We have been using the middle variant in the S23 series for almost 2 weeks, here’s what we think about the S23+.
Samsung is one of the major players to put out its flagship smartphone series early in the year. These smartphones are a routine fixture in the year-end lists, and at this point, it is hard to imagine Samsung coming out with a dud. Samsung has stuck to the regular lineup for the S series this year, offering a compact king in Galaxy S23, a slightly larger S23+, and the spec-ed out S23 Ultra.
Most consumers either go for the S23 due to its compactness and relatively affordable pricing or the S23 Ultra for, well, being the best Android smartphone out there. This puts the Samsung Galaxy S23+ in a unique spot, where it is neither the affordable option nor the standout best. But it is there for a reason. The S23+ caters to a niche that wants a big smartphone that isn’t too bulky and has a flat-screen display. Sure, it may miss out on some of the extravagant features of the S23 Ultra, but it is without a doubt one of the best smartphones that Android has to offer.
We previously reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (read here) and were mighty pleased by its performance. Now we turn our attention to the S23+ and see what it has to offer. So, without further ado, here is our in-depth review of the Samsung Galaxy S23+.
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Samsung Galaxy S23+ review: Design and Display
Samsung Galaxy S23+ comes in the standard compact rectangular box that the company uses for most of its smartphones. Samsung has used some recycled materials for this box. Inside, you will find the smartphone, a USB Type-C charging cable, a SIM ejector tool, and a quick start guide. There is no power adapter or phone cover inside the box.
Samsung has kept the design of the S23+ clean and minimal. The smartphone gets a glass front and back panel with Victus 2 protection. The aluminium frame is slightly curved to provide a better grip. The flat glass black gets a matte texture and does not attract any fingerprints. The shiny aluminium frame tends to gather some prints and smudges. The in-hand feel of the device is exquisite. The flatness of the design complemented by the slightly curved edges gives the phone a premium feel without compromising on safety.
There is no camera island on the S Series this year, something you may have noticed already. Samsung has applied S22 Ultra’s design language to all the variants of the S23. The three individual camera lenses are studded vertically on the back panel. Some may argue that Samsung has played it too safe, but we quite like the clean look.
At the bottom of the frame, you will find the SIM tray, USB C port, microphones, and the primary speaker grille. The secondary speaker has been placed up top. On the right edge lie the power button and volume rocker keys. The left side of the frame is clean and keyless. The selfie camera is placed in a slim cutout in the middle of the display. There are six antenna bands on the device. Also, it is worth mentioning that Samsung has used a lot of recycled materials on this device, both on the outer casing and the internal components.
The ‘Plus’ aspect of the phone is reflected in its display. The Samsung Galaxy S23+ comes with a 6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120Hz maximum refresh rate. The compact S23 has a 6.1-inch display. The under-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is placed in the perfect position and is ridiculously fast. Since it is ultrasonic, you don’t need to turn on the display to use the fingerprint sensor.
The display in itself is exemplary. This is something that we expect from Samsung and we are never left disappointed. The smoothness offered by this display simply cannot be replicated by any other smartphone. Every minute touch is registered efficiently. Browsing through apps and scrolling through your social media feed is a seamless experience. With a display like this, you would want to pick the bigger S23+ over the compact variant. A peak brightness of 1750 nits ensures that the display is perfectly legible under direct sunlight. The haptic experience is a bit dialled down, which is a smart decision as you want the smoothness of the display to take the centre stage.
Before watching content on the S23+, you should check out the screen modes offered by Samsung. The ‘Natural’ mode produces cooler and well-balanced colour tones which are easy on the eyes. The ‘Vivid’ mode lets you control the colour temperature and white balance. This is the mode we stuck to, as it produces stunning images that are vibrant and truly ‘pop’. We watched HDR content across major OTT platforms, and the S23+ crushed it every single time. The level of detail that this 1080p display can produce is excellent. There are very slim bezels around the display but they do not affect the viewing experience in any major way. The stereo speaker maintains a great audio profile even at higher volumes. You don’t need to reach for your headphones every time you need to watch something on this phone.
Most premium flagships these days opt for a curved display, so it’s nice to see Samsung put out a big smartphone with a flat front panel. If the accidental touches and the in-hand feel of a curved display keep you from buying a premium Android smartphone, the S23+ is the perfect device for you.
Samsung Galaxy S23+ review: Performance and Cameras
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Samsung’s S Series retains its title of the best-performing Android smartphone lineup. If you missed our review of the S23 Ultra, do give it a read to see how it performed. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC remains a constant across the S Series, even for European markets (no more Exynos!). The S8G2 chip on the S Series comes with an added ‘for Galaxy’ title as it is slightly customised for higher clock speeds on Samsung’s flagship devices.
Samsung Galaxy S23+ is available in two storage variants (256GB and 512GB) that come with 8GB RAM. We threw the kitchen sink and more at the S23+ and it handled every task with absolute ease. The smartphone is extremely quick. You never feel like it is a step behind in terms of performance. Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the phone, you will be flying in no time.
We have no complaints on the gaming front either. We played Call of Duty Mobile on the highest settings and were very pleased by the experience. The touch reception of the display along with the 120Hz refresh rate elevates the gaming experience to new levels. There was slight heating around the camera array after 30 minutes of gaming, but we did not observe any throttling. After a 45-minute gaming session, the battery dropped by 6%. On Geekbench 6, the Samsung Galaxy S23+ scored 1,817 points in the single-core test and 4,579 points in the multi-core test.
The software experience on the Samsung Galaxy S23+ leaves little room for complaints. One UI is one of the best skins for Android out there, and it introduces a couple of cool features in its latest iteration. Android 13’s Material You theme gives you greater control over the aesthetics of your phone, and One UI 5.1 makes perfect use of it.
There are a few helpful connectivity features on One UI. The biggest of them all is Samsung Dex, which lets you cast your phone’s display on a TV or PC monitor. Currently, this feature is only available on the S Series. You’re probably wondering how Samsung Dex is different from regular screen mirroring. With Dex, you can essentially use your Samsung device like a PC on a bigger screen. You can access your apps, gallery, and Play Store, and use the mouse for easy control. The layout on the monitor doesn’t mirror your phone’s UI, it is completely redesigned for the bigger screen. Don’t have a mouse? You can use your smartphone as a trackpad. Using ‘Multi Control’ you can link your S23+ to your Galaxy Book and drag and drop files between them. One UI has also incorporated Microsoft’s ‘Link to Windows’ as a native feature.
One UI’s Gallery app now lets you use an ‘Object Eraser’ to remove unwanted objects from your pictures. For us, the object eraser was a hit or miss. It doesn’t work nearly as efficiently as Pixel’s magic eraser. There is also an option to remaster your pictures, which tunes them for social media usage. The Portrait Effect is quite handy and produces some good results.
While One UI is one of the better skins to play around with, it comes with significant bloatware, even on S23+. There is an entire package of Microsoft apps on this device along with Netflix, Spotify, and Facebook. Not a good look on any flagship device, especially on an S23 smartphone that you’re paying close to Rs 1,00,000 for. Apart from third-party bloatware, some Samsung apps have no purpose being there. The smartphone uses Google Messages by default, but Samsung’s messaging app somehow finds its way into the phone. Apps like Samsung Free, Samsung Shop, and My Galaxy also feel unnecessary.
The battery performance is another aspect that Samsung can improve upon. The 4,700mAh battery is bigger than the 3,900mAh unit found on the S23. With moderate usage, this battery can comfortably last a day. But if you’re used to clocking more than 6 hours of screen-on time then you will need to give the S23+ a little boost before the day ends. If you don’t use Always On Display and limit the refresh rate to 60Hz, you will get a significantly better battery life out of this device. The charging speed is limited to 45W, which isn’t too bad, but it isn’t extraordinary either.
Samsung Galaxy S23+ has the same camera specs as its compact counterpart. The rear camera array gets a 50MP primary shooter, a 10MP telephoto lens, and a 12MP ultrawide lens. Upfront, you get a 12MP selfie camera. Overall, the camera performance on the S23+ is near-perfect, with each lens producing excellent results.
We used the 50MP primary shooter in different lighting conditions. The outdoor shots taken in natural light had a superb richness to them. The colours were vivid and the objects were captured with a great level of detail. Even objects in the distant background were rendered perfectly in the images. The image processing is on point here. The images aren’t oversaturated and the level of contrast is optimum.
The ultrawide camera replicates this performance. We were pleased to see that it did not wash out the colours or drop the sharpness from the images. The results produced here are so good that you can use the two cameras interchangeably.
At night time, you are better off using the main 50MP sensor. We preferred turning off the Night Mode for low-light photography, as the main sensor lets in enough light to produce well-detailed images. With the Night Mode on, the processed images come out a little brighter than you want them to be.
The telephoto lens is quite fun to play around with as well. The 3x optical zoom does a good job of retaining the image quality, but the results get diminished as you go higher. On paper, the telephoto lens can hit 30x, but the images produced were quite forgettable, to put it mildly. There is no space zoom available in the S23+, unlike the S23 Ultra. With the recent revelation of Samsung using AI algorithms to process images of the moon, you aren’t missing out on much.
The 12MP selfie camera takes good pictures too. The portrait mode gives you a bunch of options for the style of blur you want on the images. When it comes to image processing, the end result has a slightly higher contrast than what is seen on the viewfinder. We found this mildly annoying. One of the better features of this camera is Auto Framing, which alters the zoom to accommodate the people in the frame while taking a video.
Talking about shooting videos, the Samsung Galaxy S23+ can take 8K resolution videos at 24/30fps, and 4K videos at 30/60 fps. The selfie camera can record 4K videos at 30/60 fps. The stabilisation mode does not work for 8K videos, but you will see great results while shooting in 4K.
With the Samsung Galaxy S23+, you get a brilliant Android smartphone with a stellar flat display which is the undisputed best in its category. While the S23 is a great compact phone, using this display in a bigger size is a wonderful experience. The phone is ridiculously fast and can handle even the most demanding tasks with ease. If you want the best ‘big’ Android phone out there but don’t want to shell out an additional Rs 30,000 for the S23 Ultra, the S23+ is the smartphone to pick. At Rs 95,000, the Samsung Galaxy S23+ is a good buy.
Samsung Galaxy S23+: Pros
Big, stellar display
Great camera performance
Samsung Galaxy S23+: Cons
Battery life could have been a little better
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