One month with the Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23+, and I really didn’t want to return them, especially the little Galaxy S23. But I had to, and I’m here to talk about that.
Before you go up in arms to defend or bash these phones, I’m talking about returning them not because of buyer’s remorse but because I had to. As part of my gig as LiTT’s editor-in-chief, I get access to tech products from brands like Samsung to try out for a limited time so I can share my experience with you. And that limited time ended, so the phones are no longer with me.
I’ve already talked about my experience with the Galaxy S23 Ultra on our YouTube channel. Now, I want to turn your attention to the Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23+ to see how these phones perform as daily drivers.
I’m taking the approach I took with the Samsung Galaxy A34 by sharing the hits and misses I found during my test. But I’ll focus on my favorite things first before we dive into the areas Samsung could improve on these phones.
Let’s check out what’s lit about the Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23+!
What’s lit: Size matters
No matter what people say, size matters. And that’s especially true when it comes to these two phones. I constantly lament the lack of more compact flagship phones. Manufacturers aren’t too keen on making them anymore. So, when the Samsung Galaxy S23 with its 6.1-inch AMOLED screen landed in my lap, I gravitated towards it instantly. It’s easier to pack into purses and use with one hand. But if that feels too small, the 6.6-inch AMOLED on the Galaxy S23+ should fit your needs. I love that you get a size option for equally powerful phones.
And while these screen sizes weren’t changed when compared to their predecessors, the back of the phones are different yet the same. By the same, I mean they inherit the floating camera design the Galaxy S Ultra line carries. But they maintain a flat front and back.
All the Galaxy S23 phones came in four colors at launch: black, cream, lavender, and green. But there are more exclusive colors from Samsung’s online store.
Speaking of premium, that’s obvious with the phones’ feel. The entire Galaxy S23 line is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus 2 (a first for Samsung and possibly other smartphones) for the front and back, combined with an armored aluminum frame. The new Victus 2 glass should have improved drop performance against surfaces like concrete, keeping it safe against accidental drops. These phones are IP68-rated, allowing them to survive in 1.5 meters of deep water for half an hour.
The matte yet glossy back on these phones is very nice to touch. And they aren’t fingerprint magnets either. So if you’re going without the case, this would still look good.
What’s lit: That Samsung Galaxy S23 display, though
When it comes to displays, we are just living in Samsung’s world. The Galaxy S line’s screens are still unmatched in the Android space. What’s new with the S23 series is that peak brightness across the board is at 1,750 nits this time, which for the base S23 model is a 35% increase from the S22. Having this bright screen should make watching HDR content more enjoyable. And more importantly, you’d be able to see it outdoors even if it was sunny outside.
Both phones have the Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O FHD+ panel with a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate (changes between 48Hz and 120Hz) and a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. This aspect ratio means you’ll still get that tiny black bars on the top and bottom of this display when watching movies. But generally, you have a fast, smooth, attractive screen to stare at as you do what you typically do on your phone.
It also gets really, really dark if you turn down the brightness to its lowest level. That comes in handy if you’re trying to look at your screen when you have the lights off and don’t want to be blinded by the lights on your phone’s display.
What’s lit: More than capable cameras
Samsung continues to make it easier to take the photos and videos you want with a versatile set of cameras that includes:
- 50-megapixel f/1.8 primary wide camera with dual-pixel PDAF and OIS
- 10-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto lens with PDAF and OIS
- 12-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide lens with a 120-degree field of view
- 12-megapixel f/2.2 selfie camera
These cameras give you the flexibility to experiment, no matter what time of day. When I had the phones with me, these were my primary smartphone cameras when I needed a quick photo or video. The Galaxy S23 series offers up to 8K@30fps recording for the rear camera and goes up to 4K@60fps with the selfie camera. With a bit of creativity and skill, it’ll be easy to get high-quality footage you can share online. And the 8K videos don’t eat up double the storage that 4K does, so if you need that extra detail, it’s worth exploring shooting in that mode.
But if you need help, Samsung’s also beefed up its AI photo-taking capabilities, especially for low-light situations. I was impressed with how the Galaxy S23 and S23+ took selfies and portraits in low light.
And it made it easy to switch between the cameras to take the photos I wanted. Need to get more of the scene in? There’s an ultrawide camera. Need to zoom in? There’s a telephoto lens included.
Photos and videos shot in apps like Instagram and TikTok are pretty high quality, too. Samsung has also talked about improving its capabilities inside the apps. It’s not perfect, especially since the compression of these apps will still degrade the quality a bit, but it’s definitely better. Instagram switches cameras when I try and zoom in while shooting Stories, and that’s a much-appreciated addition. It means you’re using the cameras built to handle the specific task.
You can check out our Instagram samples here. And we’ve pasted the TikTok sample for the S23 below, but here’s another one for the S23+.
What’s lit: Samsung Galaxy S23’s performance
As flagship phones, you aren’t going to be left wanting with these phones. Both run on the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor with a special twist. Instead of having the standard chipset, the Galaxy S23 series runs on a specially-made “For Galaxy” variant. This processor gets a slightly higher CPU and GPU clock speed for better performance and energy efficiency.
These phones run on Android 13 with Samsung’s One UI 5.1 interface layered on top. And RAM starts at 8GB for both models, but what might sway you from getting one over the other is their storage capacity. The base S23 model starts at 128GB and can go up to 256GB, while the S23+ starts at 256GB and goes up to 512GB. Anything you typically need to do on your smartphone will be handled with ease thanks to the setup.
One of the good things about picking up a flagship Samsung phone is that you get one of the better deals for extended software support than other Android manufacturers. With the Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23+, you are promised four years of major Android operating system updates and five years of security patches. So, you get access to new features for longer, making it worth an investment.
Samsung improves the battery capacity on both models by 200mAh. This means the Galaxy S23 gets a 3,900mAh battery, while the S23+ has a 4,700mAh battery. I get over a day’s use each time, which is a great deal given the powerful specs these phones come with.
What needs the extra spark: The downsides of the unified design
I touched on this in my Samsung Galaxy A34 hands-on, and I’m bringing it up again now. This unified design Samsung is going for with its mobile phones might not be for some people, especially those who crave that exclusivity or distinctive look of the more premium models. The feel of both phones is different. You can tell by holding the phones in hand which one costs more. But from afar, you can hardly tell them apart. Personally, I also miss the Phantom of the Opera-esque contour cut design Samsung used for the Galaxy S22 and S22+.
What needs the extra spark: It’s getting hot in here
Maybe this requires more cooling down than heating up. But I noticed both phones run hot a lot. I’m not a mobile gamer, but I take a lot of photos and videos for work and leisure. And these phones get hot in these circumstances. I’m hoping for better heat management with these phones, or at least the next flagships.
What needs the extra spark: Charging gripes
I also mentioned this in my Galaxy A34 story, but I miss having a charger included in the box. I commend their push for sustainability, but I still believe in giving consumers the option to get the charger.
Charging speeds differ on these devices, but they’re still on the slower side compared to some of the Samsung’s competition. The base model is capped at 25 watts, while the S23+ gets up to 45 watts of wired charging. Both models support wireless charging and reversible wireless charging, which is good. It typically takes me over an hour or so to recharge, which isn’t too remarkable but decent enough.
Final thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23+
Now, if you’d ask me to pick between the Galaxy S23 and S23+, it boils down to a size preference. And I guess, there’s also charging and storage capacity. But it’s mostly a size thing for me. You’ll get a powerful handset either way. And it’ll be a worthy upgrade if you’re coming from at least three devices before (think pre-2020). It helps that you can potentially get years out of these phones. I’m missing the flexibility its cameras offered me when I had it. And I’ll continue to miss it until the next Galaxy S series comes out.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 retails for:
- 8GB RAM + 128GB storage – PHP 53,990 / USD 799
- 8GB + 256GB – PHP 57,990 / USD 859
Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23+ goes for:
- 8GB RAM + 256GB storage – PHP 68,990 / USD 999
- 8GB + 512GB – PHP 76,990 / USD 1,199
Which Samsung Galaxy S23 is for you? Share your thoughts on our socials!