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Samsung Galaxy S23+ and S23 review: Minor refresh

Samsung Galaxy S23+ and S23 review: Minor refresh

Samsung Galaxy S23 Series

The Samsung Galaxy S23+ and S23 phones are probably the default options for Android users looking for a flagship experience. Yes, they are minor, iterative updates from last year's models. But the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset inside these phones make for a pleasant, and snappy affair with excellent battery life. The smaller Galaxy S23, in particular, is also one of the best compact smartphones you can find now. I mostly spent my time with the S23+ for this review.

Quick specs

  • S23: 6.1-inch, S23+: 6.6-inch, both: AMOLED (2,340 x 1,080 pixels, 120Hz refresh rate, 1,750 nits max brightness)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy with 8GB RAM
  • S23: 3,900mAh, 25W wired charging, S23+: 4,700mAh, 45W wired charging
  • Cameras: 50MP, 10MP telephoto (3x optical), 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP front

Barring the battery capacity and screen size, both the S23+ and S23 are essentially identical. In fact, they use the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip that's also found in the S23 Ultra (and exclusive to Samsung). Both the S23+ and S23 have 8GB of RAM, though the base storage is 128GB for the S23 and 256GB for the S23+. Performance is excellent. This Galaxy chip scored 1,513 in Geekbench 5's single-core test, similar to the Xiaomi 13 Pro. The S23+ also had higher peaks in 3DMark's Wildlife Extreme Stress Test, which puts the device through 20 consecutive benchmark loops. The S23+ achieved a best score of 3,811 compared with the Xiaomi's 2,972. But while the Xiaomi 13 Pro mostly maintained its performance throughout the stress test with just a 2% dip, the S23+ declined to 2,230 (decrease of over 40%) for its worst run.

Samsung Galaxy S23
The handy-sized, olive-green Galaxy S23. Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

Design-wise, the S23 phones are almost identical to its predecessors. However, the “contour cut” camera bump introduced in the Galaxy S21 phones has been removed in the S23 models. They are relatively light for high-end smartphones, with the larger S23+ at 196g — the narrower S23 (168g) is also perfect for one-handed use. However, the S23 has a smaller 3,900mAh battery compared with 4,700mAh for the S23+. This difference worked out to be around 4 hours in our video-loop battery test at maximum brightness. The S23+ lasted an outstanding 20hr 35min, while the S23 also impressed at 16hr 24min. The S23+ also charges at a faster 45W (wired) compared with 25W for the S23. Like most flagship phones, they are both IP68-rated for water and dust resistance. The displays are flat with thin bezels, and are legible under a bright sun. The in-display fingerprint sensor works promptly and accurately.

Samsung Galaxy S23
Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

The cameras on the S23 phones are the same as the ones on the S22 series. You'll get a 50MP primary camera with OIS, a 12MP ultra-wide camera, and a 10MP telephoto camera with OIS and 3x optical zoom. There's also a 12MP selfie camera that captured a surprising amount of detail (my wrinkles were very prominent), with portrait shots having good separation between subject and background. In the day with plenty of light, photos generally look great with plenty of detail, and good contrast. The 3x telephoto camera was handy, and usable. Low-light performance, though, was less impressive. I noticed a fair amount of noise in all my night shots, while parts of several photos had a slight blurriness to them. Overall, the S23+ and S23 have very capable cameras, but perhaps not quite top-tier.

What impressed me the most about the S23 phones is the snappy performance, and excellent battery life. I usually end my day with around 50% battery life on the S23+, and wake up to over 40% without charging it overnight. If you have an Exynos-powered S21 or S22 phone, the S23 models are worth upgrading for this sole reason. But on its own, the S23 Series face competition from the likes of the Google Pixel 7 phones, and Xiaomi 13 Pro. Google's phones are more affordable, and have better cameras, too. But Samsung wins on performance, and battery life. The recently-launched Xiaomi 13 Pro (S$1,599) also takes better photos than the S23+. The Samsung Galaxy S23+ (from S$1,528) and S23 (from S$1,188) phones are available from Lazada, and Shopee. You can also get exclusive Lime and Graphite options from Samsung's online store (with four-week wait).

See Also
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Note: Review unit provided by Samsung.

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