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Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review: Middle of the road?

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1049
inc VAT

The middle child of the family, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus is a good choice if you can’t afford the Ultra


  • Massive performance boost
  • Battery life is astonishing
  • Gorgeous OLED display


  • £100 price increase
  • Few camera changes
  • No microSD slot

There’s a good chance that you already know what the deal is with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus. You’ll have to pay for the privilege, of course, but forking out a bit more cash over the regular Galaxy S23 gets you a bigger screen and a bigger battery, both things that are well worth having.

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The Plus isn’t quite as expensive as the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and it isn’t as extravagant, either. It lacks that phone’s S Pen stylus and its fancy new 200MP camera. However, it is a considerable £200 cheaper.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review: What you need to know

For that money, there’s a lot to like here and there’s plenty new for 2023, too. The overall design has changed slightly, and it has a larger 4,700mAh battery (up from 4,500mAh in the S22 Plus).

The big difference this year, however, is the arrival of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, which promises substantial performance and stamina improvements over last year’s Samsung-made Exynos 2200.

The Galaxy 23 Plus incorporates the same triple camera array as the regular S23, which means it misses out on the Ultra’s massive 200MP sensor. Instead, what you get here is a 50MP main camera, flanked by a 10MP 3x optical zoom and 12MP 120-degree ultrawide unit. The front-facing selfie camera, meanwhile, has been upgraded from 10MP to 12MP.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review: Price and competition

The S23 Plus starts at £1,049 for the 256GB model, which is £100 more expensive than last year’s phone. Want more storage? Expect to pay another £150 to move up to the 512GB model.

With prices like that, the Plus sits slap-bang in the middle of the new S23 range. The regular Galaxy S23 has a smaller battery and display but is otherwise identical and costs £200 less (£849). Meanwhile, the S23 Ultra, with its S Pen stylus, 200MP camera and superior 100x hybrid zoom, is priced at £1,249. You might also want to consider the foldable Galaxy Z Flip 4, which costs £999.

Arguably the biggest challenger is the Apple iPhone 14 Pro, although it is a bit pricier at £1,099 and has a smaller, 6.1in screen. The Oppo Find X5 Pro costs the same as the S23 Plus but this launched last year and is soon to be replaced.

There’s also the option to save some money and go with a cheaper Android flagship smartphone instead. The main alternative that springs to mind here is the Google Pixel 7 Pro, which costs £200 less (£849), and there’s also the option of the OnePlus 11 (£729) for an even greater saving.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review: Design and key features

The first thing you’ll notice is that, from the rear, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus looks different to last year’s model, with Samsung choosing to remove the “Contour Cut” camera housing, leaving the lenses floating free without even the faintest whiff of a camera surround.

It’s a cleaner look, but I’d argue the S23 loses quite a bit of its predecessor’s charms as a result. The S22’s Contour Cut housing matched the colour scheme nicely and this new look is rather plain by comparison. I do like the selection of new colours, though – the phone is available in Phantom Black, Cream, Green or Lavender.

It’s also a rather large phone, especially if you put the cheaper Samsung Galaxy S23 in your other hand. At 158 x 76 x 7.6mm, the Plus’ dimensions make for a tight squeeze for most jeans pockets, and it’s quite hefty at 196g as well. Pop it in a case and it gets even bigger.

The S23 Plus is IP68-rated against dust and water, and is now sandwiched between protective layers of Gorilla Glass Victus 2. The right-side power button located beneath the volume rocker can still be used to access the Bixby voice assistant with a long press. The USB-C port sits on the bottom of the phone between the single speaker and dual nano-SIM slot.

Since there’s no space for a microSD card, you’ll have to choose wisely at checkout. The S23 Plus comes in either 256GB or 512GB storage variants.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review: Display

The S23 Plus’ 1,080 x 2,340 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED 2x display measures 6.6in (compared to 6.1in on the regular model) and, while this is the same size, resolution and refresh rate as on the S22 Plus, it’s still arguably one of the best smartphone screens around.

The panel covers 94% of the sRGB colour gamut in the Natural profile, with a total volume of 95.3% and an average Delta E of 1.09. Switch things to Vivid and you’re looking at some seriously saturated-looking colours (105% of DCI-P3). Depending on your preference, you could see this as either a good or bad thing.

It lacks the Ultra’s pixel-packed QHD+ resolution but the S23 Plus is still a brilliant on-the-go media consumption device. It looks absolutely phenomenal when playing HDR video on Netflix and Disney Plus, with brightness peaking at 1,010cd/m² during normal use and 1,536cd/m² in HDR.

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review: Performance and battery life

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 can be found inside the S23 Plus, which is so new that we haven’t tested many phones with one inside. It also has a special “for Galaxy” designation, which means it runs at a 3.36GHz instead of a base clock speed of 3.2GHz.

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Ditching Samsung’s Exynos chip in favour of Qualcomm has paid off massively this year, with the S23 Plus achieving significantly higher Geekbench 5 scores than the previous model. Take a look at the figures and we’re looking at a huge 33% improvement in single-core processing compared to the S22 Plus, and an even bigger 39% boost in multicore.

This makes all the difference in day-to-day operation. The S23 Plus not only boots up in a fraction of the time compared to my year-old S22 Plus (18secs vs 1min 22secs) but app switching feels much more responsive. Pictures are captured and processed almost instantly, too.

There’s an even greater performance uplift with graphics-rendering tasks. Running the GFXBench Manhattan 3 gaming test, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus returned an average frame rate of 322fps in the off-screen (1080p) benchmark, compared to the 167fps of the S22 Plus. That’s almost twice as fast.

The battery has also jumped up in capacity to 4,700mAh, which is a 200mAh bump over the S22, and combined with the more efficient chipset, has delivered a substantial increase in stamina. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus lasted a massive 26hrs 33mins in our video playback test, almost eight hours longer than the previous model.

The S23 Plus also comes with Android 13 pre-installed, with Samsung’s OneUI 5.1 software tweaks plastered over the top. Samsung still insists on pre-loading the phone with its own bloatware apps, but at least the firm has promised a generous four years of core Android upgrades, with a further year of security patches. That’s still not as good as you get with iPhones, though, which give you five years of updates and a further two years of security patches.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review: Cameras

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus has 50MP (f/1.8) main, 12MP 122-degree ultrawide and 10MP 3x telephoto cameras, with the selfie camera upgraded to a 12MP shooter (up from 10MP). New camera features include Astro Hyperlapse and Astrophoto modes, Super HDR selfie video at 60fps as well as more accurate skin tone capture – similar to the Pixel 7’s Real Tone facial mapping.

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While I would have preferred more of a change with the S23 Plus’ core camera hardware, this is a competent photographer’s companion, nonetheless. Images are captured with a pleasing amount of detail in the default “pixel-binned” 12MP mode and I’m particularly impressed at how colourful pictures look when captured in daylight.

Things don’t get much worse as the light dims, either. Night-time pictures are sharp and clean, with terrific HDR implementation. It’s worth noting that the overall colour tone is affected a little in low-light environments, however, with a slightly warmer hue.

The ultrawide camera isn’t quite as special but it isn’t as bad as some other phones I’ve tested recently. You will notice a drop in detail compared with the main camera but images still look sharp enough and the post-processing algorithms do a good job at correcting lens distortion in the corners and at the edges of the frame.

Despite similar camera hardware, there’s a big improvement in the S23 Plus’ portrait images over the S22 Plus. Windswept hair looks nice and crisp and facial capture is much better defined, with more realistic-looking skin tones in general.

One area where the S23 Plus can’t compete with the Ultra is with zoomed images. Optical telephoto tops out at 3x where the Ultra goes up to 10x with its secondary telephoto camera, and you can only digitally zoom up to 30x, unlike the Ultra’s 100x. Zoomed images still look good but they aren’t as crisp as the Ultra and can look a bit muddy at higher zoom levels.

Video features are shared across the entire S23 range, which means the Plus gets up to 8K recording at 30fps. This still lacks any form of image stabilisation – the bump in detail comes at a shaky cost – so I recommend dialling the settings down to fully stabilised 4K at 60fps. The footage was rock-steady in my tests, with a good amount of detail and speedy autofocus.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review: Verdict

Samsung would have done well to introduce at least something special with the Plus model this year to help it stand out, rather than simply playing it safe and sticking with its tried-and-tested “bigger screen, bigger battery” formula. However, it’s a better phone than its apparently small updates might suggest.

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In particular, it’s the move to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset that makes the difference this year. Not only is it faster but it’s more efficient, leading to significantly better battery life. That, paired with a host of smaller tweaks elsewhere, means it’s a great pick for anyone wanting a large-screen flagship Android phone and who doesn’t want to spend big on the Ultra.

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review: Middle of the road?
Mobile phones

The middle child of the family, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus is a good choice if you can’t afford the Ultra

£1049 inc VAT