I'm worried about Galaxy S23 — will Samsung repeat Apple's biggest mistake?

galaxy s22 plus review
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Going by Samsung Galaxy S23 release date rumors, we'll see the full unveiling of the Galaxy S23 in February, which is not far away. But as more rumors pick up and leaks start flowing, I'm left with a concern with the same concern I first expressed a month ago — what if the Galaxy S23 turns out to be boring?

But the more I've thought on it — combined with the lack of more substantial information in the time since — my concern has shifted to a fear that Samsung will copy Apple a little too much with this upcoming smartphone release. With the possibility that the Galaxy S23 Ultra will get all of the attention, I'm left to wonder if the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus will be there just to be there.

If Samsung does throw everything at the Galaxy S23 Ultra while leaving the other two models with scraps, it would replicate what Apple did with the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus releases this past fall. Those two phones offered very little in the way of new features, as the iPhone 14 Pro models got the bulk of Apple's attention.

Should history repeat itself with the Galaxy S23 launch, that would be a disservice to everyone. Why? I have to guess that Samsung will sell more of the base model Galaxy S23 and the larger Galaxy S23 Plus since they'll cost less than the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

We've hit a weird point where there are now different levels of flagship phones. The Galaxy S22 Ultra was clearly the 2021 flagship while the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus felt like afterthoughts. Apple pulled off something far worse, leaving the iPhone 14 with an older chipset, effectively making it into an upper midrange device.

galaxy s22 plus review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This distinction has morphed slowly over time. We can look back to the iPhone 11 Pro or Galaxy S20 Ultra to see the beginnings of what we have today. With monikers such as "Pro" and "Ultra," you certainly expect more features. But I don't think we should expect the other models to show up just for roll call.

This is how you wind up with a milquetoast handset that doesn't go over well with consumers. Minor iterative upgrades at the same asking price as before often will not win people over to your product. There has to be something that draws them in, like the changes Apple made with the iPhone 14 Pro or the resurrection of the Galaxy Note in the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

We won't know if Samsung manages to copy Apple's biggest iPhone 14 mistake until the Korean phone maker takes the wraps off the Galaxy S23 at its next Unpacked event, whenever that may be. But I have this sinking feeling that, much like Apple did at its September announcement event, Samsung will gloss over the non-Ultra models in the hopes more people will spring for the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Is that the way forward? Apple sure seems to think so, since demand for the new Pro models has exceeded supply (partly due to supply chain issues). Does Samsung think the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which could cost at least $1,199 to start, will enjoy the same success? Or maybe the leakers and rumormongers are the ones focusing too much on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, skewing our perception.

There's likely around two more months left to go before we see Samsung's next big thing, but my concern grows ever stronger. Samsung has a habit of copying Apple, so let's hope it doesn't copy the iPhone 14 mistake.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.