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Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 14: Which model should you buy?

We compare Samsung's Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus with Apple's iPhone 14 and 14 Plus. Here's the breakdown.
Written by Christina Darby, Associate Editor
Reviewed by Kerry Wan
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus on the left and the iPhone 14 Plus on the right.
June Wan and Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

It's official. After weeks of anticipation and leaks, Samsung today finally unveiled its latest generation of Galaxy smartphones during its San Franciso Unpacked event. 

The Galaxy S23 models are exactly what we expect from Samsung: sleek slabs of machinery with beautiful and bright displays, all wrapped in an array of pleasing color palettes. 

More: Everything announced at Samsung Unpacked 2023

But you, like many other upgrade hunters, may be wondering how the new Galaxy S23 series stacks up against Apple's latest iPhones. Both Samsung and Apple are clearly masters of their crafts, but if you're looking for rationale beyond brand loyalty, here are our key reasons why you should opt for one model over the other.

Specifications


Samsung Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus

iPhone 14 and 14 Plus

Display 

6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O FHD+ | 6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O FHD+

6.1-inch OLED with 60Hz | 6.7-inch OLED with 60Hz

Weight 

5.93 oz (168 grams) | 6.91 oz (195 grams) 

6.07 oz (172 grams) | 7.16 oz (203 grams)

Processor 

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy 

A15 Bionic 

RAM/Storage 

8GB RAM/128GB/256GB | 8GB RAM 256GB/512GB 

4GB RAM with 128GB/256GB/512GB 

Camera 

50MP (f/1.8) Wide, 12MP (f/2.4) Ultra-wide, 3X Optical and Space Zoom, 12MP (f/2.2) front 

12MP (f/1.5) Wide, 12MP (f/2.4) Ultra-wide, 12MP (f/1.9) front

Software

OneUI 5.1 over Android 13

iOS16

Battery 

3,900 mAh | 4,700 mAh

Li-Ion 3,279 mAh | Li-Ion 4,323 mAh

Connectivity 

4G LTE, 5G: sub6/mmW

4G LTE, 5G, eSIM, Satellite

Durability

IP68 

IP68

Colors 

Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender 

Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple, Product Red

Price 

$799/$999

$799/$899 


You should buy the Galaxy S23 or S23 Plus if… 

A hand holding the Green Samsung Galaxy S23.
June Wan/ZDNET

1. You want superior display quality

If you already find your eyes glued to your phone screen for most of the day, they may as well be glued to the Galaxy S23s' beautiful Dynamic AMOLED displays. Not only can you expect Samsung's proprietary displays to produce greater color contrast and sharper visual effects than the iPhone's 14's notched counterparts, but they also refresh at 120Hz, doubling the iPhone 14 models' mere 60Hz. We're talking about a noticeable difference in how smooth animations flow across the screens.

Review: Galaxy S22 Plus: Still a worthy flagship 

And with 1,750 nits, compared to the iPhone 14's 800, the Galaxy S23's displays have an elevated brightness that makes it easier to browse even in brighter environments.

2. Camera quality is your main focus

The Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus models implement a triple camera system, with an additional telephoto lens that beats the iPhone 14 series' dual camera system. You'd have to opt for the 14 Pro for that third, telephoto camera, unfortunately. The extra lens gives you greater flexibility with shots, producing a more natural background blur and sharper portrait images. And for video buffs, both Galaxy S23 models can shoot 8K video, a feature we've yet to see from any iPhone model. 

Also: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro

3. You want a less restrictive user experience

Something the Galaxy 23 series offers that iPhone 14 doesn't is flexibility when it comes to user experience. The iPhone 14's controversial switch to an eSIM-only model is clearly not for everyone. The Samsung S23 on the other hand supports both physical SIM and eSIM, not limiting its users to a specific cellular option. 

Also: iPhone 14 eSIM: How to transfer your number to Apple's newest phone

The Galaxy phones also charge via the more universal USB-C port, saving you from having to carry a dedicated cable just for your mobile handset. And unlike the iPhone, Samsung didn't do away with the fingerprint sensor; the phones employ both facial and fingerprint recognition. To top it all off, the Plus model starts at 256 GB of memory, not 128GB like on the iPhone.

You should buy the iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Plus if…

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus next to each other on a table
Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

1. You want longer-term software support

If software longevity is a concern, you should keep in mind that the iPhone supports as many as five years of iOS software updates, whereas Samsung only offers a four-year backing. While it may not seem like that big of a difference, that's one to even two years of missing out on the latest features and security updates. And if you're paying over $800 for a phone, you probably want the most out of the investment. I know I would. 

2. You'd like battery life to be the least of your worries

While you may have to buy a dedicated charger for the iPhone, the battery life is undoubtedly reliable. Using the power-efficient A15 Bionic chip, both the standard and Plus iPhone 14 models have proven to deliver reliable standby time and operate well even in low-power mode. In fact, Apple claims the iPhone 14 Plus delivers the best battery life on any iPhone, which we found to be true in our full review. 

Review: iPhone 14 Plus: The cheapest iPhone with all-day battery life

On the other hand, the battery efficiency of the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset on the S23 series remains to be tested. What we do know is that Apple's A15 Bionic has proven its worth for the iPhone's endurance, and can confidently recommend it for that reason.

3. You want the best-performing apps

While apps may look sharper on Samsung's displays, the reality is that they often perform better on iPhones. There are numerous aspects that sway app developers in favor of Apple's iOS platform over Android, which is why there are occasional UI and UX differences across operating systems. 

More: iPhone 14 vs. iPhone 14 Plus

The performance differences are most noticeable when it comes to photo-based apps like Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok, where Android devices are notorious for producing photos and videos of lesser quality. So if you want more reliable apps, the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus is the better option.

Alternatives to consider  

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

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