Samsung’s Galaxy S23 and Book3 expand its ecosystem with speed and sophistication

Samsung’s new Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy Book3 Ultra are designed to deliver a premium computing experience

Samsung Galaxy Ecosystem 2023 on white surface, includes Galaxy S23 phone and Galaxy Book3 laptop
Samsung Galaxy ecosystem 2023
(Image credit: Samsung)

The big tech brands tend to drop new models to a rigid schedule, ensuring that each quarter is defined by a new, demand-stimulating product. As expected, Samsung have divulged details of the Galaxy S23, the latest iteration of a venerable product line that can lay claim to being in the top tier of recognisable premium smartphone brands.

These days, Galaxy phones are up against stiff competition from Google’s Pixel line, as well as increasingly premium (but more affordable) models from OnePlus, Nothing (see our Nothing Phone (1) review), Motorola, and Sony. There’s also the thorny issue of Android versus iOS; although the latter’s market share is only around 28 per cent versus Android’s near 72 per cent, it has almost unquestionable loyalty baked in.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with S Pen

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with S Pen

(Image credit: Samsung)

As operating ecosystems extend their tentacles into every facet of our lives, switching from one system to another is becoming more and more like hard work. Samsung knows this full well but is also constrained by the immutable laws of physics; make a phone faster, with a brighter, better screen, and you’ll degrade the battery faster. Therefore, the battery gets bigger, the phone gets larger, the screen expands, and you’re back to square one. 

The new Galaxy S23 comes in ‘standard’, ‘+’ and ‘Ultra’ flavours; think of these like Starbucks’ tall, grande, venti and trenta cup sizes, where the ‘tall’ isn’t exactly a tiny helping. Prices are similarly supersized, with the top-of-the-line Galaxy S23 1TB Ultra peaking at £1,599, the price of a decent new laptop.

Galaxy S23 – how is it better?

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, S23+ and S23 in different colours, lined up on white surface

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, S23+ and S23

(Image credit: Samsung)

The new phone’s immediate predecessor, the S22 Ultra, was one of the best devices you could buy in 2022, but with consumers switching to two, three, or even four-year upgrade cycles in the face of longer contracts, higher prices and a sense of innovation plateauing, what does the S23 have to offer? Improvements are incremental, rather than revolutionary. 

Everything is undeniably better, with better support for gaming, as well as no less than four front-facing cameras on the Ultra, including a 200MP wide-angle camera and a 10MP 10x optical zoom. The margins are slim, however, if you’ve only just upgraded.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with Samsung Book3

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with Samsung Book3

(Image credit: Samsung)

Certain areas still lead the market. Low light performance is pushed to the max, with new AI algorithms to boost night photography and video, with new ‘Astro Hyperlapse’ and ‘Astro Photography’ functions for animated and still starry skies as well as a multi-exposure mode that lets you layer up different images. These show just how sophisticated mobile photography has become, with onboard image processing giving access to effects and capabilities that were once the preserve of a seasoned professional with a trunk full of kit.

Samsung Book3 Ultra laptop on desk, with phone held beside it

Samsung Book3 Ultra laptop

(Image credit: Samsung)

The 6.8in-screened Ultra also has an integrated S Pen, emphasising its role as a do-it-all device that could conceivably replace your laptop for a few days at a time. Samsung is pushing hard on the concept of an all-embracing ecosystem, mindful of the tightly integrated systems and consumer allegiance created by Apple. 

Galaxy Book3, a new family of laptops

Launched at the same as the S23 family was a new family of Windows laptops, the Galaxy Book3 Pro, Pro 360 and Ultra. The top-tier device is the Galaxy Book3 Ultra, an aluminium-bodied premium 16in laptop pitched at creatives, coming with HDMI connectivity and even two Thunderbolt 4 ports, as well as a larger trackpad and a quad speaker sound system.

Samsung Book3 Series of laptops on plinths

Samsung Book3 Series

(Image credit: Samsung)

The faithful will no doubt lap up the latest improvements to the popular Galaxy S line, but conquering iPhone and Mac fans is a much taller order. Pairing Windows and Android is still a marriage of (occasional in)convenience, far removed from the seamlessness of iOS. Nevertheless, buying into the new Galaxy range is perhaps as close as you can get. 

Galaxy S23 Ultra, from £849,

Galaxy Book3, from £1,399,

Galaxy Book3 Ultra, price tbc,

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.