With its neat 6.1-inch screen, the Galaxy S23 is Samsung’s smallest release in its 2023 line-up. Read our full review to see what this palm-friendly phone has to offer.
Our Samsung Galaxy S23 review in summary
Samsung’s standard model flagship for 2023, the Galaxy S23 packs plenty of power in its pint-sized frame.
As a standalone phone, it shines. With its new Qualcomm chip, dazzling display, bigger battery capacity – and a host of other fantastic features – it’s a great all-rounder.
And it’s perfectly proportioned for one-handed use, making it easy to recommend to people who prefer a pocketable phone.
The Samsung Galaxy S23
- Dimensions: 146.3 x 70.9 x 7.6mm
- Weight: 168g
- Three rear cameras: 12MP ultra wide, 50MP wide, 10MP telephoto
- 12MP front camera
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset
- 8GB of RAM
- Storage options: 128GB, 256GB
- Operating system: Android 13
At first glance, it seems almost the same as the Samsung Galaxy S22. Indeed, it looks and feels very similar to its predecessor.
However, Samsung has refined and finetuned this handset to create a true powerhouse of a phone. It’s among the first Samsung devices (along with its bigger siblings, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra) to feature the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip.
It’s also got a bigger battery – and, when working alongside the new power-efficient chip, it delivers a much better battery life.
Samsung has kept the Galaxy S23’s rear camera hardware the same as the Galaxy S22. It sports three lenses: a 50MP f/1.8 wide lens, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra wide lens, and a 10MP f/2.4 telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom.
While it lacks some of the tech of the Ultra models, it’s still an extremely versatile camera system, with the ability to consistently produce excellent shots in all sorts of situations.
Photos are vivid and vibrant straight out the camera. True to Samsung’s style, they’re a little on the oversaturated side – but they’re certainly pleasing to the eye, and ready to be shared on social media.
Thanks to new improved software and a more powerful processor, its computational photography prowess is more effective than ever. This translates into better photo processing and image stabilisation, particularly in low-light and night-time conditions.
Not to mention, the Galaxy S23 presents some impressive zoom capabilities. As well as 3x optical zoom, it has AI-assisted space zoom that goes up to an astonishing 30x – and it produces some pretty stable shots, too.
It’s not the absolute best on the market – that title may well go to the Galaxy S23 Ultra, with its 100x zoom – but it’s certainly impressive for a smartphone of its size. And it beats the iPhone 14’s zoom, hands down.
The Galaxy S23 doesn’t massively deviate from the Galaxy S22, though it does present one small yet striking difference.
Keeping in line with the Galaxy S series, it retains the flat edge-to-edge glass screen, brushed glass back and curved aluminium wraparound frame. It’s also essentially the same size and weight as last year’s phone, meaning it’s the ideal size for one-handed use.
However, it’s gotten rid of the metal contour cut camera module found on the S22 and S21 models. Instead, it follows the design of the S23 Ultra, embedding each camera lens in the body of the phone. Of course, whether that’s an improvement is down to personal preference – but the cleaner look is undeniably sleek and streamlined.
The front and back are both crafted with the latest Gorilla Glass Victus 2, which ensures it’s tough and durable. And it’s IP68-rated for maximum protection against dust, as well as water resistance (to a depth of 1.5m for up to 30 minutes).
Overall, the Galaxy S23 both looks and feels like a truly premium device.
You can choose from four colours: Green, Cream, Phantom Black and Lavender. There are also two colours exclusive to the Samsung.com website: Lime and Graphite.
Samsung is world-leading when it comes to screens, and the Galaxy S23 can attest to that.
Although it’s a rather diminutive size for smartphone screens these days, the edge-to-edge 6.1-inch display makes the most of its real estate. It’s sharp, vivid and colourful, and you’ll enjoy using it to watch videos or play games.
It’s the same AMOLED 2X Infinity-O FHD+ display as the Galaxy S22, but the mantra, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, rings true. The dynamic refresh rate of 48Hz-120Hz makes for smooth and responsive scrolling.
It also has an increased brightness of 1,750 nits (up from the Galaxy S22’s 1,300 nits), making it easy to use in direct sunlight. In fact, the Galaxy S23’s display is one of the brightest on the market.
Operating system and performance
The Galaxy S23 is powered by the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, Qualcomm’s latest and greatest mobile CPU. It easily beats the previous generation’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, and inches ever closer to the iPhone 14 Pro’s A16 Bionic.
What does this mean for you? Well, the Galaxy S23 will be able to handle intensive multi-tasking with ease, and using apps and mobile gaming should feel snappier than ever. The new chip also unlocks powerful image processing, taking your smartphone photography to the next level. In general, it means a more all-round impressive performance.
It’s also worth mentioning that this is the first time there isn’t a location-based difference in chips. Previously, handsets sold outside the US were powered by the inferior Samsung Exynos chip. Now, all Galaxy S23 devices feature the same Snapdragon processor, regardless of region – which is welcome news to UK customers.
It ships with Android 13, Google’s latest operating system, as well as a new version of One UI (One UI 5.1). It’s set to receive four major OS upgrades and five years of security patches after launch, meaning that Samsung will support the Galaxy S23 until at least 2028.
That’s a commendable level of longevity, and means you can hang onto your device for a good while.
The Galaxy S23 offers two storage options: 128GB or 256GB. If you’re after even greater storage, you should consider the Galaxy S23 Plus or S23 Ultra.
Battery life was perhaps the biggest criticism the Galaxy S22 faced. So, it’s good to see that the Galaxy S23 manages to squeeze in a larger battery in its compact frame.
Sure, it seems like a fairly modest bump up: 3,900mAh compared to the previous year’s 3,700mAh battery. But this comes along with a new processor and power efficiency measures – all of which should help prolong the Galaxy S23’s battery life. Generally, you should be able to get through more than a day of average use on a single charge.
It supports 25W charging, as well as wireless charging up to 15W. While it’s not the fastest-charging phone on the market, it definitely beats the iPhone 14 in this area.
Samsung Galaxy S23's deals and incentives
At the time of writing, the Galaxy S23 is one of Samsung’s latest releases. So, plenty of retailers are offering tempting deals and incentives.
Of course, you might prefer to buy direct from Samsung (and get a cheap SIM-only deal to go with it). But if you can’t stomach the entire cost upfront, you may be better off seeking out a good value contract from a network or third party retailer.
Samsung Galaxy S23 pricing
The Galaxy S23 was officially unveiled at Samsung’s Unpacked event on 1 February 2023, with the handset available for sale on 17 February.
Prices at launch were £849 for the 128GB model, and £899 for the 256GB version.
If you'd prefer to get the phone on a pay-monthly contract, you have plenty of options. Many networks offer Galaxy S23 contracts, including O2, Three, iD Mobile and more – check out our Galaxy S23 deals page to see what you can get.
Samsung Galaxy S23 review: Verdict
Overall, the Galaxy S23 is easy to recommend to most people. It’s a very powerful and capable Android handset, with a new chipset and battery life to match. And if you prefer your phones on the smaller side, it’s a no-brainer – the S23 is perfectly sized for that purpose.
Pros and cons of choosing Samsung Galaxy S23 in 2023
- Well-sized for pockets and one-handed use
- Powerful new processor
- Boost in battery life
- Not a massive upgrade from the Galaxy S22
- Most of the “wow-factor” has been reserved for the Galaxy S23 Ultra
How does Samsung Galaxy S23 compare against other Samsung phones?
The Galaxy S23 was released along with its two larger counterparts: the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra.
If you’re looking for the best of the best, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the standout option. You’ll be blown away by its premium build, eminently useful S Pen stylus, and 200MP camera sensor.
As for the Galaxy S23 Plus, the only real difference is the size. If you like the features of the standard Galaxy S23 but like having more screen real estate to play around with, the S23 Plus is a good shout.
If you’re debating between the new Galaxy S23 or the previous year’s Galaxy S22, the former has a few advantages: namely, a new chip and better battery life.
Having said that, if you currently own the S22, the upgrades are likely to be too minor to warrant an upgrade – especially as the S22 is still a great phone.