On 1 February 2023, Samsung ushered in the latest era for the Galaxy S range. With the release of the S23 range of flagship smartphones, the brand brought many new features. However, the standout for most was its upgraded cameras across the lineup. I spent a few weeks with the new Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus, switching from my S22 Plus daily driver to make a side-by-side comparison to judge whether an upgrade would be worth the additional cost.
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As you would have undoubtedly seen, Samsung has focused its marketing campaign on the new range on its upgraded cameras. That said, we do have to wonder about the rest of the upgrades, how they compare to the previous generation and if It’s indeed a good step up to justify a smartphone upgrade.
Build and Design
As with many of its predecessors, the Samsung design team again doesn’t stray too far regarding design changes. The most significant and notable change year-on-year is the camera deck. Instead of the island approach we’ve become accustomed to, Samsung has opted to keep its camera configuration essentially clean. It protrudes a touch from the rest of the rear casing, but that’s the extent of it.
The rest of the design remains mostly untouched. It has a slightly more squared approach to its edges than the S21 and S22 ranges before. However, the remainder of the aluminium chassis is left intact. It has all the same ports, buttons and input positions as the S22 units.
In terms of colours, the S23 range keeps two of its previous colours, including the Phantom Black and Green, while adding two new ones with Lavender and Cream. The Phantom Black will likely be the most popular of the colours, which is also what we received for review. The palette has a matte black finish, identical to the S22 I compared side-by-side.
Other similarities between the S23+ and S22+ are their 196g weight and stereo speaker configuration. In addition, the brand has somewhat upgraded the build quality, including the new Gorilla Glass Victus 2 screen on the front and back.
Overall, you’re not getting much in the way of an overhaul on looks. The aesthetics are still solid but don’t stand out over any generation of the Galaxy S range before it.
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Screen and Display
The one aspect I assumed Samsung would change between iterations is the screen. However, they’ve stuck the same panel onto the S23 range as it featured on the S22. This includes the standard S23, the Plus and the Ultra editions. It was a surprise, to say the least.
More specifically, this is the same Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel with 120Hz and HDR10+ support. It does, however, tweak things on the brightness aspect, allowing for screen protection but still offering up to 1750 nits peak brightness.
Furthermore, it has the same screen size of 6.6″. This also includes the resolution at 1,080×2,340px, with the same 393ppi pixel density.
Again, comparing the two devices side-by-side playing the same videos, viewing the same images and playing the same games, there’s no difference in quality, brightness, colour depth and the like. So, in the end, there’s not much to discuss if you’ve experienced the previous generation’s screens.
Performance and Battery
Where Samsung has made good performance upgrades with the new Qualcomm SoC. The Galaxy S23 Plus features the new Qualcomm SM8550-AC Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (4 nm) processor with its Octo-Core CPU. This includes a 3.36GHz Cortex-X3 CPU, alongside x2 2.8GHz Cortex-A715, x2 2.8GHz Cortex-A710 and x3 2.0GHz Cortex-A510 CPUs. The SoC includes an Adreno 740 GPU.
Performances from the new SoC bring with it performance upgrades regarding computation power, as well as efficiencies for multitasking and increased battery life.
There are two variations to the storage options, including a 256GB with 8GB RAM and a 512GB with 8GB RAM. For a limited time, Samsung offered the 512GB at the 256GB pricing but has since reverted to standardised pricing.
Although the S23 range still features the Android 13 OS, which many of its most recent smartphones were upgraded to in 2022, the new range comes with One UI 5.1 out of the box. This brings with it a host of optimisations and fresh features, especially in the form of multitasking. In addition, apps such as Dual Messaging and DeX have received updates to make them more powerful and easy to use. I tested Samsung DeX using a laptop docking station with a Type-C cable for charging, which automatically detected the S23+ from where I could launch the desktop OS. It worked great and felt a lot more lightweight than previous iterations.
Battery performance has been one of the best upgrades on the One UI 5.1 updates, along with the Qualcomm SoC. This means I could push the battery life slightly further over the S22+. I could easily power through the day on a single charge and have another 20-40% remaining on Day 2.
Even though Samsung’s marketing focuses its campaign on improved photography, the S23 and S23 Plus units didn’t see much improvement. Yes, software tweaks with the new One UI 5.1 improve the performance slightly but nothing close to the overhaul on the Ultra.
I tried to find any significant changes to the hardware of the camera configuration, but there aren’t many if any. On paper, it features the same triple-lens camera setup as on the S22+. This includes the following:
- 50 MP, f/1.8, 24mm (wide), 1/1.56″, 1.0µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
- 10 MP, f/2.4, 70mm (telephoto), 1/3.94″, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom
- 12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚ (ultrawide), 1/2.55″ 1.4µm, Super Steady video
There is one camera that has been upgraded, and that’s the selfie cam. Upgrading from a 10MP configuration, it now sports a 12MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), Dual Pixel PDAF lens.
Is It Worth Upgrading to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus?
When unboxing the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus for the first time and noticing the new camera layout, it seemed clear that plenty of work was put into redesigning both the design and internal hardware. However, after a few days of use, it became clear that this wasn’t the case.
Almost nothing has changed between the Galaxy S range’s two Plus iterations. Yes, there is a slight design change, just as slight as the Qualcomm SoC. If you already own the Galaxy S22+ smartphone and want an upgrade, the S23 Plus is not your device. You may be better served looking at the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which has a much broader feature set, although at a higher premium.
If you can find a good enough sale for the older S22+, if you’re coming from a previous Galaxy S smartphone or another brand, the S23+ may be the best option for future updates with standard pricing not being that disparate.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
- Screen remains bright and colourful
- More efficient battery life
- Updated One UI out the box
- No big changes over the Galaxy S22 Plus
- Can run a bit warm at times
Ease of Learning
Ease of Use
Value for Money