Samsung's higher-end phones are here alongside new laptops.
Samsung's new Galaxy S23 line -- the Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra -- has just made its debut as part of Wednesday's Samsung Unpacked. Samsung is also unveiling a new high-end Galaxy Book 3 Ultra laptop.
Here's a summary of the company's hardware reveals:
Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus: The Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus have been given a few improvements over last year's Galaxy S22 phones, notably bigger batteries and a custom Snapdragon chip. As previously rumored, both phones feature a customized version of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Samsung's highest-end phone is getting a big camera upgrade this year. The Galaxy S23 Ultra now features a 200-megapixel camera, which nearly doubles the 108-megapixel camera seen on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. The phone still includes a space for the S Pen, and the customized Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor that's also inside the S23 and S23 Plus.
Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra laptop: Samsung looks to be giving the MacBook Pro a run for its money with this new high-end laptop that starts at $2,400. It features a 16-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and, if you want to spend more money, you can spec it with an Intel Core i9 chip. Samsung has also unveiled new Galaxy Book 3 Pro and Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 laptops, both step-down models from the high-end Ultra laptop.
Samsung, Google and Qualcomm Team Up to Build a New Mixed-Reality Platform: While there isn't yet a device to show off, Samsung discussed its partnership with Google and Qualcomm for an upcoming mixed-reality platform. This would potentially involve a part-augmented reality, part-virtual reality approach that could eventually debut.
While Apple's iPhone 14 line made a big deal about including satellite connectivity for emergency communication, Samsung doesn't appear to be ready to support a similar feature in the Galaxy S23.
My colleague Lisa Eadicicco was able to speak about exactly this feature with TM Roh, Samsung's president and head of the company's mobile experience business. Roh said that while there's interest in bringing the feature to future Galaxy phones, it may be too soon for Samsung's 2023 devices.
"When there is the right timing, infrastructure, and the technology [is] ready, then of course for Samsung Galaxy, for our mobile division, we would also actively consider adopting this feature as well," he said.
You can learn more about Samsung's observations into the satellite connectivity in Eadicicco's feature that includes more details from her conversation with Roh.
After an extended bit of Google, Qualcomm and Samsung executives patting one another on the back for their respective work on the Galaxy S23 series, the event is over.
But that doesn't mean we're done! CNET has many more stories filled with analysis, testing and other perspective you can only get from us. Follow along:
- Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus announcements.
- Details on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
- Why you should care about the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra laptop.
Samsung says it's working to improve its environmental record, removing as much plastic as possible from its products, and including Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2, which contains 22% "pre-consumer recycled glass" on the back. The box is also made with paper that Samsung says is 100% recycled and "certified as sustainably sourced."
I've had some environmental advocates roll their eyes over this from any of the tech companies, but considering the US government is starting to pay more attention to these promises, hopefully it'll actually move the needle on climate change.
Preorders start today, and will be launching Feb. 17.
The Galaxy S23 will start at $800, the S23 Plus will start at $1,000 and the S23 Ultra will start at $1,200.
In the US, Samsung said it'll continue selling the S22 from last year, at $700.
Samsung is expanding its Ultra branding to its laptops too, though they're not powered by the same chips as the S23 series. Instead, it's powered by chips made by Intel and Nvidia.
It has larger screens, a 3K display and a bigger touchpad. Samsung says it offers a step up from its other Galaxy laptops.
CNET's Joshua Goldman appreciated the changes, particularly the Nvidia chips for better gaming and video or photo editing. "If you're going to call something 'Pro' you should offer something stronger than integrated graphics," he wrote in his first impressions.
Samsung's Unpacked event has so far debuted the new line of Galaxy S23 phones, and Samsung is also debuting Galaxy Book 3 laptops with an Ultra model offering a ton of new features. Here's a rundown of all of our first impression stories on Samsung's new hardware lineup:
- Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus
All the phone-makers have spent considerable fortunes improving the functions of the cameras on their devices, and that's money not just spent on revamping the glass lenses or LED flash. They put a lot of effort into developing applications that automatically process the image data the phone collects.
Samsung has come up with two terms for its low-light photography technologies: Nightography and Astrophotography. Nightography is basically Samsung's name for low-light photography, which has indeed been getting better each year. Astrophography appears to be features built just to take images of the stars, planets and moon.
Some of the improvements to Samsung's cameras this year come from pixel binning, a technology that draws more light and detail out of larger photos. Samsung said it's improved autofocus, and that it created new settings called Camera Assistant that makes it easier for you to switch settings, white balance or ISO.
Samsung also created a GIF remaster feature, which improves the quality of a GIF before sharing with friends and family. And Samsung increased the capabilities of its Astro Hyperlapse feature, which allows you to capture a "starry night sky" with what Samsung says is professional quality.
The question is whether Samsung's camera improvements will stand out when tested against Apple's iPhone and Google's Pixel, both of which tend to hold their own rather well in CNET's tests.
Drew Blackard, VP of product management, is now on stage, talking about the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which he says was inspired by the Note series. He talks about the "cohesive look and feel" across the S23 line, and notes that the presentations of today's Unpacked event were filmed with an S23.
Samsung also worked with movie director Ridley Scott to make a film using its phones (though, sadly, not another season of Raised By Wolves). He called using the phones "a great challenge," and said he was "surprised by how versatile it was."
(Is this where I mention Apple hired filmmakers to show off its iPhone 13's cinematic capabilities a couple years ago?)
TM Roh adds that Samsung is extending its use of recycled "ocean-bound plastic," as well as other recycled materials and glass.
Rival phone-maker Apple has spent over a decade talking about its recycling efforts, including by building several recycling robots in Texas, that we at CNET got to see a couple years ago.
Samsung's event begins with a video "filmed #WithGalaxy" -- Samsung's TM Roh is on stage.
"It is good to be back together," he starts, talking about how the company is pushing to innovate "beyond the specs" and "redefining what a smartphone can be."
One of the big questions about Samsung's upcoming line of phones is whether it'll have one of 2023's more popular features, satellite texting.
Apple already kicked off the trend last year with its iPhone 14, which can send texts by satellite if you're out of cell service range. Starting at $799, the iPhone 14 isn't the only device out there that'll likely have the tech by year's end though.
Last month, Qualcomm revealed a new feature coming in Android phones, called Snapdragon Satellite, that will let users send and receive text messages through satellites too. It uses the Iridium network and Qualcomm says it will have global coverage, which is more than Apple's service offers.
Just like the iPhone, it'll only be for emergencies to start, but will eventually be able to exchange messages socially and even use data, likely as part of a premium service. It's not yet available and will come in phones launching in the second half of 2023 that use Qualcomm's latest premium chips, though the company is leaving it up to phone-makers whether to have the service at all in their phones or if they should charge for the privilege. That leaves lots of unknowns.
Read more from CNET's mobile reporter David Lumb: The iPhone 14's Prize Feature Kicked Off 2023's Biggest Phone Trend
If you're wondering about the refreshments served at Samsung Unpacked, this fancy-looking water bottle is being provided to attendees.
Left to right: CNET's Lisa Eadicicco, Patrick Holland, Claire Reilly and John Kim are entering the Samsung Unpacked event in San Francisco.
Samsung's cheaper Galaxy A series usually gets its own events separate from the Galaxy S line. Not every phone in this lineup, however, gets a press conference or even a cameo at Unpacked -- the Galaxy A14 5G, for example, was announced during CES 2023 -- but it can happen. Last year's Galaxy A53 and A33 were revealed in a March livestream. As rumors of an A54 circulate, it's possible Samsung could reveal the cheaper device on Wednesday, too.
Samsung's Galaxy S23 reveal is expected later today, and it's possible you could even try out a Galaxy S23 today, too. Samsung is holding several "Galaxy Experience Space" events at pop-up locations and retail stores around the world, starting Wednesday.
The announcement doesn't explicitly say you'll get to see the Galaxy S23 phone line in these pop-up spaces, but the chances are quite good that Samsung would like attendees to try its new phones out.
While February is kicking off with Samsung Unpacked, the company might have a lot to announce later this month and next if it repeats what it did last year. Samsung often participates in the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, which this year takes place from Feb. 27 to March 2. Samsung revealed the Galaxy Book 2 Pro laptop and the Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 at MWC 2022 -- but that doesn't necessarily mean laptops will be the featured product this year.
Samsung could perhaps focus on any number of product categories that don't get shown off during the Feb. 1 Unpacked event. That means we could see updates to its headphone line, tablets or the smart home.
While we expect the Samsung Galaxy S23 line to include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, the phone is rumored to have a custom version of the chip. If that's true, could potentially bring faster speeds or features that could set the S23 apart from other phones with the Gen 2 chip. Phone leaker Ice Universe (h/t GSMArena) posted back in November that the European version of the Galaxy S23 has a "high-frequency version" of the Gen 2.
If this rumor is true, it would be a spin on a tactic employed by phone makers that create in-house chips for their own phones, like Apple and Google. While the Gen 2 is still made by Qualcomm, I'd be interested to see if a Samsung-tailored edition offered a tangible advantage over the Gen 2 chips we've seen used in rival devices.
As Samsung preps to bring the Galaxy S23 into the world, it may have a more uphill battle than just competing with the latest iPhones or Pixels. This week the company reported its latest earnings and warned that economic conditions could lead to demand for new smartphones waning. It'll be interesting to see how the market responds to Samsung's new crop, particularly if they end up being more expensive.
The Galaxy S line isn't the only product coming from Samsung today. The company hasn't been subtle about teasing a new Galaxy Book, its line of Windows-based laptops. Like with the S23, the South Korean giant has been enticing potential customers with a $50 Samsung credit bonus for those who reserve one in advance (or $100 if you reserve both a new laptop and S23). Twitter leaker SnoopyTech has posted some images and specs of the purported computer, which may feature 13th generation Intel processors, 15.6-inch displays and a variety of ports including HDMI, USB-A, multiple USB-C and a microSD card slot.
If you were planning to upgrade to Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S23 series, you may have to pony up more money than before -- depending on where you live. The price of Samsung's upcoming flagship phones is tipped to increase in parts of Europe compared to last year's Galaxy S22 series. If you live in the US, however, prices are expected to remain the same.
On Twitter, reliable leaker Roland Quandt posted prices of the Galaxy S23 lineup in Spain, saying the Galaxy S23 will start at 959 euros for the model with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. (959 euros roughly converts to $1,040, £840 or AU$1,480.) The tweet also says a Galaxy S23 Ultra, with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, will cost 1,589 euros.
According to Samsung's Spanish website, the Galaxy S22 costs 859 euros and the Galaxy S22 Ultra costs 1,459 euros. Similar price increases are also expected in Germany and the Czech Republic. Australian consumers may also have to prepare to pay more if reports turn out to be accurate.
As Samsung's official Unpacked event draws closer, the leaks -- even the accidental ones -- are beginning to pile up. Yesterday an AT&T store in Atlanta posted images of the Galaxy S23 to its website, complete with a description of the phone's features and colors, ahead of the official launch. The Samsung S23 appears to come in green, cream, lavender and a grayish black "phantom" color, according to the website, which has since been taken down. It apparently has an "automatic adaptive 6.6-inch display" and a 50-megapixel camera with "advance nightography." It's also water-resistant, with a battery that "powers your day," wireless fast charging and noise cancellation.
We're gearing up for Samsung Unpacked, where it's all but confirmed that Samsung will launch the Galaxy S23 phone. This year, we expect Samsung to repeat its pattern from previous years, releasing three phones: the Galaxy S23, S23 Plus and S23 Ultra.
Perhaps the biggest rumors are the ones about possible S23 camera upgrades. We're expecting the S23 Ultra to have a massive 200-megapixel image sensor since Samsung has launched a couple of these image sensors already. (They're used on rival phones, including the Xiaomi 12T Pro.) Last year, we were hoping to see that 200-megapixel camera make an appearance on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but it didn't happen.
Our live blog also accompanies a CNET watch party covering the Samsung event, which will be hosted by Justin Tech and Abrar Al-Heeti. The watch party will kick off on CNET's YouTube channel with preshow coverage at 9 a.m. PT (12 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. UK time).
We'll be reporting live from 9:30 a.m. PT until the event starts, then there'll be a postshow wrap-up all of the announcements.
Samsung will likely reveal its next Galaxy line of phones at its Unpacked event. We're specifically expecting to see the Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 Plus and the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Phones in the upcoming line are expected to include a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, which we already know will be in the OnePlus 11 5G.
You can read all our preshow thoughts about the event on this live blog until Samsung Unpacked kicks off at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. UK) Wednesday. Then we'll shift into our live reporting, which will include on-the-ground photography from CNET team members attending the event in person.