There's potentially some good news about the Samsung Galaxy S23 models Samsung is planning to release next year, though you might not have noticed amid the clamor about a potential release date delay for the new flagships. But could it also mean there's a chance you could be paying less than expected for at least one of the new models?
Price drops on phones are always welcome developments. But at a time when costs on seemingly everything are on the rise, a lower-cost Galaxy flagship would be a particularly promising bit of news.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. First, let's digest the rumor, which comes from a tweet by a leaker called The Galox who's proven to be reasonably accurate with past claims. In the tweet, the leaker claims a delay in the Galaxy S23 rollout, as Samsung executives have yet to settle on pricing for the upcoming phones.
Mid to late February release for the S23 seriesDeciding on a price for the devices is delaying this release. If it was up to me, $799, $899 & $1199 would be the prices. pic.twitter.com/bYzNW9HAd9December 16, 2022
Don't focus on the shipping delay part of that rumor. Since most people expected an early February Galaxy S23 release date, and The Galox posts that it may be mid- to late February instead, we're talking about a couple of weeks difference at most. It's the other part of The Galaox tweet that caught my eye.
"Deciding on a price for the devices is delaying this release," The Galox writes. "If it was up to me, $799, $899 & $1199 would be the prices."
Now that's hardly a definitive claim about price cuts, I'll grant you. If anything, Samsung's internal debate could be about whether it needs to raise prices because of rising component costs. We won't know for certain until that rumored February release — or perhaps earlier if a more concrete rumor surfaces between now and then.
But the speculation about a potential drop in pricing got me thinking — it really would make sense for Samsung to drop the Galaxy S23 Plus' price if the phone maker can swing it.
Why a Galaxy S23 Plus price drop makes sense
Consider the landscape for the best Android phones. Samsung dominates the market quite comfortably, both with its midrange models and flagship handsets. One way in which rival phone makers have tried to compete is on price, offering phones that are comparable in features to the Galaxy S series while costing less — a lot less in some cases.
The OnePlus 10 Pro really wowed us when it came out earlier this year, thanks to vastly improved cameras, excellent battery life and an eye-catching design. It also debuted with an $899 starting price, which is $100 less than the Galaxy S22 Plus costs. (The OnePlus 10 Pro's price has since dropped even further, especially with the launch of the OnePlus 11 now slated for February.)
That's not the only phone to come in at $100 less than the Galaxy S22 Plus, though. The Pixel 7 Pro also starts at $899, and you get great cameras — better cameras than the S22 Plus, in fact — along with a Tensor processor that delivers some unique software experiences, thanks to its speedy use of machine learning.
It's debatable how much attention Samsung pays to Android phone makers that command a fraction of its market share. But I'm willing to bet that Samsung does pay a lot of attention of Apple, the other big player in the smartphone world, at least when it comes to the U.S.
Price tags are features, too
Like Samsung, Apple has a $999 phone — the iPhone 14 Pro. And that phone saw some big changes from its predecessor, including a more robust main camera and a Dynamic Island feature that replaces the iPhone's notch. Shoppers have reportedly responded, with the Pro models of Apple's iPhone 14 family said to generate the most attention and sales. (Apple, of course, does not break out sales by models, so we're forced to rely on reports for that.)
Unlike the iPhone 14 Pro, though, the Galaxy S23 Plus is not expected to be a big departure from its predecessor. Use the latest rumors to make a Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S22 comparison, and you'll find both the standard and Plus models aren't do for major revisions. We're expecting a new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset in those phones, and it's possible the front camera could get a boost to 12MP. Other potential Galaxy S23 changes include satellite connectivity for emergency messaging and an improved fingerprint reader — welcome additions, sure, but hardly the big updates that the Galaxy S23 Ultra is supposed to be getting.
I wonder if those Samsung executives reportedly debating pricing have looked at Apple's $999 iPhone 14 Pro, which delivers many new capabilities, and their own upcoming Galaxy S23 Plus, which brings comparatively fewer changes, and concluded that the S23 Plus suffers from that comparison. If so, maybe The Galox's dream of an $899 Galaxy S23 Plus model isn't so far-fetched at all.
My thinking here is that Samsung would stick with $799 as the starting price for its entry-level Galaxy S23 — it's hard to go much lower on price without bumping into the upper end of the midrange Galaxy A models. But dropping the price of the Galaxy S23 Plus gives Samsung a hook for generating interest in that phone even if the new additions are relatively modest. That would also free up Samsung to charge top dollar for the Galaxy S23 Ultra, since it's likely to deliver more premium features for an audience willing to pay up for that particular model.
Galaxy S23 Plus price: Outlook
I don't claim any special insight into Samsung's thinking here. For all I know, the internal debate among executives is whether they can get away with a price hike. (My guess? Probably not, without alienating some would-be buyers.) All I'm arguing here is that a lower cost Galaxy S23 Plus makes a lot of sense, especially if Samsung wants to upsell shoppers who might otherwise pay less for an entry-level Galaxy.
It should be a while before Galaxy S23 prices come in to focus. But I hope that Samsung remembers that phone prices don't always have to move in an upward direction. In this case, going against the grain could help the Galaxy S23 Plus stand out from the crowd.
- Next: Samsung Galaxy S23 launch date just leaked — mark your calendars
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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.