“The innovation is in the details.”
That’s how Nick Porter, Samsung U.K. and Ireland’s vice president of product management and commercial operation, described the Galaxy S23 series in an interview with Digital Trends ahead of the phone’s launch. With this statement, Porter is inviting us to look much more closely at the phone than we may do normally, perhaps overlooking the decision not to redesign the hardware for this generation, to find the reason to buy or upgrade.
Joined by Kadesh Beckford, a smartphone product specialist at Samsung, the pair gave us an insight into the crucial inner workings of the S23 phones.
“People demand the very best, whether it’s for work and play,” Porter said about Samsung’s Galaxy customers, “and that comes from some of the less visible details than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 For Galaxy and the 200-megapixel camera. It comes from Gorilla Glass Victus 2, the first on any smartphone in the world, which makes it more durable, more longer lasting. Then there are the enhancements to the Armor Aluminum, also making the smartphone more durable and last longer.”
“It’s from the four years of OS updates and the five years’ worth of security updates. It’s from the enhancement of the base storage on the Galaxy S23 Plus and the S23 Ultra from 128GB to 256GB. It all redefines the ultimate smartphone experience today, and what makes them fit to invest in for the future. To be honest, the Galaxy S23 series are the best set of smartphones that we’ve ever delivered out to the market.”
But for all the smaller details packed into the Galaxy S23 series, the majority of the attention will be focused on two things: the 200MP camera and the mysterious For Galaxy addition to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor’s name. I asked Porter what this means and discovered that we have to look beyond the For Galaxy headline to see what’s special here too.
“We’ve worked with Qualcomm for a really long time,” he said. “But in July last year, we announced we’d take that strategic partnership to the next level, and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is the first processor to come out after that partnership. When taken with the entire package of the Galaxy S23 series, it adds huge jumps not to just the individual performance metrics, but we’ve worked with them to ensure a seamless integration of the technology within our hardware.”
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 pushes Galaxy to another level.
Beckford elaborated when I asked for clarification on whether the chip contains exclusive elements designed for the Galaxy S23 series, and the answer hammers home that the magic of the phone is in the details.
“I can say confidently and proudly, it is something exclusive and refined for Galaxy,” he smiled. “It will be pushing a faster clock speed while maintaining power efficiency in comparison to any other device that has the same or similar chipset. So it is exclusive, it’s unique, and it pushes Galaxy to another level.”
The other major hardware upgrade on the Galaxy S23 Ultra over the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the 200MP camera. It’s one of Samsung’s ISOCELL HP2 sensors, a version of which was responsible for taking that massive, eye-catching promotional photo of a cat that was plastered over billboards last year.
“It is truly groundbreaking. It’s next generation,” Porter said. “Even at a basic resolution, it’s got 16 times more resolution than a 12MP sensor. So the amount of information, data, and resolution that’s coming into that sensor is vast compared to, say, a 12MP sensor or even a 108MP sensor. When we couple that with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 For Galaxy, what we’re able to deliver through the NPU and ISP performance is real noise reduction. It is perfect for nighttime photography.”
Beckford revealed more about the 200MP camera’s capabilities:
“On the S23 Ultra, we’ve got brand new super quad-pixel setup, where the S22 Ultra had only a laser autofocus system. It individually measures color, light, and the distance in the foreground and the background to accurately give you the best picture possible. You’re going to get an amazing result. Also, in the Galaxy S23, the Focus Enhancer has become standard, so every time you take a 200MP (or 50 MP on the S23 and S23 Plus), you’re going to get incredible detail even when you pinch to zoom, and even if you take a picture in low lighting conditions, it’s going to be super bright and clear as well.”
The Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus haven’t been left out, and Beckford explained how the cameras have also benefited from the hardware updates.
“When we look at the S23 and S23 Plus versus the S22 and S22 Plus, even though it has the same 50MP sensor, with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 For Galaxy, we’re able to actually push even more detail, collect more information, gather more light in a shorter time, creating even better videos and pictures.”
Even the front camera on the S23 series has gained Super HDR, giving it four times more detail than before. Beckford added that these features would not be possible without the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 For Galaxy processor and the custom ISP.
The focus of our conversation was on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and for good reason; based on the last model’s performance, Samsung expects it to be a huge seller.
“Last year, globally, 40% of Galaxy S22 series sales was for the S22 Ultra,” Porter revealed. “We know that consumers are demanding more and more from their premium flagship smartphones. [They want] the very best tool, whether it’s for work and play. The best gaming experience, the best work experience, and the best camera.”
Samsung clearly sees the Galaxy S23 Ultra delivering this, but where does it leave the Galaxy S23 Plus? Poor sales and a lukewarm reception to the iPhone 14 Plus indicate there’s more interest around the entry-level or flagship phone, news which has resulted in rumors about the future demise of a “Plus” model in the Galaxy range.
“I can’t speculate on future R&D and decisions, but we definitely see demand for this category. We’re really excited to be offering the S23 Plus alongside the S23 and the S23 Ultra,” Porter said, who counts the Plus model in the Galaxy S Series as his personal favorite, as it provides a great mix of style, usability, and performance.
Beckford outlined why the Galaxy S23 Plus is more than just an S23 with a bigger screen, and in doing so, once again highlighted why details matter in the new range:
“We’ve also got some meaningful step-ups between the S23 and S23 Plus. People do want larger displays, so the larger 6.6-inch screen will definitely be of value. For someone that may not want the S23 Ultra, what the Plus offers is a large battery, fast charging [the Galaxy S23 Plus and Ultra have 45W charging, and the S23 has 25W], UWB connectivity, and storage that starts at 256GB. So there’s meaningful innovation and features up from the base device for them.”
“Really, with the S23 series, what matters more than in previous generations, is the details. The details in this product show the massive improvements in performance that we’re going to deliver through the entire Galaxy S23 series,” Porter said confidently. “When we set about designing the S23 series, our vision was to redefine the ultimate premium smartphone experience.”
While on the outside, the Galaxy S23 series may not look all that different from the Galaxy S22 series, according to Samsung, it’s what’s going on inside that matters.
You can read our hands-on experience with the Galaxy S23 Ultra here, and the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus here, to see if the many details, some small and others more overtly meaningful, have resulted in winning devices. The Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 Plus, and Galaxy S23 Ultra are available to pre-order now and will be released on February 17.
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