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What the Samsung Galaxy S23 needs to keep up with the competition

What the Samsung Galaxy S23 needs to keep up with the competition

What the Samsung Galaxy S23 needs to keep up with the competition

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Samsung Galaxy S22 has a new design and an improved camera that can see better in the dark. But there is room for Samsung to continue the upgrade with the Galaxy S23, expected to arrive in February.

In particular, I’d like to see longer-lasting batteries, more photography features that take advantage of the Galaxy S family’s impressive cameras, and faster charging that doesn’t require an expensive adapter.

Samsung typically launches new Galaxy S devices in the first two months of the year, and it’ll likely maintain that schedule in 2023. The next Samsung Unpacked is slated for February 1with the Galaxy S23 most likely on the agenda.

Samsung leads the smartphone industry, with 21% of the global market in the second quarter of 2022, according to Counterpoint Research. Upgrading core features like camera and battery could help it retain its top spot, especially as it faces increased competition from Apple and Google.

Longer battery life for the standard Galaxy S23

The Galaxy S22

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Battery life can never be long enough, but the standard Galaxy S device is in particular need of a boost. The 6.1 inch Galaxy S22 usually live up to Samsung’s claims of all-day battery life, but sometimes barely. After using it for a month in a row, I noticed that the battery level had dropped by about 30% or 40% at 9:00 p.m., even with the always-on display turned off and the screen refresh rate set to standard. That’s enough to get you through a day’s work, but you’ll probably want to pack a charger if you have plans after work or a long drive home.

The Galaxy S22 has the smallest battery (3700mAh capacity) of the three phones in the Galaxy S22 lineup, and it shows. For example, I was pleasantly surprised when the 6.6-inch Galaxy S22 Plus, which has a larger capacity of 4,500 mAh, lasted about a day and a half when I reviewed it in February. I also set the refresh rate to high, which generally drains the battery faster. The Galaxy S22 Ultra, which has a 6.8-inch screen and a 5,000 mAh battery, had a similar battery life.

It makes sense that the smallest phone in the Galaxy S22 line also has the smallest battery. But hopefully Samsung finds a way to improve the battery life of next year’s 6.1-inch Galaxy phone, whether through better power efficiency or a larger physical battery. After all, Apple has updated the iPhone 13 Mini this gave it an additional two to three hours of battery life compared to the iPhone 12 Mini. Battery life is the biggest complaint I had about the Galaxy S22, and fixing that issue would make the Galaxy S23 an even more compelling choice for Android fans who prefer smaller phones.

Korean outlet The Elec says that might indeed be the case, as it reports that Samsung is aiming to boost the Galaxy S23’s battery capacity by around 5%.

Smarter camera functions

From left to right, the cameras of Galaxy S22 Ultra, Galaxy S22 Plus and Galaxy S22.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Galaxy S22’s 50-megapixel camera and Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 108-megapixel camera capture incredibly colorful and detailed photos. I only wish you could do more with these cameras when it comes to editing and software features.

The Galaxy S22 series offers shooting options like panorama, night mode, portrait mode, slow motion, super slow motion, and director’s view, which lets you record videos using two different lenses simultaneously. Then there’s Single Take, which creates multiple stylized shots with a single press of the shutter button. You can also download the Expert Raw app to get finer control over photo settings.

But little has changed between Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S22 when it comes to camera features and shooting modes. I’d like to see Samsung take a page from Google, which regularly adds nifty camera tricks that seem practical rather than gimmicky. For example, Google introduced a new feature on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro called Photo Unblur, which sharpens low-quality photos, even those taken with an older camera. Photo Unblur builds on Face Unblur, a previous Pixel 6 and 6 Pro camera feature that I also like. As the name suggests, Face Unblur freezes moving subjects that might otherwise appear blurry.

Features like these show that Google isn’t just thinking about camera quality, but also about ways to eliminate the day-to-day annoyances of mobile photography. Many of Samsung’s updates, on the other hand, aim to give content creators more tools to capture different types of shots and video clips.

While the Galaxy S23 likely won’t launch for several weeks, Samsung is already making improvements to the cameras in its current Galaxy phones. It added a new feature to the Expert Raw app that helps stargazers take better photos of constellations, similar to Google’s Astrophotography feature for Pixel phones. There’s also a new Camera Assistant app that lets you turn certain features on or off, like a faster shutter or automatic lens switching.

Faster charging that doesn’t cost so much

The Galaxy S22 Plus (left) and Ultra both support 45-watt fast charging. But you need to buy an adapter separately.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Galaxy S22 lineup supports fast charging up to 25 watts for the Galaxy S22 and 45 watts for the Galaxy S22 Plus and Ultra. But you need to buy a separate charger to do that. Samsung charges $50 for the 45 watt charger and $35 for the 25 watt charger, although you can often find them cheaper at retailers like Amazon and Walmart. In some scenarios, I also didn’t notice much difference between the more expensive 45 watt charger and Samsung’s cheaper 25 watt charger when powering up the Galaxy S22 Plus, which you can read about more here.

With the Galaxy S23, I’d like to see a more noticeable improvement in charging speeds, as well as more affordable charger options. The OnePlus 10 Pro, for example, offers 65 or 80 watt fast charging depending on your region, both of which are faster than what Samsung has to offer on paper. OnePlus also includes a compatible power adapter in the box.

Samsung and Apple have stopped including power adapters in their product packaging to reduce waste, which is an admirable cause. But I wish Samsung would at least let you choose to include an optional fast-charging compatible adapter at a discounted price when ordering a new phone, the same way it lets you select a storage option or add Samsung Care Plus.

If the rumors turn out to be correct, the base model Galaxy S23 could have the same 25-watt charging speed as the Galaxy S22. It depends ice universea Twitter account with a history of posting details about unreleased Samsung products.

Samsung is already doing a lot of good with the Galaxy S22, especially when it comes to software support and display quality. But as year-over-year smartphone upgrades have become more incremental than revolutionary, it’s more important than ever to focus on essentials like the camera and battery.

Tech

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