Samsung started the year strong with the launch of the new S23 lineup. We’ve already reviewed the S23 Ultra and the much larger S23+. This time around, we’ll take an in-depth look at the standard S23.
It may be the smallest and most affordable member of the S23 family, but it still packs powerful specs, a nice camera, and many more. More importantly, the phone also features some nice upgrades, building on the success of its predecessor, the S22, which was only released last year.
Table of Contents
Design and Construction
Starting with the design, you might think the S23 looks identical to the S22 with minor changes here and there. And honestly, you’re not wrong. For starters, Samsung tweaked the styling of the S23 to have fewer curves as compared to the S22. As a result, it has a boxier design which makes it nicer to hold.
But perhaps the most noticeable difference can be seen at the back of the phone. Samsung ditched the camera bezel found on the S22 and instead, the three camera lenses protrude from the body directly. It’s a rather subtle change but, some of us here like the new design while others prefer the older one. What do you think?
Overall, it’s nice to hold and feels very premium. I really like the design of the back panel too since it’s very smudge resistant. You don’t leave any fingerprints either. As a result, there’s no need to use the S23 with a case too. Plus this unit we have in Lavender is really nice, and it would be a shame to cover up the color.
The buttons are very accessible too even when you’re using the phone with just one hand. That’s because the power button and volume buttons are located both on the right side.
Meanwhile, at the bottom, you will find the USB-C port, a loudspeaker, and the sim-card slot. No button on the left side or top.
Since the S23 is only 5.76 inches long, you will have no problems carrying it even if you have small hands. It also fits your pockets nicely, but it will be a bit uncomfortable if you have two similarly thick phones.
Display and Multimedia
The S23 features a 6.1-inch AMOLED screen with thin bezels, a variable refresh rate of up to a maximum of 120Hz, and a 1080 x 2340 resolution. The screen is one of the brightest we’ve ever used with Samsung claiming a maximum of 1750 nits. So directly under the sun or in no light, the S23 has you covered. If you do max the brightness though, there will be a warning so just a heads up.
Aside from having a bright backlight, the colors are great too with very nice contrast and high saturation when needed. As a result, this makes it perfect for watching videos or gaming. Even editing photos and videos are nice and easy thanks to the accurate and vivid colors of the display.
While it is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus 2, it’s best to get a screen protector for the S23. It is admittedly tough, but it is safer to still have one. You can check out what happened to the screen of the S23+ in our review.
One of the best features of the Samsung S23 is the triple camera system. There’s a 50MP primary sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide, and a 10MP telephoto. Meanwhile, the front camera found under the display shoots at 12MP.
Simply put, the camera system on Samsung S23 captures photos in great detail. From our experience, the photos are sharp, have nice contrast, and color accurate. Even if the lighting is harsh, the system can automatically lower highlights to bring out the details in the background. Even when you zoom in, the details still remain. However, to set expectations when shooting at the max 30X zoom on photos.
Even shooting at night is no issue with the S23. The photos don’t look filtered like other Android phones, and you can still make out the details of the subject matter. It’s not too grainy either. You can even shoot in RAW+JPEG if you want to edit the photos in Lightroom.
For video, the camera shoots at a maximum of [email protected] For those that want to try their hands at shooting video, there’s also [email protected], meaning you can slow down the footage during edits. The camera also features a range of shooting modes, providing users with a lot of options to capture their memories and play around with the camera system.
You can take a look at the sample photos and videos and see them for yourself.
OS, Apps, and UI
The Samsung S23 runs on Android 13 skinned with Samsung’s One UI 5.1. This means previous Samsung users will have no problem using this phone, and you get to take advantage of all the shortcuts and multitasking features.
However, I do wish they added a bit more styling to the skin since I find it looking a bit dated. Nonetheless, it’s still a great system to use.
Performance and Benchmarks
One of the bigger changes in the Samsung S23 compared to the S22 is the chipset. Instead of the previous Exynos chipset, the S23 is now powered by a custom Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset made for Samsung Galaxy devices.
It also comes with 8GB RAM out of the box which can be expanded by a maximum of 8GB if you tweak the settings. As a result, the phone is now a lot more powerful and efficient compared to before, and it is noticeable.
The Samsung S23 can run any game without any issues. Genshin Impact can be run with all settings on high, and you won’t notice any framerate drops. However, we noticed that the phone did heat up a bit with all settings maxed out.
Playing rhythm games is very enjoyable too with the 120Hz screen and the high touch sampling rate when running on Game Mode. No input lags or screen lags, meaning you can always hit the notes perfectly.
Internal storage space choices for the regular S23 are 128GB or 256GB. Unfortunately, Samsung did not bring back the expandable storage feature as found on older Galaxy models. With that, some users might find the storage space a bit small given the size of apps, photos, and videos nowadays.
Battery and Connectivity
The battery on the Samsung S23 isn’t that big. It only packs a 3900mAh battery but can last all day easily with moderate usage. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support the 45W wired fast charging speed of the S23+ and the S23 Ultra. Instead, it’s only limited to 25W, which is not bad. Still, I wish Samsung also offered the 45W fast charging on the base S23.
If you don’t like charging with a wire, the phone does support 15W wireless charging. There’s also 4.5W reverse wireless charging if you want to charge other devices.
Throughout my use of the S23, it did last me over a day when I’m not using it too often. But once I start using the phone to play games or watch videos to pass time, the battery starts to go down quite fast. That said, it’s not bad since I would have around 10-15 percent left before charging it at night. But I would sometimes plug it in around 25 percent just to be sure I have enough battery for the rest of the evening. For reference, the phone scored 15 hours and 1 min no PCMark’s battery test.
As for connectivity, it supports 5G, 4G LTE, WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC and more.
All things considered, the base Samsung S23 is a solid smartphone with a really a great camera, solid performance, and a beautiful design.
On paper, it is down on specs when compared to the S23+ and the S23 Ultra, especially when it comes to storage and even battery. However, it still delivers what you would expect from a flagship model both in features, function, and performance. At the same time, the standard S23 is more affordable than its bigger siblings, making it lighter for your wallet.
For those interested, the Samsung S23 starts at PHP 53,990 for the 8GB|128GB and PHP 57,990 for the 8GB|256GB variant. For those that currently use the S22, that price might not be worth the upgrade even if you do factor in Samsung’s trade-in offer. But for those that use older Samsung Galaxy S-series phones, the S23 is definitely a great buy and upgrade if you have the budget.
Samsung Galaxy S23 specs:
6.1-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display
120Hz refresh rate
Gorilla Glass Victus 2
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC
Samsung Exynos 2200 SoC
128, 256GB storage
• 50MP Dual Pixel F1.8 OIS (wide)
• 12MP FF F2.2 (ultrawide)
• 10MP Telephoto F2.4 (3x tele, 30x Space Zoom)
12MP Dual Pixel F2.2 front camera
5G, 4G LTE
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, Galileo
Fingerprint scanner (in-display)
AKG Stereo Speakers
IP68 water and dust resistance
OneUI 5.1 (Android 13)
3,900mAh battery w/ 25W fast charging, wireless charging, reverse wireless charging
70.9 x 146.3 x 7.6mm
Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender
I bought this on March 8, Wednesday at Samsung store at a discounted price because they have a trade-in program. I traded-in my Note 10 Lite for S23 (256/8 variant) and it is a huge upgrade for me and my very first flagship phone. So far the animation is smooth as silk and I can easily use the phone with just one hand. Worth the money spent!