The Amazing SAMSUNG Galaxy S23
The Samsung Galaxy S23 (starting at $799.99) is a compact phone that features most of the same high-end specs and performance of its stablemates, the medium-sized Galaxy 23+ (starting at $999.99) and the gargantuan Galaxy S23 Ultra (starting at $1,199.99). The S23 offers better battery life than its predecessor, along with the most power you can get in a “small” Android phone. Slower charging speeds and a lack of ultra-wideband support keep it from truly competing with its larger S23 siblings, but it’s a welcome alternative to the small-hand-friendly Apple iPhone 14 ($799) and Google Pixel 7 ($599).
Despite its smaller stature, the S23 still has the same premium design and build quality as its larger siblings. It features Gorilla Glass Victus 2 panels on the front and back, and Samsung’s Armor Aluminum chassis provides additional protection in between. It carries an IP68 rating, which means it can survive a dunk in water up to five feet deep for up to 30 minutes.
Design-wise, the S23 is a scaled-down version of the S23+. In fact, only size separates the phones’ appearance. The S23 Ultra, meanwhile, is an entirely different beast with a more angular design and an S Pen slot. You can pick one of six colors: Cream, Graphite, Green, Lavender, Lime, or Phantom Black. The Graphite and Lime options are exclusive to Samsung.com, but the others should be widely available at retail.
We’re big fans of the matte finish on the back, which doesn’t attract fingerprints or feel slippery. The camera module looks good, too; each camera gets an individual lens, whereas the whole stack jutted out on older models. The camera bar of the Pixel 7 looks ostentatious by comparison.
The phone includes a volume rocker and power button on the right side, but the top and left are bare. A SIM card slot, a USB-C port, and one of the two speakers are on the bottom; the other speaker is positioned at the very top of the phone’s face where the glass and metal frame meet.
Samsung offers two biometric security methods—facial recognition and an in-display fingerprint scanner. The fingerprint scanner worked faster than fingerprints in testing and we had no issues with reliability. Samsung says the face scanner is less secure than the fingerprint reader, however.
A Premium Screen
Despite its smaller 6.1-inch AMOLED screen, the S23 has the same 2,340-by-1,080-pixel (FHD+) resolution as the 6.6-inch S23+. That means the S23 has a higher pixel density of 425ppi, compared with 393ppi on the S23+. The Google Pixel 7’s 6.3-inch screen offers 2,400 by 1,080 pixels for a density of 418ppi.
The screen is more than bright enough, with 1,200 nits typical and 1,750 nits peak outdoor brightness. You shouldn’t have any problem seeing it clearly even under direct sunlight. For comparison, the Pixel 7 has 1,000/1,400 nits and the iPhone 14 has 800/1,200 nits. Viewing angles on the Galaxy S23 are quite good and colors appear vibrant thanks to the screen’s wide contrast ratio and HDR10+ support.
Like many modern flagship phones, Samsung offers a variable refresh rate that dynamically scales between 1Hz and 120Hz depending on what you’re doing. The high refresh rate enables smooth scrolling and gameplay, while the lower rate consumes less power and helps improve battery life.
Small But Mighty
The Samsung Galaxy S23 is a small flagship that offers most of the larger Galaxy S23+’s best features for $200 less. That said, it doesn’t quite measure up to the S23+ in terms of charging speed and UWB support, and neither model can match the S23 Ultra’s imaging prowess with its 200MP camera. That makes the S23 Ultra the best of the bunch, as well as our Editors’ Choice winner, but not everyone wants a phone that large. So when it comes to smaller Android phones, you can’t do much better than the Galaxy S23. The Pixel 7 is a decent alternative if you want to save some money, but it isn’t nearly as powerful. The iPhone 14 is also a solid competitor for a similar price, with the caveat that you’re trading Android for iOS.