Samsung announced its flagship Galaxy S23 smartphone lineup on Wednesday.
Samsung launched its latest lineup of flagship Galaxy smartphones on Wednesday, touting a better camera and improved gaming features as the South Korean tech giant tries to entice people to upgrade amid weak macroeconomic conditions and declining consumer demand.
The lineup of Galaxy S23 smartphones includes three new models: the standard S23, a slightly more expensive S23+ and the premium S23 Ultra. The S23 and S23+ start at $799 and $1,000 respectively. The most advanced model costs $1,200.
related investment news
All three are available for pre-order starting today and will hit shelves on February 17.
The S23 series will compete against Apple’s iPhone 14, which launched last September. Samsung usually releases its flagship Galaxy S models in the first half of the year and its Galaxy Z line of foldable phones in the second half.
Samsung has mainly made subtle improvements to its new premium handset, including improved camera capabilities.
The most expensive of the three models, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, has a 200-megapixel “adaptive pixel” sensor that combines 16 pixels into one larger pixel for brighter, more detailed low-light shots, Samsung said.
Samsung added that users’ low-light photography with the device would be aided by much faster processing speeds from the internal chipset, which was co-developed with Qualcomm, as well as artificial intelligence.
There’s also a video feature on the device called “astro hyperlapse,” which allows users to create time-lapse motion shots — of star movement, for example — without any special equipment.
Samsung also praised the gaming capabilities of its new device, saying users can play longer thanks to a more powerful battery. The S23 Ultra houses a huge 5,000mAh battery, or milliamp hours.
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 range on 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 impress the premium PC market.
The Samsung Galaxy Book3 series.
The company showed off software that allows users to drag and drop files between their 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 the smartphone market
The company is launching its new products at a particularly difficult time for consumer technology. In particular, demand for premium smartphones has softened, with people opting to spend less on big-ticket gadgets due to rising price pressures and tighter budgets.
According to market research firm IDC, global smartphone shipments fell 18.3% to 300.3 million units in the fourth quarter of 2022 — usually a major holiday shopping period — marking the biggest drop ever in a single quarter.
A total of 1.21 billion smartphones will be shipped in 2022, the lowest annual shipment total since 2013, according to IDC.
“Everything is going in the wrong direction for consumer electronics providers,” PP Foresight’s Paolo Pescatore told CNBC via email.
On Tuesday, Samsung posted its worst quarterly profit since the third quarter of 2014. The company reported an 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, many people also suffer from smartphone fatigue, which leads them, not completely satisfied with the improvements promised by newer models, to hold on to their current phones for longer.
“As has been the case with most flagship launches in recent years, the customers who will benefit the most from Samsung’s latest devices will be those upgrading from older models or from a mid-range device,” says Leo Gebbie , lead analyst for connected devices at CCS Insight.
“Customers who have purchased a premium mobile in the past two years will see little difference between the device they already own and the new Galaxy S23 family.”
In that context, Samsung has consolidated its smartphone portfolio to simplify its offering to customers. The company incorporated its S Pen stylus into last year’s Galaxy S22, marking the symbolic end of its high-end Note phone series.
It has also tried to stimulate consumer appetites for new premium phones with its foldable devices. Samsung launched two new foldable models last year, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4.