Ahead of Unpacked 2023, we had the pleasure of flying to Singapore to see Samsung’s new S23 flagships lineup.
It was teased through online materials, presentations, and a dedicated experience centre in gorgeous Gardens by the Bay (which is one of only five such centres globally, we were told).
By the time you’re reading this, the global Unpacked 2023 would have already happened. If you couldn’t tune in, here’s what is setting apart the S23 phones from last year’s S22s.
Size-wise, the screens of the three variants remain the same as their predecessors’—S23 Ultra with a 6.8-inch screen, S23+ with a 6.6-inch screen, and S23 with a 6.1-inch screen.
But the S23 Ultra’s screen is a little different since its curve has been reduced to provide users with a flatter surface area, for a supposed better visual experience.
On the S23+ and S23, the contoured camera housing has also been removed, giving the back area a sleeker look and allowing the framed lenses to stand out.
According to Samsung, this marks a new era of essential Galaxy design, so those who have never been fans of the past bulky camera housings can breathe a sigh of relief that they probably won’t return.
Interestingly, the S23 Ultra, S23+, and S23 will have the same colourways: Phantom Black, Cream, Green, and Lavender.
The backs of all three variants have a nice matte finish. The Cream looked more white than cream (at least under the lighting at the Galaxy Unpacked 2023 experience centre), and the Green and Lavender are beautifully muted, almost changing hues depending on how you angle them under light.
The S23 lineup is also the first of the S series to feature the new Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 screens.
New cameras & features
These are catered more towards the S23 Ultra. This is the first time that a Samsung phone has a 200MP camera sensor, which means much clearer and detailed photos right off the bat.
From experience, the S22 Ultra’s 108MP main sensor already does a very good job at point-and-shoot photography, so the new 200MP sensor is promising a lot.
It uses pixel binning, whereby 16 pixels are combined into one super pixel, so low-light conditions aren’t a challenge to picture quality.
For some of us though, point-and-shoot phone photography may no longer be enough. Those craving a more professional experience as well as better creative control and customisation would want to install the Expert RAW app on their S23 Ultra.
It enables DSLR-style image shooting and editing in RAW and JPEG with no added bulky camera equipment required.
In the app, users can also experiment with a new photo feature that combines multiple exposures into one frame for your ideal picture, and capture gorgeous night skies with the Astrophoto settings.
After downloading the Expert RAW app on your S23 Ultra, you can access its features within Samsung’s native Camera app.
Those who own a Galaxy Watch5 can also use its new feature on the Camera Controller, which helps you capture a perfectly framed shot right from your wrist.
Building upon Samsung’s existing Nightography features, the S23 Ultra has a new AI-powered image signal processing (ISP) algorithm that enhances object details and colour tone in low-light images.
This means there will be less visual noise in both pictures and videos, and after seeing in person the difference between S22 Ultra’s Nightography and S23 Ultra’s, I can say the improvement is legit.
To overcome blurry videos due to low-light conditions, shaky hands, or sudden movements, the S23 Ultra comes with doubled optical image stabiliser (OIS) angles in all directions to stabilise recordings.
Videos can also be recorded in 8K at 30fps with a wider angle.
Not forgetting the front cameras, the entire S23 lineup has also been blessed with a 12MP selfie camera, an upgrade from the previous 10MP, giving selfies better depth and bokeh.
To add, the selfie camera now has fast autofocus, Super HDR, and up to 60fps capabilities.
Once you take a selfie, AI kicks in to enhance minute facial features, such as hair and eyes, applying different textures to each to bring out the right details.
Improved gaming & performance features
Samsung and Qualcomm have worked together to introduce the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy.
It’s said to be the most powerful and efficient platform ever in a Samsung Galaxy smartphone and the fastest Snapdragon available today.
A newly designed CPU micro architecture and optimised NPU and GPU are also in the S23 series.
The S23 Ultra has capabilities to support real-time ray tracing as well, in anticipation of the technology coming to the mobile gaming mainstream.
Users will be able to see more lifelike renderings of in-game scenes as the technology simulates and tracks every ray of light. I, for one, cannot wait to see what Genshin Impact on overclocked settings looks and how it plays on the S23 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy also has a new, bigger vapour chamber on every Galaxy S23 series model.
The Vision booster now adjusts at three levels of lighting instead of two to combat brightness and glare in daylight, while the Enhanced comfort feature offers more user customisation to lessen eye strain during screentime at night.
The S23 Ultra has the same 5,000mAh battery as its predecessor, while the S23+ battery has been upgraded to 4,700mAh from the S22+’s 4,500mAh, and the S23 has a 3,900mAh battery compared to the S22’s 3,700mAh.
Price & availability in Malaysia
With all these upgrades, we now come to the question: how much do the S23 series phones cost?
The S23 Ultra 512GB retails from RM5,699, while the S23+ 512GB starts at RM4,699, and the S23 256GB starts at RM3,899. These are all pre-order prices.
Pre-orders for the S23 series will begin from February 2 until February 23, 2023.
They will come with exclusive gifts including double storage upgrades worth up to RM500, an RM400 e-voucher, or free accessories worth up to RM485, depending on where you purchase your device. More details here.
- Read about the previous year’s S22 series here.