Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Ultra Review: Cruise Control

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I’m at a crossroads. Just a couple of weeks in the past, I reviewed Samsung’s Galaxy A14 5G, calling it an outstanding cellphone that prices a mere $200, proving that you just actually don’t have to pay heaving wads of dough to get a nice smartphone. Now I’m reviewing Samsung’s top-tier $1,200 Galaxy S23 Ultra and $800 Galaxy S23—and dang it, typically it’s good to splurge, you already know?

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 lineup (which additionally consists of the S23+, a mannequin I haven’t examined but) should not game-changing units within the least—and most individuals don’t want all these high-end cameras and great horsepower. But I’ve to remind myself that typically it’s OK to pay up for the better of the most effective. It’s good not having to squint at a dim display screen on a sunny day, and to have the power to play a demanding sport at its highest constancy.

If you’re coming from a Galaxy S22 or S21 or every other flagship gadget launched throughout the final two years, these new Samsung handsets do not actually offer you a purpose to improve. But you probably have one thing older in your pocket, or a extra wallet-friendly gadget that you just really feel affords a compromised expertise, then it is best to undoubtedly have a look.

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Galaxy S23

Photograph: Samsung

I received’t bore you with the nitty-gritty specs on these telephones. Instead, you’ll be able to learn my explainer on how the Galaxy S23, S23+, and S23 Ultra are all totally different and how they’re related. (Heck, you’ll be able to learn final yr’s S22 sequence evaluate to get the gist on what most of those new units are about.) What you’ll be able to’t fairly discover out by studying specs are how these telephones really feel—the 6.1-inch S23 is my private favourite as a result of it suits my fingers and many of the display screen stays pretty accessible after I need to use it one-handed. The S23 Ultra’s 6.8-inch show is not terribly unwieldy, however whereas utilizing it, I discover my thumbs stretching farther and farther till my different hand has to affix in—and I’ve massive fingers.

The greatest change is the S23 Ultra’s edges, that are far flatter than final yr’s curvy S22 Ultra. The edges should not as flat as the sides on an iPhone 14, however the Ultra nonetheless feels nicer to carry than its predecessor, and my grip virtually by no means interrupts the display screen. Outside this, shade me whelmed with how the Galaxy S23 lineup appears. I nonetheless assume Samsung’s S21 sequence supplied a sharper design language with the Contour Cut digicam module in an accent shade. These new telephones with their understated and accent-free digicam array appear like the textbook definition of a “smartphone”—they’re little question elegant, however there’s not a lot character.

The three handsets share most of the similar traits, like how the 120-Hz AMOLED screens can every now hit 1,750 nits of peak brightness. This is a characteristic that is usually neglected; a excessive brightness makes it a lot simpler to learn the display screen if you’re outdoors on a sunny day. Too usually my fiancée has to squint at her Pixel cellphone, and that is by no means an issue right here. (It additionally will get fairly darn dim for anybody who appreciates low brightness at bedtime.)

They’re all powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 “for Galaxy” chipset, which is barely sooner than the base-level Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 you will discover on different flagship Android telephones just like the OnePlus 11. My benchmark exams bore that out, but it surely’s not a large leap. This chip is particular in two methods. Year over yr, it is actually laborious to note significant features in efficiency as of late, however I’ve seen that telephones with this processor really feel extra responsive and snappier than ever earlier than. 

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