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Samsung Galaxy S23: The compact flagship

Samsung Galaxy S23 hands on

As with S Series phones from Samsung for a few years, the Ultra understandably gets much of the media coverage and the non-Ultra models (the S23 and the S23+) typically tend to find themselves in its shadow. This time too, the Ultra is a stellar smartphone and the headlines have tended to focus on it. But, all this limelight on the Ultra phone tends to ignore the fact that for most buyers, the non-Ultra smartphone is actually the wiser choice.

S23 front

S23’s design and build

We have had the S23 for the better part of two weeks and there is a lot to love about it. To start off, it feels perfectly sized for the average palm. The 6.1-inch screen has flat edges (no curved display here) and is fairly compact for a 2023 smartphone. In fact, for some time now, Samsung has done a better job at making its non-Ultra phones pocketable than some other competitors.

Available in four shades (our review unit is in white), the camera slab is ditched in favour of a sleeker back much like the Ultra. This unifies the design of all the smartphones in the series. As with other S Series devices before it, it feels premium to the touch and, like the Ultra and Plus models, gets Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection.

The S23’s high refresh rate display

The 6.1-inch display is bright (with max brightness of 1750 nits), vivid and sharp like its Ultra sibling. It gets a full HD resolution with 425ppi, and while it might not match the sheer size of the Ultra’s display, it fares well on all other counts. Samsung over the last decade or so has taken massive strides when it comes to the displays of its smartphones and that shows in how good the display on the S23 is. At this price point, there is hardly anything that even comes close.

S23 front and back

The S23’s cameras

The S23 gets a 50MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide and a 10MP 3x telephoto. While there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference on paper, things have definitely changed in practice. Samsung’s pivot to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy has paid dividends when it comes to the object separation that the S23 Series cameras can achieve. The result is sharper shots with better HDR in all lighting conditions. Shadows and highlights are represented better and Samsung’s colour science seems to be leaning towards warmer tones now.

On the selfie front, the move to a 12MP shooter has made photos sharper and packed with even more detail than the already impressive S22. Portrait mode for the selfie camera produces good results consistently. It has to be noted that the S23 Series smartphones are the first ones to utilize Qualcomm’s Semantic Segregation tech on the selfie camera.

Improved cooling and customised chip in the Samsung Galaxy S23

Samsung has reengineered the cooling mechanism with a significantly larger chamber and that shows in how the S23 dispatches off everything that comes its way. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Samsung also comes with higher clock speeds for the CPU as well as the GPU and that should have contributed to the better performance.

S23 tilt

The most noticeable gains however are in efficiency. Yes, the battery has grown by 200mAh to 3900mAh, but that in itself doesn’t how much longer the S23 lasts on a full charge. In our testing it lasted for more than a day of heavy use on a single charge consistently.

On the whole, the Samsung Galaxy S23 offers a combination that not much else has in the price range. While there are a bunch of competitors in the Android world, not too many take on the might of Samsung’s S Series head on. With prices starting at Rs. 79,999 for the 256GB storage variant, the S23 has the best display of a phone in the segment, has serious flagship level cameras, strong performance and great battery life. If you are looking at a smartphone at this price point, the S23 makes a strong case for itself. And over the past few years, Samsung has been working on an ever improving ecosystem with SmartThings, Galaxy laptops, DeX and other Galaxy accessories making a flagship Samsung smartphone even more desirable.

If you still feel that the S23 feels lacking, there is the S23 Ultra to up the ante. Read our review of Samsung’s top-of-the-line flagship here.

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