Samsung took the wraps off its 2023 flagship smartphone series, the Galaxy S23 series, at its Unpacked event held in San Francisco and beamed to the rest of the world via a livestream.
As expected, the series comprises three devices, the Galaxy S23 (standard), Galaxy S23+ and Galaxy S23 Ultra. This is the same lineup we have been seeing from Samsung over the last half-decade despite early rumours hinting to it being trimmed to feature just the standard and the Ultra models.
As was the case last year with the Galaxy S22 series, the Ultra remains the hero of the lineup and keeps the hallowed S Pen, the stylus that once dotted the defunct Galaxy Note series, and keeps its slot.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra has the largest and the best display, a 6.8-inch Super AMOLED QHD display with a 1-120Hz variable refresh rate that is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus 2 “which offers durability for long-term use”.
One of the biggest changes to Samsung’s flagship smartphone lineup features has to be the chipset. Out goes Samsung’s inhouse Exynos chipsets which have always been offered alongside their Snapdragon counterparts from Qualcomm for years and in comes the Snapdragon 8 gen 2 chipset. The chipset powers all the three devices. It’s not like we did not see this coming…
Something else that all three new Samsung smartphones share is One UI 5.1, the software, with Android 13 underneath, which runs on them.
The Ultra, being the lead of the series, also gets the highest storage option on offer, a terabyte, even though the variant we are getting in Kenya has 512GB as the ceiling. There’s also the most memory, 12GB.
The hero of the show as far as the features on all the three devices, and, specifically, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, is the cameras. Specifically the main image sensor, the 200-megapixel one that you’ve probably heard of, Samsung’s first on a smartphone. It works in tandem with a 12-megapixel ultra-wide, a 10-megapixel telephoto with optical image stabilization (OIS) and 3x optical zoom as well as a secondary 10-megapixel telephoto with OIS and 10x optical and 100x Space Zoom. A 12-megapixel camera dots the front and takes care of selfies. This selfie camera stays the same across the three devices.
The main image sensor on the Galaxy S23+ and the standard model is a 50-megapixel sensor with OIS in addition to a 12-megapixel ultra-wide and 10-megapixel telephoto sensor with 3x optical zoom. There’s support for 8K video recording at 30fps as well.
There are a bunch of software additions that Samsung has brought to go with the optical hardware upgrade.
While the standard Galaxy S23 gets a 6.1-inch Super AMOLED Full HD+ display with a 48-120Hz variable refresh rate, the S23+ makes do with a 6.1-inch display unit with similar resolution and tech – obviously, protection from the aforementioned Gorilla Glass Victus 2.
The battery unit on the Galaxy S23 Ultra is also the biggest at 5,000mAh, thanks to its massive size and, of course, the need to power all the extras it packs over its siblings. The Plus mode has a 4,700mAh battery and the standard model has a modest 3,900mAh sealed unit.
The Ultra and the Plus have 45W fast-charging while the standard model gets the good old 25W charging. As is increasingly becoming the case, you’ll have to source the charging units on your own as they are not included in the box. There’s 10W wireless charging as well if that’s your thing.
The devices come in Phantom Black, Cream, Green, and Lavender colours.
As is the case with Samsung devices these days, the new smartphones will receive four years of Android OS upgrades and five years of security updates.
Pricing and availability
The Samsung Galaxy S23 series is available for pre-order in Kenya at the moment with the pre-order period running through to February 28th.
After that, the devices will be available for purchase in the open market from March 1st.
Those who pre-order any of the three devices will get 10GB data every month for a year. This, however, is limited to Safaricom subscribers. There’s also a free silicone case on offer for all pre-orders.
Samsung is also going a step further and offering the Galaxy S23 Ultra to anyone who pre-orders the Galaxy S23+ i.e. you get the Galaxy S23 Ultra during the pre-order period at the price of the Galaxy S23+.
All the three devices get Samsung Care+ which offers their buyers a year of protection from accidental drops that shatter the display – there’s a one-time free replacement.
The devices are priced as follows at Samsung brand outlets and other affiliated stores:
- Samsung Galaxy S23 – Kshs 136,000 (256GB variant)
- Samsung Galaxy S23+ – Kshs 155,000 (256GB variant)
- Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra – Kshs 196,000 (256GB variant) / Kshs 210,000 (512GB variant)
From Safaricom, pricing is as follows:
- Samsung Galaxy S23 – Kshs 148,691 (256GB variant)
- Samsung Galaxy S23+ – Kshs 169,370 (256GB variant)
- Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra – Kshs 213,682 (256GB variant) / Kshs 233,376 (512GB variant)
Samsung is also offering trade-in value of USD 200, USD 150 and USD 100 respectively for the Galaxy S23 Ultra, Galaxy S23+ and Galaxy S23. What this means is that when you trade in your device for any of the three models, your trade-in value will be topped up by the respective amount from Samsung and then deducted from the price of the device model you want.
Samsung has partnered with Badili Africa to handle the trade-ins.
Standard Chartered Bank Kenya and KCB Bank Kenya customers (credit card holders) can also buy the devices at 0% interest over a defined period.
By mid-March, Safaricom is expected to announce a new premium plan targeting its postpay subscribers who will be offered the Galaxy S23 devices at yet-to-be-announced terms.
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