Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Ultra Review: Cruise Control

I’m at a crossroads. Just just a few weeks in the past, I reviewed Samsung’s Galaxy A14 5G, calling it an outstanding cellphone that prices a mere $200, proving that you simply actually don’t have to pay heaving wads of dough to get a great smartphone. Now I’m reviewing Samsung’s top-tier $1,200 Galaxy S23 Ultra and $800 Galaxy S23—and dang it, generally it’s good to splurge, you realize?

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 lineup (which additionally contains the S23+, a mannequin I haven’t examined but) aren’t game-changing units within the least—and most individuals don’t want all these high-end cameras and large horsepower. But I’ve to remind myself that generally it’s OK to pay up for the best of the best. It’s good not having to squint at a dim display on a sunny day, and to have the flexibility to play a demanding recreation at its highest constancy.

If you’re coming from a Galaxy S22 or S21 or another flagship machine launched throughout the final two years, these new Samsung handsets do not actually offer you a motive to improve. But in case you have one thing older in your pocket, or a extra wallet-friendly machine that you simply really feel gives a compromised expertise, then it is best to undoubtedly have a look.

Stellar Galaxies

Galaxy S23

Photograph: Samsung

I received’t bore you with the nitty-gritty specs on these telephones. Instead, you possibly can read my explainer on how the Galaxy S23, S23+, and S23 Ultra are all completely different and how they’re related. (Heck, you possibly can learn final 12 months’s S22 series review to get the gist on what most of those new units are about.) What you possibly can’t fairly discover out by studying specs are how these telephones really feel—the 6.1-inch S23 is my private favourite as a result of it matches my fingers and a lot of the display stays pretty accessible after I wish to use it one-handed. The S23 Ultra’s 6.8-inch show is not terribly unwieldy, however whereas utilizing it, I discover my thumbs stretching farther and farther till my different hand has to affix in—and I’ve massive fingers.

The greatest change is the S23 Ultra’s edges, that are far flatter than final 12 months’s curvy S22 Ultra. The edges aren’t as flat as the perimeters on an iPhone 14, however the Ultra nonetheless feels nicer to carry than its predecessor, and my grip virtually by no means interrupts the display. Outside this, coloration me whelmed with how the Galaxy S23 lineup seems. I nonetheless assume Samsung’s S21 series provided a sharper design language with the Contour Cut digital camera module in an accent coloration. These new telephones with their understated and accent-free digital camera array appear to be the textbook definition of a “smartphone”—they’re little doubt elegant, however there’s not a lot character.

The three handsets share most of the identical traits, like how the 120-Hz AMOLED screens can every now hit 1,750 nits of peak brightness. This is a characteristic that is usually ignored; a excessive brightness makes it a lot simpler to learn the display once you’re exterior on a sunny day. Too usually my fiancée has to squint at her Pixel phone, and that is by no means an issue right here. (It additionally will get fairly darn dim for anybody who appreciates low brightness at bedtime.)

They’re all powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 “for Galaxy” chipset, which is barely sooner than the base-level Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 you will discover on different flagship Android telephones just like the OnePlus 11. My benchmark exams bore that out, but it surely’s not an enormous leap. This chip is particular in two methods. Year over 12 months, it is actually exhausting to note significant positive aspects in efficiency as of late, however I’ve observed that telephones with this processor really feel extra responsive and snappier than ever earlier than. 

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