beyond the built-in speakers.
We tested the speakers while listening to music and found that they performed adequately. Using “Silent Shout” by The Knife as a test track, we heard decent bass and clear highs. Obviously, no pair of tiny speakers will replace a dedicated Bluetooth speaker, but you’ll experience good enough volume and sound quality directly from the S23 in a pinch.
Battery Life for Hours
Samsung includes a 4,700mAh battery in the Galaxy S23, which is a bit bigger than the 4,500mAh cell of the Galaxy S22. For comparison, the S23 Ultra has a 5,000mAh battery, while the S23 has a 3,900mAh battery. Battery life is likely the biggest performance differentiator between the S23 and S23.
We tested the S23 by playing a YouTube video via Wi-Fi with the brightness set to the maximum to see how long it would run. The larger battery helped the Galaxy S23 last 14 hours and 45 minutes, a solid improvement over the S22’s 10 hours and 30 minutes, the S23 Ultra’s 13 hours and 11 minutes, and the Galaxy S23’s 13 hours and 12 minutes. The S23 also outlasted the Google Pixel 7 Pro (10 hours, 30 minutes) and the OnePlus 11 5G (11 hours, 13 minutes). While the larger battery surely contributes to the improved duration, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 also helps, as it’s more efficient than the previous generation SoC.
For recharging, the S23 and S23 Ultra offer the same 45W wired and 15W wireless charging speeds as the previous generation. The smaller S23, however, supports only 25W wired charging. Samsung doesn’t supply a charger in the box, so you need to use your own. The 45W charging speed offered by Samsung can’t compete with the 80W charging of the OnePlus 11 5G, which fully charges that device in 27 minutes, but it’s still fast enough to top up the S23 in 62 minutes.
Great Photos, But Not Quite Ultra
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is a better pick for true shutterbugs, but the S23 still has plenty to offer. It includes a 50MP main camera at f/1.8 with optical image stabilization (OIS), a 10MP 3x optical telephoto camera at f/2.4, and a 12MP ultra-wide camera at f/2.2. Images captured with the main camera are binned down by a factor of four to 12MP, though you can choose to capture 50MP photos if you wish.
The S23 matches this camera hardware spec for spec, while the S23 Ultra takes things a step beyond with its 200MP main camera and additional 10x optical zoom telephoto shooter.
The user-facing selfie camera captures 12MP photos at f/2.2 for solid pics. It’s an improvement over last year’s selfie camera, which was 10MP. The bump in resolution creates sharper images.
There’s no shortage of modes available on the S23 for capturing photos and videos to suit your creative flair. For example, you can take advantage of modes like Adaptive Pixel, Director’s View, High-Resolution Photo, Multi-Exposure, Nightography, Selfie Night Portrait, and Super HDR.
Photos captured with the S23 look incredible in just about any lighting, and they’re easily on par with those from the iPhone 14 and Pixel 7 lineups. The Galaxy S23 cameras tend to boost the colors a bit, creating vibrant photos that can sometimes look a little too bright for some tastes. The Pixel and iPhone tend to feature more natural, subdued colors. Which one you like better will depend on your preferences, but rest assured that you’ll be able to capture fantastic photos with this phone.
Here are some sample photos in a range of lighting conditions with all of the cameras:
As for video, you can capture up to 8K resolution at 24 or 30fps, as well as myriad other resolutions and frame rates down to 1080p at 960fps for ultra-slow-motion footage. The videos look fantastic at any resolution. You can use creative modes like Portrait Video to capture artistic video with background blur that rivals a basic camera. Features like Tracking Auto-Focus help you keep the subject perfectly in the frame and focused as they move around.
One UI to Unite (or Divide) Them
The three latest Galaxy devices ship with Android 13 and Samsung’s One UI 5.1 user interface. If you’re coming from a Pixel or other phone with stock Android, you’ll find that things look a little different, as Samsung has its own fonts, icon shapes, menu organization, and more. Samsung also preinstalls a lot of Samsung- and Microsoft-branded apps, though you can block some from downloading during the initial setup process and delete those you don’t want to keep.
Whether you prefer stock Android or One UI, it’s clear Samsung put a lot of care into designing its interface. It’s slick and contains multitudes of customization options. In One UI 5.1, Samsung updates the widget system for the home screen and adds a new video lock screen option.
Samsung leads the Android space in terms of upgrade policies. Galaxy S23 owners will get four operating system upgrades (to Android 17) and five years of security updates. The company is beating Google at its own game, as Google only offers three OS upgrades for its Pixel phones.
Striking the Right Balance
The Samsung Galaxy S23 is a premium flagship with most of the bells and whistles of the larger Galaxy S23 Ultra, trading the stylus, the extra telephoto camera, and the higher-resolution display for a smaller form factor and a lower price. Performance is absolutely stellar and the S23’s battery life is the best of the S23 bunch. The Galaxy S23 Ultra remains our Editors’ Choice winner for delivering the best overall experience Android phones have to offer, but not everyone wants a stylus or can afford to spend over 1,000 on a new phone. That makes the Galaxy S23 a welcome alternative for everyone else, especially if you want longer battery life and faster charging than you get with the standard S23.