Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2023 live: everything we know about the Galaxy S23 and Ultra models
By Shruti Shekar,2023-02-01
It's finally time for Samsung Unpacked, and we're expecting the Galaxy S23 and S23 Ultra flagship phones to be announced later today and maybe a few other hardware surprises! We'll have all the latest updates and will be providing our thoughts and extra details in the live blog below.
If you want to watch a live feed of the Unpacked event yourself too, you'll be able to join us via the live stream in the YouTube feed below. The event itself begins later today at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET / 6 PM GMT. We're super excited for the official reveal of Samsung's new devices, but there have been plenty of details leaking out early, and we'll talk about those in our blog too while we patiently wait for the live stream.
Galaxy S23 announcement live stream
Can you believe that it’s been almost a year since the Galaxy S22 lineup was released? Samsung’s current flagship is still largely considered to be the best, but in less than 24 hours, the Galaxy S23 is set to be unveiled to the world. Hopefully, you’re as excited as we are, and if you haven’t claimed your reservation , you still have time!
It wasn’t long after the Galaxy S22 series hit store shelves before we started hearing rumors about what Samsung could offer with a successor. Following years of struggling with its own Exynos processor, rumors started suggesting that Samsung would tap Qualcomm for all models of the Galaxy S23, including those in regions traditionally powered by Exynos chips . Obviously, Samsung pivoting to Qualcomm for all of its chip needs could be a big deal as it would give everyone the same experience, something that hasn’t been the case in a very long time.
As we entered the summer of 2022, much of the focus naturally went to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4, while everything on the Galaxy S23 front was pretty quiet. This all started to change in September, with Ice Universe sharing the supposed dimensions of the Galaxy S23 lineup. These gave us little hope of a major redesign, as all three devices would largely remain the same, with only minor differences in the dimensions .
Shortly following Ice Universe’s leak, we got our first glimpse at some renders of the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus courtesy of Onleaks. What really stood out was that instead of having the unique camera bump on the back, these renders showed the S23 and S23 Plus would adopt the S22 Ultra’s design with a slab of glass and cutouts for the triple camera setups and the flash. And while this might offer a cleaner look overall, there doesn’t seem to be a good explanation as to why Samsung would make these kinds of changes.
With a better idea of what the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus would look like, we didn’t have to wait long before learning more about some of the other features and specs coming to Samsung’s next flagship. A rumor from Galaxy Club suggested that Samsung would be packing a larger 4,700mAh battery into the S23 Plus, up from the 4,500mAh battery found in the S22 Plus. This, combined with the expected upgrades in efficiency from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, could mean that the S23 Plus ends up being the battery champ of the trio.
Keeping with the battery life trend, one of the biggest complaints that we (and many others) have had with the baby Galaxy S22 is the constant need to reach for a charger. A rumor from Digital Chat Station claimed that those concerns might be squashed, as the S23 could be upgraded to a 3,900mAh, offering a 200mAh upgrade over its predecessor. All the while, maintaining the same 6.1-inch FHD+ display, which helps explain the slight differences in the dimensions.
On one hand, it’s been great to see leaks and rumors about the S23 and S23 Plus, but Android enthusiasts were starting to wonder what Samsung could do with the S23 Ultra. In early November, our first big leak was provided by Yogesh Brar, claiming that the S23 Ultra would continue to use a quad-camera array. But unlike the S22 Ultra, the main camera would be Samsung’s 200MP ISOCELL Image Sensor, which was introduced in June 2022.
In addition to the 200MP sensor, which would likely be “binned” to at least 12.5MP, Brar also seemingly confirmed that the Galaxy S23 Ultra would use a 10MP 10X periscope lens, a 10MP 3x telephoto lens, and a 12MP ultrawide sensor. If the 200MP lens ends up being Samsung’s ISOCELL HP2 , this will allow for vastly-improved low light photography, along with recording up to 8K video at 30fps.
As the end of 2022 grew closer, Qualcomm seemingly tipped Samsung’s hand in regards to what processors would be used to power the Galaxy S23 lineup. During an investor call, Qualcomm’s CFO confirmed the two companies had entered a “new multiyear agreement” while “expanding the use of Snapdragon platforms for future premium Samsung Galaxy products globally.”
Shortly after Qualcomm’s confirmation, a Galaxy S23 Plus supposedly appeared on Geekbench powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 paired with 8GB of RAM. At the time, Qualcomm’s latest chip had not yet been officially unveiled, but the 1485 single-core score and 4844 multi-core score all but confirmed better overall performance from Samsung’s next flagship lineup.
Following the announcement of the iPhone 14 Pro and its integrated satellite connectivity for contacting emergency services, a report claimed Samsung was looking into offering something similar with the Galaxy S23 series. The report suggested Samsung was working with a company known as Iridium in an effort “to provide voice and data communication services using 66 low-orbit communication satellites.”
Back in September, Google began teasing features for Android 14, which include native support for direct satellite connectivity. This confirmation came following an announced partnership between T-Mobile and SpaceX in which the carrier would use “Starlink satellites to provide basic connectivity to smartphones.” With the Galaxy S23 slated to launch in early 2023, it’s expected to be one of the first devices to be updated to Android 14, making it an almost “must” that satellite connectivity is implemented.
If you want to learn more about why satellite connectivity in your Android phone should matter, look no further than Jerry Hildenbrand’s excellent and fascinating explainer. But to use Jerry’s words, “The good outweighs everything bad. You want this.”
It wasn’t too much longer before we started seeing some “real world” confirmations of what to expect from the Galaxy S23 lineup, beyond the traditional rumor mill. The Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus passed through the FCC confirming the model names, the 3,900mAh and 4,700mAh battery sizes, respectively, and that all three models would be powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.
Oh and we're a little less than an hour away from the start of Galaxy Unpacked !!!
Just a few weeks ago, we saw some of the first promotional videos for the Galaxy S23 Ultra leaked, but unfortunately, those have since been removed entirely. This was likely done as part of a copyright claim made by Samsung, but one of the videos suggested improved low-light photography with a “ mooonlight ” moniker being used.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that once the faucet starts leaking, it’s impossible to turn it off. The next series of leaks we saw gave us a look at the different “signature” color options that Samsung would be offering. According to leaked promotional material, the S23 Plus would arrive in a “signature pink,” while the S23 Ultra would maintain its green colorway from the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Samsung couldn’t hold off any longer, as the leaks were springing from every direction. The company finally confirmed that Galaxy Unpacked 2023 would be held on February 1, with plenty of teasers being shown off to get everyone excited about the upcoming camera improvements. In the post, Samsung President TM Roh stated the S23 Ultra would “focus on performance, sustainability, and its cameras, with a smarter, pro-grade camera system.”
We’re just minutes away from the official unveiling of the Galaxy S23 lineup, and we just can’t wait to see what Samsung’s 2023 flagship lineup will offer. While we still don’t know when the phones will be announced, Samsung did share that it will be opening “ Galaxy Experience Space ” locations in various parts of the world. So if you want to check out whatever’s announced today before it’s released, this will probably be your best bet.
Samsung Galaxy Unpacked has started! Let's see what's coming to us.
Here's our hands on for the new Galaxy S23, written by our very own Michael Hicks. He went to SF to get this done and it looks pretty impressive!
- Here's what you need to know about the new S23 in short :
- Samsung officially unveiled the new Galaxy S23 series, including the S23, S23+, and S23 Ultra.
- The Galaxy S23 and S23+ boast streamlined designs, larger batteries, and bright displays.
- The Galaxy S23 Ultra nearly doubles its camera resolution to 200MP and can capture brighter images with pixel binning.
- The phones are available for preorder and will hit shelves on February 17. Retail starts at $799.99.
The new phones use Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 globally, and Harish Jonnalagadda wrote a fantastic piece about why this is a big win for Samsung .
Also interesting that Samsung is taking a page from Apple by using the help of a very famous director, Ridley Scott.
As we watch this in our group, Andrew Myrick says: "What’s the point of 8K video if you can’t view it in its full resolution”
As far as cameras go, we still have the 50MP triple camera setup on both, combined with a 12MP ultrawide lens and 10MP telephoto camera with 3x zoom. The front camera, however, gets upgraded to 12MP, which helps enable faster autofocus and "Super HDR" selfies. It can also shoot video in 4K60fps, which can help keep your content consistent across lenses.
However, the biggest camera upgrade comes to the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which sports Samsung's new 200MP ISOCELL HP2 sensor . Samsung touts its phenomenal "Nightography" capabilities thanks to the ability to gather more light when combining pixels. Thanks to pixel binning, the Galaxy S23 Ultra can combine four pixels for a 50MP image or 16 pixels for a 12.5MP image. Thanks to AI processing and enhanced optical image stabilization (OIS), images and video should result in less noise, particularly in low-light situations.
Did she just say JIFF???
IS IT GIF OR JIF, GUYS TELL ME PLEASE
The performance of what this phone can do sounds super interesting, but how efficient is it though?
Also, take a drink every time someone says AI...
FYI, if you missed it, per Washington Post (it kinda looks like they got an exclusive): "Beyond updating some of its core product lines, the company also unveiled plans to develop new “extended reality” products and experiences with help from key partners including Google and Qualcomm."
Live close to San Francisco and want to save yourself $1,200? At the new Samsung Galaxy Experience Space at 111 Powell Street in SF, Samsung is showing off the Galaxy S23 series so you can test it out for yourself. Plus, it’s holding daily gaming tournaments playing Asphalt 9: Legends. Every day, the best Asphalt player will receive a free Galaxy S23 Ultra. We doubt we have the gaming chops to win, but maybe you do!
Some deets in these pics for pricing and availability
More details on pricing and availability here:
Lots of talk about sustainability, which is always a good thing
Android avengers crossover event, who is creating the movie?
Samsung briefly spoke about its new partership with Qualcomm and Google to build a new XR device, but the company largely spoke in platitudes and didn't unveil much. What we're learning is that Google is building "a special version of Android" for AR and VR devices, and Qualcomm is continuing to build upon its history of XR architecture by creating new and exciting chips.
What this means for the XR industry — that's the term that encompasses AR and VR under one roof — remains to be seen. The last time we saw Samsung work in XR was with the Gear VR, which was a partnership between Samsung and Oculus. Since then, Meta has almost entirely taken over the VR landscape...
Well, Unpacked is over and the Samsung Galaxy S23 preorder deals are pouring in. Tons of trade-in opportunities are already available, including this Verizon deal that'll give you up to $800 off the base S23 if you send in an old or broken device and add a line. That's enough to make the phone totally free if you play your cards right! Verizon's 5G Start, Do More, Get More, Play More, and One Unlimited plans are all eligible for the deal, so check it out.
Samsung is also getting in on the action by offering a bounty of deals for folks who choose to preorder and activate any S23 phone on their site.
Activate an S23 device with AT&T or T-Mobile and you'll be eligible to receive up to $1,000 of trade-in credit. Activate the S23 or S23 Plus with Verizon instead and you're looking at up to $700 of trade-in credit, while the S23 Ultra is looking at a max credit of $800 with trade-in.
If you just want the unlocked phone, you'll still be eligible to receive trade-in credit of up to $620 with the base S23 or S23 Plus, or up to $830 if you go with the Ultra.
Not interested in trading in? All preorders through Samsung come with free storage upgrades and up to $150 of instant credit, so it's a win no matter what.
If you aren't able to take advantage of the many trade-in deals that are currently available, head to Best Buy for your S23 preorder and nab a free gift card from the retailer, no strings attached. The Samsung Galaxy S23 comes with a $50 gift card, while preordering the S23 Plus or the S23 Ultra will land you a balance of $100. Not too shabby for a flagship lineup that isn't even on store shelves yet.
That being said, if you do have an old or broken device to send in, Best Buy is offering up to $600 off any S23 preorder with eligible trade-ins.
Well, it looks like Amazon finally added some S23 stock, and while we aren't seeing the discounts we expected, they've nevertheless launched a pretty enticing deal. Right now, you can pick up a product bundle that includes an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S23 256GB and a $50 gift card for just $799.99. In other words, you're basically getting a storage upgrade and a gift card for 100% free — no trade-in required and no strings attached.
In our time so far with the Galaxy S23 family, we've learned a few interesting things about the upgraded camera experience. Samsung's Camera Assistant app — a newer module found in the popular Samsung Good Lock app — lets users completely eliminate shutter lag with the tap of a single setting.
Samsung says this will reduce image quality a bit since it changes how the phone takes pictures, so keep that in mind before you enable the setting. If the time it takes to actually take a picture after you press the shutter button drives you crazy, this might be the setting you've been waiting for.
One of my favorite things about the Galaxy S23 Ultra so far is that Samsung really listened to feedback from the last device. As I said in the Galaxy S22 Ultra review last year, a large flat phone with perfectly rounded edges is extremely difficult to hold. But lots of folks didn't like the completely flat sides of the S22 and S22 Ultra, either.
Now that the S23 Ultra has completely flat sides with more natural curves at the top and bottom of the edge, it feels like the perfect mix of design strategies and ends up creating a phone that's a lot nicer to hold.
When was the last time you upgraded your smartphone? Do you remember how much of a pain it was to transfer all your data from your old phone to the new one? With the Galaxy S23 family, all that frustration is gone thanks to the inclusion of Google's Fast Pair technology right at the onset of the experience.
All you'll do is turn your new Galaxy S23 on and a prompt to "Set up Galaxy S23" should appear on your old Android phone. For me, it was a simple button press and a QR scan to get the phone setup. You can then accept transfer of everything on your old device or take a little more time to customize the process.
Setting up a new phone has never been this easy before. Wow, what a difference!
Samsung announced a lot at yesterday's Unpacked conference, but there were also a number of things the company failed to mention (or swept under the rug). Our Andrew Myrick put together a list of five things Samsung didn't announce and you'll definitely want to read it if you're considering picking up a Galaxy S23.
For a teaser, how about this little bit. Ordering the 128GB Galaxy S23 will get you much slower storage speeds, not just a lesser amount of storage. That's because the 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB storage modules Samsung is using are all based on the UFS 4.0 standard which is twice as fast as UFS 3.1. If you were wondering, yes, the 128GB storage module uses UFS 3.1. Check out the article for everything else you (and Samsung) might have missed.
One of the best upgrades this year is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. It might sound like you hear that every year, but this year is different thanks, in large part, to how generally poorly received last year's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 was.
Last year's processor showed a 30% improvement in performance when compared to the previous year but, once you actually started using the phone for things like gaming, that difference dropped substantially. In some cases, it performed worse than the previous year's processor when used for long periods of time.
This year, the 2nd-generation version of Qualcomm's latest processor line completely fixes that problem and jumps at least another 30% in performance. That's all without seeing performance degrade over time as the processor heats up. We've already put published a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Gen 2 comparison guide and have tested the chip in several phones, and Samsung's special version of it is even faster than those chips.
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