It's hard to paint the Samsung Galaxy S23+ as an exciting phone. The upgrades from last year are minor: it's got slightly faster performance, longer battery life, and a mildly refined look.
That might be disappointing for us phone nerds who treat new releases as entertainment and are used to trading up every year or so, but the S23+ is still a fantastic flagship — even if it's not a sensible upgrade for S22 owners. In fact, it's one of the best phones you can get right now, and a better buy than the S23 Ultra for most people.
The Samsung Galaxy S23+ is a minor generational upgrade over last year's Galaxy S22+, with improvements like a faster chipset, more storage, and a slightly bigger battery. It's an iterative update through and through, but it's a marginally better version of what Samsung gave us last year at the same $1,000 MSRP, making it an appealing upgrade for anyone who's been hanging onto their current device for a few years.
- SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
- Display: 6.6" FHD+ AMOLED, 48~120Hz refresh, 240Hz touch sampling
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 256GB or 512GB
- Battery: 4,700mAh
- Ports: USB-C
- Operating System: Android 13 (OneUI 5.1.1)
- Front camera: 12MP f/2.2
- Rear camera: 50MP f/1.8 OIS main; 12MP f2.2 ultrawide (120°); 10MP f/2.4 OIS telephoto (3x)
- Connectivity: 5G (inc mmWave), LTE, UWB, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC
- Dimensions: 163.3 × 78 × 8.9mm
- Colors: Phantom, Cream, Green, Lavender + Samsung.com exclusive Lime, Graphite
- Weight: 196g
- Charge speed: 45W wired (Quick Charge 2.0, Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging), 15W wireless (Samsung Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, WPC), Wireless PowerShare
- IP Rating: IP68
- Price: From $1,000
- Micro SD card support: No
- Security: Fingerprint (Ultrasonic, under-display)
- As fast as any Android phone today
- Excellent display and speakers
- Outstanding build quality
- Class-leading software support with updates into 2028
- Four-figure MSRP stings
- Some camera annoyances
- Too many pre-installed apps
Availability and network
The Samsung Galaxy S23+ was officially announced at the company's Unpacked event on February 2, and released on February 17. Practically every carrier is selling it — Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, plus MVNOs like Google Fi — and you can also pick it up unlocked from retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. The unlocked version enjoys 5G support on most networks, including mmWave. The S23+ starts at $1,000 for the version with 256GB of storage space; the 512GB model costs $1,200. Various incentives may make it a more affordable option through your carrier, however.
Design and display
Samsung's S-series phones this year are pretty mild refreshes of what we got in early 2022. While the Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23+ aren't quite as visually similar to their predecessors as the S23 Ultra is, they're not radical design reinventions, either. The S23+ looks nearly identical to the Galaxy S22+, but with the raised island around its cameras gone. These discrete camera bumps are something Samsung's been doing for a while in other phones, like last year's S22 Ultra and many of its more affordable A-series devices like the Galaxy A14. I think it's a cleaner look.
The Galaxy S23+'s backside is flat, matte-finish glass, with Samsung's logo etched in glossy letters near the bottom. Matte glass is less grippy against bare skin than glossy is (nicely illustrated by running your finger across that glossy wordmark), making the phone slightly slipperier in the hand than something like a Pixel 7 Pro. But it's also more resistant to fingerprinting, and it gives the phone a more upscale appearance. You should get some protection for it, probably, but the S23+ will look great between its box and any case you get. The phone's metal side rails are polished metal, with sublimely firm and clicky power and volume keys on the right side. The bottom edge houses one of two (surprisingly powerful) speakers, the SIM tray, and USB-C port.
You can get the S23+ in Phantom Black, Green, Cream, or Lavender (seen here) from most retailers, and Samsung.com offers exclusive Graphite and Lime finishes. "Green" could stand to be a little more colorful; it's more gray than anything. I'm a big fan of the Lavender finish I've been using, though. I typically think of lavender as a little more purple than this phone is — my S23+ looks pastel pink in most light — but it's a unique finish that's just eye-catching enough.
The S23+ is Samsung's midsize 2023 flagship, sandwiched between the 6.1-inch S23 and the positively titanic 6.8-inch Galaxy S23 Ultra. At 6.6 inches, the S23+ is a good large phone size, with meaningfully more screen real estate than the compact-by-2023-standards S23, but without the S23 Ultra's extra bulk that some users (myself included) might find off-putting. It feels substantial and dense, and doesn't creak or flex under pressure. It's just a joy to handle; in the Android world, Samsung's build quality is second to none.
Overall, tweaks to the camera layout aside, things look very similar this year to last. The S23+ has the same 6.6-inch display as the S22+, with the same thin, even bezels on all sides. It's a fantastic screen: a 120Hz, 1080p AMOLED panel with vibrant colors (a little too vibrant for my taste with the default Vivid setting enabled, but the Natural setting makes for a pleasant and accurate look). It's coated in Gorilla Glass Victus 2 this time, technically an upgrade over the Victus+ glass Samsung used last year.
The under-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is positioned high enough that it's easy to reach, and it's very fast; unlocking the phone more or less just takes a firm tap.
Software and performance
The Samsung Galaxy S23+ and its siblings are the first phones to launch with One UI 5.1. One UI 5.1 is the most incremental of updates over Android 13-based One UI 5.0, bringing a handful of small new features like a couple of battery widgets that show how much juice your phone and any connected accessories have, minor multitasking improvements, and some changes to camera and gallery functionality.
There's now a shortcut to Samsung's Expert RAW camera app inside the regular camera app, or, if you don't have the Expert RAW app, a shortcut to download it from the Galaxy Store. I don't personally care to mess around with most advanced camera settings on phones, but the new shortcut both makes it easier for folks who do want to shoot RAW and exposes the option to people who might not have otherwise known about it, so it's a win in my book.
The Gallery app now has an option to "remaster" your photos, which automatically tweaks things like exposure, contrast, and white balance to enhance your pictures. That's the idea, anyway — in my experience, remastering typically boils down to bumping up exposure and contrast, tweaks photos from the Galaxy S23+ seldom need (more on that later).
Aside from marginal improvements like these, the experience here is about what you'll be used to on any Samsung phone that's been updated to One UI 5. That's all good with me; Samsung's take on Android 13 includes all the default goodies like improved dynamic UI themes and the requirement that apps request permission before sending you notifications. But it also makes a lot of smart improvements over Google's implementation, with additions like robust lock screen customization and the ability to create rotating "stacks" of widgets on your home screen, iOS-style.
There are plenty of things I don't like about the way One UI works by default. I don't like that notification content is hidden behind an extra tap on the lock screen; I don't like that long-pressing the power button (er, side key) calls up Bixby, or that the app drawer is in a seemingly random order. And I know this is Samsung sacrilege, but I've never gotten any real mileage out of Galaxy phones' side panel shortcut menus. But One UI is flexible, and every single irritation I have with these default implementations can be alleviated somewhere in the S23+'s settings.
Another short-lived One UI annoyance: there are a lot of pre-installed apps you probably won't want. The S23 series comes with a handful of Microsoft apps like Outlook and OneDrive, plus competing apps for a number of tasks: there's both Chrome and Samsung Internet; Google and Samsung's Messages apps; Google Photos and Samsung's standalone Gallery app. Facebook is preloaded, too. Again, this is easy to deal with, as most of the pre-installed apps can be uninstalled or disabled. But whether you prefer to use Google's apps or Samsung's, it's irritating to have to wade through so many redundant apps (not to mention some out-and-out bloatware) while settling into your new thousand-dollar phone.
Overall, though, Samsung's phone software is more refined and pleasant to interact with than ever. And it's hardly news at this point, but Samsung's update commitment is second to none in the Android space: the Galaxy S23+ is guaranteed four years of OS updates, which should keep it current until early 2027— up through Android 17. It's set for an additional year of security patches past that, too.
Under the hood, the S23+ is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset — an exclusive "for Galaxy" version that's theoretically slightly higher performing thanks to a higher clock speed on one of its cores. I don't know how much of a difference that customization actually makes, but I can say that the S23+ is the quickest-feeling phone I've ever used. Apps positively fly open, with splash screens often only visible for an instant. Like in the S22+ last year, there are eight gigs of RAM here, with no option to upgrade to more memory. That's no great loss; with eight gigs, the S23+ is yet to feel slow in my time with it, even swapping back and forth between lots of apps. Nothing falls out of memory before it feels like it should.
Gaming performance is predictably superb. Lighter games like Dead Cells and Downwell run flawlessly, and demanding titles like Call of Duty Mobile and Genshin Impact don't skip a beat, even with their settings cranked. I've been using the S23+ with a GameSir's X2 Pro clip-on controller for both local games like these and cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass, and the phone has handled it all flawlessly.
It's worth pointing out here that both the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23+ have the same chipset and RAM as the pricier S23 Ultra (though the Ultra can be kitted out with extra RAM for an upcharge). I'm not trying to frame this thousand-plus-dollar luxury device as a bargain, but if you're comparing S23 models, know that you don't need to pay $1,200 to get top-shelf performance.
The Samsung Galaxy S23+ has the same three-camera setup as last year's S22+: a 50MP f/1.8 primary, a 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide, and a 10MP f/2.4 3x telephoto. Photos out of all three are very good, generally speaking, with sharp enough focus, bright colors, and lots of contrast.
I do think Samsung's image processing leans a little too hard on saturation and brightness, typically. It often makes for fun, vivid images, but in some settings — outdoors on an overcast day, for example — it can look conspicuously artificial. Photos taken at night also often come out looking considerably brighter than the scene was in real life, even without using the dedicated low-light mode, though turning off the "Scene enhancer" setting in the camera app does mitigate that to an extent.
The primary camera's 50-megapixel resolution looks impressive on a spec sheet, but don't get too excited about it. By default, it's binned down to 12.5 megapixels. There is an option to take full-resolution shots (squirreled away in the camera app's aspect ratio menu), but it's typically not worth doing. File sizes are much larger at full-res, of course, and unless conditions are exceedingly well lit, you're not going to get much more usable detail out of a 50-megapixel shot than you are a 12.5-megapixel one. The lower-res pictures are still plenty detailed for sharing online or setting as your phone's wallpaper, though. Unless you're hoping to print posters of your mobile photos, don't sweat it.
Shots from the S23+'s primary camera.
I'm a big fan of the S23+'s telephoto camera, despite having both the lowest resolution (10 megapixels) and the narrowest aperture (f/2.4) of the three. Telephoto shooters with magnification factors of 4x, 5x, and even 10x as seen in the Galaxy S23 Ultra can be fun, but 3x with an equivalent focal length of 69mm strikes a great balance between being able to get detailed shots of large things that are a ways off (think a car parked across the street) while also being useful at closer distances, to get nicely framed shots of subjects that are an arm's length or more away. You can't use it as a telescope to get questionable pictures of the moon in quite the way you can with the Ultra's 10x, even with software zoom on top — hybrid zoom stops at 30x here — but I can't say that bothers me much.
Shots from the S23+'s telephoto camera.
I don't get nearly as much use out of the ultrawide. It's not a bad camera, and with a field of view of 120 degrees, it's indeed very wide. But the primary camera is already plenty wide itself at 85 degrees — I haven't encountered any situations where I couldn't get a better shot by stepping back a bit and using the main shooter. But I also didn't get the chance to do much landscape photography with the S23+; if I had more sweeping vistas to shoot, I might have tapped that .6x icon a little more frequently.
Ultrawide, primary, telephoto.
Across all lenses, low-light photography on the S23+ is a little mixed. On the one hand, I've been regularly impressed by shots where I tapped to focus on the brightest part of the frame, which also adjusts exposure in a way that tones down Samsung's tendency to over-brighten shadows. Photos taken this way are often impressively lifelike.
50MP vs. 12.5MP.
Snapping a photo in the dark without tapping to focus first is frequently less successful. The S23+ really wants to brighten dark scenes, which can often lead to overexposed highlights, unnaturally light shadows, and lots of noise. In middling to low light, exposure times are often quite long, meaning anything in motion — for me, usually a dog — ends up blurry. There's also occasional shutter lag in darker settings, which can mean missing the shot entirely if you're not careful.
Some wonky Night mode shots.
Samsung's Night mode also doesn't do a lot for me. It absolutely does make dark scenes brighter, but not in a way that looks very pleasant or natural. Exaggerating light from artificial light sources can cause weird color casts, and there's a lot of haloing in areas where the phone thinks there needs to be more contrast. Considering how eager these cameras are to brighten dark scenes even without Night mode, I can't see it being very useful for most people.
3x and 30x zoom.
On the whole, though, I'm really happy with these cameras; it's a versatile setup that performs very well most of the time. I do prefer Pixel phones' image processing overall — the colors are generally more true to life — but not by much. Compared to the more expensive S23 Ultra, the S23+ misses out on both a 200MP primary shooter and a second telephoto lens at 10x magnification, but I don't miss either. I wouldn't recommend most people spend the extra money on the Galaxy S23 Ultra just to get the added camera features.
The Samsung Galaxy S23+ packs a 4,700mAh battery, a nominal step up from the S22+'s 4,500mAh cell. I'm not demanding on phone batteries, typically, but battery life here is in line with what I've come to expect out of a flagship phone this size. My phone typically saw me through six or seven hours of mixed-use screen time over a little more than 24 hours off the charger.
That's just the average, though; if you're intentionally going easy on the phone, it's not hard to stretch a charge across 48 hours. You could tap the battery in a single day if you were playing lots of games or doing long stretches of Google Maps navigation, but you won't ever have trouble making it from morning to bedtime on a single charge otherwise.
There's support for charging speeds up to 45 watts, plus wireless charging at up to 15 watts. The Galaxy S23+ doesn't come with a charging brick at all, of course, and there's a good chance the ones you have around can't deliver that full 45-watt speed — Samsung phones have a history of being persnickety about chargers. After some testing with a compatible PD charger, though, I'm happy with the S23+'s charging performance.
As you can see from the chart above, in my testing, the S23+ hovered around its 45-watt ceiling until its battery was roughly a quarter full. That dipped to 30 watts around the halfway mark and 20 watts around 75 percent, with power draw falling off steeply after that to a low of about three watts. Still, I didn't feel like the phone kept me waiting too long to top up.
Sitting idle at room temperature, the S23+ managed to make it to half full in about 20 minutes, and a full charge took just over an hour — 63 minutes. These speeds aren't class-leading by any means; the OnePlus 11 tops out at 80 watts for a full charge in about 30 minutes. Still, considering a half-full battery can easily see the S23+ through a full day of mixed use, it's hard to get too upset about competitors beating Samsung here.
At an MSRP of $1,000, the Samsung Galaxy S23+ is one of the pricier Android flagships on the market today, in competition with the likes of the $900 Pixel 7 Pro and the $700 OnePlus 11. But a lot of people will also be comparing the S23+ with Samsung's other big 2023 flagship, the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Compared to the Pixel 7 Pro, the Galaxy S23+ offers faster performance, as well as a more refined design and higher-quality build (including a flat display, if you're as over curved edges as I am). We expect Samsung's phone to get updates longer than Google's: the Pixel will get Android updates until October 2025 and security patches two years longer. The S23+ should see Android updates until the start of 2027 and security patches into 2028. The Pixel 7 Pro takes more natural-looking photos, though, in my opinion.
The $700 OnePlus 11 puts up a good fight given its price, with a similar Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and superfast 80W charging. Camera performance on the OnePlus phone is less consistent than on the Samsung, though, and the OnePlus 11 lacks wireless charging. The OnePlus 11 has a similar update timeline to the S23+ with Android version updates into 2026, though and security patches one year longer. However, those security patches come every other month instead of monthly.
Samsung's own Galaxy S23 Ultra goes for $1,200 and compared to the 23+, has a larger display (6.8-inch; the S23+'s screen is 6.6-inch), a higher-resolution 200MP primary camera (to 50MP on the S23+), an additional 10x telephoto camera, and a built-in stylus that legacy Galaxy Note fans go nuts for. The Ultra also has 300mAh more battery capacity, with a 5,000mAh cell. Whether the improvements are worth the extra money is subjective, but if I were cross-shopping here, I'd go with the S23+. Performance is identical between the two phones, and having used last year's Galaxy S22 Ultra for quite some time, I know none of the S23 Ultra's extra bells and whistles matter much to me.
Should you buy it?
The Samsung Galaxy S23+ is in sort of a weird spot. It's a large, high-quality, thousand-dollar flagship, but it's not Samsung's flagship flagship. If the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a phone for enthusiasts, though, the Galaxy S23+ is for slightly more casual smartphone users who still want a big, premium device, but don't necessarily need every single feature they can stuff in their pocket. For those buyers, the S23+ is almost ideal.
If you've got an S22-series phone, and you're wondering if you should upgrade to the S23+, the answer is no. Assuming your last-gen phone is still going strong, you'll gain very little with this upgrade. Performance is a little faster, the battery lasts a little longer, and the back of the phone looks a little nicer (and that last one is subjective). But if you're using a phone from 2021 or earlier, and you're looking to upgrade to a new, large Android flagship soon, the Galaxy S23+ won't disappoint. Try not to pay full price if you can avoid it, but even for a cool grand, this is a very good phone.