The first major flagship smartphone launch of 2023 has happened with Samsung first out of the blocks to win over customers with their new Samsung Galaxy S23 range.

As expected and as has been the tradition in recent years, the range features three phones, the Galaxy S23, the S23+ and the S23 Ultra with the Ultra carrying the biggest price tag and the biggest range of features, though it should be said you’re getting one hell of a device with the standard Galaxy S23.

We’ve got all the pricing plans and pre-order deals from the telcos and retailers covered here at EFTM, but in simple terms, the range has copped a $100 price hike with the entry price now $1,349. Samsung say that’s bringing it back in line with where prices were on the S10 and S20 series and that we’ve essentially had it good for the last couple of years.

EFTM Website showing on a new Samsung Galaxy S23 smartphone

And, it’s not like that money isn’t being spent with 50% of all S22′s sold being Ultra models, and more than 60% of all Samsung phones sold being in the $1,300+ “ultra premium” segment of the market.

What will the Samsung Galaxy S23 cost in Australia?

At $1,349, $1,649 and $1,949 the prices seem steep, but in fact on memory configuration the Plus and Ultra models are well priced.

Galaxy S23 Ultra

12GB + 1TBCream , Green, Lavender, Phantom Black$2,649
12GB + 512GBCream , Green, Lavender, Phantom Black$2,249
8GB + 256GBCream , Green, Lavender, Phantom Black$1,949
Galaxy S23+

8GB + 512GBCream , Green, Lavender, Phantom Black$1,849
8GB + 256GBCream , Green, Lavender, Phantom Black$1,649
Galaxy S23

8GB + 256GBCream , Green, Lavender, Phantom Black$1,449
8GB + 128GBCream , Green, Lavender, Phantom Black$1,349
The purple Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in hand showing camera lenses

The camera to beat all cameras – Astrophotography ready Galaxy S23

All three models now have independent lenses on the back of the phone, no more island keeping them together for a consistent “three ring” look across the range.

The S23 Ultra is the one that gets the new 200MP Adaptive Pixel sensor which can capture incredible detail, but also use those pixels to combine sixteen pixels into one and expose more light for a superior low-light performance.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in Lavender, Cream and Green

Around the front, all the devices get a 12MP front camera with Super HDR Selfie mode, up to 60fps for video selfies and a remarkable low-light improvement as well as low light portrait options.

RAW photos are now 50MP which puts the overall and RAW pixel count above Apple in the ultimate “pixel swinging contest” which no doubt we’ll see on billboards.

Interestingly, Samsung is making an app (camera Assistant) available to allow users to customise the Auto mode on your camera. Rather than going with what the factory says, you can change capture speed, picture smoothing, auto HDR and even if video is available in photo mode. Simply put – more power to consumers.

Optical Image stabilisation is improved for better low light photos too, videos look better in 8K at 30fps, while a whole bunch of AI learning should make portrait photography better and more detailed on those edges.

Point your Galaxy S23 to the stars!

This first felt like a gimmick. But days and days of seeing it, and talking about it, I’m starting to get the sense that not only will the S23 achieve things we’ve not seen before from a smartphone, but that Astrotography (also best known as Astro Photography) is about to get a huge boost on social media.

These models, all of them – not just the ultra – have Astro mode.

A smartphone in a tripod at night pointing at the stars appearing to show a constellation in the viewfinder

Now I haven’t tested it yet, but it seems capable of stunning star-trail photos which are like long exposures of the sky.

But also galaxy photography in the right light (outback), where in a 4 to 10 minute window the Galaxy S23 will take many photos, stack them, and move the images to adjust for the earth’s rotation – resulting in something remarkable. I’ve never been so excited to test a camera.

Battery life for your entire day and then some

Battery sizes on the 23 and 23+ are up on their predecessor, 3,900 and 4,700 mAh respectively, while the Ultra retains it’s 5,000mAh battery.

The full Galaxy Lineup of phones for 2023

Across the range, Samsung say there’s a 20% jump in battery performance but given that’s not been a big complaint from people, this will be a subtly welcome feature.

Your Samsung Galaxy S23 is better for the planet

For those with the planet in mind, strap in, Samsung is doing their best.

100% recycled paper used for the packaging box, Pre-consumer recycled glass used in the front and back screen/cover build into the new Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2.

There are recycled water barrells in the speaker module, side key and volume keys. 15 Tonnes of Discarded fishing nets will be kept from the oceans by Samsung’s use of them on the S Pen inner cover, bottom speaker module and other areas. While Recycled PET bottles are used in the back glass and case front.

The number of internal and external components using recycled materials in their components has doubled in the S23.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Specs

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra:

The Display is a 6.8-inch QHD+ Edge, Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display, Super Smooth 120Hz refresh rate (1~120Hz), 240Hz Touch Sampling Rate in Game Mode, Vision booster and Enhanced comfort

It measures in at 78.1 X 163.4 X 8.9mm weighing 234g.

Cameras are: 12MP Ultra-Wide Camera (F2.2, FOV 120˚), 200 MP Wide Camera (F1.7, FOV 85˚), 10MP Telephoto Camera (3x Optical Zoom, F2.4, FOV 36˚), 10MP Telephoto Camera (10x Optical Zoom, F4.9, FOV 11˚) and a 12MP Front Camera (F2.2, FOV 80˚)

Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23+

Both displays feature FHD+, Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display, Super Smooth 120Hz refresh rate (48~120Hz), 240Hz Touch Sampling Rate in Game Mode, Vision booster and Enhanced comfort – with the S23 at 6.1 inches and the 23+ at 6.6 inches.

Galaxy S23 measures in at 70.9 x 146.3 x 7.6mm, 168g, while the S23+ is 76.2 x 157.8 x 7.6mm, 196g

The cameras on both are the 12MP Ultra-Wide Camera (F2.2, FOV 120˚), 50 MP Wide Camera (F1.8, FOV 85˚), 10MP Telephoto Camera (3x Optical Zoom, F2.4, FOV 36˚) and the 12MP Front Camera (F2.2, FOV 80˚)

All three phones are running WiFi 6E.

Our initial impressions

When we first saw it, and heard the top line details – it all felt very incremental.

But on reflection and with some demos, we think this could well be one of the most exciting smartphone launches in a while. I mean, 200MP in a camera means take it and worry later.

Galaxy S23 Standard in Cream in hand

And Astro Photography? On even the basic Galaxy S23? That’s amazing.

We suspect this will be one of Samsung’s best launches in years – perhaps since the S20 or more.

Aussies are going to jump back on plans for this, and there are deals to be had.

Stand by for our full review in the weeks ahead.

Trevor Long travelled to San Francisco for the Galaxy S23 launch as a guest of Samsung Australia