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Samsung’s flagship phone trio seemingly has something for everyone. Prefer a smaller phone that doesn’t compromise on power? Pick up a Galaxy S23. Demand the very best camera hardware, or like sketching with an S Pen? The S23 Ultra should fit the bill. The Samsung Galaxy S23+ falls somewhere between the two.

But that was also true of the outgoing Galaxy 22+, and on the surface this doesn’t look like a year for big changes. The rear lens trio is identical, and the style shake-up (inspired by the S23 Ultra) is very much on the minimal side. Performance takes a leap, courtesy of the latest Snapdragon silicon, and battery size has increased – but is that enough to justify a considerable price hike, when rivals can be had for a whole lot less

From the front there’s no clue you’re looking at the latest Galaxy phone, and not last year’s model. The S23+ is ultimately another glass and metal sandwich, with pretty much identical dimensions to the S22+. Even the pastel-hued colours aren’t all that different, with black, cream, green and pink on offer.

Flip it over, though, and you’ll spot three bare camera lenses in place of the old ‘contour cut’ camera bump, for a stronger family connection to the Ultra variant. It won’t need to live in your pocket for very long before becoming a magnet for dust, but IP68 protection means you can just wipe it down with a damp cloth.

Both sides of the phone use Gorilla Glass Victus 2 glass, which promises extra drop resistance over previous efforts. That reportedly includes a 1m drop directly onto concrete, although we decided not to tempt fate with our review sample. It certainly stayed free from scrapes and microscratches throughout testing.

With its 6.6in display, the S23+ feels substantially larger in the hand than the regular S23. That phone is positively diddy compared to the rest of the Android world, which has largely embraced big screens across the board. We found it much easier to type here without tripping over our digits, so it should be the obvious choice for barrel-fisted Samsung fans. The slightly curvy metal frame is still perfectly palm-friendly, being thick enough to provide plenty of grip but not so portly it’ll feel uncomfortable in a trouser pocket. We also found the rounded corners and a taller, thinner aspect ratio made it more comfortable to hold than the equivalent iPhone 14.

Top marks to Samsung for using more recycled materials in its phones this year, too. The power and volume buttons apparently are made from recycled fishing nets, but you wouldn’t know it – they feel just a premium as the rest of the phone. They’re a little further up the right side of the phone this year, however. Smaller hands might have stretch to reach them.

Samsung can usually be relied on to deliver some stunning quality smartphone screens, and the S23+ is no different, although on the surface little seems to have changed from last year. It has the same 2340×1080 resolution as the outgoing S22+, stretched across the same 6.6in. That means a slightly lower pixel density than the S23, but everything still looks pin-sharp at arm’s length.

You still get a 120Hz variable refresh rate, which helps deliver gloriously smooth scrolling without also thrashing the battery when displaying a static image. Even apps that usually don’t like adaptive refresh modes looked flawless here. The flat glass doesn’t have any of the reflectivity issues found on phones with curved edge screens, either, so viewing angles are superb.

The biggest change is to brightness, with the panel now able to max out at a retina-blasting 1750nits peak. That’s on par with the pricier S23 Ultra, and a big step up from last year’s 1300 nit maximum. It makes all the difference outdoors, making it easy to see what’s onscreen even in bright sunlight. It gives HDR video impressive depth, too.

Colours in general are delightfully vibrant, without oversaturating things too much, and contrast is suitably epic. There’s a decent amount of customisation on offer if you prefer a more vivid appearance.

The stereo speakers are a decent pairing to the display, if not the best sound we’ve heard from a smartphone. They get satisfyingly loud and reasonably clear, if lacking a little presence. We expected the larger dimensions to help here, but felt it was just on par with the more compact Galaxy S23. Still, you won’t need headphones just to catch up on your podcast queue.


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