A trio of new Samsung Galaxy S23 phones is now widely available after debuting in February as part of Samsung's annual refresh to its flagship lineup. And as you'd expect with new Galaxy S phones, they really raise the bar for the other Android phones coming this year.
Grabbing most of the attention is the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, as Samsung's favored it with the most noteworthy changes. We're talking about a big improvement to its main camera, plus more efficient performance that's boosted battery life. As impressive as the Ultra model is, you shouldn't ignore either the Samsung Galaxy S23 or Galaxy S23 Plus. Those less expensive models offer their own set of changes from previous models, triggering a shakeup among the best Samsung phones.
We've had a chance to thoroughly test and review the latest Galaxy phones. For ratings and detailed analysis, be sure to read:
Here, you can get a rundown of what each model offers, including price and availability, specs and the major changes that have caught our attention in the Galaxy S23 lineup. (See our Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S22 comparison for more on the biggest changes from year to year.)
Samsung Galaxy S23 specs
|Galaxy S23||Galaxy S23 Plus||Galaxy S23 Ultra|
|Starting price||US $799, UK £849||US $999, UK £1,049||US $1,199, UK £1,249|
|Display size and resolution||6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED, FHD+ Flat Screen, 425ppi||6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED, FHD+ Flat Screen, 393ppi||6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED, QHD+ Edge Screen, 500ppi|
|Display brightness, refresh rate||1,750nit, 120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate||1,750nit, 120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate||1,750nit, 120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate|
|Processor||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB||256GB, 512GB||256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
|Rear cameras||50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x optical zoom, 30x Space zoom)||50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x optical zoom, 30x Space zoom)||200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x optical zoom), 10MP telephoto (10x optical zoom, 100x Space zoom)|
|Video||8K at 30fps, 4K at 60fps and Full HD at 120fps||8K at 30fps, 4K at 60fps and Full HD at 120fps||8K at 30fps, 4K at 60fps and Full HD at 120fps|
|Front camera||12MP, 4K video at 60 fps||12MP, 4K video at 60 fps||12MP, 4K video at 60 fps|
|Battery size||3,900 mAh||4,700 mAh||5,000 mAh|
|Size||2.79 x 5.76 x 0.3 inches||3 x 6.21 x 0.3 inches||3.07 x 6.43 x 0.35 inches|
|Weight||5.93 ounces||6.91 ounces||8.25 ounces|
|Colors||Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender||Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender||Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender|
Samsung Galaxy S23 pricing and availability
The Galaxy S23 starts at $799/£849 for a model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The Galaxy S23 Plus boosts the base storage to 256GB and costs $999/£1,049. At the top of the lineup, you'll find the Galaxy S23 lineup, also with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage — it starts at $1,199/£1,249.
U.S. shoppers will note those starting prices match what Samsung charged for the comparable Galaxy S22 models, despite rumors of price hikes for the new phones prior to the S23's release. U.K. customers aren't as lucky, where the S23 costs have risen anywhere from £80 to £100 over their predecessors.
You will pay more, of course, if you upgrade the S23's storage. It costs $859 to get the 256GB version of the Galaxy S23. That $60 premium is $10 more than what Samsung charged for the comparable Galaxy S22 storage upgrade. It's now an extra $200 to double the storage of the Galaxy S23 Plus, though at 512GB you are getting twice as much capacity as you did with the S22 Plus. The 512GB and 1TB Galaxy S23 Ultra models — both of which bump the RAM to 12GB — cost $1,379 and $1,619, respectively.
The Galaxy S23 models have been on sale since mid-February, and you'll find the phone at every major carrier, plus many other wireless providers. Samsung sells the phone directly as well. See our Galaxy S23 deals round-up for ways to save on every model, including the best Galaxy S23 Ultra deals.
Meanwhile, Samsung's permanently reduced the price of the old Galaxy S22 to $699, offering users a new, cheaper rung onto the Galaxy S ladder. If you want to spend a bit of extra cash and don't mind losing out on some minor upgrades, it could be a good deal for your needs. To save even more, consider the midrange Galaxy A54, which starts at $449.
There's rumors of a Galaxy S23 FE model coming out before the end of 2023. It would feature scaled back specs, including an older chipset in exchange for a lower starting price than the Galaxy S23's $799 cost.
Samsung Galaxy S23 design
The Galaxy S23 Ultra looks a lot like 2022's Ultra — and now so do the standard and Plus models. Whereas previous Samsung flagships have had slightly different designs, Samsung appears to be going for uniformity here, with the S23 and S23 Plus both featuring an Ultra-style layout for their rear cameras — the lenses are stacked in a vertical column with no camera array blending into the side frame. Instead, the lenses stick out directly from the back of the phone.
The Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus feature flat displays with curved side rails, just like their predecessors. The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a flatter surface area than the Galaxy S22 Ultra before it, thanks to a more gradual curve aimed at making it easier to use the model's included S Pen.
Like the design of the three models, the colors have also become more consistent, with all three Galaxy S23 offerings available in the same hues — Phantom Black, Cream, Green and Lavender.
Samsung says the Galaxy S23 phones are using Corning's Gorilla Glass Victus 2 — at the time of their release, they were the first phones to feature the more durable material. It certainly increases the chance of your phone surviving a fall, but it's not a fool-proof solution, as Galaxy S23 drop tests have prove. We'd recommend a case for your phone, and you can find our picks in the following guides.
Samsung's also touting the environmentally sustainable design of these phones, with the individual models including an average of 22% recycled materials.
Samsung Galaxy S23 display
The displays on the Galaxy S23 lineup have seen the fewest changes year over year. You'll find the same sizes as you did with the Galaxy S22 lineup — a 6.1-inch entry-level model, a 6.6-inch Plus version and a 6.8-inch screen on the Ultra.
As before, all three phones can scale up to 120Hz refresh rates when you need smoother scrolling or are playing graphically-intensive games. Only the Galaxy S23 Ultra can scale all the way down to 1Hz when the action is more static, as a way to conserve power; the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus have a minimum refresh rate of 48Hz.
The only change is a brightness boost, and it only applies to the Galaxy S23. That phone's screen now offers a peak brightness of 1,750 nits, which matches what you get from the Galaxy S23 Plus and S23 Ultra. In our testing, the Galaxy S23 hit an impressive 1,158 nits, though both the S23 Plus and Ultra out-shone it.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Galaxy S23||Galaxy S23 Plus||Galaxy S23 Ultra|
|Peak brightness (nits)||1,158||1,345||1,184|
|DCI-P3 perentage||150.2 (Vivid); 91.1 (Natural)||148 (Vivid) / 83 (Natural)||136.7 (Vivid) / 78.8 (Natural)|
|Delta-E rating||0.34 (Vivid); 0.24 (Natural)||0.33 (Vivid) / 0.23 (Natural)||0.37 (Vivid) / 0.3 (Natural)|
In terms of color, the Galaxy S23 display captured the biggest percentage of the demanding DCI-P3 color spectrum, both in Vivid and Natural modes. The colors were the most accurate on the S23 Plus panel, though the S23 wasn't that far behind.
Samsung Galaxy S23 cameras
If you want big camera changes turn to the Galaxy S23 Ultra. It boosted the 108MP main camera of its predecessor with a 200MP sensor. That allows you to shoot an image at 200MP and then crop in without sacrificing much in the way of detail. You can also combine pixels at different resolutions — binning 16 pixels into 1 to produce a 12.5MP photo that bolsters the brightness, say.
The other rear cameras on the Galaxy S23 Ultra — a 12MP ultrawide camera and two 10MP telephoto lenses — remain unchanged from the Galaxy S22 Ultra, though you won't hear us complaining about the telephoto capabilities, given that they can still support up to a 100x zoom. Likewise, Samsung made no changes to the camera hardware for the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus, with both phones relying on a 50MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide shooter, and a lone 10MP telephoto lens tht handles 3x optical/30x digital zooms.
The changes, instead, involve the photo software on the Galaxy S23. The phones include an Expert RAW app that lets you edit images in either RAW or JPEG, essentially turning your camera phone into a DSLR. Astrophoto settings promise better, clearer images of the night sky. Night photos should be better all around thanks to an AI-powered image signal processing (ISP) algorithm that's designed to boost details and color.
All three Galaxy S23 models get a new front camera — the same front 12MP camera, as it turns out. While that's a megapixel boost for both the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus, it's a bit of a comedown from the 40MP front shooter on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. But Samsung added fast autofocus, Super HDR capabilities and the ability to capture 4K video at 60 frames per second with the front camera.
Speaking of video capture, you can shoot 8K video at 30fps on any of the Galaxy S23 models. The Galaxy S23 Ultra also doubles optical image stabilization angles to reduce blurs in videos.
Samsung also announced that Adobe Lightroom will be the default integrated editing app for photos taken in its ExpertRAW advanced camera app on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. All three devices have a built-in "Remaster" feature in the gallery app too, though it recently gained attention for adding teeth to a seven-month-old baby. Not a great look for a feature that's designed to make photos look better.
Samsung Galaxy S23 performance
Apart from cameras, the biggest change you'll see in the Galaxy S23 lineup is the new customized Qualcomm silicon powering all three devices. Dubbed the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy, this chipset benefits from a higher clock speed than normal. (It can reach 3.36GHz, compared to the regular Snapdragon 8 Gen 2's top speed of 3.2GHz.) Ultimately, that translates to faster performance, with the Galaxy S23 models even approaching the standard set by Apple's A-series chips.
Annoyingly, it looks like the chip's being throttled by default in certain apps like the Galaxy S22 series was, although you can turn that off. At any rate, the Galaxy S23 Ultra benchmarks we've run as part of our review show impressive performance that approaches and even beats Apple's latest iPhones in some tests. That turned out to be the case when we tested the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus as well, which is a really exciting development for Android phones.
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy proved to be such an advance for the Galaxy S23 lineup that Samsung also used that chipset in the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 foldables it released later on in the year.
You'll find 5G connectivity on board the Galaxy S23, with the phone able to connect to both sub-6Ghz and mmWave-based networks. On the wireless front, you'll find Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 support for speedy and sturdy connections to the internet or peripheral devices. If you're intrigued by Ultra Wideband and its ability to pinpoint locations — a handy feature if you opt for Samsung's Galaxy SmartTag — turn to either the Galaxy S23 Plus or the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Like its predecessor, the Galaxy S23 lacks ultra wideband support.
Samsung Galaxy S23 battery life and charging
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset delivers better power efficiency than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 found in U.S. versions of the Galaxy S22. That helped Samsung's new phones last longer on a charge, as did the bigger batteries in the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus.
Both phones see a 200 mAh boost in the size of their power packs from last year's models. That gives the Galaxy S23 a 3,900 mAh cell and the Galaxy S23 Plus a 4,700 mAh battery. The Galaxy S23 Ultra keeps the same 5,000 mAh power pack as its predecessor.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Galaxy S23||Galaxy S23 Plus||Galaxy S23 Ultra|
|Battery life (Hrs:Mins)||10:27||11:24||12:22|
|Recharge percentage (15 mins)||27%||40%||31%|
|Recharge percentage (30 mins)||55%||71%||57%|
Both the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra posted times in our battery test that landed them on our best phone battery life list. In this test, we have phones surf the web continuously until they run out of power — the S23 Plus fell just short of 11.5 hours while the S23 Ultra held out for just about another hour.
The Galaxy S23's result was more modest, at 10 hours and 27 minutes. But that's a half-hour better than the average smartphone and a big improvement over the Galaxy S22. Those times were also recorded with the adaptive refresh rate feature turned on, and that tends to put a hit on battery life — not with the S23 models, though.
Charging speeds haven't changed with these phones. You can charge the Galaxy S23 at 25W, while the Galaxy S23 Plus and S23 Ultra support faster 45W wired charging. Of course, you'll need to supply your own charger, as one won't come in the box with any Galaxy S23 model. (The box is made out of 100% recycled materials, so you can feel good about that eco-friendly touch.)
Samsung Galaxy S23 software
Android 13 ships on board the Galaxy S23 models, dressed with a new version of Samsung's One UI interface, One UI 5.1. (We'd expect the upcoming Android 14 update to start reaching Galaxy S23 models by the end of 2023.) Thanks to the updated OS, the Gallery app can create shared family folders, and will automatically recommend photo sharing when the software's facial recognition features kick in. Bixby adopts the Call Screen features Google has added to its Pixel phones, letting you use the phone's built-in assistant to screen calls.
Starting with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, Samsung included S Pen compatibility with the Ultra model, and that continues this time around. Like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the S23 Ultra ships with an included S Pen, with Samsung touting that this time around, more apps than ever will support the stylus' handwriting-to-text feature, letting you doodle instead of type in more places.
One feature that has been spotted, but isn't universally available, should also prove beneficial to gamers. "Pause USB Power Delivery", which is found on the Game Boost menu means you can power your phone without recharging your battery — cutting the amount of heat your phone produces while gaming.
Not only does that make it more comfortable to game for long periods, it's also better for the long term battery health.
Samsung Galaxy S23 outlook
The Galaxy S23 models aren't radical departures from what Samsung's been doing for the past few update cycles. But it would be wrong to dismiss these as modest updates — not when the Galaxy S22 Ultra is introducing a 200MP camera and the customized Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset is promising the kind of performance gains we haven't seen in a while from Samsung's flagships.
You'll need to read the individual reviews for our in-depth assessment, but suffice it to say, all three Galaxy S23 models impressed. The Galaxy S23 Ultra lives up to its hype as the best camera phone and best phone overall. The Galaxy S23 Plus is a good big-screen alternative that's available for $200 less, while the S23 brings the key features of this lineup to the most people