Year after year, smartphones evolve into something better, something more; further becoming an inseparable part of our lives - so much so that companies are coming up with features that let you unwind. 2023 is going to be another year where major tech brands will thrive to put their best smartphone innovations, giving consumers a smarter, more sophisticated and advanced piece of hardware right in their hands. Samsung traditionally takes the lead as it kicks off 2023 with the year's biggest smartphone launch - the Galaxy S23 series.
Samsung has brought three flagships — Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra, which systematically succeed the Galaxy S22 [REVIEW], Galaxy S22 Plus [REVIEW] and Galaxy S22 Ultra [REVIEW]. The introduction of S-Pen in the S-series, the Ultra to be specific, was a memorable move. But this year, it's about three things - Camera, Performance and Sustainability.
There's no dearth of technical information on the new devices, but these new phones are designed with the planet in mind. We don't talk about it enough. Hence, we start our first impressions of the phones with the sustainability efforts undertaken by Samsung.
It's nice to see a growing number of major brands fuse sustainability and innovation together. Charging adapters are gone, packaging materials are recyclable and now Samsung is seen taking the next step forward. We haven't had the chance to see the packaging materials used in the boxes of the S22, S22 Plus and S22 Ultra, but the phones are designed in an eco-friendly way, which is worth mentioning.
Samsung Galaxy S23 series uses recycled aluminium, recycled glass, and recycled ocean-bound plastic sourced from discarded PET bottles, fishing nets and water barrels. Samsung has even used natural dye for its phones and the Gorilla Victus 2 seen on the front and rear sides of the phones are made with recycled glass.
Samsung may not be all the way up there, but it's a start. Specifics shared with us say that the front and back glass contains an average of 22 percent recycled content. The S-Pen's inner cover contains at least 20 percent ocean-bound polyamide. And the back glass deco film has a minimum of 80 percent recycled content. Samsung also tells us that the packaging box of the phones is made of 100 percent recycled paper.
With this effort, Samsung hopes that more than 15 tons of fishing nets would be kept from entering the world's oceans by the end of this year.
The use of recycled materials in no way compromises quality and durability. The devices are as premium and sturdy as previous-gen phones and other competing flagships. So kudos to Samsung there!
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra looks identical, but it is a lot different in meaningful ways. For starters, the sides are flatter, offering a solid grip. The 6.8-inch display is ever so slightly edged on the sides so accidental touches aren't a concern anymore, all while giving an edge-to-edge viewing experience. The S23 Plus is slightly smaller, its display measuring 6.6 inches diagonally and the S22 is the most compact with a 6.1-inch screen. Of the three phones, the S23 has to be the hot favourite given its size and handiness. Both phones have a flat display and are even bezel-less.
See how the three phones fit in the hand below:
The displays were fantastic as usual and the S23 Ultra got incredibly bright when we turned off the adaptive brightness and cranked it up to the max. Even with adaptive brightness, the displays gave off vibrant colours and rich contrast. There's even something called Adaptive Vision Booster, which Samsung says is a boon for battery. We'll know soon.
The rear design on all three phones looks more uniform now as Samsung did away with its Contour Cut camera housing for a floating lens module. Samsung seems to be taking a keen liking to this camera design and it could become a signature as we have seen it in the affordable A14 5G phone as well recently.
We got our hands on the cream-coloured S23 and S23 Plus and the S23 Ultra in Phantom Black. There are green and lavender shades, too, in the offing. The matte glass finish on the back isn't new and we still like it just as much.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra takes the limelight here. The brief time we spent with the phone in an indoor setting showed how well the phone performs in low light. When pointed at the LED lights, the camera managed to dim them to keep the focus on the subject. There was less light scattering, which is a good thing, but it remains to be seen if the same can be replicated in harsher light settings.
The S23 Ultra has a 200MP adaptive ISOCELL HP2 sensor. We took some portrait shots and it seemed to work remarkably well. A 10-second video clip shot in 8K was quite stable as well and the focusing speed in both stills and videos is spot on. The S22 and S22 Plus share the same camera setup and are delivered optimally given the lighting condition.
Samsung is betting big on the camera and we will do comprehensive testing in our detailed review of the phones soon.
Samsung Galaxy S23-series is powered by Snapdragon 8 Get 2 Mobile for Galaxy. It is said to have improved graphics, which we will only be able to tell once we run some gaming apps. The phones given to us had pre-loaded apps and navigating between menus was seamless. But the high configuration of the phones demands more challenging tests. Samsung briefly mentioned Ray Tracing support AI Adaptive performance capabilities, which can be tested through heavy games like CoD Mobile.
Though the phones felt lighter to handle, the S23 Ultra is packing a 5,000mAh battery, S23 Plus has a 4,700mAh and S23 packs a 3,900mAh battery.