7 things you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S23

The Galaxy S23 series offers great features for those looking for a high-powered phone, but the cost is high.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 series brings a series of phones to showcase the South Korean firm’s best mobile technology, as it responds to Apple’s iPhone 14 launch from September 2022. 

Samsung announced its new, high-end smartphones on February 1, 2023, and while much of the changes over the previous Galaxy S22 series are minimal, there are some interesting new features to potentially entice you if you’re in the market for a new handset.

The Galaxy S23 Plus, Galaxy S23 Ultra, and Galaxy S23 smartphones stood up, with their backs to the camera, against a colourful block background.Credit: Samsung
The Galaxy S23 Plus (L), Galaxy S23 Ultra (C), and Galaxy S23 (R) are Samsung’s new flagship smartphones.

Avoiding the Galaxy S23 series will be tricky, as Samsung’s sizable marketing budget will see adverts for the smartphone range splashed across ad boards, train stations, television screens and more for several months to come.

While you’ll probably feel that there are a lot of similarities from the S22 line up, we had an early preview of these phones to find out where the changes really exist – and whether they’re that useful. 


1. A trio of handsets

A range of sizes to suit all palms

The three smartphones ascend in both size and price. The smallest is the Galaxy S23, with a 6.1-inch screen (same size as the iPhone for the last three years) and a starting price of £849. 

Next up: the Galaxy S23 Plus (which you may see written as Galaxy S23+), which is extremely similar to its non-Plus sibling, with a larger 6.6-inch display and battery along with a higher starting price of £1,049. 

The top-of-the-range Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has more differences compared to the other two devices, with an extra-large screen (at 6.8 inches) and bigger battery, along with improved rear cameras and unique software features.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra (L) stands out with a bolder, chunkier design, while the Galaxy S23 Plus (C) and Galaxy S23 (R) are far more similar.Credit: Samsung
The Galaxy S23 Ultra (L) stands out with a bolder, chunkier design, while the Galaxy S23 Plus (C) and Galaxy S23 (R) are far more similar.

You’ll find the S Pen stylus hidden inside the body of the S23 Ultra, providing you with an alternative input method. The S Pen is great for handwriting notes (which can be converted into text if needed, although we didn’t find this to be particularly accurate), and for those who enjoying sketching.  

There is, of course, a higher price too with the S23 Ultra starting at a lofty £1,249. 

Samsung gave us an early preview of the handsets and we found the S23 and S23 Plus sat well in the hand, with the former the easiest to use one-handed.

The S23 Ultra is far more of a ‘presence’ in the palm, and for many it will feel cumbersome rather than comfortable. To try and compensate for its size, the edges of the screen are curved (rather than angular and flat on the other two handsets), which allows your fingers to reach round a little easier. 

However, for power users who want to work on the go, or consume a lot of video, the size and power afforded by the Ultra will be welcome.

2. Cameras

The biggest camera ever on a Samsung phone

If you’re a keen smartphone photographer there’s plenty to capture your attention here. 

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is the standout performer, boasting an enormous 200MP sensor as its main rear-facing camera. It’s accompanied by three further cameras on the back of the handset, with a 12MP ultra-wide angle sensor with a field of view of 120 degrees, and two 10MP cameras also present. 

The ultra-wide lens allows you to switch to a wide mode in the camera app, which in turn gets more of your surroundings into frame.

Meanwhile the two 10MP cameras are used for zoom, with a 3x optical and 10x optical zoom respectively. This allows you to get closer to your subject without a reduction in image quality.

Samsung’s claims its 200MP camera has an enhanced auto-focus and will be able to capture brighter, more detailed images with ultra-fine resolution and millions of colours.  

The result? The ability to print the pictures you take with the Galaxy S23 Ultra onto large canvases with excellent clarity. In our tests we found the zoom level to be impressive too – but it can get grainy when getting too close to the image subject.

The top half of the Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy S23 Plus. providing a close-up on the rear cameras and S Pen.Credit: Samsung
The Galaxy S23 (L) and S23 Plus (R) feature three rear cameras, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra (C) comes with a huge 200MP sensor as part of its four camera setup.

There’s also the option to capture 50MP images in RAW format, giving you the original, unprocessed snap from the camera which you can then edit in professional suites such as Adobe Lightroom.


Why is the RAW format useful?

Being able to capture images in RAW gives you far more creative freedom over your pictures when it comes to editing them, as the come with far more information attached.

It also means is the file sizes of RAW photos are much larger – so keep an eye on your storage when shooting in this mode.

There are many advantages to shooting in RAW (so long as you have the time and expertise to work with the file), and as Adobe notes “one of the largest benefits of RAW is the ability to recover shadows and highlights in post-processing without bringing in the grainy noise usually associated with high ISO settings.

“RAWs are very forgiving if you have severely underexposed or overexposed areas.”

If you enjoy recording video on your smartphone, the S23 Ultra also supports 8K video capture at 30fps, resulting in cinematic-style recording.

Meanwhile the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus feature a triple camera setup, with a main 50MP sensor joined by the same 12MP ultra-wide 12MP and 10MP, 3x optical zoom cameras (the 10x optical zoom camera is exclusive to the Ultra).

You can still expect a high level of photography prowess though as there’s RAW support here too. All three handsets come with improved night-time capture for brighter and more detailed shots, as well as improved video stabilisation for smoother recordings. 

3. Battery life

Bigger batteries. Longer lasting?

Samsung is quick to highlight the increased battery sizes in the Galaxy S23 series over the previous generations of handsets. 

It’s squeezed an additional 200mAh into the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus, taking their battery sizes to 3,900mAh and 4,700mAh respectively. 

The hope will be these increased sizes, along with the latest Snapdragon chipset, will provide longer battery life – although we’ll have to wait for reviews to see if this does transpire with real-world usage.  

It’s needed too, as a number of reviewers reported underwhelming battery life results from the preceding S22 handsets. 

The only handset to not get a battery increase is the flagship of range, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which sticks comes with a 5,000mAh offering – the same as the S22 Ultra it’s replacing, which tended to last a full day on a charge, but not any longer than that.  

It’s highly likely you’ll be recharging all three of these phones each night – as is the norm with modern smartphones. 

4. The Samsung family

For the best experience, go all-in on Samsung

Samsung is making a big deal about the ecosystem its Galaxy S23 series slides into, and it’s announced a series of new laptops alongside the smartphones, with the devices working seamlessly together. 

Opt for one of the new Galaxy Book3 series of laptops as well as an S23 handset, and you’ll be able to drag and drop file between your phone and laptop seamlessly, copy and paste text and images, and control key phone functions – such as calls and messaging – from the laptop. 

You can also pick-up websites on the laptop where you left off on your phone (and vice versa), allowing you to continue browsing the same information as you switch between devices.

Galaxy Book3 Ultra on a desk, flanked by a Galaxy S23 Ultra and Samsung Galaxy Tab S8.Credit: Samsung
You can connect a Galaxy S23 phone and a Samsung tablet to a Galaxy Book3 laptop for a seamless experience.

And if you have a compatible Samsung tablet*, there’s a further integration with the Galaxy Book3 series, where the tablet can be used as a wireless second display for the laptop. 

It certainly won’t be a cheap investment, but if you’re keen to benefit from the seamless nature of an ecosystem, Samsung’s offering is a solid one. It’s not the only manufacturer doing this though, with rivals such as Apple providing similarly slick experiences between iPhone, iPad and Macbook. 

*Compatible Samsung tablets: Galaxy Tab S7, Tab S7+, Tab S7 FE, Tab S8, Tab S8+, Tab S8 Ultra 

5. Colours and availability

Galaxy S23 release date and colours

The Samsung Galaxy S23 release date is set for February 17, which is when the handsets will be available in stores and pre-orders will begin to be delivered. Speaking on pre-orders, they’re open now. 

You’ll get a choice of four colours no matter which of the three handsets you pick, with Phantom Black, Cream, Green and Lavender in the line-up. 

The Green and Lavender shades caught our attention during our early preview time with the handsets. They’re subtle, and more interesting than the now commonplace black and white offerings. 

6. Tech specs

Screen, power, cameras and more

  • Screen size: 6.1-inch
  • Resolution: FHD+
  • Dimensions: 70.9 x 146.3 x 7.6mm
  • Weight: 168g
  • Rear cameras: 50MP / 12MP / 10MP 
  • Front camera: 12MP 
  • CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Battery: 3,900mAh 
  • Storage & Price: 128GB: £849 | 256GB: £899 
  • Screen size: 6.6-inch
  • Resolution: FHD+
  • Dimensions: 76.2 x 157.8 x 7.6mm
  • Weight: 196g
  • Rear cameras: 50MP / 12MP / 10MP 
  • Front camera: 12MP 
  • CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Battery: 4,700mAh 
  • Storage & Price: 256GB: £1,049 | 512GB: £1,149 
  • Screen size: 6.8-inch
  • Resolution: QHD+
  • Dimensions: 78.1 X 163.4 X 8.9mm
  • Weight: 234g
  • Rear cameras: 200MP / 12MP / 10MP / 10MP 
  • Front camera: 12MP 
  • CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy 
  • RAM: 8GB / 12GB
  • Battery: 5,000mAh 
  • Storage & Price: 256GB: £1,249 | 512GB: £1,399 | 1TB: £1,599 

7. Should you upgrade?

Take a moment to consider your options

Samsung’s flagship smartphones offer a premium smartphone experience, but in recent years the improvements with each annual iteration have been minimal.  

On paper, the Galaxy S23 series is an improvement on the S22 series it’s succeeding, but the likelihood is you’re unlikely to see much difference in day-to-day usage. In fact, if you’re using a Galaxy S21 series phone (launched in 2021), the latest handsets aren’t lightyears ahead. 

So should you considering upgrading to a Galaxy S23 phone? If you’re already using a previous-gen S22, we’d say no. Save your money, as the phone already in your hand will offer a very similar experience. 

If your phone is older, by which we mean you’ve had it two years or longer, you may be starting to consider an upgrade, but even then the S23 comes at premium – especially as it’s only just launched. 

With the introduction of the new flagship series of phones, you’ll see price reductions for the previous generation. Shop around and you may find yourself a much better deal for last year’s S22, S22 Plus or S22 Ultra. All are still supremely powerful and offering a premium experience. 

However, if you’ve got the money to spend and you’re after the best Samsung has to offer in a smartphone the S23 series will provide you with just that. If your budget allows – and your palms can accommodate – we’d recommend the Galaxy S23 Ultra.  

It has the biggest advancements over the previous generation, and packs seriously powerful photography features which are ripe for experimentation. 

John McCann

Written by John McCann he/him


John McCann is the Editor-in-Chief of Tech for Saga Exceptional. John has been a technology journalist for more than a decade, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He’s interviewed CEOs from some of the world’s biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4.

He’s reported on pretty much every area of consumer technology, from laptops, tablets, smartwatches and smartphones to smart speakers, video doorbells, vacuum cleaners, electric cars, headphones and more. During his time in journalism, John has written for TechRadar, T3, What Laptop, Windows 8 magazine and Gizmodo UK, and he’s appeared in the Evening Standard and Metro newspapers.

Outside of work, John is a passionate Watford FC and Green Bay Packers fan, enjoys a Sunday afternoon watching the F1, loves a top quality burger or pizza for dinner and is addicted to travel. He’s also a Guinness World Record Holder and appeared in the Olympic Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 games, dressed as one of The Beatles from the Sgt. Pepper’s album cover. He’s even got the pictures to prove it!

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