On paper, the modifications made to the Samsung Galaxy S23 during yesterday’s (February 1) Galaxy Unpacked event would be hard-pressed to meet anyone’s notion of “earth-shattering.” That’s not to say the improvements aren’t appreciated and, in certain circumstances, even notable – if you pack a 200MP main camera sensor into a phone, like Samsung did with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, you’ve earned some respect. Simply put, in comparison to the Galaxy S22 series, these new models appear to be very incremental in terms of phone releases.
But once more, that is only on paper. Perhaps when we use the new phones, we’ll discover unanticipated features that prompt us to reconsider our first reactions to what Samsung unveiled. (To learn more about our initial thoughts on these devices, read our Galaxy S23 hands-on and Galaxy S23 Ultra hands-on.)
Even before testing is finished, we’ve already discovered a few Galaxy S23 features worth praising, some of which you might have missed at Samsung’s launch event. These are the Galaxy S23 characteristics that struck out to me as I listened to Samsung officials describe what their new phones provide in San Francisco’s Masonic Auditorium, and which I believe will be discussed when the phones are released on February 17.
Galaxy S8 with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform
It’s not just that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 appears to be a strong upgrade from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 that ran the top Android phones of the previous year. I witnessed firsthand the enhancements this chip promises, not the least of which are increases in performance and battery efficiency, when I attended the Snapdragon Summit in November of last year. Even better, I had the opportunity to perform some benchmarks on a reference handset utilising the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 to prove that phones using this specific processor will indeed soar.
But here’s the thing: the Galaxy S23 doesn’t make use of that specific chipset. Instead, it uses a modified version that really emphasises performance.
Although the “Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy” label doesn’t actually launch right away, the chipset does. We’ve already gotten a chance to perform some preliminary Galaxy S23 Ultra benchmark tests using the phone’s 512GB model, which comes with 12GB of memory. It outperformed the A15 Bionic-powered iPhone 14 on Geekbench 5’s multicore test and even the A16-powered iPhone 14 Pro in 3DMark’s Wild Life Unlimited graphics test.
It’s unusual for an Android phone to match or even outperform an iPhone in terms of performance. The Galaxy S23 family is expected to spice up those Android versus. iPhone arguments because we bet Apple isn’t either.
Base storage of 256GB
In case you missed it during the Galaxy S23 rollout, some base versions will offer more storage than Samsung has ever provided. Look at the Galaxy S23 Plus specs or the Galaxy S23 Ultra specs; you’ll see that both come with 256GB of storage in the $999 and $1,199 editions of their respective models.
To put that into perspective, a $999 Galaxy S22 Plus that was introduced a year ago had 128GB of storage, which is unquestionably a respectable amount and typical for flagship phones today. At least for customers in the United States, the Galaxy S23 Plus doubles that storage while maintaining the same price.
If you prefer the less expensive Galaxy S23, which still has a base model with 128GB of storage, you shouldn’t feel left out. Yes, you must pay an additional $60 to double the storage to 256GB, and the $859 cost is higher than what you would have spent for a 256GB Galaxy S22 last year. However, if you preorder the Galaxy S23 through Samsung, you’ll receive a free storage increase and an extra credit that you can use on other Samsung purchases.
The updated Galaxy S23 design
Before this week’s launch event, the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus were shown in leaked renders that showed off their Ultra-like shape, vertically stacked cameras, and lack of a separate camera array protruding into the side of the phone.
I was first sad to see the contour cut design disappear because I genuinely loved it on Samsung’s most recent Galaxy S devices. Prior to seeing the Galaxy S23 and S22 side by side, that sensation only lasted a short while.
The Galaxy S23 just has a neater, more polished appearance, and I’m delighted Samsung is making its flagships seem a little more consistent. And not only the flagships, it seems; if you’ve seen the upcoming Galaxy A54’s leaked renderings, you’ll see that those phones are also incorporating the new Galaxy S style. Samsung made a wise decision.
Pixel-binning abilities of the Galaxy S23 Ultra
Something more than “200 is a lot of megapixels” should be mentioned on this list for the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 200MP main camera.
We’ve been told for years that great cameras are about more than just megapixels. Due to elements like its aperture, sensor size, and the photo-processing capabilities at its disposal, a camera with a lower megapixel count can take considerably better photographs than a megapixel-touting monstrosity. Therefore, the focus here is not about the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 200 megapixels; rather, it is about what it can accomplish with them.
The S23 Ultra’s main camera will typically combine 16 megapixels into one, generating 12MP images with more light to produce sharper details, particularly if you’re shooting in dimly lit conditions. If you want to capture background information and then crop the image using the accompanying picture editing software, you can choose to shoot at the full 200MP resolution. Alternatively, you can choose to employ quad-pixel binning to produce higher-quality 50MP images.
Even though you can manually modify your shooting technique, Samsung referred to this capability as an adaptable pixel sensor. That seems to me that the camera can make adjustments on its own in response to ambient light. I’m interested in giving that a try.
Improved Nighttime Functions
With the Galaxy S22, Samsung established night pictures, or “Nightogrpahy,” as the company continues to refer to this capability, as its signature feature. This trend is continuing with the Galaxy S23 across all of the new models. An AI ISP algorithm that improves an object’s details and colour tones will help you when shooting in low light so that your images don’t get lost in the shadows.
The AI Stereo Depth Map from Samsung’s prior phones intrigues me in particular. However, it appears to have undergone some fine-tuning to more accurately detect people and objects. The stereo depth map is intelligent enough to isolate glasses from the background of the photo, for example, if the subject of your portrait is wearing glasses. The result is a sharper portrait where your subject really shines out.
At least in theory, it operates that way. I can’t wait to hold a Galaxy S23 and begin comparing the low-light portrait photos it produces to those of some of the top camera phones.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s cooling has been updated and improved.
I’ll be honest and say that I typically ignore discussions regarding phone cooling systems, but something got my eye when Samsung execs discussed the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s upgraded cooling system. Given that the Galaxy S23 Ultra is around the same size as its predecessor, it is especially impressive that the vapour chamber, a vital component of the cooling process, has grown.
As a result, according to Samsung, your phone can control its temperature without using more energy. The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s reputation as one of the top gaming smartphones is significantly impacted by this. But it should also result in longer battery life. According to Samsung, you may anticipate a movie playback time rise of 30% to 26 hours and a 22% increase in audio playback time to 99 hours.
Anything Samsung can do to enhance the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s battery life for its successor is a positive development because it was merely OK.
Bixby Text Message
Actually, Bixby Text Call was included in the One Ui 5 update, but only in Korea. At the time, Samsung said it will release an English version in the first half of 2023. It appears that this will happen as part of the One UI 5.1 upgrade that comes with the Galaxy S23 series.
You can use text messages instead of voice calls to answer incoming calls on your Galaxy S23 by using Bixby Text Call. Additionally, caller responses are converted to text, which is really useful if your hearing is as poor as mine is.
If you own a Google Pixel phone, this is common knowledge, but it’s a great addition to the Galaxy lineup. And we’re curious to see if Samsung’s approach to automated phone call management can outperform Google’s.
Future of the Galaxy S23
These are just a few of the features from Samsung’s Galaxy S23 announcement that drew my attention. Once I have the opportunity to try some of these new phones, I’m sure I’ll find even more surprises, both good and terrible.