Samsung Galaxy S23
The Samsung Galaxy S23 looks only slightly different from the S22. The most important change is inside: no Exynos soc, but a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 from Qualcomm. This has quite major consequences, especially for the battery life. This is much better with the new generation: depending on the test scenario, 20 to 40 percent, making the S23 one of the best-performing small smartphones. The new soc also offers better system performance, which you don’t always notice. Photos and videos also look sharper than with the S22, even though the camera hardware has remained the same. The improved screen of the S23 can be brighter than that of the S22, and with Android 13 and Samsung’s long update promise, you’ll be covered for years to come.In short, the S23 is a practical update, but there is still an important flaw:
- Good battery life for a small device
- Good all round camera system
- Five years of software updates
- Even brighter screen with good image
- Faster and more efficient soc
- Battery life (logically) shorter than with S23+
- Charging is slow
- Higher price compared to the previous model
Samsung Galaxy S23+
The Samsung Galaxy S23+ looks only slightly different from the S22+. The most important change is inside: no Exynos soc, but a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 from Qualcomm. This has quite major consequences, especially for the battery life. This is much better with the new generation: depending on the test scenario, 20 to even more than 50 percent. This makes the S23+ one of the best devices in this area, a short distance from Apple iPhones. The new soc also offers better system performance, which you don’t always notice. Photos and videos also look sharper than with the S22+, even though the camera hardware has remained the same.The screen is still very good and bright, and with Android 13 and Samsung’s long update promise, you’ll be covered for years to come. In short, the S23 is a practical update, but there is still an important flaw:
- Excellent battery life
- Good all round camera system
- Five years of software updates
- Bright screen with good image
- Faster and more efficient soc
- Higher price compared to previous model
- No 1440p screen or macro mode
- Charging is slow
You can set the clock to it: Samsung will introduce new Galaxy S devices in February. There is always a lively flow of rumors surrounding Apple’s new iPhones well before the devices are announced, but the number of leaks at Samsung took the cake this year. Although Samsung us a firm non-disclosure agreementsigned before we could receive the new devices a week before the official introduction, the Galaxy S23, S23 + and S23 Ultra have been about the worst kept secret in the smartphone industry in recent months. Literally everything could already be found about the devices, from the specifications of the camera sensor in the top model to the various bonuses that you could get with a pre-order. High-res images already gave an impression of the different colors, while photos and videos have been tweeting from Latin America for a week that were allegedly made with the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Still interesting thanks to Snapdragon…
Before you click away to the other article: despite the lack of innovation on the outside, something essential has also changed in the interior of the junior top models in the S23 series. Previously it was always the same story with the Galaxy S series: Samsung made two versions of the devices, one with the Qualcomm Snapdragon soc that is also used in most other high-end smartphones, and one with its own Exynos processor. The Snapdragon version was sold in most of the world, including the US and even its home country of South Korea. Here in Europe, the inferior Exynos version was always on the shelf. Comparisons often showed that Exynos devices achieved less high system performance and poorer efficiency, or shorter battery life, than the Snapdragon counterpart.
While Samsung’s chip division seems to still be working on the successor to the Exynos 2200 in European S22 devices, the consumer branch that handles the phones was apparently fed up with Exynos. For the Galaxy S23, Samsung teamed up with Qualcomm worldwide. The name, ‘Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform For Galaxy’, doesn’t roll off the tongue very well, but on paper, it’s a powerful solution. With the performance improvements claimed by Qualcomm, the chip designer seems to be having a good year, and the ‘Galaxy Edition’ of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 clocked higher than the standard version that will be found in many other phones later this year.
…but also a higher price
The Snapdragon soc is a stroke of luck for European Samsung fans, but following Apple’s lead, Samsung is taking the opportunity to significantly increase the price of its top devices. The Galaxy S23 costs at least 100 euros extra compared to its predecessor and is therefore available for at least 949 euros. The entry-level model of the Galaxy S23+ is even 150 euros more expensive than the cheapest Galaxy S22+, although the new cheapest version of the S23+ does have twice as much storage as last year. Even so, you pay almost as much for the cheapest S23+ this year as for the cheapest S22 Ultra last year.
New design, brighter display with the S23
The S22 and S22+ seemed to have been designed by a different business unit than the S22 Ultra; the S23 devices actually look like they are related. Instead of the metal camera island in the top left corner that optically continues into the frame, as with the S21 (+) and S22 (+), the S23 and S23 + have separate lenses that each protrude slightly, like the top model S23 Ultra . Samsung’s competitor LG once had a smartphone with that eternal design, theLG Velvet, but looking at the other devices now in stores, it’s a distinctive design.
The S23 Ultra has five lenses on the back, three large and two smaller, behind which the four cameras and the laser for autofocus are hidden. The junior models have less camera hardware on board and can suffice with three elevations. The three lenses of these devices are exactly the same size and protrude the same distance. The distance from the left and top is a nice match, although the curvature of the side just doesn’t quite follow the curve of the lens, on closer inspection. With the small S23, the camera section looks relatively larger compared to the rest of the back, because the size of the lenses does not differ between the two devices.Apart from the lenses, a flash light on the right side, and the subtly applied Samsung logo, the back is only interrupted by a few obligatory markings.
The front and back of the S23 and S23+ are completely flat again, with a shiny metal frame enclosing the entire side. Together with the symmetrical border around the screen, it gives the smaller S23 devices a rather iPhone-like appearance, although the frame at Samsung is convex. At the same time, the transition between side and front is still a bit sharper than that of the Apple phones. The S23 Ultra also has a rounder tapered frame, with a slightly curved front and back. Still, the Galaxy S23 and S23+ hold quite nicely. The wide frame gives you a lot of grip on the device. The buttons on the side are also somewhat wider than on devices with a pointed edge: a rocker for the volume and the power button, both on the right.They are slightly higher compared to the S22 series,
Tastes differ, but I thought the design of the Galaxy S23 and S23+ looked clean and minimalist when I first took the phones out of their box. After a while in the trouser or jacket pocket, dust and dirt can accumulate around the lenses. The lenses, each surrounded by a metal ring, can also scratch surfaces where you place the device. As fast as with the iPhone Pro devices, with hard steel instead of aluminum around the camera lenses, that does not seem to happen with the S23 devices, but it remains to be careful. In short, ordering a case is recommended.
What is striking about the Galaxy S23 and S23+ is that they are slightly larger than their predecessors. According to the official specifications, below in the table, the new duo is a few tenths of a millimeter wider and higher, because the bezels are slightly wider. That is not noticeable, even if you have the devices next to each other. The thickness has not increased or decreased, not even at the point of the camera. Because the shape and finish of the frame and the front and back have remained the same, an S23 device feels no different in hand than an S22 model.
|S23||S22||S23+||S22+||S23 Ultra||S22 Ultra|
Fans of compact smartphones can put the Galaxy S23 back on the shortlist, just like its predecessor. The S23 is about the same size as an iPhone from the non-Max or -Plus category. Most other luxury Android devices are about the size of the S23+, except for the ASUS Zenfone 9 (which is even smaller than the S23), the Xiaomi 12(X) and the Sony Xperia 5 IV (which is longer, but also significantly narrower than the S23).
The frame on the side is again made of aluminum on the S23 and S23+. Both devices have Gorilla Glass Victus 2on the front and on the back. The specifications of the latest version of Corning’s reinforced glass are identical to those of the previous version used with the Galaxy S22 series. According to the manufacturer, the glass could withstand drops of one and two meters on concrete and asphalt respectively. Rougher materials were not yet mentioned in the marketing for the first-generation Victus glass. Like the predecessors, the S23 duo also has an IP68 rating, which promises that they can withstand half an hour in a meter and a half deep water.
Galaxy S23 has a brighter screen
With their price, the Galaxy S23 and S23 + compete in the absolute top category, but the amoled displays are not flagship class in every area. For example, the extended full-HD resolution of 2340×1080 pixels is the same as with much cheaper devices. The small S23 still has adequate image sharpness, but the S23+ does not have a very sharp display, especially considering the even higher price. Top models from other manufacturers that are generally cheaper have sharper 1200p, 1440p and 2160p panels.
The junior models in the S23 series also still do not have an LTPO backplane, which enables the phone to switch better between different refresh rates. For example, the S23 Ultra with ltpo can drop the refresh rate to 1Hz, but the S23 and S23+ do not go beyond 48Hz. The maximum refresh rate of 120Hz is enabled in ‘Adaptive’ mode for scrolling and other interface animations. If you don’t touch the screen, the device immediately switches back to 48Hz. Many animations are played at 60Hz. The screen operates at a fixed 60Hz in standard mode.
In its press release, Samsung mentions an improved adjustment of the screen for different lighting conditions, which the company calls Vision Booster. Gray tones are displayed brighter in incident light, so that you can still see the image clearly. Three different light levels are now taken into account instead of two, as with the S22 series. There is no option to manually turn Vision Booster on or off. You also don’t have much control over the further color reproduction of the screen. In Natural mode, colors are displayed with correct saturation, but the hue of the screen cannot be adjusted. You can do that in Vivid mode, but the saturation of all colors is stretched to the wide range of the OLED screen.
We measured the Galaxy S23 and S23+ displays using our SpectraCal C6 colorimeter and Portrait Displays Calman Ultimate analysis software. As of this year, we are not only measuring the rendering of grayscale and saturated colors, but also the rendering of some common color tones on the ColorChecker test chart. For this review, we also performed the new test procedure on the Galaxy S22 and S21 series to have some comparison material.
Unlike the S23 Ultra, the S23 and S23+ do not support the S Pen. It would have been a nice extra, because apart from the Ultra model there are very few smartphones where you can use a stylus.
Camera: new image processing
The design of the camera section may have been renewed on the Galaxy S23 and S23+; the hardware has remained the same. Only the front camera is new. It’s the same 12-megapixel module found on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Details on the S5K3LU sensor used for the front camera are very scarce, so it’s not clear if it is larger than the old sensor, for example. As in previous years, the camera is behind an f/2.2 lens, which again has phase-detection autofocus. In many other devices, even high-end ones, the front camera has a fixed focus.
|Cameras S23/S23+||Primary||Ultra wide angle||Tele (3x)||Front|
|Resolution||50 megapixels||12 megapixels||10 megapixels||12 megapixels|
|Focal length in 35mm equivalent||23mm||13mm||72mm||25mm|
For completeness, the table above lists the rest of the Galaxy S23 and S23+ camera system specs. The only other new specification, besides the new front camera, is the ability to film with the main camera at 8k resolution at 30 frames per second. The Galaxy S20 to S22 could do that at a maximum of 24fps. 4k videos would be captured with less noise and improved electronic stabilization.
The Samsung camera app has a user-friendly interface and many different camera modes. New this year is an extra slow hyperlapse mode dedicated to capturing star trails . Of course, a tripod is required for good shots. For advanced photographers, Samsung makes the Expert RAW app available, which, as the name suggests, allows you to take photos in raw format. This format lends itself much better to post-processing than jpg. Expert RAW was also available for the S22 and S22+. New to the S23 series is that it also supports taking photos at 50-megapixel resolution. The app also has an astrophotography mode.
For the practical test, we compare the Galaxy S23 below with the Galaxy S22, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and the Google Pixel 7 Pro, each time in that order. A comparison between the S23 and S23+ is not necessary, because the camera setup is identical. If you want to know how the S23(+) compares to the Apple iPhone 14 Pro (Max) in terms of camera, be sure to check out ourGalaxy S23 Ultra review.
The S23 and S23+ have a 50-megapixel main camera with a fairly large, but certainly not extremely large sensor compared to other top models. 4-in-1 pixel binning on this camera results in 12.5-megapixel shots, dual-pixel phase-detection autofocus is present for fast focus, and the sensor is behind an optically stabilized f/1.8 lens.
Based on the identical hardware, you’d expect the photos from the S23 to look very similar to those from the S22, too. That turns out to be different, because the image processing has been overhauled. It almost seems as if Samsung has also thrown it overboard with the S23, together with its Exynos-soc. Like its predecessors, the S22, for example, pushes red-brown, blue and green tones in the photo a bit further, for a fresh look with some extra color saturation. The color reproduction in the photos we took with the S23 is a lot more subdued and warmer, and therefore looks less Samsung-like and more like what the Google Pixel devices produce, for example.
Due to the less dark shadows, the photos from the S23 as a whole can look less contrasty than those from the S22. I think that extra detail is a nice bonus, but it gives visible noise faster. You also see specks more quickly in photos with the S23. The S22 often smooths out a lot more noise from textures, which is at the expense of a somewhat blurry detail reproduction with that phone. The S23 gives textures a gritty look by comparison, with the increased contrast in midtones making photos look a lot sharper, though I don’t find the rendering of grass specifically an improvement. For those who have ever worked with Lightroom: it looks a bit like a wide open ‘Clarity’ slider.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a sensor resolution no less than four times higher than the junior models, but in practice the amount of edge sharpening in the photo seems to be higher, not so much the amount of detail. Sometimes the S23 Ultra can be sharper, for example the fine grid pattern in the photo of the overpass is displayed neater by the top model.
Night photos from the S23 and S23+, shot in the special night mode, look clearly better than with the previous generation due to the new image processing. To begin with, they have a sharpness that comes much closer to that of normal photos. Textures don’t have the dingy look of the S22 series, and images also contain fewer flaws and artifacts. The shadows are sometimes slightly darker on the S23 devices, for a more contrasting appearance, while the color reproduction is also less fresh at night and more noise is sometimes visible, especially in even areas, such as the sky in the penultimate photo.
The 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera has a fairly wide angle of view, but unfortunately the f/2.2 lens does not have autofocus. This means that the S23(+) cannot take very good macro photos. The main camera can focus fairly close for a close-up, but the S23 Ultra with autofocus on the ultrawide camera produces much closer shots.
Back to the ultrawide: it is well matched to the main camera in terms of color adjustment, with the other effects of the new image processing also striking. Here too, dark shadows are lighter and the colors are more faded. Details are turned on further, but at the same time the proportion of noise is higher. With this camera I regularly find that a bit too much of a good thing. The corners of the backlit photo look grainy, and the reasonably evenly lit photo of the building is also marred on the side by a lot of noise, which is still visible even at full size.It is positive that color fringing at the edges of the image is much more effectively suppressed by the S23 than by the S22, where you will quickly see colored edges around tree branches and other high-contrast transitions.
The telephoto camera is the same as in the Galaxy S23 Ultra: a 10-megapixel one with a lens that magnifies 3x compared to the main camera. However, the top model has a second 10x telephoto camera that the S23(+) does not have, so that it can zoom in even further without major loss of quality.
When it comes to the direct comparison between the S22 and S23, the photos from the telephoto camera also look sharper with the new device than with the old one, due to the increased contrast in textures. The photo is not really more detailed. Shadows are more visible and with this camera the amount of noise is not too bad, also in the corners.
Whether you like the digital zoom of the S23 or the S22 better is a matter of personal taste. I find the S22 a bit more like a device with a real telephoto camera for that magnification in the photos where it has to add pixels: the shots at 2x and 10x magnification.
The front camera is therefore the only camera that is new with the S23 and S23 +. With 12 megapixels, the photos look sharper. As with the other cameras, shadows are more clearly visible than on the S22, at the cost of some extra noise. Judging by the shallower depth of field in the photo, the new sensor is a bit larger than the old one. This can be disadvantageous if you want to portray a group of people who are not all at the same distance from the camera. For example, Donovan is sharper in the S22 image than in the S23 image because the camera focused on me.
Of course, the Galaxy S23 can also add artificial bokeh to a photo or video that you take with the front or rear camera. Even the bokeh effect doesn’t seem quite the same on the S23 as on last year’s model. Still, person and background are separated relatively neatly, and the strength of the blur effect is adjusted to the depth in the photo, as you can see from the row of bicycles.
Finally, we shot a few videos with the Galaxy S23 in 4k at 30fps. Just like in photo mode, it looks a bit sharper than the S22, because textures are turned on more. By default, the exposure appears a bit darker. In dark lighting conditions, the S23 is clearly less affected by noise, as Samsung promises. Dynamic range also seems improved; shadows show the same detail in the third shot, but significantly more detail can be seen in the bright lights.
The 8k recording that we made with both devices looks a lot more detailed on the S23 than on the S22. The image is also smoother due to the high frame rate.
Software: OneUI 5.1
Straight out of the box, the Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23+ run on Android 13, as you would expect. The operating system has been thoroughly overhauled by Samsung, making it look completely non- stock . Samsung’s new OneUI 5.1 skin is pre-installed, which will undoubtedly also come to other Galaxy devices soon. At this time, version 5.0 is the latest available for the S20 through S22.
As with the Galaxy S22 and S22+, you can expect four OS upgrades and five years of security updates with the successors from the time of release, in this case until Android 17 and February 2028. A few years ago, Samsung’s update policy was much better than the competition, except Apple. It is still one of the best, but other manufacturers have improved in this area. OPPO and OnePlus have been issuing the same ‘four to five’ promise since last year. For high-end Pixel phones, Google promises three OS upgrades with five years of updates, which often arrive faster than the other manufacturers, while Xiaomi provides its current top models with three OS upgrades and four years of updates.
If you get tired of the standard software and want to install a custom rom, it is traditionally easy to unlock the bootloader on Samsung devices, just from the device in the developer menu. The toggle for unlocking is also back on the S23 and S23+ . The fact that, unlike in previous years, there are no separate Exynos and Qualcomm versions, could in theory be beneficial for the availability of custom ROMs.
More than a touch of iOS
Compared to OneUI 4.0, the latest version available at the time of the Galaxy S22 launch, versions 5.0 and 5.1 offer the necessary new features. With the new base of Android 13, for example, there are more extensive options to customize the color scheme of the phone. That can still be composed automatically based on the colors in your wallpaper. Android 13 also has improved notification management capabilities, which have also been carried over into OneUI. For example, you can choose per app which kind of notifications can be displayed on the lock screen.
Speaking of the lock screen, the way you can easily customize it from OneUI 5.0 has more than a touch of iOS in it. Just like with Apple phones, you can now start editing directly from the lockscreen by long-pressing it. You’ll then enter an interface similar to the one Apple introduced with iOS 16. Samsung does give you more customization options than Apple. In addition to the font, you can also adjust the position of the clock or opt for an analog copy, and the shortcuts at the bottom of the screen are adjustable. Of course, you can easily choose a new wallpaper or set of wallpapers for the lock screen from the same screen.
Samsung has taken even more good ideas from iOS for the new OneUI version. The new Modes and Routines option placed fairly prominently at the top of the Settings menu looks suspiciously like the Focus feature introduced with iOS 15. For example, there are default settings for when you go to sleep or drive a car and of course you can also create new ones yourself. When such a mode is enabled, the phone can automatically activate certain settings, launch apps or connect to other devices. You can also automatically change the wallpaper and lock screen based on the orientation, just like iOS.
There are some new widgets available on the home screen and also new is that those widgets can be merged into a stack, a concept that iOS has known for a few years. The Samsung gallery app has added shared family albums, something that was also introduced in iOS last year. Last year Apple made a good impression with the new feature to automatically cut objects from photos; the Samsung gallery now automatically recognizes text in photos, which can of course also be very useful.
During the presentation of the S23 series, Samsung mentioned the improved possibilities to collaborate in the Samsung notes app. That may be more relevant to users of the Galaxy S23 Ultra with its stylus pen than to those who have an S23 or S23+. You can now also work on the same note with several people at the same time on the smaller devices.
A feature that Samsung only gives to its high-end devices is the desktop interface DeX, where you get a kind of desktop in front of you when you connect your device to a screen. Galaxy A-series smartphones do not support this feature, but the S23 and S23+ do.
In DeX mode, all Android apps are shown as windows, which works a lot better on a large screen. You can of course also connect a mouse and keyboard via Bluetooth to complete the desktop experience. This can be a godsend for power users. Just like on the PC, you can clearly place two or more apps side by side, easily organize files on your phone into folders by clicking and dragging without a separate PC, or edit photos and videos you just shot on a large screen, for which for example, our social media editor Jasper uses the DeX function on his phone.
DeX can now also work on 4k screens via a setting in the Good Lock app, which has been available for download from the Galaxy Store since December last year. For power users, Samsung’s personalization app is worth a look anyway, because it offers many extra options to customize the interface, from extra settings for notifications or sound to an extensive theme editor. For example, the new lock screen editing capabilities that have now been added to the OneUI interface were previously in Good Lock.
Hardware: Finally Snapdragon
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy|
|CPU||1x Cortex X3, 3.36GHz*
2x Cortex A715, 2.8GHz
2x Cortex A710, 2.8GHz
3x Cortex A510, 2.0GHz
|GPU||Adreno 740, 719MHz*|
5G, Wi-Fi 6E**, BT5.3
*With the non-Galaxy version, the Cortex X3 runs at a maximum of 3.2GHz and the GPU at a maximum of 680MHz.
As mentioned, all Samsung Galaxy S23 devices that are released worldwide have the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, in the special ‘for Galaxy’ version. That means a slightly higher maximum clock speed for the fastest calculation core and for the GPU than with the standard version of Qualcomm’s fastest soc for early 2023. Even without a higher maximum clock speed, the fast Cortex X3 ‘prime’ core in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 would be 25 percent faster than the Cortex X2 core in the 8 Gen 1, the top model last spring, according to Qualcomm.
The rest of the CPU part of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 consists of a hodgepodge of differently designed cores. In order of processing power, after the ‘prime’ core, there are two Cortex A715 cores on the chip, with the promise of 20 percent higher performance than the Cortex A710, two of which are also present on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Finally, three efficient Cortex A510 cores are present. This means that the new soc has an extra ‘medium fast’ core instead of an economical core, as with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 with 1 + 3 + 4 structure.
Qualcomm claims that the built-in Adreno 740 GPU, with support for real-time ray tracing and the new Vulkan 1.3 API, is no less than 25 percent faster than its predecessor and 40 percent more efficient. What exactly has changed architecturally remains vague. It is striking that the maximum clock speed is much lower than with the Adreno 730 in the Snapdragon 8(+) Gen 1, even in the special Galaxy version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. In turn, the Adreno 730 was already tens of percent faster than the Xclipse GPU in the Exynos 2200, despite the advanced architecture in some areas.
In theory much faster
So, in theory, the Snapdragon-based S23 series promises to be much faster than the S22 series. That turns out to be true when we look at the result of benchmark apps that we have run on the devices, such as Geekbench, GFXBench and 3DMark Wild Life. Given Geekbench, which attempts to quantify CPU performance, the S23 devices score about as high as the Apple iPhone 14 and 14 Plus, about ten percent better than the average Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 phone and 30 to 40 percent higher than the S22 series. In gaming benchmark 3DMark Wild Life, the S23 series leads the ranking, with even higher scores than Apple’s top model, the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which, unlike the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus, also features Apple’s latest soc. Compared to the S22 series, the score of the S23 devices is almost twice as high in this test.including Samsung , have been caught limiting performance in real-world scenarios, while a device suddenly worked fully when a benchmark was run.
Cheating aside: apps also work smoothly on the Galaxy S22 devices during normal use, but the Galaxy S23 series takes the next step. Whether it’s the optimizations in OneUI 5.1 or the new soc; the interface is rendered with significantly fewer frame drops on the Galaxy S23 versus the Galaxy S22, making scrolling through lists and switching between apps feel a bit smoother. There is no such difference in the startup speed of ‘normal’ apps, but large apps such as games start faster on the Galaxy S23. For example, PUBG Mobile is ready a few seconds faster, with the difference further increasing when an update has to be run first.
Another thing you notice after a while while gaming is a difference in case temperature. The Galaxy S22 gets quite hot, especially near the camera part where the soc is located, but also around the rest of the aluminum frame. It’s not really uncomfortable. The Galaxy S23 is only lukewarm after the same workout.
Samsung boasts in its press release with the larger vaporchamber, which would be present on every model of the S23. The 3DMark Wild Life stress test shows that performance remains more consistent over time with the S23+ than with the S22+. The opposite, however, applies to the small model, which throttles a little harder than its predecessor and remains a lot less stable than the S23+.
Storage, working memory and connectivity
With the transition to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, the working memory in the Galaxy S23 series will be upgraded to lpddr5x, which was lpddr5 in the S22 series. Models with 256GB or more storage will most likely use UFS 4.0 storage memory. UFS 4.0 chips are smaller, more energy efficient and also offer significantly faster read and write speeds than UFS 3.1, which was used in the Galaxy S22 series. In practice, this can yield speed benefits when opening large apps, as was already shown above. If the rumors are correct, the 128GB Galaxy S23 would still contain UFS 3.1, partly because Samsung would not make UFS 4.0 chips with this capacity. Samsung sent us the 256GB version, so we can’t check that right away.
In the table below you can see all memory variants of the Galaxy S23 and S23+ and their prices, which have gone up as mentioned. The 128GB variant of the Galaxy S23+ is no longer for sale. If you need 512GB, the S23+ is the only way to get it. Last year, only the S23 Ultra could be ordered with this much storage. The working memory is also limited to 8GB in the new generation; that is more than enough for a good experience, but not as much as some Android top models, which are equipped with 12GB or even 16GB of memory.
|128GB / 8GB||€949 (+€100)||–|
|256GB / 8GB||€1009 (+€110)||€1199 (+€100)|
|512GB / 8GB||–||€1319|
You can order all storage variants in all four possible colours. With the S23, an ‘upgrade’ to 256GB seems attractive to us due to the relatively low extra cost of 50 euros. After all, a microSD card does not fit in it.
In the S23 devices, two SIM cards can be used again, with which you can use 5G via the new X70 modem of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. While the new soc has Wi-Fi 7 support, Wi-Fi 6E is the maximum on the spec sheet of the S23 and S23+. Maybe they don’t have the necessary antennas. Support for 2.4 GHz networks is still present in both devices. Previously, there was some ambiguity about whether the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 would still support that band, as Qualcomm only mentioned 5GHz and 6GHz bands in its press release.
The Galaxy S23 and S23+ feature Bluetooth 5.3, with codec support for aptX, LDAC, AAC and Samsung’s SSC . The aptX Adaptive codec, which enables lossless audio transmission when paired with a suitable Bluetooth headset and is supported on some recent Snapdragon phones, is not found in the developer menu of the S23 devices.
As in previous years, only the Plus and Ultra devices in the S23 series have UWB functionality, which you can use if you have a Bluetooth tracker, for example . The S23+ can then show you exactly where the tracker is when you’re near it. It’s a bit of a shame that the S23 still lacks that feature because Apple has been able to incorporate it into devices of a similar or smaller size for years.
Haptics and sound
Of course, the Galaxy S23 and S23 + again have stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support. One sits on the bottom, next to the USB-C port, the other in a narrow gap between the glass and the frame at the top. This speaker also serves as a loudspeaker for the ear during calls. Despite the small opening, the sound that comes out is just as loud as with the lower speaker. The sound seems to have improved compared to last year, with just a little more bass. So they sound pretty good for telephone speakers, with the S23+ being able to go a little louder and offer a wider sound image because the speakers are further apart.
The vibration motor of the S23 and S23+ feels unchanged from previous years. It is still a very luxurious example, which can give the accurate and fierce taps that you can expect from a top phone. There were some rumors before the release that the S23 would have a lesser vibration motor. That seems to be not too bad: the S23 cannot vibrate less hard than the S23+ and, just like the large model, can also vibrate at different frequencies. That is something that the most expensive devices in the S series have had for years and that the vibrating motor of the iPhone, for example, does not seem to be able to do. Samsung has added a lot of funny ‘vibration patterns’ that make use of this, for example a siren where the phone vibrates high and low alternately. The vibrator motor can also vibrate along with the music of your ringtone.
Since the Galaxy S20, Samsung has placed a sonic fingerprint scanner under the screen in the Galaxy S series. Most other smartphones with a fingerprint scanner under the screen use an optical one. The advantage of a sonic scanner is that you can also unlock the device with wet fingers. You also don’t see the screen light up every time you scan your finger. The speed of unlocking is still fine with the Galaxy S23 devices. As far as I’m concerned, the scanner is in a nice place on both devices, about a quarter of the height of the screen, but that is of course a matter of personal preference.
Battery life and charging
The battery performance of the Galaxy S22 series was a bit disappointing compared to the S21 series devices. The flattened, slimmer housing was at the expense of battery capacity in both models, with a reduction of 300mAh compared to the predecessor. For the Galaxy S23 devices, Samsung has retraced its steps and builds in batteries that are 200mAh larger. This means that they are still not as large as those in the S21 devices. The S23 has a battery capacity of 3900mAh and the S23+ has a 4700mAh one.