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5 hidden features on the new Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23 Ultra

From Adobe Lightroom integration to the Bixby Text Call, here are five Samsung Galaxy S23 features that have been flying under everyone's radars.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
Demonstrating screen-write on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with an S Pen.
June Wan/ZDNET

This year's Samsung Unpacked event saw the launch of six new Galaxy devices, more if you count the non-Pro . 

That's a whole lot of tech to sink into, with countless features that make headlines write themselves: "Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra features a massive 200MP camera," "The new Snapdragon 8 Gen for Galaxy chip is faster than ever," "The Galaxy Book is going Ultra!"

Review: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Best smartphone of the year (so far)

And then there were the features that were not so flashy, ones that had just seconds, if any, of screen time as Samsung executives presented to San Francisco fanfare. Those features are the ones that I'll be highlighting below. Because there's a high chance that you might've missed them, and now wonder why you didn't find out sooner. 

1. Spam-fighting with Bixby Text Call 

I've never been the biggest fan of Samsung's voice assistant, Bixby, and I think I'm in the majority here. One of the newest Galaxy S23 features, however, might change that. Bixby Text Call, which is akin to Google's own Call Screening, makes use of Samsung's voice assistant to respond to incoming phone calls on your behalf. Think the "Your call cannot be completed" lady but more customizable.

Also: Can someone tell if I block their number?

Instead of picking up the call, you can input text for Bixby to respond with. So, whether you'd like to question the "Unknown Caller" or simply no longer have the energy to speak to the customer representative you waited hours to get a hold of, Bixby Text Call should make conversations less intrusive and easier to interpret thanks to the live transcriptions.

2. Image clipping makes it look easy

The Galaxy S23 series is also the first from Samsung to receive "Image clipping", a subject-cropping feature that might ring a bell if you've ever used the iPhone's "Remove subject from background." Image clipping allows you to pull the subject of an image from its background and copy and paste it into other apps. See how it works below.

It's not so much the output that impresses here -- the crop effect is not always accurate -- but the fact that I can just tap and hold on any subject and transform it into a transparent file instantly is mesmerizing. With split-screen or pop-up view open, you can simply drag and drop the clipped image from one app to the other. Otherwise, letting go of it will bring up options to copy the image, share it, or save it in your gallery.

Also: How to use the Galaxy S23's new magical Photoshop-like trick

3. Game for longer with Pause USB Power Delivery

The new Samsung Galaxy S23 models have proven to be excellent gaming phones thanks to the new, overclocked Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset and larger cooling chambers. But, perhaps the most important gaming addition to this year's Samsung phones is the new "Pause USB Power Delivery" feature. It's a battery bypass setting that's typically found in specialized gaming phones made by the likes of Black Shark and Asus, but is now widely available across the latest Galaxy S23 handsets. 

Typically when you're gaming and charging a phone at the same time, not only will the device overheat from the intensity of the graphics but also from the battery receiving electrons. With Pause USB Power Delivery, instead of charging the battery cell at a rapid rate, the S23 will redistribute the incoming power directly to the CPU, reducing the amount of overheating, enhancing performance, and slowing down any battery degradation.

The feature can be toggled on via the Game Booster settings and works with any USB-PD charger, not just Samsung's.

4. The Adobe partnership we didn't know we needed

Samsung's Expert Raw camera app is nothing new, but this year, the Galaxy S23 takes things a step further by integrating Adobe Lightroom as the default image-editing platform. The partnership, first covered by our sister company CNET, allows users to dial into Adobe's robust suite of color and subject-editing tools straight from the Samsung camera app. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with the Adobe Lightroom app opened.
June Wan/ZDNET

This is a big deal because as the capabilities of smartphone cameras continue to expand, photographers will have more ways to edit their photos without needing to hop on a dedicated computer or laptop.

Also: How to easily take better night photos with your phone camera

While you will still need an Adobe subscription to take advantage of the premium features, the standard lineup of tools, like cropping, applying preset color profiles, and adjusting optics and details, are free to use. Samsung users also qualify for a free two-month trial of Adobe Lightroom Premium.

5. A larger 3D fingerprint sensor by Qualcomm

June Wan/ZDNET

We don't often think about how good our smartphone's fingerprint sensor is, just like how we don't think about the effort it takes to roll out of bed. But with the Samsung Galaxy S23 series, Qualcomm's 3D Sonic Sensor Gen 2 brings a noticeable improvement over last year's biometric technology, enough to earn the final spot on this list. 

Also: Galaxy S23 Ultra vs S22 Ultra: Is this year's flagship worth the upgrade?

Besides speed, there is now a much larger sensor area to register your finger. It's large enough that my finger can be off-center from the fingerprint visual and the S23 will still detect it consistently and reliably.

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