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The Samsung S23, S23+, and S23 Ultra (left to right) in Lavender.
- Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S23, S23+, and S23 Ultra phones get a processor boost.
- The Ultra gets a 200-megapixel camera upgrade, while the S23 and S23+ have larger batteries.
- The phones go on sale February 17, but preorders start now.
Samsung unveiled its next-generation flagship Galaxy smartphones today during its annual Samsung Unpacked event. While the new Galaxy 23 series follows in the footsteps of last year’s S22, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, S23+, and S23 received slight updates to their design. Otherwise, they retain the same look and functionality as their predecessors.
All three models run on a modified Qualcomm Snapdragon Gen 2 processor. According to Samsung, the Snapdragon Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy has an overclocked core that provides better performance, as well as improved power consumption and gaming and AI capabilities. The new CPU microarchitecture design yields a 30-percent improved performance over the S22 series, Samsung says. The S23 Ultra also introduces a new 200-megapixel camera.
The S23 series also uses more recycled parts than the S22,and for the first time, they are used in exterior components. Plastics are sourced from used fishing nets, water barrels, and bottles. The new Gorilla Glass Victus 2 display is also made from recycled materials, while the packaging is made entirely out of recycled paper.
We had some brief hands-on time with all three models. We weren’t able to adequately test them, so we can’t comment on overall performance. That said, all three phones had no issues playing an 8K video on YouTube, and the displays’ image quality looked stellar. The S23 and S23+ do look sleeker thanks to their slight redesign, but otherwise, the S23 looks and feels similar to our S22, as does the S23 Ultra.
S23 Ultra: A whopping 200-megapixel camera and longer battery life
The S23 Ultra has the same 6.8-inch, 120-Hz AMOLED display as the S22 Ultra, but it’s gorgeous.
The S23 Ultra looks nearly identical to the S22 Ultra, but the eagle-eyed will notice reshaped curvature in the corners, which, frankly, we aren’t sure what it does for the design. It makes the phone look more rectangular and goes against the curves of the S23 and S23+, which are supposed to look more like the Ultra.
The main camera received the biggest upgrade: a 200-megapixel sensor, up from the 108-megapixel sensor in the S22 Ultra. This allows for improved photo quality through a process called pixel binning (the photo can be outputted as a 200, 50, or 12-megapixel file), particularly in low-light shots. Other photo and video improvements include image stabilization; 8K video at 30 frames per second, and a wider field of view; facial recognition; and 360 Audio Recording mode.
The main camera in the S23 Ultra has a new 200-megapixel sensor.
Curiously, Samsung downgraded the front camera from 40 megapixels in the S22 Ultra to just 12 megapixels. According to Samsung, the front camera has a new sensor that provides faster autofocus, “Super High Dynamic Range” mode, and faster video frame rate (60 frames per second), as well as improved object identification and coloring. Samsung says for front camera applications, like selfies and video calls, users would value the better experience and picture quality over resolution.
As the spiritual successor to the Galaxy Note, the S23 Ultra includes the S-Pen stylus embedded in a dedicated slot at the bottom. New is support for Google’s apps, such as the ability to write notes during a Google Meet call. Otherwise, functionality is the same.
The embedded S-Pen stylus in the S23 Ultra now supports Google’s suite of productivity apps, but functionality remains the same.
While the battery is rated the same at 5,000mAh as the S22 Ultra, Samsung says it lasts 20% longer, thanks to the new processor.
S23 and S23+: A more premium design and bigger batteries
The Samsung Galaxy S23 (shown) and S23+ are identical except the S23+ has a larger battery and display.
During a Samsung briefing, the new S23 and S23+ were described as “premium comes standard.” It means that both phones now share the same design cues as the Ultra. For example, the rear cameras are now individually raised instead of grouped together within an island. Otherwise, the phones have the same look and feel as the S22 variants.
The main camera is the same 50-megapixel sensor, but Samsung says it offers four times more dynamic color range. The front camera has also been upgraded from 10 to 12 megapixels, in line with the S23 Ultra. New to the S23 and S23+ is the Expert RAW app, which lets you shoot uncompressed photo files that allow for greater options when editing, as well as unique shots like astrophotography and multiple exposure.
The S23 and S23+ (shown on the left) have a more premium design, with raised cameras. The S22 (shown on the right) had a raised island for the camera array.
Battery capacity has increased from 3,700 to 3,900mAh in the S23, and 4,700 to 4,900mAh in the S23+. The battery life should be even longer thanks to the Snapdragon Gen 2, based on Samsung’s claims, but we won’t know for sure until we are able to test it for ourselves. We aren’t impressed with how the S22 managed battery life, so we are curious if this has been improved.
The S23+ also comes with larger storage options than the S22+. Standard is now 256GB versus 128GB, with an optional 512GB. The S23 will still be available in 128GB and 256GB.
Pricing and availability
The S23 (front), S23+ (middle), and S23 Ultra are available in the same four colors. Samsung will offer four additional colors when purchased online.
The phones will be available on February 17, and all three are available in the same four colors: Phantom Black, Lavender, Cream, and Green. When purchased directly from Samsung, you can pick from four additional colors: Lime, Graphite, Sky Blue, and Red.
Preorders start today and end on February 16. To sweeten the pot, Samsung is offering a free storage upgrade and a $100 credit when you preorder from Samsung’s website. The S23 Ultra starts at $1,200 (256GB, 512GB, and 1TB); S23+ at $1,000 (256GB and 512GB); and S23 at $800 (128GB and 256GB).