An upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S series always marks the new year with a boom for the brand, but after several years of incremental improvements, it can be hard to pinpoint which series is worth the attention.
If you’ve been considering a phone upgrade and have had your eyes on the Galaxy S23 series, the big question might be, which of the three phones is going to be best for you? The Galaxy S23+ might be the slightly forgotten brother to the base S23 and flashier S23 Ultra; but for those who want just a little bit more, but don’t need the bonus features, the S23+ might be the right phone for you.
Boasting a bigger battery and bigger size, the Galaxy S23+ still offers the same great features of the more compact S23, which makes for a pretty fantastic phone on paper. But, how does it hold up with real-world use and is it worth the money? Read our hands-on review to find out more.
How we tested the Samsung Galaxy S23+
I tested the Samsung Galaxy S23+ over several weeks, testing its range of features and functions to see how it holds up with day-to-day use. I also monitored the battery usage during these activities, including social media browsing, gaming and video streaming, along with testing the battery charging performance.
Samsung Galaxy S23+ features and specs
- $1,649 AUD RRP (256GB), $1,849 AUD RRP (512GB)
- 6.6-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X screen
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor for Galaxy
- 5G connectivity
- Triple rear camera setup (50MP wide + 12MP ultra-wide + 10MP telephoto)
- 12MP front-facing camera
- In-screen ultra-sonic fingerprint sensor and facial recognition
- Android 13 operating system with One UI
- 4,700mAh battery, up to 45W wired & 15W wireless charging, Power Share
- IP68 water and dust resistance
- 256GB and 512GB storage sizes
- Available in Cream, Green, Lavender and Phantom Black
|Samsung Galaxy S23+ pros||Samsung Galaxy S23+ cons|
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Design and functionality
- Looks and feels sleek and premium
- Good size without feeling too large
The Samsung Galaxy S23+ is much like the rest of the S23 lineup — a simple design progression from the Galaxy S22 series. However, both the S23 and S23+ have abandoned the camera bump from the S22 phones, opting for a sleeker design, allowing the rear cameras to float on the back of the phone.
Like the other S23 phones, you’ll get an aluminium frame with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2, with a sleek matte finish on the back. You’ll have a choice between Lavender, Phantom Black, Green and Cream colours (like the other S23 phones). I was given the Lavender version and it’s just as pretty in real life as it looks in images. I found it was on the pinker side of purple, but the colour still shines through and isn’t too pale to miss that it’s purple. Even though the finish on the back is prone to showing smudges, on a lighter colour, it isn’t as obvious as it is on the darker shades (which I experienced with the Green 23 Ultra). So, if this is something that frustrates you, you might prefer to stick to the Lavender and Cream versions rather than the Phantom Black and Green.
The overall design is fairly simple, with the cameras housed on the top left of the phone’s back. Turning the phone over, you’ll get your lock button around halfway up the right side, with the volume buttons just above.
Samsung has clearly found what works for it when it comes to the design of the S23 series, maintaining a simple, yet sleek design that is fairly inoffensive. But, thanks to the nice choice of colours, it isn’t too bland or boring.
Using the phone
While the S23+ and the S23 share the majority of the same specs, one big difference is the larger size of the S23+. It’s 6.6-inch display feels reasonably large, although it’s not as big as the S23 Ultra. I found it was a good size, large enough to make the most of the screen when watching videos, but still compact enough to easily hold and use with one hand (even if you have smaller hands).
I found the S23+ strikes a good balance between the more compact S23 and the big S23 Ultra, so if you’re not a fan of the more compact size of the S23, it’s an easy pick to jump up to the S23+. It feels rather thin, but is a reasonably heavy phone, which is to be expected considering it’s made of glass and metal.
You’ll get both fingerprint and facial recognition unlocking, with the fingerprint scanner under the screen. I found both of these were fairly seamless to use, with it registering my fingerprint or face rather quickly on the majority of occasions and only a few instances of needing to give it another crack or two to register.
Overall, the Galaxy S23+ is a well designed and functional phone, with little to fault. It feels rather slim despite its slight weightiness, and is easy and comfortable to use. The addition of Lavender and Green colour options (and the additional Samsung online colour exclusives) help to keep it from being too boring, and position the Galaxy S23 and S23+ as phones that look and feel sleek — and worth the premium price tag.
- Fast and smooth performance
- Stunning screen with great quality built-in speakers
The Samsung Galaxy S23+ comes with many of the best-of-the-best features that Samsung has to offer. Like the S23 and S23 Ultra, you’ll get the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor, 5G connectivity, a 4,700mAh battery and up to 120Hz refresh rate. As for its 5G connectivity, I was able to record a maximum average speed up to 652.66Mbps using the Optus 5G network.
Much like the Galaxy S23 Ultra which I reviewed previously (which features many of the same specs), the Galaxy S23+ offers a super zippy and seamless performance. Scrolling through social media is smooth and quick, and it handles gaming and video streaming like a pro. While the phone can run hot during certain activities (like using the camera app and longer gaming and social media sessions), it’s pretty hard to find fault in the overall performance of the S23+.
Samsung has packed in a 6.6-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED display, and as you would expect, the quality is excellent. Bar the S23 Ultra, the S23+ (and S23 which uses the same technology) carries the best screen that you can expect from a Samsung phone, and it certainly gives you what you pay for.
Thanks to the larger screen size (when compared to more compact phones like its S23 counterpart and the iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14), you’ve got a nice amount of real estate to enjoy. One thing that I actually noticed is that the S23+ is a wider phone than some comparable phones. This was particularly noticeable when watching videos in landscape view. Compared to Motorola’s ThinkPhone, which has a 6.6-inch display with 158.76mm (H) x 74.38mm (W) dimensions, the Galaxy S23+’s 157.8mm (H) x 76.2mm (W) has a bit more width and is a bit shorter. It might not seem like much of a difference, but I found that this extra width, while dropping a little height, made it feel better suited to watching videos.
Of course, the screen quality is excellent with great clarity and colours, whether you’re on social media, watching videos and everything in between. The adaptive brightness is rather intuitive, and for the most part, makes a subtle adjustment — although on a couple of occasions, the brightness would jump quickly. There were a a few instances where I found I needed to manually adjust the brightness when the video was very dark and it would then struggle to switch back into auto-adjusting. However, this is just nitpicking, and you’ll really get a stunning screen overall.
Backing up this great display are quality built-in speakers, which produce an immersive sound with some great depth and bass. Whether you’re listening to music, watching a video or listening to a podcast, you’ll be happy if you tend to go without headphones. My only issue was around the volume control — I found you had to increase the volume by a significant amount to get it loud enough at times, and that was even when I had the phone close by.
Battery and charging
The battery life is where Samsung can get a little tripped up at times. Samsung devices I’ve reviewed previously, like the Galaxy Z Flip4, felt like the battery drained rather quickly, and its more compact flagship phones do tend to have a reasonably small battery, especially compared to other (and sometimes cheaper) phones on the market.
The Galaxy S23+ however, has a bigger battery (4,700mAh) than the standard S23 (3,900mAh), so if a longer battery life is important to you, upgrading to the S23+ might be the way to go.
As for real-world performance, after a 12 hour stint of moderate usage (web, social browsing, gaming and regular idle periods), it drained 25% of the battery, while around nine hours of moderate usage drained 17% of the battery. The battery drain during higher intensity activities was fairly consistent with what I’ve experienced from other devices with similar-sized batteries — around 40 minutes of Disney+ streaming drained 4% of the battery, 22 minutes of HD YouTube streaming drained 2% of the battery, and a 40 minute gaming session drained 4% of the battery.
If you do find yourself in a pinch and need a quick battery charge, you’ll get up to 45W wired fast charging included, but no charger in the box. Using a 45W fast charger, I was able to get from 0% to 100% in just under an hour (59 minutes to be exact), and using a 15W charger took just under an hour and 40 minutes to get from 0% to 100%.
Ultimately, as you could expect from one of the ‘best of the best’ phones that Samsung can produce, the Galaxy S23+ offers the performance you would expect of a flagship in the Samsung Galaxy S series.
- Vibrant and true-to-life colours
- Excellent quality night mode
The Samsung Galaxy S23+ has the exact same camera setup as the Samsung Galaxy S23, so if you’ve been considering the more compact S23, you’ll get a good feel for what the cameras can deliver. You’ll get a triple rear camera setup with a 50MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide and 10MP telephoto lenses, plus a 12MP front-facing camera for all your selfie-taking needs.
You’ll also get many of the same photography features as the S23 Ultra, but while the S23 and S23+ are touted as having great nighttime photography, you won’t get quite the same astro photography abilities as the S23 Ultra.
As to be expected, you’ll get stunning outdoor photos with the cameras that come with the Galaxy S23 and S23+. Whether it’s a bright sunny day at the beach, a rainy day in a forest, or out in the city at night, the Galaxy S23+ handles all the conditions you can throw at it with ease. My only little bugbear is the colours — while they’re very true to life and vibrant, I feel they are a little overly saturated at times. While vibrant is great, it still needs to look natural, and on a couple of occasions, I felt the blue sky in my photos was a little bit too blue (especially compared to the more natural looking results of the Motorola ThinkPhone).
Moving indoors, you’ll get some good quality photos, even in difficult lighting conditions. The S23+ actually does a good job at capturing the colours as true-to-life as possible, even when artificial light adds a yellow hue to your photos, and colours still have some vibrancy to them.
I also took the S23+ for a spin to an indoor gig with plenty of moments of darkness punctuated by bright lights. The quality and clarity to these photos were excellent, and I was also able to get a decent amount of detail with minimal noise when zooming in.
Samsung has touted its AI-enhanced Nightography as maintaining the bright and colourful look to your images throughout the night in low light conditions. Luckily for Samsung, this is something the S23+ and S23 can deliver in spades. Taking photos with night mode switched on and off, and comparing the two photos, it’s pretty astounding how much the night mode version is enhanced. Not only do you get more visibility to your images, but the colours pop — as much as they can in night and low-light conditions — and you get excellent clarity to your photos.
It also picks up an insane amount of detail in the night sky, with it picking up on more than just the brightest stars. The S23+ brings plenty of depth and colour to the night, especially in cloudy conditions. While I found it was slow to focus at times and I ended up with a few blurry shots (a steady hand is required for slow processing), it’s a pretty hard feature to fault. If you like taking photos at night and in low-light settings, the S23 and S23+’s camera setup will keep you pretty happy.
Portrait mode, as to be expected, delivers some great portrait shots, whether you’re using the front or rear cameras. You can take wide-angle selfies and zoom in on rear-camera portraits, adding a bit of variety and ease to taking portraits. The background blur is fairly natural looking, although there were times it struggled to pick up on the details around the subject and it ended up blurring around the hair a fair bit. There were also a couple of occasions where portrait photos had a bit of blur to the subject, so you’ll want to make sure you take a few different shots to avoid any duds.
Macro mode is notably missing (although not uncommon for the more ‘basic’ premium phones in a lineup), but you can still get photos rather close to the subject with a fair amount of detail. You won’t get the same insanely detailed closeup shots that the Galaxy S23 Ultra produces, but you can sort of ‘fake’ a macro mode with the S23+ quite easily.
If you enjoy taking food photos, the good news is that Samsung’s Food mode still makes an appearance, and brings a nice focus to your food item, with a natural looking background blur. However, it can be a little tricky to get the focus right so you might want to play around with it a bit.
As to be expected, the cameras for the Galaxy S23+ and S23 also take some great videos. I tried it out in a range of conditions, from a windy day at the beach, a rainy day in a forest and to a loud live music show. The sound and picture quality was excellent in all settings, with minimal wind noise during the windy beach day, and minimal distortion from the live music show.
Overall, there is very little to fault with the quality cameras you’ll get from the Samsung Galaxy S23+, or the S23. While it might not have some of the super fancy camera features that the S23 Ultra has, you’ll still get a camera setup that feels rather ‘pro’ for the most part. Whether you’re taking videos or photos, whether you’re a casual phone photographer or love taking snaps of anything and everything, you’ll be happy with what you get from the Galaxy S23+.
Note: Images taken on the Samsung Galaxy S23+ have been digitally compressed for web.
Phone plans for the Samsung Galaxy S23+
The following table shows a selection of 256GB 24-month Samsung Galaxy S23+ plans as published on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile phone plan comparison tool to see a wide range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.
Is it worth upgrading from the Samsung Galaxy S23 to the Galaxy S23+?
The biggest differences between the two phones is the physical size and the battery size. Samsung hasn’t had the best battery performance in its more compact phones, and on paper, the S23 has a much smaller battery than the S23+. Even then, the S23+ still has a smaller battery than what some other phones on the market have to offer, like the S23 Ultra (with an even bigger price tag) and the Motorola ThinkPhone.
If battery life is important to you and you use your phone for a lot of intensive activities (namely video streaming and gaming), the bigger battery of the S23+ might be a drawcard. If you’ve been burned by a poor battery performance from a Samsung phone in the past, and you can afford it, upgrading to the S23+ could save you some headaches down the track.
As for the size of the two phones, it comes down to your preference. Do you like a bigger phone with a bigger screen? Or do you want something more compact? If you’re happy with a slightly smaller phone, and you don’t have the concerns over battery size, you might find it’s worth saving a bit of cash by going with the Galaxy S23 — you’ll still get almost identical specs to its bigger brother.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S23+?
If you’re already a Samsung fan, you’re probably already set on buying a phone from the Galaxy S23 lineup. If that’s the case and you’re wondering more about which phone in this lineup is best for you, it will come down to two things: features and price. If you can afford to go all the way up to the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and you will actually use the extra features that the Ultra has to offer (S pen, bigger battery, more cameras and camera features), then you’ll be happy with the phone as there’s little to fault about it.
That being said, the S23+ is an excellent phone, and you don’t really feel like you’re missing out on anything compared to its more feature-packed brother. It’s a good size — big without being too big — the battery performance is pretty solid and you’ll get some excellent photos. If price is more of a factor for you, going with the Galaxy S23 is probably your best bet, but just keep an eye on your battery usage.
If you’re not a dedicated Samsung user and want to know if the S23+ is worth the money, well, yes. It’s a premium Galaxy S phone, it delivers the sort of performance you would expect when you’re forking out this much cash. But, you might be able to get ‘better’ value for money elsewhere if you’re willing to compromise on some things. Both Motorola and Google offer some of their premium devices and features at a slightly cheaper price than what Samsung does. Google’s latest Pixel 7 phones offer a great overall performance, and can easily stand up to what Samsung’s S23 and S23+ offers, just with a slightly cheaper price tag.
Ultimately though, the Samsung Galaxy S23+ is a fantastic phone. With very little to fault, a sleek design, stunning screen, quality speakers, good battery performance and excellent camera setup, if you can afford it, and you love what Samsung has to offer, you’ll be pretty happy with the Samsung Galaxy S23+.
|Consider the Samsung Galaxy S23+ if||Don’t consider the Samsung Galaxy S23+ if|
|You love Samsung and want a bigger screen and bigger battery but don’t need the flashy features of the S23 Ultra.||You don’t have the budget or don’t mind the smaller screen and smaller battery capacity of the S23.|
Product used for review/testing was a free sample provided by Samsung.