Samsung Galaxy S23 and 23+ review: first impressions

Samsung continues the strong legacy of Galaxy S devices with upgraded cameras and the latest processor

Samsung Galaxy S23
(Image: © Gareth Bevan)

Early Verdict

The S23 and S23+ look to continue the solid legacy of Samsung's S series of Galaxy devices. Appearing to improve on almost every aspect of the S22 devices, with faster processors for more intense gaming and productivity, improved camera hardware with 50MP main cameras and RAW capture, and improvements in software with the latest night photography and astro hyperlapse modes. The S23s are also the best looking phones Samsung has produced, and maybe even the best looking phone overall.


  • +

    50Mp camera with new night photography AI

  • +

    50MP RAW capture app

  • +

    Latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor for Galaxy


  • -

    Too many Galaxy specific ecosystem benefits

  • -

    One UI still feels like rehashing work Google has already done

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Its Feburary, so that means it is time for Samsung to annouce their latest round of Galaxy S devices. Last years Galaxy S22 and S22+ were some of our best camera phones, so we hope that Samsung will have been able to repeat that magic this time around.

Pre-order the Galaxy S23 & S23+

You can pre-order the Galaxy S23 Ultra right now at the following locations:
US Samsung US | Best Buy | Amazon
UK Samsung UK | Amazon
AU Samsung AU | Amazon

As per the norm now, the S23 will come in two sizes, with two price points to match, coming in a 6.6in screen for the S23+ and a 6.1in screen for the S23. Apart form the differences in screen sizes, the two phones are identical, with matching internal specs. This seems to be a common theme in the last coupe of years, with Apple also having its iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus strategy.

Samsung also announced the even larger and more powerful Galaxy S23 Ultra model, which you can read all about our first impressions in our Galaxy S23 Ultra review.


Rear cameras: 50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x zoom)
Front camera: 12MP
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
Screen Size: 6.6in FHD+ (S23+) / 6.1in FHD+ (S23)
Storage: 128GB, 256GB
Battery: 4700mAh (S23+) / 3,900mAh (S23)
Size: 70.9 x 146.3 x 7.6mm (S23+) / 76.2 x 157.8 x 7.6mm (S23)
Colors: Green, Phantom Black, Lavender, Cream (others exclusive to

Check out the Best Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus cases

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

Key features

The S23 Ultra is powered by the very latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, that has been specifically tuned for Galaxy with a higher clock speed for additional performance. Samsung  wants to make the new Galaxy series the best place place for mobile gaming and has increased the battery size of the S23 models to compliment this.

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 S23 duo can shoot 8K video at 30fps, with an improved adaptive VDIS (image stabilization) system which now uses improved AI algorithms to analyze subject movement and lighting conditions to improve stabalization.

Samsung's latest Expert RAW app can now record images in the full 50MP DNG format (previously 12MP on the Galaxy S22), giving even more precise and nuanced control in editing for serious phone photographers.

The expert RAW mode is also used for Samsung's new astrophotography modes, called Astro Hyperlapse, which will let you capture exposures of the night sky without any specialist equipment. 

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

The improvements to low light photography are also earthbound, with Samsung using new AI processing to improve the night photography experience, pulling in more details and keeping colors vibrant. This has extended to night portrait mode, that separates hair, skin and eyes, for individual processing for a more natural look, which also works in a new night selfie video mode.

The Galaxy S23+ comes with a 6.6in FHD+ screen, and the S23 has a smaller 6.1in FHD+ screen. These are both flat screens, not curved like the S23 Ultra. Samsung's Advanced Vision Booster mode can automatical manage system colors by adjusting the screen temperature, colors, and contrast for three different ambient lighting conditions and eye comfort.

The S23 used the latest One UI 5.1, offering modes and routines for different parts of your day such as sleeping, driving, or at work. Bixby Text Call will also now allow users to respond to phone calls with a voice-dictated text from the call screen. And Samsung Notes now allows collaborative editing in a Google Meet video call.

Samsung Knox has more options for managing and maintaining privacy, with options to control what data apps have access to. All the latest Galaxy devices will come with five years of security updates and four generations of One UI / Android updates.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

Build and handling

The Galaxy S23 and S23+ really are very pretty phones, Samsung has refined the glass sandwich design even more this year, with a very clean minimalist aesthetic, introducing new tranquil colours in forest green and a very pale lavender to go alongside the usual cream and lack colors.

The camera bump is no more, instead the lenses are placed directly on the back sheet of glass looking like islands rising up from the ocean. The lack of large camera bump does mean the phone now sits more peacefully on a flat surface instead of rocking back and forth like in previous Galaxy devices. The lack of camera bump does mean that the lenses lack a little protection, but as the majority of people use a phone case now, this won't be an issue for most.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

The screens on Galaxy S phones have always been some of the best (Samsung after all is the largest screen maker in the world). The S23+ and S23 screens are no exception, the screens are colorful, with great contrast and very sharp despite them not being the full QHD+ of the Ultra. 

At 6.6 inches, the screen on the S23+ is a slightly better size for photography, gaming and productivity, the smaller 6.1in screen of the S23 just feels a little small in my hand, and it will be trickier to get as much content on the screen. Both the screens have beautifully-narrow bezels that go right up to the metal frame adding to its minimalist looks.

We look forward to having the phones for more time in a full review and reporting back on how the screens fare for photography and content creation against the latest from Apple and Google.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)


We only had the briefest of time with the latest Galaxy devices, so were not able to fully access the new Qualcolmm Snapdragon for Galaxy processor, but from first impressions it seems like a very capable device. 

The camera app, where I spent most of my time was very quick switching between lenses, zooming in and out digitally, and snapping and saving photos, and opening them for review. I took a couple of photos in Samsung's new RAW capture app, creating huge 50MP raw images with massive file sizes of over 100MB, this barely seemed to trouble the processor, with the processing happening before my eyes. 

The camera performance will need to wait for a full review, but initially it seems very impressive. The photos taken in Samsung's variably lit event space were sharp and detailed, with the S23's new night modes seemingly coping very well with the darker environment. The S23 cameras are Samsung cameras through and through, and offer Samsung's unique take on photo processing, with slightly over sharp photos, lots of contrast and cooler colors.

We look forward to testing the S23 against the best camera phones from Apple and Google.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan)

Early verdict

The S23 and S23+ look like another two solid yearly updates from Samsung, appearing to improve on almost every aspect of the previous devices, with faster processors for more intense gaming and productivity, better camera hardware with 50MP main cameras and RAW capture, and improvements in software with the latest night photography and astro hyperlapse modes.

The S23s are also the best looking phones Samsung has produced, offering the cleanest looks yet, they are definitely solidifying a house style of Samsung products, they might well even be the best looking phones full stop.  

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Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.