Samsung Galaxy S23 could be a great upgrade — if Samsung makes one big change

An unofficial render of the Galaxy S23, based on currently known leaked information
(Image credit: OnLeaks/Digit)

The Samsung Galaxy S23 faces a dilemma common to a lot of flagship phones on yearly upgrade cycles. At a time when smartphone features are pretty evenly matched, how do you make your device stand out from rivals that are every bit as capable?

A rumor this week suggested that Samsung may have hit upon a solution that's seemingly simple, yet would go a long way toward raising the Galaxy S23's profile. A leaker claimed that Samsung was going to boost the amont of storage in its base models.

Specifically, Ahmed Qwaider posted on Twitter that all three Galaxy S23 models would start with 256GB of storage. That's double the capacity on the Galaxy S22 base models — and more importantly, it's also twice as much as what Apple provides iPhone 14 owners with.

Why more storage matters

If you've found yourself bumping into the ceiling of your 128GB smartphone, you don't need me to tell you what a great move it would be to get 256GB at the same starting price. We're storing more photos on our phones these days, and with higher-resolution video capture now available, that's going to take up more storage as well. Mobile apps are getting more sophisticated, and even though we can store things in cloud, it's often more convenient to have key files on the device you're carrying with you at all times. It's getting so that 128GB doesn't go as far as it used to.

Alas, we may need to hold off the congratulatory phone calls to Samsung. Another leaker, Roland Quandt, threw cold water on the notion that 256GB would be the amount of storage in the base model. As he tends to be pretty reliable about things related to unreleased Samsung phones, that certainly casts a lot of doubt on the boosted storage rumor.

Still, I hope that Quandt is wrong and Samsung goes ahead with bumping up the amount of storge you get on the Galaxy S23 (especially if another questionable rumor involving potential price hikes turns out to be true). More storage would give the Galaxy S23 something to trumpet at a time when it looks like other changes to this year's models will be modest at best.

I'm not talking about the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which seems like it's in line to get the most significant changes in this year's update, highlighted by a potential upgrade to a 200MP main camera. But pore over the rumors about the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus in our comparison of all three upcoming Samsung S23 models, and you won't find that much to get excited about. Bigger batteries, improved fingerprint sensors and an emergency satellite communications feature seem to head the list of possible changes — hardly the stuff that gets pulses racing. 

Galaxy S23 outlook

You can't entirely blame Samsung for this state of affairs. As I mentioned at the outset, as phones become more advanced, it gets harder and harder to differentiate them from models with just as many premium capabilities. 

Yes, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 silicon likely to power the Galaxy S23 will give those phones a performance boost — but not so great a one that you're likely to notice in everyday use. We can expect camera improvements as well, but I'm certainly not expecting anything dramatic enough to tip the balance in the debate over the best camera phones. All that's left really is to make a few design tweaks, introduce some new colors and hope like hell that the more power efficient chipset translates to some tangible improvement in battery life over last year's models.

That's why the increased storage rumor makes so much sense. It's a change Samsung could make right away that provides a material improvement for anyone who upgrades to a Galaxy S23. I'd certainly give a phone a second look if I could get twice as much storage than I would if I opted for a different handset that cost the same.

That said, it won't be a disaster if the expected February launch date for the Galaxy S23 arrives, and we find out that the new phones still start with 128GB of storage. Disappointing, sure, but there will be other things to recommend Samsung's new devices. But more storage would certainly be a key thing, one that every potential smartphone shopper would benefit from.

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.