Samsung Galaxy S23 review: The ultimate choice for a smaller premium Android phone (2023)

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  • The Samsung Galaxy S23 is an incremental upgrade over the S22, but it's by far the best option right now for Android users who prefer smaller screens.
  • Samsung has also refined the design of the S series to make the S23 one of the best looking phones you can buy.
  • The S23's camera has trouble capturing photos of moving subjects, often resulting in blurry results.

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Samsung's Galaxy S phones have dominated the premium Android market in the US for the past few years, and the Galaxy S23 series as a whole is a safe bet for 2023.

The Galaxy S23 isn't a huge upgrade over last year's S22: it offers a typical incremental performance upgrade and slight design update over the previous generation. The camera performance is also similar on average.

However, Samsung has made big strides in battery life on the Galaxy S23 series, and the standard S23 is a better phone for it.

In terms of competition in the smaller premium Android phone category, the standard Galaxy S23 doesn't have much to worry about: those who prefer the smaller form factor just have toGoogle-Pixel 6ato check against the S23.

At $300 at the time of writing ($450 total price), Google's 6a is certainly enticing compared to the S23's $800 price point. However, the S23 offers a lot more in terms of performance, screen quality, longevity and camera options.

Samsung Galaxy S23 review: The ultimate choice for a smaller premium Android phone (1)


Samsung Galaxy S23 (128GB)

Amazon is stripping $100 off the Galaxy S23 (2023), the entry-level model in Samsung's flagship smartphone series. It runs on the same modified Qualcomm Snapdragon Gen 2 processor as the high-end S23 Ultra.

(Video) Samsung Galaxy S23 Review - TOP 5 reasons to SKIP the Ultra

A small refinement of a familiar design makes a big difference.

Samsung Galaxy S23 review: The ultimate choice for a smaller premium Android phone (2)

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

Samsung went more minimalist than ever for the Galaxy S23 series. Gone is the camera module that surrounds the camera lenses. The lenses now protrude slightly like those of their own accordS23 Ultra, like round islands on the top left of the flat glass back of the S23.

(Video) Samsung S23 Full Review: The Best Phone No One Is Going To Buy

Otherwise, Samsung stuck with the slimmer overall design of the S22, with flatter edges around the phone than previous generations with a more rounded look. The black borders around the screen aren't thinner, but they're still some of the thinnest I've seen -- they make the edges of the iPhone 14 Pro feel positively thick.

It's only a small change, but apart from the S23 Ultra, a Samsung phone has never looked so clean and refined.

A quality screen and fast performance to be expected from a premium Android phone

Samsung Galaxy S23 review: The ultimate choice for a smaller premium Android phone (3)

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

There is little to report about the display of the S23 from previous generations. It's 6.1-inches with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate and 1080p resolution on Samsung's traditionally beautiful OLED displays, just like last year's model. It doesn't include the option to upgrade to a sharper 1440p resolution like the S23 Ultra does, but I've never felt the need for a sharper image.

The Android OS and apps are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy which is basically the best mobile processor for Android phones optimized with a slight performance boost unique to the Samsung Galaxy S23 series. This is the first time I've seen a processor optimized for a specific line of Android phones.

In fact, the processor optimized for Galaxy S23 phones offers a small boost in benchmark tests, and some apps sometimes open faster than the OnePlus 11 running on a generic version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

Still, the Galaxy S23 offers a compelling premium experience typical of high-end Android phones. Aside from the improved performance, the Galaxy S23 offers little difference in everyday use compared to a newer premium Android phone with a 120Hz display.

An excellent camera, but Samsung needs to work on the performance for moving subjects

Like any $800 phone, the Galaxy S23 should come with a triple-lens camera system, including a 50-megapixel (MP) main camera, a 12-MP ultra-wide camera, and a 10-MP triple-zoom camera lens.

Those are standard specs for a premium phone these days, and the S23 produces gorgeous photos, even if it often processes and enhances your photos with improved brightness and color saturation on your behalf, whether you like it or not.

Based on the resolution numbers, it's easy to think that the S23 Ultra's 200MP main camera offers a huge advantage over the regular S23's 50MP camera. However, I can't say that the S23 Ultra's photos are significantly better than the S23's: you don't miss the S23 Ultra's 200MP camera by choosing the S23.

Samsung Galaxy S23 review: The ultimate choice for a smaller premium Android phone (4)

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

Samsung Galaxy S23 review: The ultimate choice for a smaller premium Android phone (5)

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

The S23 Ultra's 200-megapixel camera should help improve low-light photos by technically capturing more light in a process called pixel binning, where pixels are combined into one larger pixel designed to absorb more light. However, with its 50MP, the S23 can take low-light photos just as well.

That's all to say that the S23 has one of the best cameras for low-light photos.

(Video) Samsung Galaxy S23 Review | Finally, They Fixed It!

Samsung Galaxy S23 review: The ultimate choice for a smaller premium Android phone (6)

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

Samsung Galaxy S23 review: The ultimate choice for a smaller premium Android phone (7)

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

The Galaxy S23 also has the same excellent 12MP selfie camera as the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Technically it's a downgrade from the S22 Ultra's 40-megapixel selfie camera, but HDR and colors look more natural than I remember from previous Galaxy generations, and it actually feels like an improvement.

Samsung Galaxy S23 review: The ultimate choice for a smaller premium Android phone (8)

Antonio Villas-Boas / Insider

Videos captured with the selfie camera received a new 60 frames per second (fps) option in addition to the existing 30 fps option. It takes smoother selfie videos that are more eye-catching than traditional 30fps videos on social media apps.

However, the S23 struggles to take clear, sharp photos of moving subjects like pets and small children. It's a stain on the S23's pristine assets, especially when I don't experience as many blurry photos of moving subjects with iPhones.

Battery life similar to iPhone 14 Pro

Samsung Galaxy S23 review: The ultimate choice for a smaller premium Android phone (9)

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

As a smaller phone, the standard Galaxy S23 has shorter battery life than larger phones like the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra.

In our battery stress test, the Galaxy S23 still had 56% left. That's pretty decent compared to the 6.3" Pixel 7's 60% and the iPhone 14 Pro's 58%. Interestingly, the Galaxy S23's battery test result was the same as the iPhone 14 Pro's for the larger 6.7" Pixel 7 pers.

Either way, larger devices are always better options if battery life is a priority for you.

Our battery stress test includes two hours of streaming video where we set the screen brightness to the same level on all the phones we tested. It also includes an hour of music streaming while connected to Bluetooth headphones. Finally, we put the phone through two runs of the 20-minute 3DMark Wild Life stress test and five runs of the CPU benchmarking tool Geekbench 5.

As for charging speeds, the standard Galaxy S23 is capped at 25W compared to 45W charging speeds on the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra. It's also odd that Samsung hasn't standardized charging speeds across its entire Galaxy S23 lineup.

Samsung doesn't include a charger with the Galaxy S23, so you'll need to buy one that supports charging speeds of up to 25W if you don't already have one.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S23?

Samsung Galaxy S23 review: The ultimate choice for a smaller premium Android phone (10)

(Video) The Best It Has Been | Samsung Galaxy S23 Review

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

The Galaxy S23 is the only premium mid-range phone option available to Android users in the US. So if you're looking for a smaller Android phone with the latest premium features, your choice is made for you.

So it's good that the S23 is an excellent phone: battery life beats its weight, and camera quality is on par with the high-end S23 Ultra, which is also powered by the same powerful processor.

Easier to hold than the S23 Plus and S23 Ultra, and with comparable overall performance, the standard S23 is not only your best bet for a smaller, premium Android phone, it's the only worthwhile choice of its kind.

Antonio Villas-Boas

Senior Technical Reporter

Antonio is a Senior Tech Reporter for the Insider's Reviews team, where he helps create coverage, reviews and guides on Apple smartphones, tablets, accessories, wearables, smart home products and audio devices from Apple, Google, Samsung , OnePlus and others to guide. top tech company. Before joining Business Insider, Antonio was a consumer electronics analyst at PCMag. In 2009 he graduated from Colgate University with a bachelor's degree in history. You can email Antonio with tips and cool tech at: Learn more about how our team of experts test and rate products for Insider here. Learn more about how we test technology and electronics.


Is Samsung S23 worth buying? ›

The Samsung Galaxy S23 is a giant among small phones, fixing many of its predecessor's flaws while retaining high standards in every other area. It offers much-improved battery life and more efficient performance to go along with one of the best software commitments in the game and an ever-reliable trio of cameras.

Is S23 plus worth buying? ›

Whether the improvements are worth the extra money is subjective, but if I were cross-shopping here, I'd go with the S23+. Performance is identical between the two phones, and having used last year's Galaxy S22 Ultra for quite some time, I know none of the S23 Ultra's extra bells and whistles matter much to me.

Is Samsung S23 worth the wait? ›

The bottom line: Yes, if you have a Galaxy S10 it's worth upgrading to the Galaxy S23. You'll get 5G support, access to new versions of Android, longer battery life, a faster new processor and a much-improved camera.

How old is Samsung S23? ›

Samsung Galaxy S23
S23 (left), S23+ (center), S23 Ultra (right)
First released1 February 2023
Availability by region17 February 2023
PredecessorSamsung Galaxy S22
TypeS23: Smartphone S23+/S23 Ultra: Phablet
33 more rows


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