In a world where yearly smartphone upgrades seem uninspiring, Samsung has managed to surprise us with their latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S23. The phone is available locally for Ksh 119,999 and you can get it from Jumia and most other smartphone retailers.
Despite what the spec sheet might suggest, this smartphone offers a compelling reason to upgrade from its predecessor. I had the chance to use the Samsung Galaxy S23 for a month and I have to say it managed to exceed my expectations. From the 6.1-inch AMOLED screen to the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip, the improved battery life, and camera experience, the Galaxy S23 is a great improvement from last year’s model.
Price and Availability
The base variant of the phone with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage goes for Ksh 119,999. However, you can opt for the variant with 256GB storage, which will set you back slightly more than this. I would recommend going for the 256GB variant since there’s no microSD card support, and the 128GB variant uses the UFS 3.1 storage spec instead of the new UFS 4.0.
The Galaxy S23 comes in four standard colors, namely Green, Phantom Black, Cream, and Lavender. I got the Green variant for this review and I love it.
See: Samsung Galaxy S23 Specifications
Design and Build Quality
The Galaxy S23 is the smallest member of the Galaxy S23 family. It features a clean and minimal design with no-nonsense language, a flat back, minimal bezels on the front, and a selfie camera cutout. Samsung uses the same armored aluminum frame for the sides, which comes in different colors based on the finish you choose.
One noticeable difference between the Galaxy S23 and its predecessor is the contour-cut camera housing. Samsung has ditched this in favor of individual cutouts for the sensors, as seen on the Ultra model. This change creates a cohesive design across all three phones in the series, but I still prefer the contour-cut housing.It looked much better and this new design just feels plain.
Durability is a significant consideration when purchasing a smartphone, and the Galaxy S23 does not disappoint. It features an armored aluminum frame, Gorilla Glass Victus 2 panels, and an IP68 rating, making it both water and dust-resistant.
The 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED display on the Galaxy S23 is one of its standout features. It boasts a 120Hz refresh rate, which makes for smooth scrolling and improved animations. Additionally, the display supports HDR10+, which enhances the viewing experience when watching content that supports the format.
The display looks the same as the one on the previous flagship, but it has been enhanced. The adaptive brightness feature works very well, so it’s recommended to leave it on and let the phone tweak the brightness based on your surroundings. The 6.1-inch panel is not for everyone, but those who prefer a compact device will appreciate the smaller size.
The display has great contrast ratios and inky blacks, and everything looks vibrant with punchy colors and lots of detail. It’s not the sharpest smartphone display, but the FHD+ resolution is sufficient, and everything looks crisp. The display can also be further tweaked with Vivid settings, making it great for watching videos and playing games.
The Galaxy S23 has a 12MP front-facing camera and a triple-lens camera system at the back. The back camera system comprises a 50MP + 10MP + 12MP lens. The camera app has all the features that you would expect from a Samsung smartphone, including the ability to shoot 8K videos.
The camera system takes great photos in good lighting conditions. The images have good color reproduction, and details are sharp. The ultrawide and telephoto lenses allow you to capture a variety of shots, from wide-angle landscapes to zoomed-in portraits.
Night shots are also good and this is one of the areas where Samsung has always done a good job.
The phone’s 50MP main sensor with an f/1.8 aperture, 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide camera, and 10MP f/2.4 telephoto camera with up to 3X optical zoom produce sharp images with tons of detail and vibrant colors. While low-light photography is not the Galaxy S23’s strongest suit, it is still possible to capture some decent shots with proper lighting. The 10MP telephoto lens is also great for capturing solid portraits in various lighting situations.
The Galaxy S23 can record up to 8K footage at 30 FPS and 4K videos at up to 60 FPS. However, recording in 8K consistently can quickly chew through your storage.
One of the standout features of the Galaxy S23 is its new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. This is a 4nm chip that is clocked at 3.36GHz, making it one of the fastest chips you can find on a smartphone today. The Galaxy S23 also comes with 8GB of RAM and UFS 4.0 storage.
Samsung’s One UI 5.1 is another highlight of the Galaxy S23. It is based on Android 13 and comes with a host of new features that make it one of the most stable and feature-packed Android skins available. Samsung has promised four major Android OS updates and up to five years of security patches for the Galaxy S23, which means that you can expect the phone to stay up-to-date with the latest software for a long time.
However, there are some issues with Samsung’s One UI that detract from the overall experience. The Galaxy S23 comes with pre-installed applications that some users may find unnecessary.
Battery Life: A Huge Improvement
The battery life of the Samsung Galaxy S23 is perhaps the most significant improvement over its predecessor, the Galaxy S22. The Galaxy S23 comes with a 3,900mAh battery, which is slightly bigger than last year’s flagship. Additionally, the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip is more power-efficient, resulting in better battery performance.
During my testing, I found that the Galaxy S23 can easily last a day on a single charge, even for moderate users. Heavy users might need to charge the phone once per day, but that’s still impressive. Overall, the battery life of the Galaxy S23 is a huge improvement over the Galaxy S22, making it a more reliable phone in terms of battery performance.
Charging Speed: Quite Slow
The only downside to the Samsung Galaxy S23’s battery is the charging speed. The phone only supports 25W charging, which is just as slow as its predecessor. It’s also slower than what the competition offers, with the Galaxy S23+ and Ultra models offering 45W charging.
Charging the phone with a 25W charger will take almost two hours to fully charge, so it’s not the quickest charging phone out there. Additionally, Samsung doesn’t bundle the Galaxy S23 with a charger, so you’ll have to purchase one separately if you don’t have one already. The phone does support 15W wireless charging, which is a more convenient option.
Is the Samsung Galaxy S23 Right for You?
If you’re in the market for a compact phone that can hold its own against other flagships, the Samsung Galaxy S23 is a great option. Here are some reasons why you should buy the Galaxy S23:
- You want a compact flagship phone
- You want the latest specs and hardware
- You want superior performance
- You want a premium experience
On the other hand, you might want to avoid the Galaxy S23 if:
- You want a big display
- You want fast charging.
Read: The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 Review