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Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review: The best bet in the S23 lineup

The front and back of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus in white.Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Plus is a superb phone and an excellent option for those who like big screens.

Antonio Villas Boas/Insider

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  • Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Plus is the ultimate phone with a large screen for Android users.
  • It’s less expensive and has better battery life than the S23 Ultra while running the same processor and matching camera quality.
  • It’s also much lighter than the S23 Ultra, making it more comfortable and manageable for everyday use.

As the mid-tier offering in Samsung’s flagship S-series, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus might not be the flashiest, but it’s the best Android phone with a large screen you can buy.

In fact, the S23 Plus is a better buy than the premium Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. It’s equally powerful, it’s $200 less expensive, its cameras are just as good, and it surprisingly performed better in our battery test. 

Sure, the S23 Ultra’s screen is larger, and it has a fourth camera lens for 10x zoom, making it the most versatile camera phone available. However, the S23 Plus ends up being a generally easier phone to use on a daily basis thanks to its lighter weight, whereas the S23 Ultra’s weight feels like something that needs to be managed.

The S23 Plus only varies from its smaller sibling, the Samsung Galaxy S23, in screen size, weight, battery life, and charging speed. Otherwise, it has identical performance, screen quality, and cameras.

What works

  • One of the best designs on an Android phone
  • Comfortable weight for a large phone
  • Excellent cameras overall
  • Stellar performance with excellent battery life

What needs work

  • Prone to taking blurry photos of moving subjects
  • Comes with unwanted bloatware

Samsung has mastered the large-screen phone design with the Galaxy S23 Plus

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus held in hand.The Galaxy S23 Plus is a comfortable, lightweight phone with a large screen.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

While large premium phones are getting heavier and heavier, as seen in the iPhone 14 Pro Max and S23 Ultra, Samsung has achieved an extremely compelling balance with the S23 Plus. It has premium looks, a comfortable light weight, a slim design, and it still has a screen anyone would consider large at 6.6 inches. 

Normally, I’d prefer the larger screen size on the S23 Ultra, but I find that phone’s heavy weight to be uncomfortable for one-handed use. It’s even a liability, as its unwieldy heft makes the phone feel less secure in my hands. The S23 Plus provides the solution to this problem — it’s surprisingly lightweight, its screen is big enough, and it’s truly an excellent phone.

As for the S23 Plus’ overall design, I talk about it in our review of the standard S23. It’s basically Samsung’s flat-edged phone design from the S22 series without the camera module, where the lenses stick out individually. It’s a sophisticated, minimalist look that’s easy to love.

The back of the Galaxy 23 Plus in the white color option against a black mesh background.Samsung ditched the bulky camera module and the Galaxy S23 Plus’ camera lenses protrude individually, which is a classy look.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

Unquestionable performance

The bottom edge of the Galaxy S23 Plus, which is being held by a hand.The S23 lineup’s custom Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor is top of the line among Android devices.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 series run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Optimized for Galaxy — the most powerful processor available to Android phones that’s been optimized specifically for Samsung latest flagships with a slight bump in performance over the standard version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. 

The experience is fairly typical for the latest generation of a phone. The Android operating system, apps, and games run quickly and flawlessly. However, the Galaxy S23 series’ optimized processor gives a slight edge in benchmark numbers, and apps appear to open slightly quicker than the OnePlus 11, which runs on the standard version of the processor.   

Still, I wouldn’t say the performance difference between the optimized and standard versions of the processor will make a difference in how long the phones will last, if you plan on going the distance with your phone. 

A quick sidenote: Samsung is unfortunately still loading its premium phones with third-party bloatware. There’s an entire folder with four Microsoft apps, as well as Spotify, YouTube Music, and Facebook. And there’s still the age-old quagmire where Samsung apps double up on Google apps, like Samsung Messages, Samsung Internet, Samsung Pay, and Bixby. 

It’s not the biggest deal, and it’s something experienced Android users are used to. It’s just an extra step to delete or disable certain apps for some users who want a clean app library. And to be clear, Apple is also guilty of pre-installing certain questionable iPhone apps like Freeform, Stocks, and Measure, to name a few.

Battery life that actually competes with the iPhone 14 Pro Max

The bottom edge of the Galaxy S23 Plus, which is being held by a hand.The Galaxy S23 Plus supports up to 45W charging speeds, the same as the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

The Galaxy S23 Plus finished our battery test with 67% battery life remaining — exactly the same result as the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The Galaxy S23 Plus’s battery test result is actually a little more impressive, as it has a slightly smaller 6.6-inch screen compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s 6.7-inch screen and bigger overall size. Still, the iPhone 14 Plus and its 73% result has yet to be dethroned.

The battery test is designed to simulate a blend of low and high-intensity day-to-day usage. For low intensity use, the test includes two hours of video streaming, and one hour of music streaming while connected to Bluetooth headphones. For high intensity use, it includes five runs of the Geekbench 5 benchmarking app, as well as two runs of the 20-minute 3D Mark Wild Life Stress Test.

If you somehow run low on battery, the Galaxy S23 Plus supports up to 45W fast charging speeds, as long as you have a charger that can charge up to 45W. Samsung doesn’t include a charger, so you’ll need to buy one if you don’t own one.

It’s worth noting that the S23 Plus has the same charging speed as the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and it’s an advantage over the regular Galaxy S23 that only supports up to 25W charging. 

Should you buy the Galaxy S23 Plus?

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus showing the home screen against a black mesh background.The Galaxy S23 Plus is an easy recommendation.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Insider

As I mentioned earlier, the Galaxy S23 Plus is the best Android phone you can buy, even when the Galaxy S23 Ultra exists. So, yes, you should buy the S23 Plus. 

Fans of big phone screens may gravitate towards the S23 Ultra, and I wouldn’t blame them. Its screen is only 0.2 inches larger on paper, but it’s noticeable. It’s also a fantastic phone with even more camera options thanks to a fourth 10x zoom lens. You’d just have to contend whether its larger screen and extra camera lens is worth the extra $200 and the additional weight it carries over the S23 Plus.

I’m also making my assertion when considering the S23 Plus’ main competition in the large Android phone category —  the Google Pixel 7 Pro.

Overall, the Galaxy S23 Plus has an edge over the Pixel 7 Pro in terms of premium design, performance, battery life, and even camera performance — the Pixel 7 Pro surprisingly produced some photos with questionable quality during my testing. 

The Pixel 7 Pro is typically $900, though it has seen a recent price cut down to $750, and it’s mighty tempting at that price compared to the S23 Plus’ $1,000 list price. However, I still recommend the S23 Plus if you originally planned your budget for a $1,000 phone. And for a limited time, you can buy the S23 Plus from Amazon and Best Buy for $850 — a $150 discount. 

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