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Samsung has a phone for sale at just about every price point. While this has worked out very well for the company so far, it also means that Samsung has to compete with itself almost as much as with other manufacturers. Between the low-cost Samsung Galaxy A13 5G and the mid-range A53, it can be challenging to decide which phone deserves your money. Should you spend additional cash on one of the more powerful Android phones, or opt for a real budget device that might not deliver the performance you need?

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That’s where the Samsung Galaxy A23 5G comes in — a very competitive budget device up against some strong competitors. At $300, the Galaxy A23 is affordable without making many compromises to hit that number. In fact, with solid performance and an excellent 120Hz display, it may go down as one of the best budget devices this year. But, unfortunately, with competition so stiff, that still might not be enough reason to buy it.

7.50 / 10

With four years of security updates, a Snapdragon 695, and far and away the best display at this price point, the Samsung Galaxy A23 5G is one of the best values in the budget category you're likely to see for quite a while.

Specifications
  • SoC: Snapdragon 695
  • Display: 6.6 inch 1080x2408 @ 120Hz
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB expandable by microSD (up to 1TB)
  • Battery: 5000mAh
  • Ports: 3.5mm headset, USB-C
  • Operating System: Android 12 with One UI 4.1
  • Front camera: 8MP selfie in a teardrop notch
  • Rear cameras: 50MP main, 5MP ultrawide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth
  • Connectivity: Sub-6GHz 5G
  • Dimensions: 165.4 x 76.9 x 8.4 mm
  • Display type: PLS LCD
  • Weight: 197 g
  • Charging: 25W
  • IP Rating: None
  • Price: $300
Pros
  • A massive, long-lasting 5,000mAh battery
  • Gorgeous 1080p display with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Keeps the expandable storage slot and headphone jack
  • Feels pretty sturdy for a plastic phone
  • 4 years of software support life
Cons
  • Very low onboard storage
  • Low light performance is seriously lacking
  • Two of the cameras are single-purpose 2MP add-ons
  • No IP rating
Buy This Product
Samsung Galaxy A23 5G

Samsung Galaxy A23 5G: Design, hardware, what's in the box

Samsung has found a fairly consistent look for most of its A-series phones right now, to the point where it's almost impossible to distinguish the Samsung Galaxy A23 from the more expensive Samsung Galaxy A53 5G that came out earlier this year. While the differences in design are few and far between, the most noticeable one is the inclusion of a headphone jack along the bottom of the Samsung Galaxy A23. Also, the power and volume buttons are slightly higher up along the right side, the selfie camera is in a teardrop notch instead of a hole-punch cutout, and the fingerprint sensor-equipped power button is flush with the plastic side rail.

While these minor cosmetic details differentiate it from the Galaxy A53, they're unchanged from last year's A22 5G. Thankfully, the same can't be said for the display. While it sports that same teardrop notch for the selfie camera, the screen has been upgraded from a 90Hz TFT LCD panel to a 120Hz PLS LCD unit. Also, Samsung has switched from a MediaTek processor to Qualcomm's Snapdragon 695 5G. As with previous generations, the A23 includes just 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, so you'll depend on the microSD card slot if you need more storage.

The switch to a rectangular camera bump from last year's square design is the most conspicuous update you'll find here, matching up with many of Samsung's current offerings. This camera bump shuffling has netted the Galaxy A23 an extra lens over the A22: a 2MP macro camera.

No amplified earpiece or charging brick

Unfortunately, the Galaxy A23 phone is missing an amplified earpiece. While the headphone jack is a nicety when I'm relaxing alone watching YouTube, I don't always want to pull out my earbuds, and cramping my hand from cupping the bottom of my phone is no way to watch an hour-long video about speed running. There's no shortage of budget phones that skimp on this feature, so as much as I don't like it, it's nothing outside the norm.

Speaking of modern-day sacrifices, you won't find a charging brick in the box. While Samsung at least includes a cable with the Galaxy A23 5G (similar to the company's more premium offerings like the flagship S22 Ultra), Samsung seems to be in lockstep with Apple on this charger issue. Flagship phone shoppers can usually find a high-end aftermarket charger worth buying; however, budget phones are more likely to be someone's first smartphone, making a bundled wall wart all the more essential.

Samsung Galaxy A23 5G: Software, performance, battery life

The A23 5G ships with Android 12, which includes all of the Material You goodness we've grown used to over the last year. It's found on Samsung devices under the Color Palette menu, where you'll also find Samsung's theme store. You still have the option to customize your phone around your background colors, but the theme store has a huge selection of free and paid premade themes with custom app icons. While I didn't buy any of the licensed Hello Kitty themes, the temptation was definitely there, especially after seeing how Material You has incorporated the background colors into the quick settings menu.

Samsung's support guarantees are another compelling reason behind buying one of its A-series phones. The company has been very clear that it intends to give long-term updates for all of its devices, even budget offerings like the A23. With four years of security updates and three Android version updates, the Galaxy A23 is here for the long haul. It's far too early to speculate what Android 15 will be like, but because the A23 ships with a build of Android 12, it'll eventually get it down the line.

The move from the MediaTek Dimensity 700 to a Snapdragon 695 this year brings a noticeable performance bump. While plenty of this year's budget phones, like the REVVL 6 Pro 5G, are still using the Dimensity 700 chipset announced at the tail end of 2020, having the more powerful Snapdragon 695 for little to no extra cost helps the A23 5G stand out as a much more appealing value for the money.

With its 5,000mAh battery capacity, the Galaxy A23 easily pushes into the multi-day range. It may not support wireless charging — as expected in this price bracket — but it'll last longer than many more powerful flagships. If you forget to plug it in and need a top-off before heading out, don't expect a lightning-fast charge. Samsung claims a max charge rate of 25W for the A23, but the highest charge speed I managed to measure was about 20W. Most of the time, it hovered around just 16W. If you prefer overnight charging — or even every other night if you want to use as many of those 5000mAh between charges as possible — these speeds are more than sufficient to get the job done.

Samsung Galaxy A23 5G: Availability & network connectivity

Although the A23 only supports Sub-6GHz 5G, if you're downloading anything over data, the 5G speeds are still pretty handy. 5G is nearly everywhere now, so if you're upgrading from a 4G LTE device or slower, you're likely to get at least a slight speed boost. The unit I tested was on AT&T, for what it's worth, but I'm in a major metro area, so good coverage is pretty much guaranteed for me. The A23 5G can be purchased through T-Mobile, AT&T, and Samsung with or without a trade-in or unlocked from the usual retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. The US version of the A23 5G is compatible with GSM and CDMA networks, so if your carrier is AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or the numerous "B.Y.O. Phone" providers piggybacking on those networks, the A23 should do just fine.

Samsung also has a variety of international versions available in the UK, Australia, Europe, select countries across Asia, the Pacific, and the Middle East. While the US version is limited to the black body and 4GB RAM+64GB storage formation in this review, depending on where you live, you may be able to get it in other colors like white, blue, and peach. The RAM and storage options can also vary from country to country, with 6GB and 8GB RAM options and up to 128GB of storage in some markets.

Samsung Galaxy A23 5G: Display

As I mentioned earlier, the Galaxy A23 5G uses a PLS panel, a bit of a step up from the TFT panel in its predecessor. It trades the lower power draw of that display technology for higher overall brightness, better viewing angles, and more detail. The Samsung Galaxy A23 5G practically has 180-degree viewing angles, and even though the resolution is only 1080x2408, I thought it looked pretty sharp. The screen can get bright enough to see in the harsh sunlight of the afternoon or under studio lights, but not to retina-searing levels. At max brightness, it's easy enough to see where the display meets the bezel, as black levels look more like a dark gray.

Thankfully, with the brightness turned all the way down, it's much harder to find the edge of the screen. The A23 does a great job of going very dim without black crushing or sucking the saturation out of colors. Overall, the dynamic range seems better than most phones in this price range. It's still an LCD panel at the end of the day, so don't expect OLED performance here. However, it's more than good enough for casual YouTube watching, and the 20:9 aspect ratio will have you pillar boxed in enough to avoid the selfie notch close to 100% of the time.

Another strength the Galaxy A23 5G has over last year's phone is a higher refresh rate. While the Snapdragon 695 may not be able to keep the frame rate locked at 120fps during your most demanding gameplay sessions, your doom-scrolling habits will appear very smooth. If you're not a fan of high refresh rates or just want even longer battery life, it's super easy to cap the refresh rate to 60Hz in the display settings.

Samsung Galaxy A23 5G: Cameras

The rear of the Galaxy A23 5G sports a quad-camera bump, along with a flash, but realistically you'll only ever use two of them. The main camera clocks in at 50MP binned down to 12.5MP, while the wide-angle is just 5MP. Samsung isn't bucking any trends with the other lens choices, either. Like many other recent budget phones, the A23 has 2MP macro and depth cameras tossed in for good measure. The 8MP selfie camera is the second-highest resolution lens on the phone, even after the main camera is binned down.

Without a full-res shooting mode, it feels a little disingenuous to market the main camera as 50MP since you'll only ever get a 12.5MP shot from it, but that doesn't make it a bad camera. It takes fine pictures, though there can be a noticeable delay between hitting the shutter button and actually snapping the shot. With an f/1.8 aperture, it manages to get by in well-lit photos, but it's far from a low-light champ.

The selfie camera is the primary or secondary camera for most people, so it makes sense that it's the one with the second-highest megapixel count on the Galaxy A23. Shots are unremarkable but usable in well-lit areas, and they suffer the same graininess the other cameras succumb to in any lighting that's less than ideal. On the other hand, it doesn't seem to have much artificial sharpness or any AI smoothing going on, so that's refreshing.

The ultra-wide lens is just f/2.0, so the low-light performance is noticeably worse than the main camera. However, at 5MP, it's still more than good enough to take shots for Instagram and plenty wide enough for landscapes and group shots. Unlike the main camera, there's no night mode to try and save those dark shots, so once the sun is down, you're stuck with either the flash or the main shooter.

Video recording comes in two settings: 30fps recording at your choice of 1080p and 720p on the main, ultra-wide, and selfie cameras — and 4x slow-motion at 720p on the main lens. Footage looks somewhat usable in daylight but quickly turns grainy as you move inside, and the ISO starts to crank up. I also noticed some strobing under my Hue lights, but not incandescent or newer LED bulbs. It could just be my three-year-old Hue bulbs showing their age, but it's worth noting.

Samsung Galaxy A23 5G: Should you buy it?

With an impressive specs sheet for the price, the Samsung Galaxy A23 sounds more like a midrange device than a $300 budget phone. While virtually every budget device has some trade-offs to hit its low price, if you're willing to make a few compromises, the A23 looks like one of the best budget phones on the market, purely on specs alone. While Samsung has pledged to support it for longer than other budget device manufacturers have, the biggest competitor to the A23 might just be Samsung.

Samsung's strategy of offering a phone at almost every price point has worked out to great success. While this can lead to some of its phones feeling like they're competing for the same customers, that can also make it easy to upsell someone to a better device. The Galaxy A53 from earlier this year is very competent and includes a better-looking OLED display with the same 120Hz refresh rate, and it has gone on sale for just $350 more than a few times since launching. The A23 is a totally usable budget device, and carrier deals are sure to drive its price even lower than it already is, but anyone who can spend just a little more would be much better off with the A53, provided it's on sale at the time.

Buy it if…

  • You want a super long support life for your budget phone.
  • You're still not ready to let go of the headphone jack and are on a tight budget.

Don't buy it if…

  • You can spend a bit more, and the A53 is on sale.
  • You don't want to spend extra money on storage.

FAQ

Q: How does the Samsung Galaxy A23 5G compare to the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G?

While the Galaxy A53 5G wasn't a huge upgrade from last year's A52 5G, it's still above the A23 5G in Samsung's lineup for good reason. If you opt for this step up, you end up with a notably better display, camera array, chipset, internal storage capacity, and even pick up an IP rating in the process. The only tradeoffs to speak of are the almost imperceptible shrink from 6.6-inch to 6.5-inch on the screen size, and losing the headphone jack.

With the same 5,000mAh battery capacity, and lack of wireless charging in favor of 25W wired charging, both devices will fit into your daily routine pretty much identically. While the A53 5G does cost a staggering 50% more than the A23 5G to bring you all those feature upgrades, it's been discounted almost all the way down to the retail price of the A23 5G several times since releasing earlier this year, making it hard to ignore if you're patient enough to get it on sale.

Q: How does the Samsung Galaxy A23 5G compare to the Motorola Moto G 5G?

While the Galaxy A23 5G has a better-looking and faster display than the Moto G 5G, it isn't an outright better device. With more built-in storage, more RAM, a higher resolution selfie camera, and an IP52 rating, Motorola still manages to trade blows with Samsung. The Moto G 5G has a higher retail price, along with the same chipset that Samsung is upgrading from this year, but with the same 5,000 mAh battery capacity, Sub-6GHz 5G, headphone and MicroSD card support, the extra cost may be hard to justify.