Although the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4 make for some of the best Android phones you can buy, plenty of users still prefer to stick with a classic smartphone design. For anyone who would rather stay away from the cutting edge, the Samsung Galaxy S23 is likely the phone for you. Last year’s Samsung Galaxy S22 series blew us away with an excellent refined design, solid performance, and the rebirth of the Note series.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Series
After months of rumors, hints, leaks, and teases, Samsung’s flagship phones — the normal ones that don’t fold or cost a full mortgage payment — are within reach. Their official debut is February 1, but if you already know you’re buying one, you can save $50 if you reserve just a phone, and save $100 when you preorder it alongside a new Galaxy Book. Best of all, reserving the phone is free, so if for whatever reason you don’t like what you see, you’re not out any money if you decide not to buy.
We expect to see a similar pattern for the Galaxy S23 this year: some slight design changes, improved performance, and maybe a couple of surprises. With Samsung’s next Galaxy Unpacked event officially set for February 1st, the leaks won’t stop pouring in for its upcoming smartphone. Here’s everything we know about the Galaxy S23 so far.
This post contains speculation about the rumored Samsung Galaxy S23 smartphone lineup. We’ve listed or linked to any details confirmed by Samsung throughout the post as well as the sources of any rumors we’ve published. We will update this post regularly as we learn more details.
Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23+: Design Speculation
If there’s one space where we expect the S23 series to diverge between models, it’s the designs. Just like last year, we expect to see very few changes between generations, though the two smaller models — a term we’re using loosely — will likely take some inspiration from their big brother.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23+ are reportedly taking after the 2022 Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. The camera bump that has become the signature style for the S-series over the last couple of years is gone, replaced by a replica of the protruding lenses from the S22 Ultra. It’s a bummer to see that design disappear, as it was one of Samsung’s best in years. Although, it makes sense to unite all three phones around a similar look.
Backing up these design changes are some leaked case renders, all of which also show a focus on an Ultra-style camera alignment. This may be the rare example of a phone looking better in a protective shell, as the move away from a camera bump allows the lenses to protrude as normal.
Meanwhile, it sounds like the S23 will come in the usual colors you’d expect, with one notable exception. In addition to black, green, and light pink, Samsung is reportedly planning on a beige model replacing the classic white hue. And thanks to some early accessory leaks, we might have an idea of what that beige color might look like.
In more recent renders, we’ve seen the Galaxy S23 series in more of a cream tone than a beige tone, dialing back any level of fleshiness for a refined off-white hue. Regardless of colors, it’s clear that anyone hoping for a total redesign in 2023 is out of luck.
Leaked marketing renders show two of these colors in action: the light pink Galaxy S23+, as well as the green S23 Ultra. It’s a new shade for one of Samsung’s most common color choices, appearing more ruggedized than the previous jade tones. In addition to those three colors, a standard black model is also available.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Design rumors
Despite being the most powerful of the three phones, the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s design is also the most similar to its predecessor. Early renders show the S23 Ultra looks nearly unchanged, right down to its unique camera lineup on the back.
Granted, it’s not like Samsung is only making this a spec bump; the differences are there if you look closely enough. The phone is slightly less curvy compared to last year’s model, along with some modifications to how far the lenses stick out.
These are subtle differences, though, and while it might satisfy any Note 9 or Note 10 holdouts, if you were hoping to jump from the S22 Ultra to a new model, the main changes won’t be visible to the naked eye.
We’ve also seen dummy units of all three phones, which seem to lend credence to the design rumors that have circulated throughout the last few months of 2022. The S23 Ultra features the least amount of changes, but comparing all three next to each other makes it all the more obvious how inspired the smaller units are by the Note-esque design.
Some more recent leaks have given us a full look at the device in all four colors, which match up with the other two S23 phones. Those leaked ads seem to indicate green is the go-to color for Samsung’s marketing team this year, but purple, black, and than off-white cream color are also available.
You don’t have to take these leaked photos for granted, though. Not long after we caught a glimpse of S23 retail boxes, a full unboxing leaked on the web. And with more than a week to go until Galaxy Unpacked, it gave us a new look at Samsung’s next phablet in all its glory. Although it’s unclear how this Twitter user got their hands on an early unit, the video does showcase exactly what the S23 Ultra looks like in that cream tone shown above.
Samsung Galaxy S23 series: Hardware specifications
Unlike with the design of these phones, Samsung keeps its internal specs pretty consistent throughout all models. There’s been a surprising amount of noise around the chipset, something that, in theory at least, shouldn’t be too complicated. Usually, Samsung relies on Qualcomm’s latest flagship processor throughout much of the world, with an ever-shrinking group of regions getting an in-house Exynos chip.
Although reports suggest Samsung wants to start relying on its own silicon again, it doesn’t sound like that’s the case this year. Early S23 rumors indicated the company would stick with Qualcomm — in this case, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 — potentially for all markets, a theory that gained credence when the two brands extended their partnership this past summer.
In the run-up to February, we’ve heard even more about Samsung’s reliance on Qualcomm. During the chipmaker’s Q4 earnings call, CFO Akash Palhiwala referred to a “global share” of the S23 series, an increase from the 75 percent marketshare held with the S22. Meanwhile, European models for all three phones passed through the FCC in November, each with Qualcomm hardware inside.
The latest word on this seems to point towards a custom-branded SoC, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy. Outside of an increased clock speed for the main Cortex X3 core, it’ll remain unchanged.
Still, Exynos might not be done just yet. In September, we heard that Samsung’s bosses, while disappointed with the performance of the company’s latest in-house SoC, were pushing to continue using the lineup in select markets. That means some Galaxy S23 units might run on an Exynos 2300 rather than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. And to pair with those improved processors, Samsung is reportedly implementing new cooling systems to provide better performance under load.
As is tradition for any Samsung phone, a massive specs leak hit the web just two weeks before the company intends to take the stage in San Francisco. These promotional French documents detail nearly everything you’d want to know about the phone, and despite a potential language barrier, it’s easy to get a good idea of what the S23 lineup will consist of when it launches next month.
Everything on these lists is roughly what you’d expect for a 2023 flagship. A Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, 8GB or 12GB of RAM depending on the model, and larger batteries as previously rumored. Water resistance, Wi-Fi 6E, Android 13 with One UI 5.1 — it’s all here.
Unfortunately for fans of small phones, the Galaxy S23 is getting the short end of the stick on specs. Recent leaks indicate it’s limited to just 25W fast-charging and 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage in its base configuration. The Plus and Ultra models, meanwhile, start with 256GB of faster UFS 4.0 storage and charge at 45W with supported power bricks. Considering early rumors suggested the S23 would also see 256GB of storage in its entry-level pricing, it’s disappointing to say the least.
Samsung Galaxy S23 series: Software
For the most part, we don’t expect the S23’s software experience to revolutionize how the phone works. We expect One UI 5.1 to ship on Samsung’s latest series first, before it rolls out to older models like last year’s Z-series and all the various S22 models. Based on Android 13, One UI 5.1 will include some small quality-of-life changes, including a new battery widget for all of your connected devices, AR filters, changes to Samsung Notes for simultaneous editing, and more. Google and Samsung are also working on a streamlined method for setting up your new phone using Fast Pair, and it sounds like it’ll first show up on the Galaxy S23.
Samsung Galaxy S23 series: Camera and imaging speculation
The big news for the Samsung Galaxy S23, specifically the Ultra variant, concerns its rumored 200MP camera. Although we don’t expect the sensor to be much larger than other phones on the market (coming in at 1/1.3 inches), it’s an impressive number regardless. This camera might use a recently-announced ISOCELL HP2 sensor as well, not the ISOCELL HP1 seen in Motorola’s recent Edge 30 Ultra. Expect to see improved nighttime performance in both photo and video capture, if recent reports are anything to go by.
Meanwhile, it sounds like the S23 and S23+ will keep the 10MP telephoto lens from last year’s model. Considering the camera modules on both phones look identical, we aren’t too surprised to see some consistency between generations. With machine learning and software optimizations nearly as important to photo performance these days as actual hardware, expect plenty of improvements regardless of how familiar the physical sensors are.
Tipster Ice Universe has also noted a small jump in 8K recording capabilities, as the Galaxy S23 seems destined to record in 8K 30FPS, rather than just 24FPS.
These days, camera performance is as much about software as it is about hardware, and Samsung’s smartphones are no exception to this rule. The company is rumored to add three new tools to its camera app, including a sky hyperlapse mode exclusive to the S23 Ultra, a Pro Mode for the selfie cam, and a 50MP RAW mode available on all three models.
As for that Pro Mode-equipped front-facing camera, it sounds like the 40MP selfie lens from last year’s Galaxy S22 Ultra is going away. Rather, the Galaxy S23 Ultra might make the switch to a 12MP sensor, opting for quality over the sheer number of megapixels available. Specifically, a larger sensor would allow more light in, providing better low-light snaps while also using a wider field-of-view. Unless you’re a participant in the megapixel wars, it sounds like an overall win.
Samsung Galaxy S23 series: Possible availability and release date
Although there’s always some early speculation about when Samsung will hold Unpacked every year, there comes a time when the company actually needs to announce a date. Thankfully, we’re finally past that. The Galaxy S23 series will be unveiled at a live event in San Francisco on Wednesday, February 1st at 1 PM ET, 10 AM PT. You don’t need to jump on a plane bound for California to tune in — it’ll be livestreaming on YouTube as usual.
As for pricing, a Verizon leak gave us some details on exactly how much each phone will cost this year. In an appropriate move for phones as familiar as these, Samsung has kept its prices familiar as well. According to these internal carrier documents, the Galaxy S23 starts at $800 for its smallest model, with the S23+ priced at $1,000 and the S23 Ultra coming in at $1,200. It’s an identical pricing structure to what we saw last year. It’s great to see some stability in these prices, but regardless, Samsung’s lineup remains pretty expensive.
Unfortunately, European shoppers aren’t as lucky, as recent reports point to an across-the-board price increase in the region.
Of course, you don’t need to wait to start saving some cash on your next smartphone. Samsung’s reservation system for the S23 series is live, allowing you to gain $50 in Samsung Credit towards the phone, or $100 in Samsung Credit towards the phone alongside a new Galaxy Book, just by signing up with your name and email. There’s no commitment for this — you’ll simply get a code to use while pre-ordering after the announcement — so if you’re at all interested in these phones, make sure you’re on the list.
If you’re in one of a handful of select cities, you can get an early look at the Galaxy S23 before it hits store shelves. Samsung will host events in its Galaxy Experience stores throughout London, Dubai, Singapore, Paris, and, of course, San Francisco, with pop-up stores available at two dozen other locations around the globe.
Are you ready for a new phone?
Unpacked is right around the corner, so keep your eyes peeled for an official Galaxy S23 announcement on Wednesday. If you’re holding on to your old phone in hopes that you’ll make it until the Samsung Galaxy S23 hits the market, you may want to try some of our top tips to speed up your smartphone.