If you’re tired of phones with big screens and still want a proper flagship, this is it.
- Compact form factor with flagship specs
- Good camera performance
- Decent battery life
- Good overall performance
- Smaller display can be less engaging for media consumption
- Not suitable for long gaming sessions due to thermal performance
- A bit pricey compared to some other flagships
- A bit behind in terms of charging speed
With the release of the Galaxy S23 series, Samsung has shown that it still has some love for fans of a more compact device that works nicely with one-hand use, especially in a sea of phones with very large screens. Remember when a 6-inch display was considered a giant?
On paper, the Galaxy S23 is basically the S23+ shrunk down. The design is the same, although it does have a lower capacity battery and of course, a smaller screen. Apart from those, it packs the same processor, the same amount of RAM, and the same set of cameras.
Design and Build Quality
Samsung has opted to streamline the design of its flagship series with one singular look, with the cameras not resting on a protruding island and instead, looks flusher with the surface of the rear panel. It’s a clean and minimal look that I personally like, compared to the previous iterations.
Basically, a smaller S23+, the Galaxy S23 boasts slightly curved sides, a flat display with a punch hole front camera on the center, and Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection. I prefer a matte finish, as glossy ones can be a pain in terms of fingerprints, but then again, I guess they think it looks more premium.
Moving to the display, the Galaxy S23 has a 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with Full HD+ resolution, which is totally fine for a screen of this size, 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate in Game Mode, and Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection.
While the display is fantastic for media consumption and gaming due to its punchy and lively colors, one of the tradeoffs of a smaller display, is that it can become less immersive compared to when watching on say, something with a bigger screen. Of course, some people are totally fine with this, including myself, but for some, it’s something to take not of before you decide to buy.
Despite its smaller size, the Galaxy S23 is still a proper flagship in terms of processing package, thanks to a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 at the helm. Our review unit also had 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
There’s really not much to say about its raw performance, except that it breezed through anything I threw at it, whether that’s several apps running at once, media consumption, basic day-to-day tasks, and gaming.
Whether it’s Genshin Impact, Diablo Immortal, or Asphalt 9, the Galaxy S23 is more than capable of running these titles and of course, anything less demanding at or very close to their highest settings, provided that you won’t be playing for a long period of time.
The device listed a stability score of only 43.3% on 3DMark’s Wild Life stress test, which subjects the device to heavy load for 20 minutes. This means that there could be a lot of throttling going on. While that’s not a problem for daily use, those planning to get this for long hours of graphics intensive gaming may want to look at the Galaxy S23+ or the Ultra.
I’ll keep this short. The Galaxy S23 may not have all the bells and whistles of the Ultra, but overall, it’s still an excellent system that captures excellent detail, sharpness, and good dynamic range. The colors are boosted as compared to say, the OnePlus 11 which is more faithful to what the eye sees.
It’s not perfect as light sources can still appear a little blown out at times in night shots, but everything you need to cover most common shooting conditions is here.
In terms of zoom range, I’d say around 10X is where the details really start to fall off. That being said, 30X isn’t a bad option if you want to really zoom in, though don’t expect anything stellar in terms of quality.
Galaxy S23 runs One UI 5.1 on top of Android 13. It’s not much of a jump from One UI 5, though there are a few notable changes, such as being able to recognize people’s faces in your photos in the Gallery app, and letting you share your albums with those people.
You can also select objects in an image and have them cut out as a separate image that you can then share on other apps.
Now, you’ll also be able to set where screenshots will be saved, instead of mixing them up automatically to other photos you’ve taken. Lastly, some widgets like the Weather, have been improved. You’ll even be able to see the battery percentage for other devices connected to your phone.
As far as pre-loaded apps are concerned, there’s really not much, except for the default apps from Google, Microsoft, and Samsung. Most of which, you can also uninstall.
One consequence of having a compact smartphone is that there’s less room to fit things in, like you know, a better battery. That being said, the Galaxy S23 has been given a slight improvement in battery capacity now at 3900mAh compared to the Galaxy S22’s 3700mAh.
Playing a 1080p 60 YouTube video on loop at 50% brightness, the Galaxy S23 lasted around 16 hours, which is a great result. While many brands have been competing with faster and faster charging speeds, Samsung has decided to stick with the same numbers for the Galaxy S23. That’s 25W wired and 15W wireless.
Using a 65W GaN charger from Baseus, we managed to get zero to full in around 1.5 hours, which isn’t bad at all.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Verdict
If you’re tired of the “who has the bigger screen” contest among smartphone brands, and you still want a full-pledged flagship with good cameras, a good display, good performance, and decent battery life, and not having to pay the hefty price tag of the S23 Ultra or the S23+, the Galaxy S23 is for you.
On the flipside, you’ll have to deal with the tradeoffs of having a compact device. It isn’t the best choice if gaming is your priority, especially if you’re planning to game for long hours, as this thing can run very hot, or depending on your preferences, the small screen may not give you the same level of immersion for your Netflix or YouTube binge-watch sessions.
Samsung Galaxy S23 is priced at PHP 53,990 for the 8GB+128GB variant and PHP 57,990 for if you want to double the storage.
Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.