Samsung on Wednesday launched its latest lineup of flagship Galaxy smartphones, touting a better camera and enhanced gaming features as the South Korean tech giant tries to tempt people to upgrade amid weak macroeconomic conditions and waning consumer demand.
The Galaxy S23 smartphone series includes his three new models:
The standard S23, the slightly more expensive S23+, and the top-of-the-line S23 Ultra. The S23 and S23+ start at $799 and $1,000 respectively. The most advanced model is priced at $1,200.
All three are available for pre-order today and will hit stores on February 2nd. 17
The S23 series will go head-to-head with Apple’s iPhone 14, which was launched last September. Samsung typically launches its flagship Galaxy S models in the first half of this year, followed by the Galaxy Z series of foldable phones in the second half.
Samsung mostly made subtle improvements to its new premium phones, such as better camera features.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra, the most expensive of the three models, has a 200 million pixel sensor with “adaptive pixels” that combine 16 pixels into one large pixel for brighter and more detailed images in low light. You can take great shots. Samsung added that an internal chipset developed in partnership with Qualcomm and much faster processing speeds from artificial intelligence will aid low-light photography for users using the device.
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.
Samsung also touted the gaming capabilities of its new device, saying users will be able to play for longer thanks to a more powerful 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 firm showed off software that lets users drag and drop files between its laptops 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 launching its new products at a particularly tough time for the consumer tech space. Demand for premium smartphones in particular has softened, with people opting to spend less on big-ticket gadgets due to climbing price pressures and tighter budgets.
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.
Meantime, many people are also suffering from smartphone fatigue whereby, not quite satisfied with improvements promised by newer models, they’re holding onto their current phones for longer.
“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.”