This story is part of Samsung Event, CNET's collection of news, tips and advice around Samsung's most popular products.
Editor's note, Feb. 1, 2023: Samsung announced the new Galaxy S23 series at its February Unpacked event. The series, which includes a standard, Plus and Ultra version, was unveiled alongside an updated Galaxy Book. You can see how the new phones compare to each other here.
Samsung's next Unpacked is almost here, meaning a new batch of Galaxy S phones is likely arriving soon, too. The event, which is set for 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET) on Wednesday, will almost certainly show off the Galaxy S23, the Galaxy S23 Plus and the top-spec Galaxy S23 Ultra. That is, if rumors are to be believed.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 lineup has included some of our top phones from 2022. The base S22 is an impressive, more affordable option, the S22 Plus is a superb all-rounder and the all-powerful S22 Ultra has blown us away with its stellar camera skills. We gave both the Plus and the Ultra an Editors' Choice Award.
If Samsung maintains the pattern it's followed for the last three generations, we can expect to see a base model and Plus and Ultra variants again. We'll know more on Feb. 1 at Samsung Unpacked, but here's what we're expecting based on rumors, leaks and the company's previous product launches. As for what we want to see from the Galaxy S23 lineup, longer battery life and more clever camera features are at the top of the list.
Galaxy S23 release date
Samsung will likely announce the Galaxy S23 series during its next Unpacked event on Feb. 1, which will take place in San Francisco. The event announcement follows previous leaks, including this report from Korean newspaper JoongAng Daily, suggesting an early February launch for the Galaxy S23. A Jan. 6 tweet by prominent leaker Ice Universe also claimed to show a Galaxy Unpacked teaser image with a date of Feb. 1.
Whether the phones are available in stores to buy that month is another matter, as global supply chains are still struggling and it's possible that there may be a longer delay than usual. But Samsung is already offering promotions for customers in the US who want to reserve a phone early. You'll get $50 in Samsung credit if you sign up to reserve one device or $100 if you ask to reserve two.
Galaxy S23 models and sizes
We firmly expect Samsung to continue its strategy of launching multiple phone models, each with different specs and prices to appeal to a wide variety of people. Based on Samsung's history, we're confident we'll see an entry-level Galaxy S23 model, a step-up S23 Plus with a larger screen and the top-end S23 Ultra. It's the Ultra that will pack the best tech, including extra cameras, the biggest display and almost certainly the S Pen stylus.
Samsung's Unpacked event invitation also includes what appear to be three spotlights, which may be a subtle nod to three new incoming Galaxy models.
Reputable leaker Ice Universe posted a detailed rundown of the sizes of the three upcoming phones (via GSM Arena), which put them almost exactly in line with the current sizes of the S22 lineup. As such, we don't expect any notable differences in screen sizes of any of the range over the predecessors.
Those were 6.1 inches for the Galaxy S22, 6.6 inches for the S22 Plus and 6.8 inches for the S22 Ultra.
Galaxy S23 price
Assuming Samsung launches multiple models, the S23 range will come at three main prices. We don't expect Samsung to stray too far from last year's prices. For reference, the base S22 launched with a price of $800, while the Plus model started at $1,000 and the high-performance S22 Ultra debuted at $1,200 in the US last February.
Galaxy S23 cameras
The cameras look like they might be one of the key areas of focus for the new series. In a Jan. 17 blog post, the head of Samsung's mobile experience business, T.M. Roh, teased the camera improvements that we can expect to see.
"Our pro-grade camera system is getting smarter, offering the best photos and videos in any light among our Galaxy smartphones," he wrote.
That's likely to be especially true for the Ultra model, which is usually where Samsung's biggest camera innovations can be found. We expected the S22 Ultra to include a whopping 200-megapixel image sensor, considering Samsung has launched two of these image sensors and they can be found in other phones. We didn't see it on the S22 Ultra, but it seems likely that a 200-megapixel sensor will be one of the key bragging rights of the S23 Ultra. Ice Universe also predicts that the Galaxy S23 Ultra's will have a 200-megapixel sensor. That seems especially likely considering Samsung just announced a new 200-megapixel image sensor for smartphones.
Samsung's product pages for these sensors boast not only improved resolution, but also improved low-light photography by combining sets of smaller pixels into larger individual ones that can capture more light. The S22 Ultra is already one of the best night-time camera phones, beating out the Pixel 7 Pro in our recent tests, so a further burst to its low-light prowess is exciting to hear.
That massive resolution will also help with the phone's zoom skills, which are already impressive thanks to its 10x optical zoom lens. Recent rumors from Ice Universe suggest that the lens lineup will remain the same across all phones, but that extra resolution should help make zoom shots even more pin-sharp.
There's a chance we might also see a slight change in the camera's design, at least on the Galaxy S23 Plus and potentially the Galaxy S23. Rumors from reputable leakers Ice Universe and Steve Hemmerstoffer suggest that the new devices could have circular cutouts for the camera lenses that sit directly on the back of the device rather than on a camera module. The Galaxy S22 Ultra already has a camera like this, but Hemmerstoffer's leak suggests this style could make its way to the Plus model as well.
Take a look at the photos of the Galaxy S22 Ultra alongside the Galaxy S22 Plus and Galaxy S22 below to see what I mean.
Galaxy S23 battery, processor and other specs
The Galaxy S23 range will almost certainly use the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. In previous years, Samsung used its own Exynos chips for its European models. But a recent Qualcomm earnings call suggested that Samsung will in fact be using Qualcomm's silicon for every phone in the range.
As for other specs, we expect a minimum of 8GB of RAM on the base models, with 12GB being available on the S23 Ultra. Storage is likely to continue to start at 128GB, with higher capacity options being available at higher prices. And no, we don't expect a return of the microSD card slot to expand the storage. Sad face.
Recent Federal Communications Commission certifications show that the base S23 will have a 3,900-mAh battery, a step up from the 3,700 mAh of the base S23, while the S23 Plus will also get a battery boost to 4,700 mAh. There's no official figure for the Ultra model yet, but again Ice Universe suggests that it will have the same 5,000-mAh cell size as the S22 Ultra.
We'll likely know more as Feb. 1 gets closer. But if the rumors turn out to be accurate, the Galaxy S23 lineup will probably be a modest step up from the Galaxy S22 family.