Should you buy Samsung Galaxy S23 now or wait for Galaxy S24?

Buy a Galaxy S23 or wait for the galaxy S24?
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Normally, anyone in the market for a new Android device would do well to make a beeline for the latest Galaxy S flagship phone. But with an earlier-than-usual Samsung Galaxy S24 looming in about a month, it's not such an easy decision any more. Anyone who would normally consider a Galaxy S23 without hesitation may find themselves wondering if it's better to wait for the next Samsung phone instead of buying right now.

The question's a lot tougher than the usual buy-or-wait debate this time out. On the one hand, the Galaxy S23 has proven to be a great phone — one of the best Samsung phones out there right now — and end-of-the-year discounts make it an even more attractive proposition. Then again, all signs point to Samsung moving up the launch of its new family of flagship phones — instead of waiting until March, you may be able to get your hands on a Galaxy S24 as soon as next month.

If you find yourself facing that exact dilemma, we can help you out. I've reviewed the Galaxy S23, so I'm familiar with that handset's strengths and weaknesses. And while no one will know what the Galaxy S24 has to offer until Samsung announces the new phone, enough details have leaked out to give us a pretty good idea of what you'd miss out on should you upgrade now.

For the purposes of this article, we're going to focus on the entry-level Galaxy S phones — the $799 S23 and the device that will succeed it next year. Here are the questions you should be asking yourself if you're trying to decide whether to get the Galaxy S23 or hold out for the Galaxy S24's arrival.

Do you want the latest silicon?

Samsung Galaxy S23 review

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One change you can definitely count on when Samsung introduces a new flagship is an upgrade to the system-on-chip powering the phone. In the U.S. at least, that figures to be the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for the Galaxy S24, as FCC filings indicate all S24 models released in the U.S. will use Qualcomm's newest silicon.

Qualcomm says both the CPU and GPU in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 should deliver performance and power efficiency gains over the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that powers the Galaxy S23. Considering how well the Galaxy S23 fared in benchmarks, that's welcome news.

But that's not the only benefit to the newer chipset. The AI Engine on board the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 supports on-device generative AI which should make for a faster-responding on-board assistant and a more robust Qualcomm Sensing Hub. (That's the part of the chipset that's collecting and analyzing data all around you, such as your location and your fitness info.) There's improvements to the Spectra ISP (image signal processor) that should lead to better photos as well.

That said, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 inside the Galaxy S23 had some formidable imaging and gaming features in its own right. Opt for the current Samsung phone, and the difference between the S23's performance and the S24's won't be like night and day.

(If you're outside the U.S., there's another potential complication, as the Galaxy S24 released in your part of the world may run on an Exynos 2400 chipset instead. Exynos silicon traditionally doesn't perform as well as Qualcomm's chips, so you may be better off opting for the S23 now, as all of those phones feature the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 regardless of where they're shipped.)

How important is AI to you?

Image of Samsung logo and Samsung AI logo.

(Image credit: Samsung/Tom’s Guide)

We mentioned the AI improvements included in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, but that's not going to be the only instance of artificial intelligence involving the Galaxy S24. Samsung has confirmed that AI-powered features will be front and center in upcoming phones, with the Galaxy S24 lineup being the first devices to be a part of that effort.

To that end, the Galaxy S24 could come with generative AI baked into the phone, supporting features like the ability to compose emails for you, generate images on the fly based on your input, translate languages and summarize content. We'd also imagine AI will play a more prominent role in some of the photo capabilities included with the Galaxy S24.

Samsung hasn't really gone into specifics about its plans and likely won't until the Galaxy S24 launch, so by holding off, you're betting that those AI-powered improvements will make the upcoming Samsung phone more valuable to you than the Galaxy S23. Given the importance that Samsung is placing on AI, that may be a bet worth taking.

Do the other rumored Galaxy S24 upgrades intrigue you?

Alleged dummy models of the Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24 Plus

(Image credit: Sonny Dickson/X)

Our Galaxy S24 vs. Galaxy S23 comparison goes into greater detail on the potential differences between the two phones, and it's something worth exploring if you're mulling a Galaxy S23 purchase now. Knowing what the Galaxy S24 could have in store beyond its new chipset may steer your decision one direction or the other.

We're expecting the two phones to look a lot alike for starters, with the same basic design. It's expected that the Galaxy S24 Ultra will use titanium for its frame, but it's less clear if that lighter, more durable material will find its way to the entry-level S24.

The S24 could adopt an LTPO display just like what the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers. That, in turn, would allow it to scale down the display refresh rate when the screen is static, preserving more power and boosting battery life. A new stacked battery design could also allow the Galaxy S24 to last longer on a charge.

Camera improvements between the S23 and S24 could be minimal, with the biggest change expected to be a 50MP telephoto lens for the Galaxy S24 Ultra. If you care about photos but can't swing the Ultra's higher price, you may be safe sticking with the Galaxy S23, though we'll reiterate that the anticipated AI improvements could involve image processing.

Can you get a good deal on the Galaxy S23?

The biggest incentive to buy a Samsung phone now rather than wait for the new model is the possibility of getting a Galaxy S23 for significantly less than its $799 starting price. A check of the best Galaxy S23 deals as of the writing suggest that you can.

In the U.S. Samsung is currently offering up to $600 in credit when you trade-in a phone, potentially letting you buy an unlocked Galaxy S23 for $199. AT&T and Verizon are both offering the Galaxy S23 for free with a trade-in. (Your credits are spread out over 36 months, tying you to either carrier for that period to get the free phone.)

As appealing as those deals sound, there are two things to keep in mind. When the Galaxy S24 is announced, there will be deals offering that newer phone at a discount, too, especially when preorders begin. Second, Samsung has been known to keep its current model around at a discount — the Galaxy S22, for example, remained in Samsung's lineup after the S23 launch, with the phone's price cut to $699.

Do you need a new phone right now?

Samsung Galaxy S23 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This may be the biggest question of all. Do you really need a phone right now or can you wait until the Galaxy S24 arrives to make the call on whether to upgrade?

If it helps, it doesn't sound like you'll be waiting much longer. The flurry of regulatory filings for Samsung's new phone suggests the launch is coming sooner rather than later. And the latest Galaxy S24 relese date rumors suggest a January 17 date for Samsung's next Galaxy Unpacked event. Assuming Samsung follows its usual pattern for preorders and releases, that means the Galaxy 24 could be in your hand before the end of January.

If that time frame works for you, it may be best to hold off on your phone purchase until the Galaxy S24 makes its appearance a few weeks int the new year.

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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.