Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. S22 Plus: Should you upgrade?
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, Victus 2, a larger battery: the Galaxy S23+ has a few key improvements over the S22+ that you'll want.
Samsung stuck closely to last year's template with the Galaxy S23+, keeping the same overall design and display. But it benefits strongly from the new Snapdragon chipset (and from leaving Exynos behind) and improved protection. The Ultra-inspired camera design will look attractive or boring depending on your preferences.
- Latest Snapdragon chip
- Twice the default storage
- Slightly larger battery capacity
- Stronger Gorilla Glass
- Upgraded selfie camera
- Newer Bluetooth standard
- No memory upgrade
- Trade-in deals for S22+ owners aren't the best
- New camera design is polarizing
Between the short-lived S22 and the massive Ultra, the Galaxy S22+ struck the right balance, giving a high-quality experience when it launched last year. It still is an excellent phone that hasn't fallen far behind the S23+, but its overheating chipset does hold it back compared to the latest Snapdragon model.
- Same display, memory, and main cameras as S23+
- Still has multiple OS updates left
- Fast charging and respectable battery life
- Classic camera module design
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 overheats and Exynos 2200 falls short
- Samsung still charging same price for it
- Only half the default storage
Another year, another set of Galaxy phones. When it comes to the Samsung Galaxy S23 series, more people will pay attention to the cutting-edge S23 Ultra or affordable, one-handed S23. But you shouldn't sleep on the S23+, which takes the template of the respectable Galaxy S22+ and augments it in a few key ways.
Samsung has only just announced the Galaxy S23+, but as the person who got an early Galaxy S23+ hands-on courtesy of Samsung, as well as reviewed the Galaxy S22+, I can confidently speak to both phones and how they compare. Samsung will release the S23 series on February 17 with a decent trade-in deal for S22+ owners. So should you upgrade, or stick with the older model? This Galaxy S23+ vs. S22+ guide should tell you everything you need to know to decide.
Samsung Galaxy S23+ vs. S22+: What's the same?
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Before we begin to dive into what makes the newer Galaxy S23 Plus a tempting upgrade, let's discuss the many ways Samsung used the same template for its S23+ and S22+ phones.
Display: Like the Galaxy S22+, the Galaxy S23+ has a 6.6-inch AMOLED display with 2340 x 1080 (FHD) resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate that can dip as low as 48Hz for battery-saving purposes with less demanding apps. Its brightness hits 1,200 nits for HDR or 1,750 at its peak for outdoor use.
Rear cameras: Ignoring the selfie camera for now, both the Galaxy S23+ and S22+ share 50MP/ ƒ/1.8 main, 12MP/ f2.2 ultrawide, and 10MP/ ƒ/2.4 telephoto lenses. Samsung put most of its focus into improving its cameras through software rather than hardware.
RAM: Unfortunately, Samsung chose to restrict both phones to 8GB. That's certainly enough to deliver fast performance, but many other comparably priced phones have 12GB of RAM. Even though both phones share this shortcoming, it's worth keeping in mind since the Galaxy S23 Ultra would give you that extra 4GB RAM.
Connectivity: Both phones have Wi-Fi 6E support — Samsung isn't advertising support for the new Wi-Fi 7 standard just yet — Ultra Wideband, and both mmWave and sub-6 5G.
Charging: You can count on 45W wired charging, 15W wireless Qi charging, and 4.5W reverse wireless charging on both Galaxy Plus phones.
Size: Despite their internal differences, both the Galaxy S22+ and S23+ weigh about 196g. The newer phone is 0.4mm wider and taller, a size difference that almost no one would ever notice. Both have the same width.
That's a pretty thorough list! So if you own the Galaxy S22+ already, your choice of whether or not to upgrade will depend strongly on the few upgrades outlined below and whether or not you like Samsung's new design aesthetic.
Samsung Galaxy S23+ vs. S22+: A new look
The first significant difference between the Galaxy S23+ and S22+ is the redesigned rear camera module. Both have the same vertical layout with three sensors and a small LED near the top, but the S23+ removed the metal housing around the sensors, mirroring the look of the Galaxy S22 Ultra and S23 Ultra.
Our S22 Ultra reviewer wasn't a fan of this design, noting that the gaps between cameras "are going to attract every little bit of dust, lint, and hair that your pockets can gather," and are difficult to clean even with a microfiber cloth.
Having a Galaxy S23+ case or screen protector should help mitigate this problem somewhat, and you also have fewer cameras to clean between than the S23 Ultra, which will make it less of a concern. But generally speaking, some people will find the sleek, metallic look of the Galaxy S22+ more attractive, giving the phone's rear a bit more texture. It's truly a matter of preference.
Samsung Galaxy S23+ vs. S22+: Gauging the performance boost
Last year, Galaxy S22+ buyers in North America and Europe received models with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Exynos 2200, respectively. Qualcomm's chip had notorious issues with overheating which led to Samsung closely throttling Android apps on the S22 series.
Meanwhile, the Exynos 2200 failed to live up to its potential and performed worse than the 8 Gen 1 in benchmarks despite a promising AMD partnership for gaming. This S22 variant also had worse battery drain issues.
I personally tested the Snapdragon variant, and frankly had few complaints with performance, noting how "both the fingerprint sensor and Face Unlock open the phone faster than you can snap your fingers. Scrolling and swiping look smooth and stylish, hitting the 120Hz max. Apps or Chrome web pages load faster than on any phone I've tested before. Even downloading Play Store apps takes less time than on other Android phones, possibly due to the Wi-Fi 6E support."
The only issue was that the Galaxy S22+ truly did tend to overheat when playing demanding games like Genshin Impact, and it couldn't hit the higher graphical settings that you'd get on the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
This year, Samsung will use the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 globally — specifically an overclocked version exclusive to Samsung that hits up to 3.36GHz (compared to 3GHz on the 8 Gen 1). Aside from the performance boost, my colleague Harish Jonnalagadda explains in that announcement post how using two separate chips held the Galaxy S22 series back:
"Samsung had to maintain feature parity between the Exynos and Snapdragon versions, it couldn't leverage all the features Qualcomm offered on its chipsets, and that led to devices that didn't hit their full potential." Now, Harish argues, the Galaxy S23 can have unleashed performance and features because the Exynos version didn't complicate things.
I'll receive the Galaxy S23+ soon to properly test its performance, but Wonjoon Choi, EVP and Head of R&D Mobile for Samsung, assured me that throttling will be less of an issue with the Galaxy S23 series. Aside from basic hardware efficiency improvements, Samsung has also allegedly optimized the software backend and heat dissipation so that there are fewer cases where throttling is needed.
Equally important, we've tested the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in other phones like the OnePlus 11 and found it to be remarkably consistent for long gaming sessions, both for performance and for battery life. Of course, those phones have more RAM for gaming; but we're still optimistic that the Galaxy S23+ will have a significant year-over-year jump when playing demanding Android games.
The jump in CPU, GPU, and AI performance over the 8 Gen 1 (and especially the Exynos 2200) will prove especially important for improved photo quality, even though the two phones use most of the same camera sensors.
Samsung Galaxy S23+ vs. S22+: Other key differences
|Category||Samsung Galaxy S23+||Samsung Galaxy S22+|
|Display||Flat 6.6-inch AMOLED (1,750 nits)||Flat 6.6-inch AMOLED (1,750 nits)|
|Resolution||1080x2340 (393ppi)||1080x2340 (393ppi)|
|Refresh rate||120Hz (48-120); 240Hz touch sampling||120Hz (48-120); 240Hz touch sampling|
|Processor||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2||Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or Exynos 2200|
|Memory||8GB RAM / 256GB, 512GB||8GB RAM / 128GB, 256GB|
|Camera 1 (Main)||50MP (OIS), f1.8||50MP (OIS), f1.8|
|Camera 2 (Ultrawide)||12MP, f2.2||12MP, f2.2|
|Camera 3 (Telephoto)||10MP (OIS), f2.4||10MP (OIS), f2.4|
|Selfie Camera||12 MP (2PD AF), f2.2||10MP, ƒ/2.2|
|Charging||45W; 15W (wireless)||45W; 15W (wireless)|
|Protection||IP68; Gorilla Glass Victus 2; Armor Aluminum||IP68; Gorilla Glass Victus+; Armor Aluminum|
|Connectivity||Sub-6/ mmWave 5G; Wi-Fi 6E; Bluetooth 5.3; UWB||Sub-6/ mmWave 5G; Wi-Fi 6E; Bluetooth 5.2; UWB|
|Dimensions & weight||3.07 x 6.43 x 0.35in, 6.91oz||2.98 x 6.2 x 0.3 in, 6.9oz|
|Colors||Phantom Black, Cream, Violet, Green||Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Pink Gold|
While you won't find a lot of differences when comparing the Galaxy S23+ vs. Galaxy S22+ in specs, there are a few key upgrades considering they cost the same. For starters, the Galaxy S23+ defaults to 256GB. Samsung originally gave the 256GB 22+ away for the same price as a pre-order perk, but otherwise, you'd have to spend $80 for that extra storage space. And right now, Samsung will give the 512GB S23+ to anyone who preorders it from them directly before February 17, 2023.
Perhaps even more important, the Galaxy S23+ upgrades to UFS 4.0 storage, which has significantly faster read speeds (4200 vs. 2100 Mbps) and write speeds (2800 vs. 1200 Mbps) over UFS 3.1, the former top standard. It's another point of evidence for why the Galaxy S23+ could be one of the best gaming phones of the year.
Samsung also increased the Galaxy S23+ battery size to 4,700mAh, after the Galaxy S22+ dropped 300mAh from the S21+ battery. I was actually quite happy with the battery performance on the S22+, which does much better than the stock Galaxy S22 for both active use and idle time. But that little bit of extra capacity, along with an 8 Gen 2 model that's allegedly more efficient, could make the Galaxy S23+ an even better option.
If you're someone who likes to live dangerously and won't buy a Galaxy S23+ screen protector or case, you'll benefit from the new Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection, rated to withstand one-meter falls to concrete or two-meter drops onto asphalt and better protected against scratches and cracks. For comparison, the Galaxy S22 series had Gorilla Glass Victus+; the company never really explained how much better the "+" model was compared to Victus, but it was considered reliable enough.
The last major change is to the selfie camera, as the Galaxy S23+ has a 12MP sensor with dual-pixel auto-focus compared to the 10MP sensor on the S22+. Joshua Cho, Samsung EVP and Head of Visual Software R&D for Cameras, explained how the selfie sensor adds Super HDR and access to the Expert RAW app for the first time, as well as new "natural" or "warm" selfie modes and AI object recognition to sharpen specific "objects" like your face or the background.
While we haven't technically tested the new camera yet, we have tested the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which has the same selfie camera, and found it to have the "best quality portrait mode out of all the cameras I tested." So we can hope the S23+ shares that same boost in selfie quality.
Beyond that, the Galaxy S23+ jumps from Bluetooth 5.2 to 5.3 — which could make using Bluetooth accessories like wireless earbuds slightly more efficient — and has some slight color tweaks (Violet instead of Pink Gold, Cream instead of Phantom White).
Samsung Galaxy S23+ vs. S22+: Which should you buy, and should you upgrade?
The benefit of buying a Samsung phone is that they're long-lived. Although the Galaxy S22+ is a year old, it'll receive three more updates to Android 16 and security updates through early 2027. That's longer than many new 2023 Android phones will get. So there's no rush to upgrade to the Galaxy S23+.
In terms of Galaxy S23+ deals, you can trade in your S22+ and get the S23+ for free with AT&T or T-Mobile, for $200 with Verizon, or for $650 with Samsung if you want it unlocked with no contract extensions. That could help you decide if the improvements to performance, battery, selfies, and storage matter enough to upgrade.
I can't say for certain yet if the Galaxy S23+ is worth trading in your S22+ until I can review it, or how it'll compare to the best Android phones. But I will say that if you're considering buying the Galaxy S22+ refurbished, just go ahead and upgrade to the S23+. The switch to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, upgraded storage, and revamped selfie camera will definitely help the phone stand the test of time better than the S22+ did.
Choose the Galaxy S23+ if you really want a performance upgrade for gaming, extra storage for apps and photos, and peace of mind with better Victus 2 protection. Or, wait on upgrading if you feel the Galaxy S23+ didn't do enough to improve on its predecessor, which is fairly similar.
You may want to stick with the Galaxy S22+ if you already own it because it hasn't fallen that far behind the Galaxy S23+. It's still a fast, long-lasting, quick-charging phone with plenty of software support left.
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Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.