Ryan Haines/Android Authority
Often imitated, never surpassed is an easy way to describe the iPhone’s position among smartphones. It is clear to see its influence on the best android devices at all price points, bringing features like the notch, flat side rails and square corner-mounted camera bump to the forefront as OEMs attempt to leapfrog the iPhone from the iPhone. I would say that no brand has succeeded, at least so far. Samsung has finally found a way to eat Apple’s lunch by not only taking inspiration from its flagship features, but improving on them. The Samsung Galaxy S23 has become the best iPhone whether you like it or not.
Does the Samsung Galaxy S23 offer a better experience than the iPhone 14?
Good material? Or good stuff?
Apple has never had a problem with the hardware. Aside from an oddly placed Magic Mouse charging port, everything that comes out of the Cupertino company is polished to the finest detail. When you pick up an iPhone, you know you’re getting a good mix of carefully curated glass and aluminum inside and out. However, we are now in a time when good is simply not enough. Year-over-year updates mean that a device must offer some form of real improvement to move the needle.
THE iPhone 14 do not do that. Instead, it lands almost perfectly in its predecessor’s shoes, clinging to a dated notched screen, uncomfortably industrial side rails and ditching the SIM tray in the name of, I don’t know, progress? If Apple had locked down the 6.1-inch flagship market, we probably wouldn’t have much room to complain, but that’s not the case. THE Galaxy S23 shows how good hardware a small phone can be, and it trumps Apple in every detail.
Apple’s hardware is advanced, but it’s hard to say that it’s made much progress.
Nowhere is this more evident than with the rear cameras. Samsung three rear cameras simply offer more control and flexibility than Apple can sniff out. Its inclusion of a telephoto shooter lets you shoot at up to 30x, while the iPhone’s wide and ultra-wide setup calls it only 5x zoom. Are you likely to use the 30x zoom often? Probably not, but you’ll probably find that you need to go beyond 5x zoom every once in a while and get better 3x to 5x shots as well.
Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and the gently curved side rails also bring a level of polish to the Samsung Galaxy S23 that we’ve been waiting for. After a few years of growth spurts, curved displays and the occasional “glasstic” finish, the Galaxy S23 is premium from top to bottom – and still includes a SIM tray. It’s hard to overstate how comfortable the rounded design is. I find myself much more willing to hold and use the Galaxy S23 for hours than I would be using the right-edge iPhone 14.
The base Galaxy S23 doesn’t want to settle for anything less than the iPhone 14.
The Galaxy S23’s screen also outperforms the iPhone 14, and we’re not just talking about the unsightly notch. Samsung’s small flagship delivers up to 1,750 nits of peak brightness, well beyond Apple’s 1,200 mark. Sure, that max brightness is reserved for some HDR highlights, but the small display features go a long way. You don’t have to turn pro for a 120Hz refresh rate in the Galaxy ecosystem, either – all three devices have achieved this high level. Yes, you’ll get more for your money if you buy the Galaxy S23 Plus or Galaxy S23 Ultra, but the base Galaxy S23 doesn’t want to settle for less like the iPhone 14 does.
Robert Triggs/Android Authority
What I mean is, now you have to spend – at least – an extra $200 on an iPhone 14 Pro to get the best from Apple. The upper crust moves towards dynamic islandrocks a telephoto lens (still only up to 15x zoom) and works with Apple’s latest A16 Bionic chipset.
Of course, repeated use of the A15 Bionic chipset does not mean that the iPhone 13 redux is bad. Apple’s 2021 chipset continues to post stunning benchmark numbers, rivaling all flavors of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 on the Samsung Galaxy S23. However, it does so while emphasizing a double standard within iOS. The base model is no longer good enough for true flagship specs, forcing many people to wait another year for long overdue upgrades.
What does iOS really offer?
Ryan Haines/Android Authority
I’ve spent enough time as the black sheep of my friend group to know how much Americans love iMessage. It’s cause for celebration whenever I appear as a blue bubble for a few weeks rather than my usual green bubble. However, Apple’s flagship messaging app doesn’t really move the needle for the rest of the world. Most people turn to WhatsApp, WeChat, and Telegram to stay in touch, which quickly dulls part of the Apple experience. When you look at iOS more broadly, how memorable is Apple’s current software really? I wouldn’t argue much.
Maybe that’s what people like. You can pick up an iPhone – any iPhone – and know exactly where everything is. It makes it easier to help your cousin or grandma with their new phone, but it’s not an exciting experience. Taking iOS every few months like I do is ironically reminiscent of Android’s old slogan, “together, not the same,” if only for the fact that Apple is landing in the opposite direction so far.
Going back to the messaging example, the rest of the world doesn’t care about iMessage. Once you get rid of the blue bubbles and the green bubbles, you can start focusing on what makes the software fun to use. Many developers focus on iOS versions of apps first, but their Android counterparts offer much more freedom and flexibility to explore, self-publish, and download.
The iOS experience is familiar, but lacks a lot of personal touch.
Sure, you can customize your app icons in iOS, but the process is long and tedious, and you might get tired of it halfway through. Apple now has widgets too, although it’s hard to argue that there’s much soul to a series of squares and rectangles. I don’t know if Android’s widgets are much more exciting, but at least Google is trying to spice things up with organic elements Material You forms.
I would argue that perhaps Samsung’s greatest software strength comes from not owning every last granular bit of Android. Instead, Samsung’s minds can tweak and tweak the core software, putting their own spin on the camera app, settings menus, and how you can tweak the device’s layout. your Samsung Galaxy S23’s home screen to match the apps and widgets you really need and hide everything else. Sure, you end up with unnecessary complications like Galaxy Internet and a second Gallery app, but you also have the freedom to change your launcher and install icon packs in a snap.
Or, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you can put apps at the bottom of your screen, right there at your fingertips. Yeah, yeah, Apple has its drawer where you can put four favorites, but what happens when you need more than four apps? You should weight them down to an accessible height with other apps, folders, and widgets.
iPhone can optimize performance like no other, using every last ounce of smaller batteries and less RAM.
Credit where it’s due, Apple’s control over iOS means it can push software updates long after Samsung has moved on. Samsung’s four years of Android updates and five years of security patches is a lofty promise, but Apple continues to be the gold standard. This means the iPhone can optimize its performance like no other, squeezing every last ounce out of smaller batteries and less RAM as Samsung tries to squeeze more of it into shrinking phone bodies. But, at the end of the day, would you rather have a phone that lasts forever or that seems to reflect your true personality?
The Great Ecosystem Debate
Ryan McLeod / Android Authority
Apple’s walled garden has always reminded me of the children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”. Once you’ve purchased an iPhone, you’re already on a slippery slope that includes an Apple Watch, iPad, and MacBook. After all, why pair an iPhone with a Windows laptop when you can get all your notifications at any time while still within the Apple ecosystem? Some would say the iPad is still the best tabletand the apple watch has had years to figure each other out, while Android wearables still bicker over a common software platform.
However, while Apple enjoyed life at the top of the podium, sharing two-way notifications and seamless design across all verticals, Samsung suffered something of a big bang (You got it? Pun intended galaxy?). The Samsung Galaxy ecosystem now includes a little – or maybe a lot – of everything. Samsung has several tablets, Chromebooks, Windows laptops, headphones, wearables, and a mountain of accessories to choose from. That’s without getting into TVs, electronics, and every smart home appliance imaginable – a world where Apple can’t even begin to compete.
Samsung’s sprawling Galaxy now offers more freedom – and just as much quality – as Apple’s walled garden.
Not only has Samsung delved into almost all of Apple’s categories, it’s found ways to improve in many of them. THE Galaxy Watch 5 Pro offers several days of battery life, while all but the Apple Watch Ultra require daily trips to the charger. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab line often includes a stylus and not the one you need to connect with a USB-C to Lightning cable. Even the choice between Windows and Chrome OS brings some variety to Samsung, letting you explore what works best for you.
Ultimately, I think Samsung’s time watching Apple build its iPhone juggernaut and transparent ecosystem has done it good. We’ve learned that bigger isn’t always better, that materials shouldn’t be wasted, and that the experience surrounding a phone is just as important as the phone itself. All of Samsung’s hard-earned lessons have created a Galaxy S23 that beats the iPhone at its own game, and I have a feeling this will make the smartphone arms race fun again.