Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra — all the rumored differences

Leaked images of Samsung Galaxy S23 lineup dummy units
(Image credit: SlashLeaks)

It won't be long before the Samsung Galaxy S23 arrives, with Samsung's next Unpacked event rapidly approaching. It's there where we're likely to see three new phones, so knowing the Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra differences can help you decide which model is the right one for you.

Of course, Samsung has yet to confirm any details about the Galaxy S23 launch, other than confirming a new Ultra model is on the way. That would seem to make it difficult to compare specs of the unannounced models, but thanks to Galaxy S23 rumors, we know enough about the upcoming phones to make some basic assumptions about what to expect from Samsung's flagships.

As with recent Galaxy S releases, we're anticipating a trio of phones. Along with the base Galaxy S23 model, we should get a slightly larger Plus phone along with the Galaxy S23 Ultra. That phone will not only have the biggest screen and the highest price tag, but it will likely feature the most premium set of features, differentiating from the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus.

Here's a preliminary Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra breakdown, looking at how these three phones may differ.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra specs

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Galaxy S23Galaxy S23 PlusGalaxy S23 Ultra
Screen size6.1-inch AMOLED (2,340x1.080)6.6-inch AMOLED (2,340x1,080)6.8-inch AMOLED (3,088×1,440)
CPUSnapdragon 8 Gen 2Snapdragon 8 Gen 2Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
RAM8GB8GB8GB, 12GB
Storage128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Rear cameras50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x zoom)50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x zoom)200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x zoom), 10MP telephoto (10x zoom)
Front cameras12MP12MP12MP
Battery size3,900 mAh4,700 mAh5,000 mAh
Charging speed25W wired45W wired45W wired
Size5.8 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches6.2 x 3 x 0.3 inches6.4 x 3.1 x 0.35 inches
Weight6 ounces7.3 ounches8.2 ounces
ColorsPhantom Black, Green, Lavender, CreamPhantom Black, Green, Lavender, CreamPhantom Black, Green, Lavender, Cream

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra price and availability

All three Galaxy S23 phones should debut at the same time. And with a Galaxy Unpacked event set for February 1, we'd expect the trio of S23 releases to appear on that day. You can check out our guide on how to watch the Galaxy Unpacked event online to follow along with Samsung's announcements.

As for the Galaxy S23 release date, Samsung usually takes a little more than two weeks after announcing a product to bring it to retail shelves. If that's the case here, you'd expect the Galaxy S23 models to go on sale February 17.

We had been anticipating the same prices Samsung charged for the Galaxy S22 series — $799 for the entry-level model, $999 for the Plus and $1,199 for the Ultra. A number of different rumors have hinted at various price hikes for the Galaxy S23, though usually specific to certain parts of the world. A leaked price sheet from a U.S. phone carrier contained the same prices as last year, so that's sparked hope that Galaxy S23 prices won't go up, at least in the U.S.

Whatever Samsung charges, you can sign up to preorder the Galaxy S23 now, and even save yourself some money by doing so. Sign up before the Samsung event on February 1, and you can qualify for up to $100 in credit from Samsung.

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.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra design and display

We're not expecting any of the new Galaxy S23 models to deviate too much from what the Galaxy S22 has offered in terms of design and display size. The three display options — 6.1 inches on the base model, 6.6 inches for the Plus and 6.8 inches on the Ultra — will likely remain the same in this year's editions. Similarly, we'd anticipate that all three phones will offer a 120Hz refresh rate, but that only the Ultra will be able to scale down to 1Hz when the screen activity is static; the S23 and S23 Plus should retain their 48Hz to 120Hz range, if rumors are accurate.

Last year, Samsung boosted the brightness on all three phones, with the Galaxy S22 offering a peak brightness of 1,300 nits and the other two models peaking at 1,750 nits. A rumor claims this year's phones will all support a peak brightness of 1,750 nits.

All three Galaxy S23 models as dummy units

(Image credit: Mobile Fun)

The biggest design change could come in the form of the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus adopting the look of the Ultra models, where rear camera lenses are stacked vertically and individually instead of grouped in an array that blends into the side of the phone. In other words, the contour cut design of previous models is going away, as Samsung goes for a uniform look for its Galaxy S phones. That's what leaked renders and dummy units have suggested, at any rate.

Renders of potential Samsung Galaxy S23 cases

(Image credit: Mobile Fun Uk)

Typically, Samsung works in different colors for the different Galaxy S models, though Galaxy S23 color rumors suggest that could change. Specifically, we've only heard rumors of all three models featuring the same four color options of Phantom Black, Lavender, Green and Cream. Shots of Galaxy S23 accessories like the Ultra's S Pen have pointed to these colors, though we could always see some last-second options tied to specific models.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra cameras

Rumors point to few changes for the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus cameras, with those two phones once again sharing the same camera setup — a 50MP main lens aided by 12MP ultrawide and 10MP telephoto shooters.

Instead, the big camera change is expected to come to the Galaxy S23 Ultra, with the 108MP main camera on previous Ultra models giving way to a 200MP shooter. Reportedly, you'll be able to switch between 200MP, 50MP and 12.5MP shots depending on how much detail or brightness you want in a given photo. Rumors tip the Galaxy S23 Ultra to have the same 12MP ultrawide shooter and dual 10MP telephoto lenses as before.

Image of a leaked render of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

(Image credit: OnLeaks/SmartPrix)

The S23 Ultra could see something of a downgrade to its front camera, at least in terms of megapixels. Unlike the 40MP front shooter on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the new phone could see a 12MP sensor instead that would offer other enhancements over resolution. Coincidentally, that's the same 12MP sensor rumored to be coming to the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus, as those phones get an upgrade from the 10MP front camera of their predecessors.

A rumor tips the front camera to get a Pro mode, giving you more control over selfies. And the front camera on the S23 lineup could get night photography features similar to what Samsung added to the rear cameras with the S22 release.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra performance

Past Galaxy S models have featured Qualcomm's top-of-the-line silicon for models released in the U.S. and many other markets, while European countries see phones powered by Samsung's own Exynos chipsets. Europe is getting the raw end of the deal here, as the Exynos doesn't usually perform as well as the best Qualcomm Snapdragon chip.

Things could change with the Galaxy S23 release, though, as all three models are tipped to get the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. What's more, that silicon is expected to power every model regardless of what country the phone ships in. That's potentially great news, as our benchmarks for a reference device running the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 show that the chip is capable of matching the performance on Apple's A15 Bionic silicon in some tests. The A16 Bionic in the iPhone 14 Pro models should continue to set the performance standard.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
PhoneProcessorGeekbench 5 single-core scoreGeekbench 5 multicore score
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Reference DesignSnapdragon 8 Gen 21,5005,249
Samsung Galaxy S22 UltraSnapdragon 8 Gen 11,2403,392
Apple iPhone 14 Pro MaxA16 Bionic1,8825,333
Apple iPhone 14A15 Bionic1,7274,553

As a result, we're expecting a big performance boost for the Galaxy S23 models courtesy of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. There could be an extra benefit, as the Samsung phones may all receive an overclock version of Qualcomm's chipset.

Another potential impact on Galaxy S23 performance could be an improved cooling system for the new phones. Twitter leaker Ahmed Qwaider claims the Galaxy S23 models will have a new cooling system that should prevent the phones from overheating, allowing them to enjoy sustained performance for long periods.

Image of leaked renders of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

(Image credit: OnLeaks/SmartPrix)

That's potentially what the three new models will have in common, though — what about differences? The Galaxy S23 Ultra could feature multiple RAM options — either 8GB or 12GB — while the S23 and S23 Plus would simply offer an 8GB version. Another rumor tips the Galaxy S23 Ultra to start with 256GB of storage, as opposed to the 128GB base storage in the other two models. The Galaxy S23 Ultra could go up to 1TB of storage as well.

Another rumor has emerged about Galaxy S23 storage options, with this one coming from Ahmed Qwaider. The leaker claims all S23 models will start with 256GB of storage, with the Ultra also featuring 512GB and 1TB options. In addition, Qwaider claims, the S23 Ultra will feature 12GB of RAM to the 8GB in the other two models. However, leaker Roland Quandt has dismissed claims (opens in new tab) that Samsung is doing away with its 128GB configurations.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra battery and charging

We'd expect the Galaxy S23 Ultra to continue to have the biggest battery of all three S23 models. After all, it is the largest of the three phones with the biggest screen to keep powered up. And indeed, rumors tip the Galaxy S23 Ultra to have a 5,000 mAh battery, the same power pack that the Galaxy S22 Ultra featured.

But the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus should have bigger batteries than their predecessors, at least if rumors about the phones prove accurate. Both phones are expected to see their battery size increase by 200 mAh. That translates to a 3,900 mAh cell for the Galaxy S23 and a 4,700 mAh power pack for the S23 Plus.

Leaked images of dummy units of the Samsung Galaxy S23 lineup

(Image credit: SlashLeaks)

Frankly, we'd welcome the larger batteries in those two phones. Battery size doesn't automatically translate to longer battery life — the power efficiency of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip will have something to say about that, as well — but the S22 series fell short of a spot on our best phone battery life list. We hope to see that improve with the Galaxy S23 models, and if bigger batteries help out, all the better.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra and S22 Plus benefitted from 45W charging speeds, while the Galaxy S22 made do with 25W. According to Galaxy S23 rumors, none of that will change with the upcoming models.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra software and special features

Count on one big difference between the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the other two models in this lineup. Like the last two Ultras in the Galaxy S family, this new version should include an S Pen. And like the Galaxy S22 Ultra before it, the S23 Ultra will have a built-in slot to house Samsung's stylus.

Otherwise, we wouldn't anticipate many differences between the software and special features for the Galaxy S23 lineup. All three phones are all but certain to ship with Android 13 in the form of Samsung's One UI 5 interface. 

Galaxy S23 leaked promotional images

(Image credit: 91Mobiles)

Another rumor tips the Galaxy S23 to support satellite connectivity in the vein of a similar feature Apple introduced in the iPhone 14 series that lets you connect to emergency services even without a cellular signal. As with the iPhone 14, all three Galaxy S23 models are expected to support this new capability.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra outlook

With less than a week to go before the likely launch of Samsung's new phones, there's still time for more Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra differences to emerge. But we imagine everything's locked into place at this point.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is likely to get the most powerful camera, a larger amount of RAM and storage and a built-in S Pen, helping to justify its status as the most expensive model. The Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus will have more in common with each other, with the more expensive Plus appealing to shoppers who want a bigger screen and faster charging. The Galaxy S23 will be positioned as the phone for the widest audience, with its telephoto lens helping it stand out from similarly priced rivals.

We should find out how accurate this forecast next week, when we should get our first official look at the Galaxy S23 on February 1.

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.