Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus Review: A mostly great smartphone
For a few years now, the “Plus” model in the Galaxy S series has been pretty odd. It’s slightly smaller than the Ultra model, and only a couple hundred less than the Ultra model. Yet, it doesn’t offer many of the same specs and features. Making it a pretty weird model for Samsung, and one that I do believe they need to get rid of. And just make the S23 and S23 Ultra.
I still believe that, however, the Galaxy S23 Plus is a great phone, for a specific person. And that person is, someone that want’s a large phone. Someone that doesn’t want a curved display or a S Pen. And someone that wants to save a few hundred bucks. Remember, the Ultra is $200 more than the Plus. So let’s explore everything that the Galaxy S23 Plus does right and wrong, in our full review.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus Review: Design
Since the Galaxy S20 series a few years ago, Samsung has been iterating on the design of the S series, and this year, I think Samsung is at the peak. I really like the design of the S23 Plus, even more so than the Ultra. The back of the Plus is flat, with individual camera bumps for each camera. Which are round, and look very minimal. Honestly, it looks really good. The sides are still curved, making it easier to hold onto your phone. However, the edges on the screen and on the back, are quite sharp. Almost as sharp as the iPhone 13 Pro series was last year. Obviously, you can get around this by using a case, and most will. But still worth noting.
It’s a fairly boring design, but honestly, I think that fits the Galaxy S23 series perfectly. As it is a pretty boring lineup this year. It’s like a cookie-cutter smartphone. Where Samsung comes out with the highest specs available, and keeps the same price each year. Where Samsung is really cutting the edge is on the foldables that come out in August.
As far as the rest of the hardware goes, the sides are Armor Aluminum, and since the S23 Plus has a flat display, it’s also more durable than other smartphones out there. Particularly those with curved displays. It also uses Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the back and front. That’s going to keep it from shattering, but it will scratch very, very easily. Unfortunately, as the glass gets less likely to shatter, it does get softer. So it does scratch way easier. But, I’m happy to report that my review unit has zero scratches on it, yet.
The best display on a smartphone
Samsung always has the best display on a smartphone, so this is nothing new really. Since Samsung makes most of the smartphone displays out there and of course it keeps the good stuff for its own devices. But the Galaxy S23 Plus’ display is so beautiful. It has true-to-life colors, though you can actually saturate it a bit more if you like that look better. As Samsung does allow you to adjust many aspects of the display.
The only downside here is that the Galaxy S23 Plus tops out at FHD+ resolution. Samsung saves the QHD+ panels for the Ultra model. But let’s be honest, FHD+ is plenty of resolution for a 6.6-inch display. It’s an AMOLED display, with adaptive 120Hz. So you will see it move from 1 to 120Hz, depending on what you’re doing.
Finally, it does get very bright. With peak brightness up to 1750 nits. That is the same as the Galaxy S23 Ultra. This means that you’ll be able to use it outdoors in bright sunlight, which is really great to see. And I hope more smartphones adopt this feature.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus Review: Performance
Inside the Galaxy S23 Plus is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy. It’s basically the same processor that’s in the OnePlus 11, but this is overclocked a bit, and better optimized for Galaxy devices. This processor makes the Galaxy S23 Plus ridiculously fast. During my time using the Plus, I have not noticed it slowing down at all. Which is quite impressive, especially when I add in that, it rarely gets hot. Now, like most phones, if I use the camera for a long time, or play some games for a while, the phone will get warm. But it doesn’t overheat at all.
Along with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, there’s also 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage in this model. All Plus models have 8GB of RAM, and comes in 256GB and 512GB storage models. The whole phone is pretty fast here, and RAM isn’t even an issue here. Which is kind of surprising, given how much of a memory hog that One UI is. But that’s definitely great to see.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus Review: Battery life and Charging
This year, Samsung added 200mAh to the Galaxy S23 Plus, compared to its predecessor. So now we have a 4700mAh capacity battery inside the Galaxy S23 Plus. So it sounds like it would offer great battery life, especially knowing how good the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is with battery life. And it is great, but it is definitely a level or two below the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
With the Galaxy S23 Plus I was able to hit 8 hours of screen on time, on a single charge. Meanwhile the Ultra is at least 10 hours, and can be pushed to 12 hours. So while the Plus has great battery life, it’s not the best on a S23 model. Which is not what I was expecting. But I’d still take 8 hours of screen on time any day.
Now for the bad news, standby sucks on this one. Overnight, around 8 hours, the Galaxy S23 Plus loses between 12-15% of its charge. That’s pretty insane, and I think (and hope) Samsung will fix this in a software update. The Galaxy S23 Ultra went through the same test and lost about 5-7% over the same 8 hours of standby. So it definitely seems like something is wrong. And I honestly think that is why the Plus is so far below the Ultra in terms of battery life.
That’s going to be enough to get you through a full day, and maybe even two days. This is going to depend on how you use your phone, of course. Not everyone uses their phone for 8 hours a day, and if you’re a lighter user, you might get two full days.
Onto charging, it’s good, but could be better. Samsung is still stuck at 45W wired charging. Which is fast, but when we have phones like the OnePlus 11 doing close to 100W charging, for less money, you have to wonder why Samsung is still stuck at just 45W? Well, we probably do know why – the Galaxy Note 7. What makes this even worse is that the charger is not included in the box. As far as wireless charging goes, it does still go up to 15W. Which is fine, if you’re charging it overnight. Would be great to see wireless charging getting faster.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus Review: Software
When it comes to software, the entire Galaxy S23 series ships with Android 13 and One UI 5.1 – which One UI 5.1 is actually rolling out to most of the recent Samsung phones right now, so you don’t need to buy the S23 to get it. With One UI 5.1, we have plenty of great features available here. Some of which are part of Android 13, like the more options for the color palette in the icons.
But Samsung has also copied some features from Apple. That includes being able to pull an object out of a photo and make it into a sticker. So if you took a photo of your dog, you can long-press on it and then share it as a sticker. Samsung has also brought back the ability to customize your lockscreen, by changing the shortcuts, and changing the clock’s color and font. Which is really cool to have here.
On top of all that, Samsung is also promising four years of Android updates and five years of security updates. That makes it the longest on the Android side. Apple is still updating phones for at least six years. But that does mean that the Galaxy S23 Plus is going to get upgraded to Android 17, and that’s not too shabby, to be quite honest.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus Review: Camera
While everyone’s talking about the new 200MP sensor on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, it’s not here on the Plus. Instead, it has a 50-megapixel main sensor, with a 12-megapixel ultrawide and a 10-megapixel telephoto sensor that can do 3x optical zoom. That’s plenty, to be honest. Especially since Samsung does let you take photos at the full 50MP resolution, instead of only allowing it to be pixel-binned down to 12.5-megapixels.
The images coming from the Galaxy S23 Plus are quite good. They are crisp and mostly in true-to-life colors. There are some instances where they might be a bit saturated. That’s something that is popular over in Korea, where Samsung is from. So it makes sense that they still go with the saturated look.
Much like on the Ultra, the Plus has a pretty good portrait mode. In my testing, it even did good with my glasses. Typically, phones will not cut out my glasses in portrait mode, and blur the side of them. But that’s not the case with the Galaxy S23 series, and that’s definitely something I really like here.
Zoom levels on the Galaxy S23 Plus are pretty good. Sure, I’d love to have 10x optical zoom available here, but 3x is good. And probably what I’d use most of the time anyways. Pictures coming out of that 3x optical zoom feature look really good. Sure, you will need a good amount of light for them to look good, since this is a 10-megapixel sensor its using here. So do keep that in mind. Here are some camera samples from the Galaxy S23 Plus.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus Review: Wrap Up
The Galaxy S23 Plus is mostly a good smartphone. The only real downside here is the battery life, which can be fixed with an update. Then again, if I’m complaining about 8 hours of screen on time, then it must be pretty good. For most people, this is going to be enough smartphone and they won’t need to buy the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and save themselves $200 here. The camera is great, software is great, and even the hardware is great.
You should buy the Galaxy S23 Plus if:
- You want a big phone, without a bigger price tag.
- You don’t want/need an S Pen.
- You don’t like a curved display.
You should not buy the Galaxy S23 Plus if:
- You want a curved screen.
- You want an S Pen.
- You want a larger phone.
- You don’t like One UI.