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Samsung Debuts Tough New S23, but They're Not Available for Everyone

A new version of the S23 Plus is able to "tolerate extreme conditions."

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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  • I've been covering technology and mobile for 12 years, first as a telecommunications reporter and assistant editor at ZDNet in Australia, then as CNET's West Coast head of breaking news, and now in the Thought Leadership team.
Corinne Reichert
2 min read
s23-Samsung S23 Tactical Edition rugged phone for military and first responders

Samsung has two tough new versions of its latest smartphones, but you'll probably never have one -- the Galaxy S23 Tactical Edition and Galaxy XCover6 Pro Tactical Edition are designed and sold only to military, first responders and some other physical jobs.

The Galaxy S23 Tactical Edition is the 6.1-inch Galaxy S23 with different software onboard, while the Galaxy XCover6 Pro Tactical Edition is like the Galaxy S23 Plus, with a bigger 6.6-inch screen, but ruggedized and able to withstand "extreme conditions."

The Tactical Edition S23 versions come with:

  • Stealth Mode, which enables off-grid communications by disabling 4G and e-911 and muting all radio signals.
  • Connections only to certified 5G networks to prevent unsecure network connections that could be security threats.
  • The new Hypervisor Device Manager as an added layer of security on top of the standard Samsung Knox.
  • The ability to connect to FirstNet, AT&T's nationwide wireless network for first responders.
  • Covert Lock, which prevents the phones from emitting an RF signature.
  • Night vision mode.

Samsung said its Tactical Edition phones are used "by all branches of the US military." In addition to military personnel, the latest versions are also available to first responders, UAS, highway administrations, utility, oil and gas workers, and mining, mineral and exploration companies that "manage critical deployable assets."

If the idea of a new phone that's super tough appeals to you but you're not eligible to get the S23 Tactical Edition, you might want to consider a rugged phone case for your Galaxy S23 phone or if you're an Apple user, an iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Pro phone case.

Correction, Sept. 22: The Galaxy S23 Tactical Edition is the same phone physically as the Galaxy S23, just with different software.