There aren’t many realistic options in the world of Android smartphones for those who prefer a smaller phone. That’s not to say there haven’t been smaller smartphones in recent years, but they often lack high-end features or have predictably poor battery life. With the Galaxy S23, Samsung has delivered a small phone with no flash issues, and it’s the best phone we’ve used in a long, long time.
After wrapping up my Galaxy S23+ review a week ago, I mentioned that the battery life it showed was so impressive that I was considering buying the smaller Galaxy S23 for personal use. And that’s when I remember that last year’s Galaxy S22 was so terrible in the battery department that the particular color I ordered, even as hot as it was, could only hold my attention for a few days before looking at it and then eventually selling it off.
Tim said it in his review, but the battery life was truly awful. He talked about adjusting his daily usage to the extent that the S22 couldn’t get him through a day. In 2022, a flagship phone asked him to limit the amount of time he spent with it. Think about that. This made the Galaxy S22 a phone that almost no one should have bought.
This past weekend, I actually ordered a Galaxy S23 in “green” and picked it up at Best Buy. It completely met (and probably exceeded) every expectation for these few days of use.
To back up for a minute, you have to understand that I’m one of those guys who didn’t really like the move from phone makers to making extra-large devices. While I’ve learned to handle a 6.7″ display in a massive frame, phones like the Pixel 5 have earned more time in my pocket than the Pixel 7 Pro in recent years. I’m always on the lookout for a phone that offers a great experience in a small body.
Since the Pixel 5 retired from my regular rotation, I’ve been looking for a smaller phone to replace it, and that’s probably why you’ve seen me with an iPhone 14 Pro off and on. I tried with the Pixel 6, but it wasn’t small enough. I tried it with the Galaxy S22, but like I said, its battery life was pathetic. I tried it with the Pixel 6a, but it had terrible battery life and a camera I didn’t like. The Pixel 7 came closest to winning my heart, but battery life has pushed me away again in recent months.
So here I am with the Galaxy S23. How does the battery life look in these early days as the phone is still trying to learn my usage patterns? It’s good, guys.
On the first full day of use I hit 5.5 hours of screen time and went to bed around midnight with 24% left. It’s a heavy day of customization from me, trying to figure out how I use it with the phone I was shocked to see it still running, without a charge to get me to bed in the middle of the day.
Other days were equally great. One day we went to dinner and my kid stole the phone for a good chunk of it for gaming and I went to bed again with 25% or so, although I got a brief 10 minute boost while charging it. Car on the way home. On light usage days, I go to sleep with about 50% battery left. So again, the Galaxy S22 is asking us to limit usage to a day of use and yet the first week the Galaxy S23 brought me to the point where I could probably turn off the battery percentage, because it doesn’t really matter and it only has a chance to get better.
Why is battery life so good compared to last year? For one, Samsung has increased the battery size from 3700mAh to 3900mAh. That’s not a huge leap, so we probably have to give Qualcomm a bunch of credit. Samsung put Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 inside and it looks like a capable little beast. Qualcomm claims a 40% improvement in power efficiency from the CPU and 45% from the GPU. I want to trust them after using both this S23 and S23+.
Is everything else good? That’s the thing, right? Battery life is only an important part of a phone, but we still need to take care of the overall performance, display, camera quality, software etc. Since it’s just a small Galaxy S23+, I can tell you that everything else is good, yes. The Galaxy S23 has the same internals as its bigger + brother and so we’re looking at the same great phone, only smaller.
My friends, the Galaxy S23 is the small phone we need. For those not considering this knowing last year’s story, I think it’s worth another look.
If you’re looking to buy one, Samsung’s got you.