Samsung’s Galaxy S23 is the smallest and the most affordable device in the S23 series, but it isn’t necessarily short of power. Starting at a base price of Rs. 74,999, let’s try and see what works for iT and what doesn’t.
What works great:
Display: The Galaxy S23 sports a 6.1-inch full HD+ (2340x1080) AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on top and a front-facing camera in a punch-hole near the top. The flat display is a little brighter than the S22 but isn’t exactly as bright as the S23 Ultra, though it’s still plenty bright and usable under direct sunlight. It supports refresh rates of up to 120Hz (and 48Hz on the lower side) and is responsive for regular UI navigation. If you want to watch high resolution videos or images, the display does a really nice job of showing details and sharpness. I preferred the natural mode under display settings rather than the vivid mode that’s selected by default. It doesn’t overboard on the cool side and keeps reds and greens in balance. It’s definitely one of the better things about this smartphone, and that doesn’t come as a surprise considering it’s a flagship Galaxy device.
Performance and software experience: The phone is powered by the slightly customized Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (up to 3.36GHz octa core processor, Adreno 740 GPU and x70 modem) along with 8GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 128GB UFS 3.1 storage (it’s UFS 4.0 for higher storage options). Though read and write speeds on the S23 Ultra are better compared to the S23 mainly due to the better storage disk, the S23 doesn’t show any stuttering and slow downs in day-to-day tasks and even while playing a game like Asphalt 9, though worth noting that it can heat up a bit more than the S23 ultra with gaming sessions going for over half an hour or so, or while setting up the device and using Smart Switch for syncing heavy files. Apps close and open smoothly and rarely ever did I see any lags inside apps while scrolling or using any underneath options. One UI 5.1 based on Android 13, with the January security patch installed, has a lot of customization and added options that make up for most things required by a user for daily usage, whether it’s for editing photos on the go, or taking backups or using dual apps., there’s not much missing here from Samsung’s kitty.
Camera: the device sports a triple camera setup on the back with no laser autofocus -- 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, a 50MP (f/1.8) main camera, and a 10MP (f/2.4) telephoto camera. The phone can take detailed but sometimes over-sharpened shots. When taking shots with your subject standing still, the phone gives good well-exposed shots but with moving subjects it can take a few more shots to really get the one you might like. I would suggest you install the Camera Assistant addon from the Galaxy Store to deal with the shutter lag to some extent. Also, the pro mode can be quite handy when taking night shots or for avoiding Samsung’s oversaturated post-processing when taking shots in broad daylight. It isn’t a bad camera by any means, but it isn’t quite a home run either that you might have expected.
Fingerprint scanner: The optical fingerprint scanner under the display gets the job done most of the times but it’s certainly not the quickest or the most reliable among Android devices. It works maybe 7 out of 10 times, and you might be better off using the good old pin code (for better security anyway) or face unlock (though less secured) to unlock the device. On the front you get a 12MP (f/2.2) camera that takes pretty good shots in daylight and seems to have improved on oversaturation done on shots in low-light, too. It’s better from the S22 in terms of colour composition and not overexposing skin tones at times.
What’s not so great:
Battery life: You get a 3,900 mAh battery unit in the device that supports up to 25watt charging and 10 watt wireless induction charging. I found the phone to struggle lasting anything close to a day on a heavy to moderate usage. With brightness at 35% and 120Hz adaptive rate selected under Settings, the phone required to be charged again before end of the day. With WiFi always on, I got somewhere around 5-6 hours of screen time. It takes about 90 minutes or so to charge from 1% to full, which isn’t that great either, but it isn’t too bad if you look at usual Samsung charging times, compared to Google Pixel and Apple iPhone.
Verdict: The S23 offers a lot of goods when it comes to competing against the likes of the Google Pixel 7 Pro and Apple iPhone 14 – it has a nice (though same as the S22) design, great display and performance, a decent set of cameras and an okay battery experience. It’s especially worth a consideration for those that still prefer a not-so-huge slab for their smartphones today while not compromising on raw performance that much.