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Every Samsung Galaxy S23 model compared: Which model should you buy?

Samsung unveiled three brand-new Galaxy smartphones at its Unpacked event today, and we're here to help you choose the one that best suits your needs.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Reviewed by Kelsey Adams
Three Samsung Galaxy S23 phone models fanned like cards in a hand
June Wan/ZDNET

The latest iteration of Samsung Unpacked has revealed three shiny new smartphones. If you aren't looking to jump back into the flip phone game: the Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23+, and Galaxy S23 Ultra are sure to entice. The smartphones range in price from $799 through $1,199, and will be available for purchase on Feb. 17.

Also: Everything Samsung just announced at Unpacked 2023

If you're staring at your current phone and thinking now may be the right time for a smartphone upgrade, you're probably right. As things stand right now, Samsung and Apple, the two largest phone manufacturers, have both launched the latest versions of their flagship smartphones, preparing now to go into a cooling period before the next set of launches. Now's a good time to shop if you want to get your hands on the latest tech.

Specifications


Galaxy S23Galaxy S23+Galaxy S23 Ultra
Starting price $799$999$1,199
Display 6.1" Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O FHD+6.6" Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O FHD+6.8" Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O QHD+ Edge Screen
Refresh rate 120Hz120Hz120Hz
Weight 5.93 oz6.91 oz8.25 oz
Processor Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for GalaxySnapdragon 8 Gen 2 for GalaxySnapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
RAM 8GB8GB8GB, 12GB
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB256GB, 512GB256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Main camera 8K at 30fps - 50MP f1.8 Wide, 12MP f2.2 Ultra Wide, 10MP f2.2 Telephoto8K at 30fps - 50MP f1.8 Wide, 12MP f2.2 Ultra Wide, 10MP f2.2 Telephoto8K at 30fps - 200MP f1.7 Wide w/Laser AF, 12MP f2.2 Ultra Wide, 10MP f2.2 Telephoto, 10MP f4.9 Telephoto
Front camera 4K at 60fps - 12MP f2.24K at 60fps - 12MP f2.24K at 60fps - 12MP f2.2
Battery 3,900mAh4,700mAh5,000mAh
Connectivity 5G: sub6 / mmW - Wi-Fi 6E5G: sub6 / mmW - Wi-Fi 6E, UWB5G: sub6 / mmW - Wi-Fi 6E, UWB
Durability IP68IP68IP68
Colors Phantom Black, Cream, Green, LavenderPhantom Black, Cream, Green, LavenderPhantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender

You should buy the Galaxy S23 Ultra if...

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra showing the ZDNET website
June Wan/ZDNET

1. You want the fastest Galaxy phone to date

The Galaxy S23 Ultra may just be, arguably, the fastest Galaxy phone to date, with the 512GB and 1TB options featuring 12GB of RAM. 

Add the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor, versus the Gen 1 on both the Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4, and you have the perfect recipe for a lightning-fast user experience. We'll have to see how that translates to real-world experience.

2. You want a camera that can do it all

The Samsung S23 Ultra blows other phones out of the water with its impressive camera system. The main camera is built to reach up to 200MP, an increase from 108MP on the S22 Ultra, Samsung's highest smartphone resolution. 

Also: Samsung Galaxy S23 vs S22: The main differences

The back camera system also features laser auto-focus and up to f/1.7 aperture to capture low-light photos. Samsung is also one of the few companies manufacturing phones that can record 8K video, which is sure to look stunning on a larger display.

3. The phablet-stylus experience has your name written all over it 

We can always count on Samsung to make a great phablet -- and even if the Galaxy S23 Ultra isn't marketed as one, it might as well be. This is the largest of the three new smartphones -- larger than the iPhone 14 Pro Max even -- with a 6.8-inch display. In true phablet fashion, the S23 Ultra also comes with an embedded S Pen for quick notes and a bevy of multitasking features, like its S22 Ultra predecessor

The Ultra versions of Samsung Galaxy phones have been keeping the Edge technology front and center, and all the way to the sides. There are no bezels to detract from the phone screen on the S23 Ultra, making it a sleek, all-screen smartphone. 

You should buy the Galaxy S23+ if...

Hand holding Samsung S23 Plus showing the line of three cameras in the upper left
June Wan/ZDNET

1. You want Ultra features without the Ultra price

The Samsung Galaxy S23+ is pretty successful at being a middle-of-the-road model of the new Galaxy lineup. It's almost identical to the S23, albeit with a bigger display, while borrowing some features from the high-end S23 Ultra. Some of these features include Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology, wired Super Fast Charging 2.0, a larger battery, and, of course, a larger 6.6-inch display.

More: Samsung Galaxy S23 vs S22: What are the main differences?

2. You want a 'Goldilocks'-sized phone

Weighing in at 6.91 oz with a 6.6-inch display, the S23+ is not too big, but not too small -- quite the Goldilocks size. If you like the weight of a good-sized smartphone, but don't want to go as far as getting one of the largest mainstream phones on the market, the S23+ is the perfect choice. It still flaunts many of the features of the Ultra, plus a larger battery than the S23. 

Review: Galaxy S23 Plus: The one that's just right

You should buy the Galaxy S23 if...

Hand holding a Samsung Galaxy S23, showing the line of three cameras
June Wan/ZDNET

1. You prefer a phone that doesn't bulge out of your pocket

One of the beauties of the Galaxy S23 model compared with the others in the lineup is its compact size. If you're one to prefer a smaller smartphone that can easily fit in your pocket and not feel overwhelming in the palm of your hand, this is it, weighing in at 5.93 ounces. That being said, with a 6.1-inch display it's not trying to be a replacement for the iPhone Mini by any means. 

2. You want the same great display for less

The standard Galaxy S23 (425 ppi) has a slightly higher pixels-per-inch ratio than the S23+ at 393 ppi. While the difference won't be so noticeable to the naked eye, it's still a great benefit considering you're paying less for the regular size. Not to mention, the smaller S23 goes toe-to-toe with the larger S23+'s display, with a 1080p resolution, Samsung's own AMOLED panel, and a peak refresh rate of 120Hz.

More: Samsung Galaxy S23 vs iPhone 14: Who did it better?

3. You want the best bang for your buck

In plain terms, the Galaxy S23 isn't much different from the Plus version -- it is more compact and has a smaller battery and storage capacity, with the only options being 128GB and 256GB. But it's also the most affordable of the lineup. It doesn't feature wired Super Fast Charging 2.0 like the other two, but it does have 8GB of RAM and the same camera system as the S23+, effectively making it a powerful, yet compact, smartphone starting at $799.

Bottom line

The entire lineup of Samsung's new Galaxy S23 is worth a second look, at least, especially if you're not into flip or foldable phones. All S23 models are a clear upgrade of their respective predecessors, even if they admittedly look very similar from the outside. The upgraded camera system and the faster chipset, plus the strongest screens to date, featuring Gorilla Glass Victus 2, can make it well worth the upgrade. Upgrading to the S23, S23+, or S23 Ultra could make the most sense for those currently using an S21 or older phone, but you'd be just as satisfied with the handsets if you're coming from last year's models.

Alternatives to consider

Open to other new smartphone prospects? Consider these ZDNET-recommended devices:

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