The Samsung Galaxy S23 might be the best option for those who do not want big smartphones that do not fit in pockets and handbags. It is similar to the previous Samsung Galaxy S22 in terms of its positioning but it is as capable as the larger Galaxy S23+ and Galaxy S23 Ultra or other flagship Android smartphones. This article reviews and highlights the pros and cons of this flagship smartphone from Samsung.
Pros of Samsung Galaxy S23: Reasons Why You Should Buy
The Galaxy S22 was one of the best smartphones of 2022. It was still far from perfect. Samsung made significant improvements and iterations to the flagship-grade vanilla device of its Galaxy S23 lineup to address the drawbacks of its predecessor.
Of course, similar to most mid-range and flagship Android smartphones nowadays, this smartphone from Samsung sports both mmWave 5G and sub-6 5G connectivity, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, near-field communication, and USB Type C 3.2.
The device also comes with a high-quality always-on OLED display with an adaptive refresh rate that maximizes at 120Hz. The screen looks bright and vivid. Brightness peaks at 1750 nits. The OLED display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2.
Below are the more specific selling points and advantages of the Samsung Galaxy S23:
1. Newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Samsung finally decided to drop using its Exynos chips on its flagship devices. All Samsung Galaxy S23 devices now ship with the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. This is one of the biggest selling points of this device.
The newer Qualcomm chip is more powerful than the previous Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Results from different benchmark tests showed that it is around 24 percent faster than its predecessor. It also has a 7 percent higher CPU clock speed and around 20 percent higher GPU clock speed. This new chip also has a larger L3 cache size at 8MB.
Furthermore, compared to other flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S23 remains capable. It has better multi-core performance than the iPhone 14 from Apple and Android devices such as the Google Pixel 7 and OnePlus 11. It even outperforms the iPhone 14 Pro and its A16 Bionic chis when it comes to rendering graphics.
There are still cases in which other flagship devices outshine the S23 but the fact remains that it is one of the most powerful smartphones in the market. It can handle intense gaming, photo and video editing apps, and multitasking with a hitch.
2. Better Battery and More Energy Efficient
Another significant improvement of the Galaxy S23 over its predecessor is its larger battery. The previous Galaxy S22 came with a 3700 mAh lithium-ion battery which was a downgrade compared to the 4000 mAh lithium-ion battery of the Galaxy S21.
The S23 sports a 3900 mAh lithium-ion battery. This is a little bit smaller than the Galaxy S21 but its overall battery performance is better due to the power-efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. This new chip from Qualcomm offers greater power efficiency and power management than older-generation flagship chipsets.
It still does not have the best battery performance compared to bigger phones that pack bigger batteries but the Galaxy S23 arguably has a decent battery life considering its size. This device will last a full day with average to above-average use.
3. Features and Capabilities of the Software
The device ships with Android 13 and Samsung One UI 5.1. The interface of the One UI might not be as clean as a stock Android smartphone or the interface of Google Pixel devices but it has some degree of straightforwardness for a clutter-free user experience.
It is worth highlighting the fact that Samsung smartphones are famous for their multitasking features. The Galaxy S23 has the same “multi-window” function that allows multiple apps to run on the current screen at the same time. Each window can be resized as well. A particular app can be opened as a resizable window. There is also a split-screen feature.
Using the Samsung DeX mode expands further the usefulness of this device and the capabilities of the Android operating system. Plugging this phone into an external monitor or connecting it wirelessly through a compatible display output will bring in a desktop-like experience. The DeX interface also allows both mouse and keyboard inputs.
Samsung also promises continuous after-sales support through four years of operating system and software updates and upgrades, and up to five years of security updates. Owning this device means that a particular user does not need to spend on a new phone until 2028.
4. Cleaner Look and Overall Compact Built
Another advantage of the Samsung Galaxy S23 is its compact form factor and overall clean and sleek built quality. This device remains true to the design philosophy and selling proposition of the previous Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S22.
The device is smaller compared to most Android smartphones. Its size is comparable to the iPhone 14 and the iPhone SE 2022. It is a lightweight smartphone at 168 grams or 5.93 ounces and smaller with a dimension of 146.3 x 70.9 x 7.6 millimeters or 5.76 x 2.79 x 0.30 inches. The diagonal size of the screen measures 6.1 inches.
Improvements in the design of the rear of the Galaxy S23 are noticeable compared to the S22 and S21. This is a welcome enhancement. Samsung ditches the clunky rear camera bump and the back looks sleeker and minimal while adhering. The three rear cameras now blend well with the straightforward design of the entire device.
Nevertheless, considering its physical profile, this device is perfect for those who are not the biggest fans of larger and bulkier phones. It fits in most pockets and handbags. Note that smaller phones are ideal for users with smaller hands and for one-hand operation.
5. Above-Average Rear Camera Performance
The capabilities of smartphone cameras have advanced since the first Android smartphones were introduced. The Samsung Galaxy S23 has flagship-level camera levels that can compete against most mid-range and some flagship-level smartphones in the market.
Located on the back of the device are three camera lenses in its rear camera system. These include a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera with Super Steady video, a 50-megapixel wide-angle camera with dual PDAF and optical image stabilization, and a 10-megapixel with 3x optical zoom telephoto camera with PDAF and optical image stabilization.
Most of the capabilities of the rear cameras come from the computational photography features of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and the internal software capabilities of Samsung. Photos taken using the Portrait mode still look good. It can isolate small details on a subject like strands of hair. The foreground-background separation can rival mid-range consumer-grade cameras.
The Expert RAW feature captures high-resolution RAW format for better post-processing. Video recording is available in various resolutions including 1080p high definition and ultra-high definitions such as 4K resolution and 8K resolution.
Cons of Samsung Galaxy S23: Reasons Why You Should Not Buy
There are other flagship Android smartphones for 2023 on top of the bigger Galaxy S23+ and Galaxy S23 Ultra. More will come from other manufacturers. The availability of these devices provides consumers with more albeit confusing options to choose from.
Some individuals might not be too keen to purchase the Samsung Galaxy S23. Either one of its bigger siblings might be a better option. It is also important to underscore the fact that there are cheaper but capable devices both at the mid-range and flagship levels.
Below are the more specific issues and disadvantages of the Samsung Galaxy S23:
1. Small Design Might Not Be Ideal for Some
There are advantages to using a smartphone with a smaller form factor. They are more convenient to use. But there are also disadvantages. There are instances in which bigger smartphones are better and more functional.
Remember that the Galaxy S23 has a 6.1-inch OLED display. This might not be suitable for those individuals with vision problems or visual impairments. A smaller screen real estate translates to a smaller graphical user interface. There is less to see on a small screen. Some users might struggle to see and understand small graphical items such as fonts.
The sharp OLED screen helps but it can only do so much. Individuals who suffer from farsightedness will still struggle. Those who are accustomed to using larger phones with larger screens might still have a hard time transitioning to a smaller screen. Large screens have been reported to reduce visual discomfort or eyestrains.
A smaller screen is also counterproductive for multi-tasking. There is little room to display content. Multiple windows are better suited for large displays. Mobile gaming experience may also suffer from a small form factor and a small screen.
2. Disappointing Night Mode and Selfie Camera
Of course, while the rear cameras of the Galaxy S23 are capable, they cannot be compared with the capabilities of the Galaxy S23 Ultra and even other Android smartphones with mobile photography as one of their main selling points.
Samsung claims that its rear camera system is professional-grade with high-resolution sensors and aided with artificial intelligence to capture clearer photos. Photos are purported to be bright and colorful even under low-light situations. However, in real-world applications, this is not the case. Low-light photography is disappointing.
The device seems to have a hard time adjusting for the warmer tones in scenarios with ambient street lights. It also tends to drop its shutter speed even in moderate indoor lighting. This results in blurred images. The telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom also struggles when taking snaps in low-light environments because of its small sensors.
Adding to the drawbacks of the Samsung Galaxy S23 is its front-facing or selfie camera. The 12-megapixel shooter is equipped with faster autofocus but it produces self-portraits with lusterless facial details and even low-quality selfies under low-light environments.
3. Average-to-Below-Average Video Recording
The rear camera system can record 1080p or Full HD videos at 120 frames per second or 4K videos at 60 frames per second and 8K videos at 30 frames per second. The front-facing camera can record 4K videos at 60 frames per second.
High-definition video recording has become a common feature in most mid-range and flagship phones. However, even with these capabilities, these do not equate to high-quality videos. The Samsung Galaxy S23 is a testament to this point. It records decent-quality videos under good lighting and it maximizes its optical and electronic image stabilization features.
Nevertheless, considering the capabilities of the iPhone 14 Pro or the Vivo X80 and x90 series of photography-centric smartphones, the Galaxy S23 underperforms. The videos tend to look somewhat bright but flatted when recorded using standard settings. This can be remedied using the Pro Mode where settings can be tweaked.
Videos recorded under moderate-to-low lighting conditions are below average in terms of quality. The device struggles with proper exposure and capturing as much colors and details as possible. Low-light videos appear dull and bleak.
4. Price Tag and Availability of Other Options
The base model of the device with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage retails for USD 1199.00. A configuration with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage is priced at USD 1299.00 while a 512GB of storage configuration with 12GB of RAM retails for USD 1399.00.
Nevertheless, compared with the Samsung Galaxy S23+ and the Galaxy S23 Ultra, the vanilla Galaxy S23 is more affordable. However, considering the availability of other options and its limitations, it is not a cheap phone. There are other devices in the market that can provide a better value for money depending on their intended use cases.
A comparable configuration of the Google Pixel 7 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which is a photography-centric smartphone introduced in 2022 that offers a straightforward Android experience, retails for around USD 700.00. The Vivo X80 and X80 Pro of 2022 also retail for around USD 855.00 and USD 1000.00 respectively.
There are also devices ideal for mobile gaming. The 512GB storage configuration of the iPhone 14 is priced at around USD 1099.00 while dedicated Android gaming phones such as the Asus ROG 6 with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage sell for around USD 900.00.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Review Verdict: The Good and The Bad
The vanilla Samsung Galaxy S23 will definitely become one of the better smartphones of 2023 due to its impressive processing capabilities and enticing small form factor. This Samsung device is more of an all-rounder than a feature-dedicate or use-case-specific smartphone. It is arguably a well-balanced smartphone for average users.
It is ideal for individuals who want a powerful but lightweight or compact smartphone that can handle resource-intensive apps such as mobile games, photo and video editing apps, and video conferencing apps. Its overall camera performance is also decent.
However, for individuals who are serious about mobile photography, the Samsung Galaxy S23 is not suitable. Remember that its rear and selfie camera systems struggle with low-light photography and video recording. There are better options available in the market that have more photographic-centric features and capabilities.
The small form factor is also not ideal for hardcore mobile gamers who would benefit from using smartphones with larger and more immersive screens. The small screen might also become an issue for individuals with visual impairments.