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Hands-on with Samsung Galaxy S23: Which model is best?


Samsung has updated its flagship Galaxy S line with a trio of new phones. Which one should you buy if you're in the market for a new premium Android smartphone?

At its latest Galaxy Unpacked Event, Samsung formally announced the Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23+ and Galaxy S23 Ultra smartphones, although nearly everything about the new handsets had leaked extensively in the weeks prior to the unveiling.

Also ahead of that unveiling, Samsung Australia gave me the opportunity to spend an hour around the new handsets for a quick glimpse into what they were and what they're capable of.

Samsung has the lion's share of Android phone sales in Australia. The company reckons that the bulk of those sales – both in units sold and revenue – comes from its premium lines. With that in mind, there are undoubtedly more than a few Aussies keen to upgrade from older Samsung flagships.

Galaxy S23 Ultra 1TB deal – Save $450

Galaxy S23 Ultra 1TB deal – Save $450

So which should you pick? I'm using my hands-on time plus the fact that I've reviewed every single Galaxy S series phone all the way back to the original handset as my benchmark here to give you the pros and cons – as well as which model I reckon stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Before I start though, I'm working from the idea that you'll be upgrading from a Galaxy S phone that's at least a couple of years old. Finder's own research suggests that most of us switch up every 3 years or so.

If you bought a Galaxy S22 Ultra last year for example, while there are upgrades, it's a less compelling value proposition to switch up just now, especially while your phone is still fairly recent, if not in fact truly "new" now.

Also, this is not a comprehensive series review, because I've had a tiny amount of time with these handsets. Stay tuned for Finder's comprehensive reviews of the Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23+ and Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Best option overall: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

RRP: From $1,949
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra


    • 200MP camera
    • S Pen-compatible
    • Largest battery in any of the S23 models


  • Most expensive of the S23 models
  • Only light design changes from last year's S22 Ultra

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is clearly the star of the show and, at least until the Galaxy Z Fold5 breaks cover, Samsung's flagship phone for 2023.

It's also the one that makes the most sense to me if you're going to invest in a premium flagship phone in the first place. Yes, that $1,949+ asking price will be a barrier for many, but if you're looking across the Galaxy, you're spending at least $1,349 to start with.

The reality for Android phones in 2023 is that if you want decent performance, then the mid-range is fine, with some really good options from not only Samsung but also the likes of Motorola, Oppo and Google to consider.

This means that buying premium has to come down to getting the best premium features. That's something the Galaxy S23 Ultra at least at first glance seems to have a lot of.

Yes, Samsung hasn't tweaked the design much – although it's enough that I'm told existing S22 Ultra cases won't fit properly – but it does mean you get the integrated S Pen, the truly excellent 6.8-inch display and Samsung's latest high-end camera module.

I only had the smallest amount of time to really play with the S23 Ultra's camera, and it absolutely will need more testing time in live conditions to form a full opinion. While megapixel counts are far from everything in delivering quality photos, having that level of resolution does give the Galaxy S23 Ultra some impressive cropping capabilities. Samsung's also pushing its night photography modes heavily for the S23 Ultra, including some quite impressive night portrait photo capabilities.

Again, I do need to properly and independently assess this, but the reality here is that the S23 Ultra has a good shot of being Samsung's best camera phone for 2023, hands down – and it's in with a shot to take on the likes of Apple and Google for the best overall crown too. Based on prior years, we'll probably see the Z Fold5 announced, but Samsung's foldables have long shipped with slightly lesser camera set-ups than their S series counterparts in a given year.

So if you're keen on the best photography within a powerful Samsung Android phone, it's going to have to be the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Best budget option: Samsung Galaxy S23

RRP: From $1,349

Samsung Galaxy S23


  • More wallet-friendly
  • More pocket-friendly
  • Nicely powerful for its size (or at least it should be)


  • Still premium-priced
  • Cameras not as good as the S23 Ultra
  • Cheaper Samsungs (or competitors) arguably better value

Not everyone wants to drop $1,949 on a smartphone or can afford to in these challenging economic times. That's where the Galaxy S23 might make some sense to you, especially if you're not a fan of larger phone handsets. In my hand, the smaller Galaxy S23 did feel pretty good and you'd expect that out of a premium Samsung phone.

The other killer detail that may make the Galaxy S23 the right phone for you is power. Its size does constrain its battery capacity to just 3,900mAh, the smallest of any of the Galaxy S23 family, but it's more processing power I'm thinking of here.

All of the Galaxy S23 phones that Samsung Australia will sell will ship using Qualcomm's brand-new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. While the S23 Ultra will have more RAM on some models – though it's not clear at the time of writing which variants there we'll see locally – this means for most apps, the S23 will be just as nippy (or appreciably close to nippy) as the pricier S23 Ultra.

Awkwardly in the middle: Samsung Galaxy S23+

RRP: From $1,649

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus


  • It's a bigger S23
  • It's slightly cheaper than the S23 Ultra
  • It's got a bigger battery than the S23


  • A little more money buys you much more phone
  • No camera difference from the cheaper S23

I guess I can see why the Galaxy S23+ has that plus suffix, because it is a plus model over the Galaxy S23, but only really in 2 ways.

You do get a larger screen, bumping from the S23's 6.1-inch to a roomier 6.6-inch display. The larger frame means it can pack in a 4,700mAh battery, which could give it longevity beyond that of its lower-priced sibling.

It's just that… that's all you get, and for a price that feels like it's within stretching distance of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The camera array is the same across both the S23 and the S23+ and with my brief hands-on time, I'd probably prefer to shoot and frame with the smaller-bodied phone if given the choice.

This is often the curse of the middle child of smartphone families. Samsung doesn't want to make the S23 Ultra appear less fancy and appealing, but it's also stuck wanting to have a more affordable Galaxy S option as well. The Galaxy S23+ just sits in the middle of that.

Amazon pre-order deal

If you're planning to buy the S23 outright, Amazon is offering up to $450 off the RRP. To get the full discount, use the coupon code SHARETHEEPIC at checkout.

Amazon Prime members also get a bonus $250 credit to use on future purchases.

ModelRRPAmazon price
Galaxy S23 Ultra 1TB$2,649$2,199
Galaxy S23 Ultra 512GB$2,249$1,899
Galaxy S23+ 512GB$1,849$1,599
Galaxy S23 256GB$1,599$1,299

More Samsung phone deals

If you're keen to save a few bucks on Galaxy phones, now is an excellent time to purchase previous-gen models as retailers look to clear out old stock for the S23. Here are a few offers that caught our eye.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra | $1,849 $1,499 (save $350)

While Samsung's new generation of flagship phones sounds impressive, there's no need to hesitate when purchasing the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It offers 8K video, 45W fast-charging and an embedded S Pen. Plus, it's available at a bargain price at Amazon right now, at $1,499. That's 19% off the RRP.

View deal
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G | $999 $797 (save $202)

The slow march of time leaves the Galaxy S21 in the past, knocking down its price further. You can now get this device boasting 5G and a triple-lens camera for a 20% discount at Amazon.

View deal
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 | $899 $699 (save $200)

Get this A-grade refurbished smartphone at Phonebot for a massive discount. Enjoy a bold, modern take on the classic flip phone.

View deal
Samsung Galaxy S22
Samsung Galaxy S22 | $1,249 $819 (save $430)

Score an A-grade refurbished Samsung Galaxy S22 at Phonebot. If you tend to wait for a new generation of phones to be released before making your purchase, now's the perfect time to score some serious value.

View deal
Image: Supplied: Samsung

Grab the Samsung S23 on a plan from Australian telcos to nab more pre-order deals while you can. Need more info on the latest tech? Head over to Technology Finder.

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