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Hands on with the Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus
Same but different.
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The non-Ultra Galaxy S phones are never quite as flashy as Samsung's crown jewel, but given they're a little more affordable, they're inevitably the go-to Android flagships for many Australians.
We had a chance to spend a little hands-on time with the Galaxy S23 and the Galaxy S23 Plus ahead of today's announcement. While the pair very much stick to the tried and true formula, they still have some welcome improvements. Here are our first thoughts.
Longer lasting battery. The Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus both have larger batteries than their predecessors, with Samsung claiming they'll last up to 20% longer.
Both phones have an extra 200mAh of battery capacity, which is promising in itself, and Samsung says the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor adds further efficiencies. The devices are a little thicker to account for the bigger batteries, but impercetably so.
When testing Galaxy S22 family last year, we found the Galaxy S23 Plus battery respectable, but were a little disappointed with the standard Galaxy S22.
While there's no way to gauge actual battery life from a demo session, I'm cautiously optimistic. It's good to see Samsung treat battery life as the important criterion it is.
An improved selfie camera. The entire Galaxy S23 family now feature a 12MP selfie camera that's been upgraded with faster autofocus. This should lead to more reliable selfies - especially in low light. It's very similar to what Apple did with the iPhone 14 family.
While I was only able to take selfies in a controlled environment, I was able to get surprisingly bright photos in a room with very little ambient light.
A more refined design. The Galaxy S23 doesn't deviate from the S22 too much, but it does have a cleaner design. Samsung has killed the camera bump, with the cameras now floating on the back glass. This brings it in line with the aesthetic Samsung uses for the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and it looks just that little bit cleaner. I'm a fan.
The new lavendar shade is also lovely.
Identical rear-facing cameras. While the Galaxy S23 Ultra benefits from an imposing new 200MP primary lens, the camera configuration on the back of the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus is identical to last year. While there are some new software tricks like an astrophotography mode - which Samsung has called astrography - it's a pretty boring year on the camera front Samsung's non-Ultra devices.
More expensive. Both the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus start at $100 more than last year's models. Admittedly I was expecting a larger price hike, but no matter which way you slice it, it sucks when devices get more expensive. The Galaxy S23 Plus does however start with 256GB of storage this time around, somewhat offsetting the more expensive price tag.
Iterative. The Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus are just very samey when compared to last year's models. Sure they benefit from some improvements like the new selfie camera, but there's not a lot here that feels overly exciting. They seem like a great update if you're on an S20 or older, but its hard to pick out clear selling points when compared to more recent models.
The Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus feel par the course for a flagship launch in 2023. You get some handy upgrades like a more reliable selfie camera and better battery life, but there's no real wow factor.
This doesn't take away from how refined the new phones feel, but they lack a clear selling point for those outside of the upgrade cycle.
If you were already ready to pull the trigger on an S23, go for it. If you were thinking about upgrading early, there's nothing here that's overly tempting - at least on first impression.
How much does the Samsung Galaxy S23 cost?
You'll pay a minimum of $1,349 for a Galaxy S23 outright with 128GB. If you're looking for a Galaxy S23 Plus, the starting price is now $1,649, but you do get 256GB of storage as a default.
Here's a look at a selection of Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 plans: