Samsung’s annual Galaxy S series launch sees a lot of fanfare over the flagship Ultra model but the smallest, and cheapest in the line, the Galaxy S23 caught my eye. Offering many of the same features, the Galaxy S23 comes in a much more compact size than its larger siblings and I jumped at the chance to check it out.

The Galaxy S23 runs a similar hardware platform as the rest of its family, though there are some differences. It starts with the same top of the line Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor as the rest of the line, however with ‘only’ 8GB RAM and starting with 128GB of onboard storage. 

The 50MP main camera in the Galaxy S23 is the same as the S23+, but it still includes many features from the Ultra like the new astrophotography modes and while it only gets a 3x optical zoom, it still includes Space Zoom to digitally zoom quite well.

Running Android 13 and their OneUI overlay, the Galaxy S23 line features a refined software experience with loads of features, with the bonus of having one of the best software update guarantees of Android manufacturers. 

As it features a few less hardware specs, the Galaxy S23 also comes with a cheaper $1,349 price tag. So is it worth going for the Galaxy S23? I spent a few weeks with it and here’s how it went.

Hardware and Design

After handling the large flagship phones released every year, the Galaxy S23 is refreshingly compact and comfortable in the hand. The 6.1” AMOLED display is small enough to almost fill the body of the phone with a nearly bezel-free design and only a small notch hole in the display for the selfie camera interrupts the Smooth Display.

There’s a matte textured rear plate on the phone which comes in a variety of colour options and offers extra grip. That matte finish is also fantastic for repelling fingerprints if you don’t want to use a case. 

The camera array on the rear shares the same design as the rest of the series with the rear camera array now sitting proud with just simple rings around the sensor. As they’re located on the left hand side of the phone it does make the phone rock a little on a desk, just something to watch out for. The floating camera rings can also attract a little dust, but it is fairly easy to keep clean with a static free cloth.

While the back is matte textured, the Armor Aluminum frame is shiny with a small curve to it. It can be a little slippery to hold with wet hands. The volume rocker and power buttons are located on this frame on the right, with the SIM slot, USB-C port and speakers on the base of the phone.

The Galaxy S23 features stereo audio, with the bottom firing speakers paired with the earpiece. The quality of the speakers themselves is fairly good for a phone, offering quality audio at a decent volume. 

The compact size makes it easy to handle with one hand. You can easily reach the top of the phone or fingerprint scanner in the display without too much trouble, though my hands are slightly larger than most. 

Of course the phone comes with an IP68 rating, so you can use it in the rain or around water without too much concern. 

The display is excellent, with HDR10 certification and the FHD+ resolution on the smaller display makes for a nice pixel dense experience. The display is slightly more pixel dense than the Galaxy S23+ which has the same resolution but a larger size display. It’s also very bright with the peak brightness of 1750 a real winner when you walk outside. 

The in-display fingerprint scanner is fast and responsive, however the Galaxy S23 range also offers face unlock as an option, though this doesn’t use an IR scanner, relying on the camera to secure your device. The Face Unlock option is fast though if you want to use it.

The Galaxy S23 runs the same processor as the rest of the Galaxy S23 series with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, a variant of the Qualcomm chip designed specifically for the Galaxy line of devices. There’s also 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of UFS storage. It’s a fast combination, though if you load up too many apps the 8GB of RAM can seem a little lacking at times. 

While benchmarks aren’t the full story, they do offer some insights into the expected performance of a device and as usual I’ve run the phone through Geekbench 6.

There’s also NFC onboard for Tap & Pay support and a Snapdragon X70 5G Modem included, as well as support for WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3 offering fast speeds on every wireless connection. 


The camera system on the Galaxy S23 and S23+ differ to those on the Ultra only by the main sensor which is 50MP on the S23/S23+ and 200MP on the Ultra. The rest of the specs are the same, with a 10MP telephoto sensor with 3x Optical zoom (Ultra gets additional 10x) and 12MP Ultra-WIde sensor with a 12MP selfie camera.

Put simply, even with ‘only’ a 50MP camera sensor the Galaxy S23 has one of the better camera systems available in a phone at the moment. The camera system typically ‘bins’ the 50MP shots down to a 12MP final shot, stacking the images to improve the quality of the final image. The majority of us simply pull out or phone and point and shoot and this is where the Galaxy S23 just works, producng a great shot almost every single time.

As you can see above, the images captured by the Galaxy S23 are fantastic in good light, but it’s when you jump into low light situations that you find the S23 really works well. 

There’s also the bonus of Astrophotography mode – though you have to download and activate the Expert Raw app in your camera app to get this, but once installed it’s super simple to use and all you have to do is mount it on a tripod, select the area of sky you want to shoot then click the shutter button and wait 10 minutes. 

For those who love to check out the options in the Camera app, then the Galaxy S23 will certainly satisfy you with an absolutle plethora of optional modes to choose from. These additional modes can also be added to the default carousel of options you get when you open the camera app by simply dragging and dropping them.

Battery and Charging

The Galaxy S23, like the rest of the range doesn’t come with a power brick, but you do get a fresh USB-C cable in the box. The phone supports 25W wired charging with support for wireless charging as well.

There’s a 3900mAh battery inside which is smaller than its stablemates due to the more compact size. Samsung says the battery will last up to 22 hours with just video playback. 

In reality I found the Galaxy S23 battery very good, getting over 24 hours of battery life easily each day.


The Galaxy S23 comes with Android 13 and Samsung One UI running over the top. The phone comes with a couple of OTA updates straight out of the box to bring you up to the current security patch (May 1st 2023 as of this review). 

Samsung has previously announced their S-Series phones will receive ‘four generations of One UI and five years of security updates’, this is one of the best software update guarantees in the market, beating even Google’s promise of three years OS updates and five years of security updates on their Pixel phones. Samsung have also been releasing the security patches monthly, so their update schedule is definitely timely. 

There is of course some pre-installed apps on the Galaxy S23 with a number of utilities pre-installed including a number from Samsung (Bixby, SmartThings, Samsung Wallet etc.), but the ones to be aware of are the Microsoft apps with Microsoft 365 (Office), OneDrive, LinkedIn and Outlook all pre-installed. You can uninstall the Microsoft apps through Google Play though if you feel the need to.

All up, the Samsung One UI interface over Android has become a very refined experience over the years. It has a specific look and feel, that, while it’s not for everyone, is certainly a marked improvement over the TouchWiz interface of earlier Galaxy S handsets. 

Overall, I love the Galaxy S23 interface and while I’ll always prefer the Pixel software experience, OneUI is a very user friendly 

Should You Buy It?

Put simply if you want one of the best more compact Android phones on the market, and you have a budget in the $1300-1400 price bracket, this is it. If you’re looking to nab the Galaxy S23 on a plan from one of the carriers you’ll also find some very competitive options making this a hard phone to go past. 

Sure there’s room for improvement – faster charging or including the new 200MP camera sensor of the Utlra model, but the Galaxy S23 stands on its own merits as an excellent, compact phone for anyone who doesn’t want the behemoths that most flagship Android phones have become. 

If you want to check out the Galaxy S23 you can head into any of the Australian Telco or tech retail stores and check it out in hand. If you want to see more on it you can head over to the Samsung website