Samsung has just revealed the new Galaxy S23 Series of smartphones at its Unpacked event in our home city of San Francisco. As expected, there’s a trio of smartphones that are pretty much what the various leaks described. Here are the important details you should know about.
The new Galaxy S23 models
Samsung doesn’t change a winning formula, and just like last year’s Galaxy S, there are three smartphones: the Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23+, and Galaxy S23 Ultra.
The new Galaxy S23 and S23+ have nearly identical specifications except for a few items, such as the screen and battery size (3900 and 4700 mAh), plus the maximum storage capacity. If you like compact phones, the S23 is the smallest, with a 6.1″ FHD display, while the S23+ is a 6.6″ smartphone.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is in a different class and features significantly higher specs, including a large 6.8″ QHD edge display, an integrated S-Pen, a 5000 mAh battery, vastly superior camera hardware, and higher maximum RAM and storage capacity.
Of course, the prices will reflect these variations, and the phones cost respectively $799.99, $999.99, and $1199.99 (for the basic 256GB version). Pre-orders start today (Feb 1), and these phones will hit the retail channels on Feb 17.
For a limited time, if buyers switch to Verizon or upgrade their existing phone, they get a Samsung Galaxy S23 or $800 off any Samsung Galaxy S23 series phone with select trade-in on qualified 5G Unlimited plans. And, they get a free Galaxy Watch5 and Galaxy Tab S7 FE 5G with purchase. Switchers also get a $200 Verizon eCard after they sign up. If new or existing customers pre-order their Galaxy S23 series phone on Verizon website today, they get the next storage tier for free.
S23 Series design
From a distance, the appearance of the new S23 phones seems similar to last year’s phones, but a closer look reveals cleaner lines on the S23 and S23 plus as the camera bump has completely disappeared, leaving only the round shapes of the multiple lenses.
Technically, this is pretty cool, especially if there’s no compromise on the camera specifications. Historically, it was difficult for phone makers to fit all the high-performance camera boards without the presence of a hefty bump.
The back cover comes in the following colors for all models: Phantom Black, Cream, Green, and Lavender. It’s worth checking that Samsung might have exclusive colors on their websites.
All three phones are waterproof (IP68), and their glass surfaces are made of high-strength Gorilla Glass Victus2, while the metal chassis is Armor Aluminum. Samsung is very familiar with these materials.
The S23 Series comprises many recycled materials, including the 20% recycled Gorilla Glass Victus2. The volume/side keys, the SIM tray, and some speaker module parts are made of 80% recycled plastic. Finally, the S-Pen is made of 20% ocean-bound plastic.
Common S23 family traits
The new S23 phones have a lot in common as well. All have an excellent AMOLED display with identical performance: AMOLED 2X Infinity-OFHD+, 120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate, and 1,750 NITs maximum peak brightness.
They are all powered by the powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which we talked about in detail and benchmarked, so we know it is an excellent processor and this is one of the most important differences with the S22 Series.
The large phones will tend to have better cooling equipment (it’s just physics), so there might be small differences in performance. However, the daily experience should be comparable.
The base configuration starts with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for the S23, with a 256GB option. The S23+ and S23 Ultra base models feature 256GB of storage. Both phones’ storage can reach 512GB, and only the S23 Ultra has a 1TB option.
The 5G and WiFi capabilities are the same on all phones, with support for sub6 / mmW 5G and WiFi 6E. Needless to say that this is probably the best mobile connectivity available in the world, and we have been extremely satisfied with Qualcomm’s communication solutions. No surprises here. Note that only the S23+ and S23 Ultra do have UWB.
All handsets also feature an under-the-screen large ultrasonic fingerprint reader, which you can pair with the built-in face recognition unlock for maximum convenience.
Galaxy S23, S23+ and S23 Ultra cameras
The S23 and S23+ have identical camera systems that feature three modules in the back and a selfie camera. The rear camera system has a Primary (50MP with OIS, f/1.8), an Ultrawide (12MP, f2.2), and a 3X Telephoto module (10MP with OIS, f/2.4). The selfie camera is a classic 12 MP with dual-pixel AF, f/2.2.
The S23 Ultra is another beast altogether. Its primary camera is a 200 Megapixel sensor (perhaps the Samsung HP2?) with an f/1.7 lens, OIS, and laser Autofocus. The Ultrawide camera is the same as the two smaller phones, and so is the 3X zoom.
That said, the Ultra has a fourth rear camera, a 10X optical zoom with a 10MP sensor (+OIS) dual-pixel autofocus, and an f/4.9 lens. Having used previous Samsung phones with this type of zoom, we know how useful long zooms are.
We’re looking forward to seeing how this new camera setup will score in our CAMERA HW benchmark when we have all the hardware details.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 series is getting updated enough to keep the competition at bay, but it is a cautious and effective evolution of last year’s models. The configuration seems solid, and users will enjoy higher speeds and a refined look.
Perhaps one important thing to consider is that Samsung has not changed the nominal launch prices (vs. S22) despite the global economy’s high inflation. We’re not sure other phone makers can match this, and we’ll see how the situation evolves in 2023. For now, that’s really good news.