Samsung’s Galaxy S23 is One of many Greatest Small Android Telephones

Okay, so the 6.1-inch display screen on the Samsung Galaxy S23 isn’t precisely tiny in comparison with the 4.7-inch show on the Apple iPhone SE, or the shows on mid-range Android gadgets just like the 5.9-inch Asus Zenfone 9. To not point out the 3-inch Unihertz Jelly Cellphone 2. However the Galaxy S23 is likely one of the smallest Android flagships you should buy proper now, and fortunately, it’s additionally one of the vital feature-filled.

The Galaxy S23+ can also be a gem, with its barely bigger 6.6-inch show. Samsung improved the digicam algorithms on each gadgets, so it doesn’t really feel such as you’re settling by not selecting the Extremely—or a Pixel. And whereas Samsung’s OneUI can really feel slightly aggressive in comparison with Google’s model of Android, it comes with perks like Bixby Voice Textual content and stacked widgets.

A Samsung show that can match in your pocket

A photo of the Galaxy S23

The Galaxy S23+ in lavender.
Picture: Florence Ion /

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 has a 6.1-inch show, whereas the Galaxy S23+ has a 6.6-inch show. Each gadgets are Tremendous AMOLED with a FullHD+ decision and a 120Hz variable refresh charge. That’s fairly the specification, contemplating the Pixel 7’s 90Hz refresh charge—it’s acceptable for on a regular basis use, however there’s a smoothness to Samsung’s show when scrolling by webpages and flicking Poké balls in Pokémon Go that’s not current on Google’s smaller gadget. The Samsung Galaxy S23/23+ can also be brighter than the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Professional by about 200 nits at most brightness.

Keep in mind that shopping for a Samsung smartphone means carrying round a mini commercial for the corporate’s show know-how, which is in far more than its telephones. That’s not a foul factor, as Samsung makes a few of the finest TVs and different shows in the trade. Certainly, the colour steadiness and vibrancy right here are the identical as on the Galaxy S23 Extremely, whether or not you’re on the smaller Galaxy S23 or S23+. And whereas the Galaxy S23 has a smaller show than the Pixel 7’s, the colours are rather more vibrant on Samsung’s aspect, with bluer blues and whiter whites. The latter of these can seem yellow-hued on the Pixel.

I used to be struck by how a lot presence the Galaxy S23’s stereo audio system had when i turned up the quantity. There’s a speaker on the backside of the gadget and one going through upward on the high. I listened to sometimes bass-heavy genres like traditional techno and synthwave with out headphones, and Samsung’s little telephone felt full-bodied every time. It’s not sufficient to replenish a room for an impromptu dance session, but it surely’s nice for sharing a YouTube video or a brand new music with a buddy sitting beside you.

A photo of the Galaxy S23+

Jane Fonda seems nice on Samsung’s Galaxy S23+ show.
Picture: Florence Ion /

Seems similar to the Samsung S23 Extremely

Samsung tweaked the design of the Galaxy S23/S23+ since final yr’s launch. When you didn’t just like the digicam island on the Galaxy S22 and the mannequin previous it, the excellent news is that it’s gone on this era. There may be now extra design parity throughout all three of Samsung’s flagship choices. While you take a look at any of the Galaxy S23 telephones from the again, you’ll comprehend it’s a Samsung gadget—the identical manner you’ll be able to inform if somebody is utilizing an Apple iPhone by its stove-top digicam configuration or the Google Pixel by its signature digicam bar.

Samsung’s coloration choices for the Galaxy S23/S23+ are the identical throughout the board: graphite, cream, inexperienced, lime, lavender (which seems extra pinkish in particular person), and black. The grey graphite colorway and lime are solely accessible for those who purchase the smartphones on-line, so preserve that in thoughts when purchasing. Nonetheless, it’s a wonderful spectrum of coloration choices from Samsung.

A photo of the Galaxy S23 and Pixel 7

For dimension comparability: the Pixel 7 is on the left, and the Galaxy S23 is on the appropriate.
Picture: Florence Ion /

The Galaxy S23/S23+ are IP68 rated for mud and water resistance, which implies they’ll deal with full submersion for half-hour. They’re enforced with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 panels on the entrance and bottom and have an aluminum chassis. And but, not like Apple’s iPhone 14 Professional (which weighs 7.2 ounces), they don’t really feel like stable metallic slabs. They’re fairly mild to carry—the Galaxy S23 is 5.9 ounces and the Galaxy S23+ is 6.8 ounces—however there’s a hollowness after I use my fingernail to faucet on their backsides that makes the telephones really feel considerably chintzy. The Google Pixel 7 has a little bit of that happening, too, and I’m wondering if that is simply my penance for being an Android person (that’s a joke, don’t @ me).

The unlocking strategies on the Galaxy S23/S23+ are customary affairs. I discovered the on-display fingerprint unlock to be sooner than the Pixel 7’s. The facial unlock was fast, too, and a useful little icon on the high of the lock display screen signifies whether or not the digicam sees you or not.

A photo of the Galaxy S23

The Galaxy S23 has an under-display fingerprint reader that blends in properly for those who use a theme.
Picture: Florence Ion /

A photo of the Galaxy S23

Samsung’s OneUI will animate across the front-facing digicam to point whether or not it’s performing face unlock.
Picture: Florence Ion /

The Galaxy S23 doesn’t need to be ultra to be powerful

The Galaxy S23/S23+ runs on the identical processor because the Galaxy S23 Extremely: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip. Each smartphones are solely accessible with 8GB of RAM, versus the Extremely’s possibility for 12GB. The Galaxy S23 tops out at 256GB of storage, and the Galaxy S23+ goes as much as 512GB. Solely the previous is out there with 128GB of storage, however that variant makes use of Common Flash Storage (UFS) model 3.1 versus the present customary of UFS 4.0. This finally implies that, in some situations, it would take longer for knowledge to put in writing, which implies experiencing a second between once you’re taking pictures a photograph and when it’s safely filed away.

Between reviewing the Galaxy S23 Extremely and the common Galaxy S23/S23+, Geekbench up to date its app to model 6. Consequently, the scoring differs from what we noticed with Geekbench 5. I did run a couple of Geekbench 6 assessments to see how the Galaxy S23 collection performs in opposition to final yr’s Pixel 7/7 Professional, and the 8GB Galaxy S23/S23+ is barely slightly sooner than Google’s Tensor G2—about 100 factors sooner within the single-core rating and practically 2000 factors within the multi-core rating. Since it is a Samsung-optimized chip for Samsung gadgets, efficiency must be stable throughout the board.

This yr’s OnePlus 11 manages two to a few extra hours of display screen time than these two Samsung gadgets. In our rundown check, which consistently streams video at 200 nits, the Galaxy S23’s 3,900 mAh battery lasted solely 16 hours and 49 minutes, and the Galaxy S23+’s 4,700 mAh battery petered out at exactly 18 hours. The very best telephones presently final about 20 hours or extra off the charger, which the OnePlus 11 (and the iPhone 14 Professional) does. We noticed equally disappointing numbers with the gargantuan Galaxy S23 Extremely’s 6.8-inch show and 5,000 mAh battery, however I hoped these smaller variants would have extra juice.

Galaxy S23’s digicam is sweet, however inferior to the Pixel 7’s

A photo of the Galaxy S23 and S23+

The Galaxy S23+ (left) and the Galaxy S23 (proper) have the identical digicam system.
Picture: Florence Ion /

Whereas there are variations in coloration temperature and post-processing between the Galaxy S23 and its fast rival, the Pixel 7, Samsung’s aspect has gotten a lot much less aggressive and extra naturalistic over time. I in contrast these two fashions throughout my testing as a result of I used to be interested by what I’d hand over by selecting Samsung’s digicam system over Google’s algorithms.

The Galaxy S23/S23+’s digicam system features a 50-MP main digicam, a 12-MP ultrawide digicam, and a 10-MP telephoto lens with optical picture stabilization, 3x optical zoom, and as much as 30x “area zoom.” Don’t purchase the Galaxy S23/S23+ for those who care about zooming to excessive distances, as a result of the image will begin to fuzz up as you cross the optical zoom threshold. If you’d like good zoom on an Android smartphone, spend the cash and get the Galaxy S23 Extremely as an alternative.

Photos taken with the Galaxy S23

The Galaxy S23 tops out at 3x optical zoom. When you get previous that, it’s muddy on the market.
Picture: Florence Ion /

For on a regular basis conditions, I usually appreciated the photographs I took with the Galaxy S23. Photos are sharp, vibrant, and well-toned. I used to be happy to see it was competent at nightfall, when the golden hour hits and the world seems dreamy. Smartphones can’t all the time seize the essence of the sky due to over-processing, however the Galaxy S23 managed to maintain it at a charge that I didn’t really feel like I used to be lacking out on the second. Sundown can also be the place I began to see the variations between the Galaxy S23 and the Pixel 7 extra clearly. Google’s model is hotter and brighter, whereas Samsung’s nonetheless skews nearly artificially blue (one thing I complained about in final yr’s critiques). It additionally tends to oversharpen the ultimate product to cut back noise, particularly when zooming in.

You gained’t miss out on nighttime pictures with the Galaxy S23/S23+. The 2 smartphones nearly carry out to parity with the Pixel 7 for those who’re taking pictures inside a bar or a darkish restaurant. Samsung’s low-light photographs are darker, with extra intense distinction within the shadows, whereas Google is aggressive about lighting the picture to reinforce element. However that is additionally why the Pixel’s nighttime panorama pictures generally leads to a barely synthetic, washed-out look. I’m keener on Samsung’s outcomes. An instance: Utilizing Samsung’s telephone, I may really see the crimson lights on the windmills within the distance within the under picture pattern.

Photos taken with the Galaxy S23

On the left is the Pixel 7 at nightfall. On the appropriate is the Galaxy S23 at nightfall.
Picture: Florence Ion /

Photos taken with the Galaxy S23

On the left is an evening time picture taken with the Pixel 7. On the appropriate is identical picture taken with the Galaxy S23.
Picture: Florence Ion /

The Galaxy S23/S23+ has the identical video-capturing capabilities because the Galaxy S23 Extremely sibling. They’ll shoot as much as 8K decision at 30fps, 4K decision at 60fps, and full HD at 120fps. Along with a normal slow-motion (captured at 240 fps), there’s a tremendous slow-mo (captured at 960 fps). For many circumstances, the latter felt like overkill, but it surely’s there if you wish to make a cool video of a hummingbird or bee. I’m slightly creeped out that Samsung takes slow-motion photographs with the quantity intact although. I favor the Pixel 7’s tackle this function, which mutes the sound within the outcome. Significantly, have you ever ever heard a swing set screech at 960fps? It’s cursed.

The front-facing digicam on the Galaxy S23/S23+ is a 12-MP digicam with wide-angle capabilities. I took selfies and recorded confessional TikToks, and it was nice. I favor the outcome on the Samsung front-facing digicam to the Pixel 7’s front-facing digicam, because the latter is aggressive in softening the picture in low-light settings. (This concern has been sprouting up in boards lately.) I additionally like Samsung’s filtering capabilities. They’re extra refined than they was, so I don’t really feel like individuals will name me out for digitally smoothening my face and elongating my chin. I’m drained; it’s my proper to make use of a filter to really feel higher about myself.

Samsung’s Android just isn’t fairly Google’s

A photo of the Galaxy S23

Bixby Textual content Name works, but it surely’s bizarre!
Picture: Florence Ion /

Samsung has been a significantly better Android participant because it expanded its replace coverage. The Galaxy S23/S23+ will get 4 OS updates, that means you’ll have the newest model of the software program up till Android 17, plus 5 years of safety updates. Regardless of setting a precedent for the platform, Google solely affords three OS updates for every telephone its Pixel lineup.

However Samsung’s model of Android differs barely from Google’s (and OnePlus’s, for that method). The Galaxy S23/S23+ runs OneUI 5.1, a pores and skin on high of Android 13. It brings options like stacked widgets on the house display screen and a picture clipper that may copy the primary topic and share it elsewhere, akin to the function on iOS 16. It additionally affords animated lock screens you may make from a video clip, which folks of people and pets alike will take pleasure in for the occasional serotonin enhance. General, OneUI is an amalgamation of the options Android customers want to have from Apple’s iOS, with sprinkles of Google’s imaginative and prescient for its platform.

Bixby can also be nonetheless alive. I lastly acquired the software program replace that permits Bixby Textual content Name, and it’s essentially the most curious of OneUI’s new capabilities. It converts typed messages into speech. When the telephone rings, you’ll be able to choose the choice to interface with Bixby Textual content Name. You possibly can select from a bundle of preset selections or kind out your response. I attempted it with a buddy, and it really works like a text-to-speech app. You possibly can have a dialog this manner for some time for those who like, however the level of the function is that can assist you name with out disrupting your present surroundings. My buddy on the opposite line thought it was “bizarre.”

The Galaxy S23 is a nice different to the Pixel 7

A photo of the Galaxy S23

Whether or not you select the small Galaxy S23 or the bigger Galaxy S23+, each are nice options to Google’s first-tier flagship choices.
Picture: Florence Ion /

There may be one main motive why I cannot be buying and selling in my present Pixel 7 for a Galaxy S23, despite the fact that I favor Samsung’s smaller chassis dimension. The Galaxy S23 doesn’t have extremely wide-band (UWB) help, which is likely one of the causes I dinged the smaller Galaxy S22 final yr. I’m on a provider that makes use of that specific spectrum and want to proceed reaping the advantages of my expensive month-to-month invoice.

In one other timeline, Samsung has made UWB accessible on the smallest Galaxy S23, and I lastly have a telephone that may match into my pockets and small clutches with out dragging me down. The great factor about Samsung’s flagships this yr is that there aren’t any important tradeoffs for the Android expertise or the digicam capabilities. It’s as much as you for those who favor Samsung’s taste of Android.

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