Another year, another fresh lineup of phones is upon us. Samsung, as usual, is first out of the gates in 2023 with the announcement of this year's aptly named Samsung Galaxy S23 range.
A refresh of last year's Galaxy S22 lineup, which earned their place in our best camera phones guide, there is not a seismic shift in strategy with this year's devices, however, Samsung has added a number of new features to keep these latest models fresh and competitive with the latest from Apple, Google, and other top manufactures.
Samsung is marketing the Galaxy S23 range to feature an unrivaled camera, ultimate gaming, and eco-conscious design. The phone market is more closely matched than ever right now, so it will be interesting to see if Samsung's claims come to fruition.
Let's get straight into the good stuff. A phone's cameras and image processing is now the thing that sets it apart from rivals, and Samsung has gone big with the new Galaxies, very big, two hundred megapixels big!
On all three models, the Contour Cut housing from previous models is gone, allowing the lenses to sit alone on the back panel of the phone offering a minimalist and stylish new look. This also has the added benefit of reducing the awkward camera bump and making S23 phone cases a little more streamlined.
Galaxy S23 Ultra
The Galaxy S23 Ultra features a 200MP primary camera sensor, which blows most of the competition away in terms of raw pixel power. This is an increase of almost double from the primary sensor on the S22 Ultra, which by comparison is a measly 108MP.
Samsung is promising this new 200MP sensor will deliver ultra-fine detail in images, and photos that can be blown up to wall canvas-sized prints and still look fantastic. The camera uses quad-pixel autofocus, using every pixel for focus, which Samsung claims are it's fastest and most accurate system yet.
Samsung's Expert RAW app can now record images in 50MP (previously 12MP on the Galaxy S22), so if you are the kind of phone shooter that wants a little more freedom to play with their images in post-production, you now have a lot bigger files to work with.
In terms of video, the S23 Ultra can record in 8K at 30fps, with a larger viewing angle of 57-80 degrees. The increase in sensor size also means Samsung can increase its clever oversampling techniques to produce larger pixels in video recording, allowing it to record more light and offer a more cinematic look.
Samsung has improved the adaptive VDIS for better image stabilization, the system now uses AI to analyze subject movement and lighting conditions to improve the IS performance. The optical IS angle has also doubled to 3 degrees.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra's other cameras include the usual array of a 12MP wide-angle camera, a 10MP 3x zoom camera, and a 10MP 10x zoom camera. The front-facing camera on the S23 Ultra has been upgraded to a 12MP sensor, increased from the 10MP offered on S22 Ultra. The front-facing camera now has super HDR and video recording in 4K/60fps.
Outside of just the camera hardware, Samsung has taken some time to think about new ways to use software and machine learning to improve the photo and video experience. Samsung has taken huge strides in nighttime and low-light imaging and video.
With its new pro nighttime modes, the Galaxy S23 Ultra can use adaptive pixel technology in its massive 200MP sensor to combine 16 pixels into one larger pixel. This allows pixels to capture more light and more detail. With additional AI noise reductions powered by new AI algorithms to reduce noise in photos and video.
For budding astrophotographers, the new Astro Hyperlapse mode allows any Samsung Galaxy shooter to take photos of the actual galaxy at up to 300x with no additional equipment.
Night portrait mode has been improved for better background separation in low light conditions, and new AI algorithms for portrait mode can now recognize and separate eyes, faces, and hair separately and apply different processing for a more even and natural look in any lighting condition. Finally, the S23 range can also now create multi-exposure layered photographs directly from the camera.
Galaxy S23 / S23+
The S23+ and S23 share the same cameras, with both featuring a 50MP main wide camera, as well as an ultra-wide with a 12MP sensor, and a 10MP sensor behind a 3x zoom lens.
The S23+ and S23 have been upgraded to the same 12MP front-facing camera shared with the S23 Ultra.
The screen sizes on the S23 range follow the same pattern as last year's models, with the Galaxy S23 Ultra leading the pack with a 6.8" screen, this screen is again curved on the right and left edges, but less severe than last year's model, offering more flat surface than the S22 Ultra.
The Galaxy S23+ has a 6.6" screen and the Galaxy S23 comes in with a 6.1" screen. Both the S23+ and S23 feature completely flat screens edge to edge.
The screens utilize Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2, which is the first time this particular glass has been used on a smartphone, Corning and Samsung claim this latest glass to be more durable than previous iterations, and is now made from 22% recycled material.
Samsung has introduced a new Advanced Vision Booster mode, an automatic color management system for its latest screens that adjust the screen temperature, colors, and contrast for three different ambient lighting conditions. The screens can also desaturate their colors and switch to lower contrasts for enhanced eye comfort.
All the latest Galaxy S23 models are powered by the very latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy. This is a specific model of Qualcomm's most powerful chip designed in collaboration with Samsung to run best on Galaxy. Samsung claims the new Galaxy series offers the best mobile gaming experience available, processing graphics faster than the S22 series.
The phones will be powered by a 5000mAh battery in the Galaxy S23 Ultra, a 4700mAh battery in the Galaxy S23+, and a 3900mAh battery in the smallest S23.
The latest round of Galaxies will come with the updated One UI 5.1. As well as offering performance improvements and fixes, One UI 5.1 will offer programmable modes and routines for more automated control of the device, for example having different modes for notifications, screen settings, and volume while sleeping, driving, or at work.
Bixby Text Call will also now allow users to respond immediately to phone calls with a dictated text sent from the call screen. Samsung Notes, in collaboration with Google, will now allow Galaxy users to work together editing the same note in Samsung Notes whilst in a Google Meet video call.
Samsung Knox has been given an improved focus on maintaining user privacy with more options to control what data apps have access to. The UI will now automatically offer more prompts to turn off access to personal data in apps, such as location, camera access, and file storage. The latest Galaxies will also come with five years of security updates and four generations of One UI / Android updates.
The S23 series takes a lot of design cues from its previous iterations, with a familiar metal frame sandwiching the screen and rear glass panel, however, there are subtle changes making the phone more sleek and minimalist in design. This year, all three models of Galaxy come in phantom black, cream, green, and lavender colorways.
Samsung has taken note of the current environmental concerns affecting the market and made a big push on eco-conscious design with this year's Galaxy S23 models. The Galaxy S22 Ultra in particular has been singled out as using twice as many recycled components as the S22 Ultra.
The S23 Ultra uses recycled aluminum, glass, and plastics in its construction, with recycled plastics sourced from fishing nets, water barrels, and PET bottles. Samsung estimates it is saving 15 tonnes of discarded fishing nets ending up in the world's oceans by the end of 2023.
Price & Availability
You can pre-order the Galaxy S23 series right now at Samsung US and get up to $150 credit. You also get access to exclusive graphite and lime color options, although they won't arrive until February 28.
The entry-level S23 is now available to preorder at Amazonand Best Buy in the US. Currently, each retailer will give you a credit/gift card for a later purchase. Or you can wait and get the Galaxy S23 from major retailers and carriers on February 17.
The Galaxy S23 starts at $799, the Galaxy S23 Plus at $999, and Galaxy S23 Ultra at $1,199.
In the UK you can pre-order the S23 and S23 Ultra from Samsung UK, or from your network, with prices starting from £1249 for the Galaxy S23 Ultra, £1049 for the S23+, and £849 for the S23.
If you're in Australia, you can also pre-order directly from Samsung AU and get up to AU$1,074 in extra value, which includes vouchers and trade-in exchanges. Prices start at AU$1,349 for the S23, AU$1,649 for the S23 Plus and AU$1,949 for the S23 Ultra.