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It's hard to get excited about yearly smartphone upgrades these days since most don't offer a substantial reason to splurge. But the Galaxy S23 is an exception — a worthwhile upgrade over its predecessor, even if the spec sheet tells you otherwise. I used the regular Galaxy S22 for the better part of 2022, and the Galaxy S23 checks all the right boxes for an upgrade. From the 6.1-inch AMOLED screen and the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip to the improved battery life and camera experience, there is a lot to like about the Galaxy S23 that makes it convincingly better than the last year's model.

It's not without its flaws, though, and the Galaxy S23 still leaves a lot of room for improvement. I am also not a fan of the feature disparity between the three Galaxy S23 series phones. The $799 price tag — which happens to be the same as last year's model — makes a lot of those shortcomings a bit more palatable, but I already have a few things to add to my Galaxy S24 wishlist. Still, the Galaxy S23 is a compact flagship with intriguing features, so it might just be the phone for you.

About this review: This review was written after a week of testing the Galaxy S23 purchased by XDA for testing, and Samsung did not see its contents before publishing.

Samsung Galaxy S23
Samsung Galaxy S23
XDA Recommended
$700 $800 Save $100

The regular Galaxy S23 is a great option if you're in the market for a smaller smartphone thanks to its 6.1-inch display. But despite the size, it's not lacking any features that the larger S23+ has. It has a 120Hz AMOLED display, a 50MP camera, and more.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display, FHD+ resolution (2,340 x 1,080), 120Hz adaptive refresh rate,
128GB, 256GB
Operating System
Android 13 / One UI 5.1
Camera (Rear, Front)
50MP f/1.8 main, 10MP f/2.4 3x telephoto, 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, 12MP f/2.2 selfie
5G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
146.3 x 70.9 x 7.6mm
Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender, Graphite, Lime
5.93 Oz (168g)
25W wired, 15W wireless, and 4.5 reverse wireless
IP Rating
Starting at $799
Micro SD card support
Stylus type
Ultrasonic fingerprint reader, face unlock
  • Compact form factor
  • Beautiful display
  • Good battery life
  • Reliable set of cameras
  • Limtied to 25W wired charging
  • No charger in the box
  • Base variant comes with UFS 3.1 storage

Samsung Galaxy S23: Price and availability

  • The Galaxy S23 starts at $799
  • Can be configured with either 128GB or 256GB storage
  • Comes in four standard colors and two Samsung-exclusive finishes

The Samsung Galaxy S23 is now available to purchase from Samsung's website and all major retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy. You can grab the base variant of the phone with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage for $799. The variant with 256GB storage will set you back $860. I highly recommend picking the 256GB variant of the Galaxy S23 mainly because there's no microSD card support and the 128GB uses UFS 3.1 storage spec instead of the new UFS 4.0. Would also suggest buying your phone through Samsung since you can get a lot of great deals on your purchase, including trade-in offers.

The Galaxy S23 is available in various colors, including Green, Phantom Black, Cream, and Lavender. You can also get it in Graphite or Lime if you buy from Samsung's website. The Green color is my favorite, but the Cream variant we used for this review has grown on me. It's a very pleasant hue that looks elegant with golden accents.

Design and build quality: Clean and minimal look

  • Smallest member of the Galaxy S23 family.
  • No more contour-cut camera housing at the back
  • Durable with an armored aluminum frame, Gorilla Glass Victus 2 panels, and an IP68 rating.
Samsung Galaxy S23 back

The Galaxy S23 looks almost identical to the Galaxy S22. It follows the same no-nonsense design language with a clean flat back, minimal bezels on the front, and a selfie camera cutout. Samsung uses the same armored aluminum frame for the sides, which comes in different colors based on the finish you choose. The Cream-colored Galaxy S23 that I have here, as you can see, comes with a glossy golden frame.

The similarities change when you flip the phone over. Samsung has ditched the contour-cut camera module in favor of individual cutouts for the sensors, as seen on the Ultra model. This creates a cohesive design across all three phones in the series, but I wish Samsung had retained the contour-cut housing.

The Galaxy S23 belongs to the dying breed of compact phones, and it's very comfortable to hold and use.

The Galaxy S23 belongs to the dying breed of compact phones. You'll feel right at home if you're coming from a Galaxy S22, as the overall form factor is identical. It's also lighter than its siblings and many other devices on the market, so it's very comfortable for day-to-day usage. It's similar to the Pixel 7, which is another "compact," light Android flagship, but it's even lighter. The buttons on the right-hand side of the Galaxy S23 are also easy to reach and press, and you can access the USB Type-C port at the bottom next to the speaker grille.

Regarding durability, the Galaxy S23 comes with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 panels on both the front and back. That, in addition to the armored aluminum frame, makes it one of the most durable phones out there. The Victus 2 glass is said to be more durable compared to the previous version, so it should fair well against accidental drops and scuffs. It's not immune to scratches or cracks, so you're still better off buying one of the best cases and screen protectors to keep it in pristine condition. The Galaxy S23 also carries an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, meaning it can survive the occasional dip and splash of water well.

Display: Beautiful as always

  • The Galaxy S23 has a beautiful 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel.
  • It supports FHD+ resolution and up to 120Hz refresh rate.
  • The Galaxy S23 now peaks at 1,750 brightness as opposed to 1,200 nits on the last year's Galaxy S22.

The display on the Galaxy S23 looks identical to the one on the last year's flagship, but it has been improved. Yes, it still measures 6.1 inches and sports the same FHD+ resolution and up to 120Hz refresh rate, but it now peaks at 1,750 nits brightness as opposed to the 1,200 nits from before, making it easier to use the phone in direct sunlight. The adaptive brightness feature works very well, so I suggest leaving it on and letting the phone tweak the brightness based on your surroundings.

Samsung Galaxy S23 display

Unlike the Ultra model, the Galaxy S23 and Plus models have a flat display. You're looking at a Dynamic AMOLED 2X HDR10+ display on the regular variant with support for 1080 x 2340 pixel resolution (~425 PPI) and a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The display can drop to 48Hz based on what's on your screen to preserve the battery. The fact that it cranks up to 120Hz refresh rate only when needed helps improve the battery life. This is essentially the same panel as the one you get on the Galaxy S23+, except it's slightly smaller. The 6.1-inch panel is not for everyone, but you'll appreciate the smaller size if you want to go compact.

Samsung devices always have top-of-the-line displays, and this is no exception. You'll get a great experience for media consumption or day-to-day use. The panel has great contrast ratios and inky blacks, and everything looks vibrant with punchy colors and lots of detail. It's not the sharpest smartphone display I've used, but the FHD+ resolution is plenty, and everything looks nice and crisp. I further tweaked the display with Vivid settings, and I love watching videos and playing games on it.

Samsung Galaxy S23 punch hole cutout

You also get an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner, and we had no issues with it so far. It worked every time I placed my finger on it, and it was also quick to register. I came here from the Pixel 7, which has a relatively slower and unreliable sensor, so this is very welcome. (I'll save my rant on ultrasonic fingerprint sensors for another day.)

Performance: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is a heavy hitter

  • Uses a custom Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip
  • UFS 4.0 is only limited to the 256GB variant of the phone.
  • The phone handles pretty much everything you throw at it

The Samsung Galaxy S23 is one of the first phones to be powered by Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. Samsung is also using a customized version of the chip — Snapdragon 8 Gen for Galaxy — which is slightly overclocked for better CPU and GPU performance. It also happens to be the first to use Qualcomm Snapdragon's new Cognitive ISP. There are a couple of other things to note about this particular chip, and I highly recommend you check out our Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip breakdown to learn more.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is the latest chip from Qualcomm, so you can expect the Galaxy S23 to be more powerful than smartphones with last-gen chips. It's a 4nm chip with clocked at 3.36GHz, whereas the regular Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip in devices like the OnePlus 11 is clocked at 3.2GHz. Pair that with 8GB of RAM and UFS 4.0 storage to get one of the fastest smartphones out there. Here's a quick look at the Geekbench 6 numbers for those of you who care about the benchmarks:

Geekbench 6



Samsung Galaxy S23



Samsung Galaxy S23+



Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra



Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max



OnePlus 11



Google Pixel 7 Pro



The Geekbench 6 results produced by the Galaxy S23 are in line with many other powerful flagships. Those numbers translate to a solid experience in the real world, and the phone had no issues handling even the most demanding tasks. I also noticed that it remained cool even when completing a resource-intensive task like a benchmark application or a game. The credit for that goes to the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip and Samsung's improved vapor chamber cooling system. Excessive heating never posed a threat on the Galaxy S22 either, but it's nice to know that the new phone stays relatively cool even under load. It will get warm to the touch if you play games for a couple of hours in one sitting, but there is nothing to complain about.

While performance is spectacular, I wasn't a fan of how the base variant of the phone comes with UFS 3.1 instead of the new UFS 4.0. You have to pay an extra $60 for the privilege. It wasn't exactly an issue for those who preordered the phone and were able to grab the 256GB variant at the same price as the base one, but that's no longer an option.

Software: Stable and reliable One UI 5.1

  • Samsung's One UI 5.1 remains one of the most stable and feature-packed Android skins
  • Samsung promises four major Android OS updates and up to five years of security patches

The Galaxy S23 runs Samsung's One UI 5.1 out of the box, which is based on Android 13. I didn't get a chance to use the stable One UI 5.1 on the Galaxy S22, but I can confirm that it runs very well on this particular phone and is smoother than the One UI 5.0 UI I experienced previously. Samsung has also added many new features, including a more customizable lock screen, smart suggestion widgets, and some other camera features.

The best thing about using a Samsung Galaxy flagship is that it's guaranteed to receive four major Android OS updates and five years' worth of security updates. Samsung also has a pretty good track record for delivering timely and stable updates to its devices, so you can count on the Galaxy S23 to stay up-to-date with the best software.

Samsung's One UI isn't perfect, though, and some issues take away from the overall experience. For instance, the Galaxy S23 also comes with a bunch of pre-installed applications. While this is better than the terrible bloatware other smartphones from Chinese manufacturers come with, I'd rather have a clean slate with just the necessary apps. Similarly, I don't like how I get ads on Galaxy flagships. As my colleague Max Buondonno mentioned in the Galaxy S23+ review, almost all these ads promote irrelevant applications and services. In fact, I saw a couple of ads from the Galaxy Store promoting the Galaxy S23 itself, which I think is hilarious.

Cameras: Versatile and fun to shoot with

  • Triple-camera setup at the back makes it a reliable and versatile shooter
  • Video quality is still a touch below what iPhones offer
  • Expert RAW and Astrophotography are neat additions to the camera app
Samsung Galaxy S23 camera viewfinder

Just like the Galaxy S22, the new flagship has three cameras at the back. We're looking at a triple camera setup that includes a 50MP main sensor with an f/1.8 aperture, a 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide camera, and a 10MP f/2.4 telephoto camera with up to 3X optical zoom. The pictures shot from the main 50MP sensor turned out sharp, with tons of detail and vibrant colors. The samples look very similar to the images that came out of the Galaxy S22, which is fine because I enjoyed shooting with that phone last year. As you can see in the gallery below, all photos are well-balanced with proper exposures and no blown-out highlights.

It struggles a bit when it comes to low-light photography, but you can still get some pretty good shots. The same can be said for the ultrawide camera, which can take some stunning photos with proper lighting. Plus, you can turn things around quite a bit with long exposure shots. The default night mode also captures some decent photos, so I recommend using it while shooting in low light.

The image on the left was captured without night mode, while the one on the right used the setting. It only takes a second or two more to capture a significantly better-looking image, so consider using that in low light. There's very little difference in the overall quality of the images captured using the different sensors, so that's a relief too. Click the image below to check out some other high-resolution samples.

I also wanted to give a quick shoutout to the 10MP telephoto lens. It was more consistent at capturing solid portraits regardless of the lighting situation. I've been using the Galaxy S23 more than the Pixel 7 to capture portraits, which says a lot about the overall quality.

Let's move on to video recording. The Galaxy S23 can record up to 8K footage at 30 FPS and 4K videos at up to 60 FPS. I don't recommend using the 8K video recording unless you are using the 256GB variant of the phone because it can quickly chew through your storage. The recording samples captured using the Galaxy S23 look better than what I managed to capture using my Pixel 7, but they're both not comparable to what you'd get from an iPhone 14 Pro Max or even the Galaxy S23 Ultra. It's perfectly usable for casual videography, but don't expect to use it for professional work.

Samsung Galaxy S23 camera module

Samsung has also made some changes to the camera app to improve the overall experience. You'll now find a dedicated Expert RAW camera button with the main camera app to open the "pro" camera app. You still have to download it separately (and it sits as a separate app on your phone), but it's nice to be able to reach for that app when you want more intricate photo editing options instead of having to exit the main app. I also like how you can tap on a subject on any photo in your gallery to cut and save it as a separate PNG. It's very similar to how you can cut out the subjective from a particular photo in iOS 16, and it works on even the photos that you receive from others.

All things considered, it's safe to say that I really enjoyed shooting with the Galaxy S23. You don't get all the bells and whistles on these regular and the Plus models, but they still hold up very well against other options on the market.

Battery life: A huge improvement

  • 3,900mAh is a step up from last year's flagship
  • 25W charging is laughably slow
  • You get support for wireless and reverse wireless charging

Battery life was perhaps the only reason I didn't recommend the Galaxy S22 as much as I would've liked last year. It wasn't the most reliable phone in terms of battery performance, so I was always forced to carry a power bank. Fortunately, the Galaxy S23 is a huge improvement.

Thanks to a slightly bigger battery compared to its predecessor and the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, my Galaxy S23 unit was able to squeeze out a day's worth of battery life. I consider myself a moderate user when I am not testing a phone, and the Galaxy S23 easily got me through a busy day when I am not running benchmarks or playing games all day. Even heavy users might get away with charging the phone only once per day.

Not having to charge the Galaxy S23 more often is a good thing because it's painfully slow. It only supports 25W charging, meaning it's just as slow as its predecessor. It's also laughably slow compared to what the competition offers — even the Galaxy S23+ and Ultra offer 45W charging. With 25W charging, it'll take you almost two hours to fully charge the battery, so keep that in mind. You'll also have to buy an S23 charger in case you don't have one already because Samsung doesn't bundle the Galaxy S23 with one. It does support 15W wireless charging, so I mostly leave it on a wireless charger to ensure it's ready to go when I need to step out.

Should you buy the Galaxy S23?

You should buy the Galaxy S23 if:

  • You want to buy a compact phone that's comfortable to use
  • Can last at least a day on a charge
  • You want excellent performance without splurging
  • You want a phone with good software support that can last you for many years

You shouldn't buy the Galaxy S23 if:

  • You want a big phone with a bigger and higher resolution display.
  • You want a phone that can quickly top up its battery.

I've had more than a few people ask me whether it's worth buying a compact phone like the Galaxy S23 or opting for one of its bigger siblings. As much as I liked using the Galaxy S22 last year, it wasn't an easy recommendation, mainly due to the battery. The regular S23 phones have always lurked behind the bigger and more performant Ultra models. But I am happy to report that the Galaxy S23 is a phone that can indeed hold its own against other flagships, and it no longer stands as an "alternative" in the series. It's not perfect by any means, but a slightly bigger battery and a more power-efficient chipset have turned it into a better phone that's no longer just a placeholder for compact phone lovers.

The Galaxy S23 is every bit as powerful as its siblings. It comes with pretty much everything you'd expect from a flagship in 2023, including a beautiful 6.1-inch AMOLED display, a powerful flagship chipset, a versatile and capable set of cameras, and — most importantly — an all-day battery to keep up with your demanding needs. I wish it had support for faster charging and 256GB UFS 4.0 storage variant as the default option, but I can't complain. This is an excellent option for those looking to buy a compact phone.

Samsung Galaxy S23
Samsung Galaxy S23
XDA Recommended
$700 $800 Save $100

The regular Galaxy S23 is a great option if you're in the market for a smaller smartphone thanks to its 6.1-inch display. But despite the size, it's not lacking any features that the larger S23+ has. It has a 120Hz AMOLED display, a 50MP camera, and more.

  • Compact form factor
  • Beautiful display
  • Good battery life
  • Reliable set of cameras
  • Limtied to 25W wired charging
  • No charger in the box
  • Base variant comes with UFS 3.1 storage