In an effort to persuade customers to upgrade in the face of difficult macroeconomic conditions and declining consumer demand, Samsung on Wednesday (February 1, 2023) unveiled its most recent array of premium Galaxy smartphones. The company highlighted an improved camera and improved gaming features.
The Galaxy S23 smartphone lineup features three new models: the standard S23, a slightly more expensive S23+ and the top-of-the-line S23 Ultra. The S23 and S23+ start at a price of $799 and $1,000, respectively. The most advanced model will retail at $1,200.
All three are available for pre-order today and will hit the shelves on Feb. 17.
The S23 series will go head-to-head with Apple’s iPhone 14, which launched last September. Samsung typically releases its flagship Galaxy S models in the first half of the year and its Galaxy Z line of folding phones in the second half.
Samsung mostly made subtle improvements to its new premium handset, including improved camera capabilities.
The most costly of the three variants, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, has a 200-megapixel “adaptive pixel” sensor that, according to Samsung, combines 16 smaller pixels into one larger pixel for brighter, more detailed pictures in dim light.
Artificial intelligence and substantially higher processing rates from Samsung’s own chipset, which was developed in collaboration with Qualcomm, will help users’ low-light photography with the smartphone, the company stated.
There’s also a video feature on the device called “astro hyperlapse” which lets users take time-lapsed motion shots for example, of star movements without any special equipment.
As has been the case with most flagship launches in recent years, the customers who will feel the most benefit from Samsung’s latest devices will be those upgrading from older models or from a mid-range device.Leo Gebbie
Samsung also bragged about the new device’s gaming capabilities, suggesting that users would be able to play for longer thanks to a more potent battery. The S23 Ultra houses a huge 5,000 mAh, or milliampere hour, battery.
The S23 Plus and S23 come with 4,700 mAh and 3,900 mAh batteries, respectively.
The company also unveiled its new Galaxy Book3 laptop lineup Wednesday, which includes a third Ultra model with a 16-inch AMOLED display. Samsung’s Galaxy Book2 came in only two options. Samsung hopes the new laptops will make a splash in the premium PC market.
The company demonstrated software that enables file-drag-and-drop between its PCs and smartphones. Users can also pair the Book3 with Samsung tablets to use the latter as a second screen, Samsung said.
Tough times for smartphone market
The company is introducing its new items during a challenging period for the consumer technology industry. Due to rising pricing pressures and tighter budgets, individuals are choosing to spend less on expensive technology, and demand for premium cellphones in particular has decreased.
Global smartphone shipments plunged 18.3% to 300.3 million units in the fourth quarter of 2022 usually a big holiday shopping period marking the largest decline in a single quarter on record, according to market research firm IDC.
A total of 1.21 billion smartphones were shipped in 2022, which represents the lowest annual shipment total since 2013, IDC said.
“Everything is heading in the wrong direction for consumer electronic providers,” Paolo Pescatore from PP Foresight told CNBC via email.
On Tuesday, Samsung recorded its worst quarterly profit since the third quarter of 2014. The firm reported operating profit of 4.31 trillion won ($3.4 billion), down 69% from the same period a year ago. Samsung said its performance was hampered by weak demand for mid- to low-end smartphones and memory chips.
Meanwhile, a lot of individuals are experiencing smartphone weariness, when they keep their current phones longer despite not being completely satisfied with the advancements promised by newer models.
“As has been the case with most flagship launches in recent years, the customers who will feel the most benefit from Samsung’s latest devices will be those upgrading from older models or from a mid-range device,” said Leo Gebbie, principal analyst for connected devices at CCS Insight.
“Customers who have bought a premium-tier mobile in the last year or two will see little difference between the device they already have and the new Galaxy S23 family.”
In that context, Samsung has consolidated its smartphone portfolio to simplify its offering to customers. The firm incorporated its S Pen stylus into last year’s Galaxy S22, marking the symbolic end of its high-end Note phone series.
With its folding gadgets, it has also attempted to increase customer demand for new premium phones. Samsung last year launched two new foldable models, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4.