Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 15 — what we know so far

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 15
(Image credit: OnLeaks/Digit/Matt Talks Tech)

Is it too early for a Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 15 showdown? Considering that neither phone is available at this point, the answer might seem to be yes. But since the battle for the title of best phone overall usually comes down to the latest from Samsung and Apple, it's worth comparing this year's expected flagship phones, even if we have to rely on rumors to do it.

It won't be long before we know exactly what the Galaxy S23 has to offer, as Samsung is expected to reveal its new flagship phones at its Galaxy Unpacked event this week. We're in for a longer wait when it comes to the iPhone 15. Apple typically doesn't release its new flagship phones until the fall, so we're still at least eight months from that likely iPhone 15 release date.

Fortunately, phone leaks and rumors aren't bound by any calendars, so we have an excellent idea of what to expect from the Galaxy S23. Even key iPhone 15 details are coming into focus at this stage.

So with the caveat that things can still change dramatically between now and the fall, here's how a Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 15 face-off is shaping up. (For a look at how Samsung's next phone might stack up against the current iPhone, check out our Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 14 and Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max face-offs.)

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 15: Price and availability

The Galaxy S23 looks like it's going to keep the same $799 starting price that the Galaxy S22 featured when it debuted last year — at least in the U.S. Price hikes may occur in other regions to account for currency fluctuations and local taxes. (This happened with the iPhone 14 launch last fall, where U.S. prices remained unchanged from the iPhone 13, while other regions saw increases.)

Though its not out yet, you can still save your spot for a Galaxy S23 preorder. Reserve a place prior to the February 1 Unpacked event, and You can save up to $100 on your Samsung purchase via a credit.

Galaxy S23 preorder: up to $100 credit @ Samsung (opens in new tab)

Galaxy S23 preorder: up to $100 credit @ Samsung (opens in new tab)
Up to $100 credit! Samsung is one of the best sites for Galaxy S23 preorders. Reserve your Galaxy S23 preorder via Samsung and you'll get up to a $100 Samsung credit. You'll get a $50 credit when you reserve one device or a $100 credit if you reserve two devices. (It's likely Samsung will also announce a new Galaxy Book). This is a no commitment pre-order. All you need to do is provide your name and e-mail address to reserve. Once you pre-order, you'll receive your credit.

iPhone 15 pricing is harder to figure out at this stage. Ideally, the standard iPhone 15 would also start at $799, though there's been some speculation that Apple might look into lowering costs on account of soft demand for base model and Plus-sized iPhones. On the flip side, another rumor suggests prices could go up for the iPhone 15 Pro models, as Apple has been packing its Pro phones with more high-end features as of late.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 15: Design

When the Galaxy S23 debuts we're expecting to see three models — a 6.1-inch Galaxy S23, a 6.7-inch Galaxy S23 Plus and a 6.8-inch Galaxy S23 Ultra. The standard S23 and S23 Plus will see the biggest design changes from last year, as renders show them adopting the look of the Ultra model. That means a vertical column of cameras stacked on top of each other, with no distinct camera array jutting out from the back of the phone.

Samsung Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra renders

(Image credit: Ahmed Qwaider)

In a blog post touting the upcoming Galaxy S23 release (opens in new tab), Samsung executive TM Roh promised "durable devices engineered to last longer." That may explain the announcement that the Galaxy S23 will be the first phone to feature Gorilla Glass Victus 2, the latest version of Corning's toughened glass.

We're not sure how many iPhone 15 models will appear this fall. Normally, we'd expect the same four models that make up the iPhone 14 lineup, but some reports claim that consumers haven't really embraced the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus. If sales really are soft, Apple could ditch that particular model and just release three versions of the iPhone 15 — the standard phone and two Pro models. There's also talk of an iPhone 15 Ultra, which would be a very high-end version of the phone similar to the Apple Watch Ultra released last year.

iphone 15 ultra concept video

(Image credit: 4RMD/YouTube)

No matter the number of iPhone 15 models that appear in the fall, they could adopt the curved design of the iPhone 11 after three years of straight-edged phones. The other big design change has essentially been confirmed by Apple, as the company says it's going to adopt USB-C as the charging port for future phones. 

Apple hasn't confirmed if that will happen this year or next, but with an EU deadline to adopt the common charging standard by the end of 2024, there's no time like the present. Samsung's Galaxy phones already use USB-C.

We may be seeing the end of the notch on iPhone models later this year. The iPhone 14 Pro models replaced the notch with a Dynamic Island feature that not only houses the phones' front camera and Face ID sensors but also doubles as a notification center. Reportedly, all iPhone 15 models will adopt Dynamic Island.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 15: Display

Samsung already enjoys an edge over Apple when it comes to phone displays, and it could be looking to extend its advantage with the Galaxy S23. Samsung's existing phones already brighter than their iPhone counterparts, and there's a rumor that the base model S23 could boast a maximum brightness of 1,750 nits. That would be a big improvement over the 1,300-nit brightness that the Galaxy S22 supports.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus press photo with Galaxy Watch 5

(Image credit: WinFuture)

Another edge Samsung has over Apple on the display front comes down to refresh rates. We're expecting every Galaxy S23 model to continue to offer 120Hz maximum refresh rates, just like the Galaxy S22 models did. Apple restricts that feature to its Pro phones, though, and it's unclear if a 120Hz refresh rate will remain exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro or if Apple will let its other phones in on the smoother scrolling fun.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 15: Cameras

In terms of hardware, it doesn't seem much is changing with the rear cameras on most Galaxy S23 models. The Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus are expected to retain the triple camera setup of their predecessors — a 50MP main camera, joined by 12MP ultrawide and 10MP telephoto lenses. It's the Galaxy S23 Ultra that's due for a big camera boost, as its main lens is rumored to use a 208MP sensor.

In addition to the Ultra's rear camera change, the S23 models are all expected to feature the same front camera — a 12MP sensor that will supposedly come equipped with a Pro mode and features that help with selfies in low-light. Astrophotography could also be a major focus of the S23, as Samsung looks to continue its work with improved night photography.

iphone 15 ultra concept video

(Image credit: 4RMD/YouTube)

After the iPhone 14 Pro models gained an improved 48MP sensor last fall, it's unclear what Apple has planned for the iPhone 15. One rumor has the standard iPhone adopting that 48MP sensor for its main camera, while presumably continuing to leave the telephoto lens to the Pro phones. Speaking of that telephoto camera, Apple may move to a periscope lens for the iPhone 15 Pro so that it can offer a more competitive zoom with phones like the Galaxy S23 models.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 15: Performance

Normally, we'd expect any performance comparison to be a walkover for the iPhone, as Apple's chips tend to do much better in benchmark testing than the silicon Samsung uses for its Galaxy S phones. Two things have happened to make us question that prediction, though.

For starters, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset that's all but certain to power the Galaxy S23 looks to bring a significant performance boost. We ran some Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 benchmarks using a Qualcomm reference device and saw instances where that phone out-scored an A15-powered iPhone 14 on several benchmarks. In graphics testing, the Snapdragon chipset even posted a few numbers that were better than what we saw from the iPhone 14 Pro's A16 Bionic silicon.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 benchmarks

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The second wildcard is Apple's decision to go with split processors in its various phone models, as the Pro currently features an A16 Bionic and the standard iPhone runs on an older A15 chipset. Assuming Apple sticks with that pattern for the iPhone 15, that means the A16 will power the cheaper models, and the performance gap with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-powered S23 won't be all that large.

The iPhone 15 Pro could be another story, as it would be in line to feature the A17 Bionic chip. That particular silicon is likely to be built on a 3-nanometer process, which means great power and efficiency — at least in theory. As a result, we could see a wide range of benchmark numbers once we finally get th opportunity to test all of these phones.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 15: Battery life and charging

With Galaxy S22 battery life nothing to write home about, Samsung could turn to a combination of bigger batteries — at least in the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus — and a more efficient chipset. The Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus are both tipped to feature a battery that's 200 mAh larger than what kept its predecessors powered up. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is expected to more efficiently manage power as well.

The larger iPhone 14 models did quite well on our battery test, in which we have phones surf the web over cellular until they run out of power. Expect that to continue for the iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Plus (assuming the latter model is still in Apple's plans.) Apple will need to find a way to get more battery life out of the compact cells it has to use in the 6.1-inch iPhone 15 and 15 Pro devices, though in the Pro's case, the A17 Bionic could help with that.

iPhone 15 Pro render from 4RMD

(Image credit: 4RMD)

The iPhone 15's likely switch to USB-C could mean a boost to wired charging speeds for the iPhone, which have been stuck at 20W for some time. The Galaxy S23 is expected to maintain the 25W speed of its predecessor while the Galaxy S23 Plus and Ultra should continue to charge at a faster 45W speed.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 15: Software and special features

The Galaxy S23 is rumored to be getting a feature Apple introduced to the iPhone 14 last year — the ability to send emergency text messages via satellite when there's no cellular connectivity around. That closes a noticeable gap between phones from Samsung and Apple.

When it debuts, the Galaxy S23 will come with Android 13 pre-installed, and it's backed by four more Android updates, which is almost as comprehensive as Apple's software support. iPhones tend to be able to support at least five iOS updates.

Speaking of iOS, the iPhone 15 will run iOS 17, which is likely to arrive just ahead of Apple's phones in the fall. We'll likely get a preview of the iPhone software at this summer's Worldwide Developer Conference, but early rumors peg this as a maintenance upgrade with few new features, as Apple puts development resources into its VR/AR headset supposedly coming later this year.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 15: Outlook

As should be pretty clear by now, it's early days in the Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 15 showdown that should come to a head in the latter half of the year. But just ahead of the Galaxy S23's launch, a few key observations have emerged.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip likely to power Samsung's new phones figures to narrow the performance gap with Apple's current iPhones, which should make comparisons with the iPhone 15 especially interesting. Likewise, improved camera features on the S23 could present a challenge to Apple to upgrade the iPhone 15's capabilities. And we're especially interested to see what the addition of USB-C to the iPhone will mean for future comparisons.

It figures to be a very interesting year in the Samsung-Apple rivalry, and the first salvo will be fired with the Galaxy S23's release.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.

  • mark_887797
    Is someone writing jibber-jabber to meet this month's writing quota? It's pointless to speculate, especially without any real world scenarios used in the comparison/evaluation.

    What we do know is Apple will continue to lag behind Samsung in regard to picture quality, albeit in Apple's defence, their images look more life-like or realistic than Samsung. Historically, unless you're taking night or low-light pics, even the most inexpensive phones do well.

    Where Apple is superior is taking video. That's why social media creators including the Kardashians all use an iPhone for this purpose. For low light, you can't beat Android flagships like Samsung Galaxy and even the Pixel 7. Unfortunately, that's really all the Pixel is good at it. You get what you pay for with the Pixel and arguably even less: tiny almost useless speakers, a horrible camera lens layout, lack of accessories (cases) and more.

    We can also be certain that fingerprint ID has come a long way that even the Pixel 7 Pro does a good job here. But Apple won't bring it back, likely never. Despite Face ID being impressive with Apple, it's still not as fast or quick when making NFC or mobile payments. I suppose one can assume that most iPhone users have an iPhone watch and use that for mobile payments.

    Anyway, Tom's Guide used to be a go-to place for great information. Now, it's pretty close to being on-par to sleazy clickbait websites like Forbes.
    Reply