Searching for the middle ground

The Samsung Galaxy A23 5G is a phone in search of the middle ground. Its sizable crisp display and equally large and long-lasting battery are excellent among budget phones, though it has some rough edges in tender spots. However, if you’re willing to accept some compromises, the Galaxy A23 5G delivers more than your money’s worth over the course of its long update commitment.

Samsung’s Galaxy A range is a dominant force among budget Android devices. It competes with the likes of the Google Pixel A and iPhone SE series in the mid-range while dominating the lower end with refined software and long-term update commitments. What happens when you land in between the two? How does Samsung handle a mid-priced middle ground? Let’s find out in our Samsung Galaxy A23 5G review.

What you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy A23 5G

samsung galaxy a23 home screen indoors

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

  • Samsung Galaxy A23 5G (6GB RAM/64GB): $299

The Samsung Galaxy A23 5G arrived in early September 2022 as the successor to the Galaxy A22 and the 5G-ready counterpart to the standard Galaxy A23, the latter of which is only available in select markets like India. The version we tested for this review is limited to the United States for the time being and comes in just one configuration. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s mid-tier Snapdragon 695 chip for, as Samsung puts it, “virtually lag-free 5G.”

Samsung’s latest sub-$300 entry seems to take the “little bit of everything” approach, pulling from both its premium siblings and budget cousins to somewhat fill the gap left by the aging (but still great) Galaxy A32 5G. It sports a large 6.6-inch LCD panel, like the Galaxy A13 5G, but the Gorilla Glass 5 construction, Full HD Plus resolution, and 120Hz adaptive refresh rate are closer to those of the Galaxy A53 5G. The rest of the build is plastic, which is in line with Samsung’s Galaxy A series, but there’s no IP rating against water or dust.

Under that plastic body lies a robust 5,000mAh battery with 25W wired charging. You’ll find a side-mounted fingerprint reader and volume rocker on the right side, with a dual nano-SIM and microSD tray on the left side. The latter is particularly welcome as you might need it to balance out the limited internal storage. Unlike many other Samsung phones, the Galaxy A23 5G keeps a 3.5mm headphone jack around for one more year, and it lives along the bottom edge alongside the single down-firing speaker and USB-C port.

The plastic back panel has a matte finish, and a camera bump pulled right from the Galaxy A53 5G. It sports a 50MP primary lens, a 5MP ultrawide, and a 2MP macro lens, as well as a depth sensor to round things out. On the front, Samsung tapped an 8MP selfie camera to live in the Infinity-V notch.

Our Samsung Galaxy A23 5G arrived with Android 12 and One UI 4.1 onboard. It was on the May 1, 2022 Google Play system update with the July 1, 2022 security patch. We should expect the device to benefit from Samsung’s excellent update policy, following the Galaxy A13 5G’s pattern of four years of quarterly security patches (biannually in the latter two years) and two full Android versions. Android 13 will, unfortunately, count as one of those versions, but it still beats most other commitments in the budget sector.

You won’t find much in the Galaxy A23 5G packaging. There’s a bit of essential paperwork, alongside a SIM ejector tool and a USB-C cable, but that’s it.

The Samsung Galaxy A23 5G only comes in Black in the US. You can buy the phone from Samsung and Amazon, as well as carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile.

What’s good?

samsung galaxy a23 ports

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Big batteries and sub-flagship 5G processors are a match made in heaven. No, the Samsung Galaxy A23 5G won’t blow the doors off of a more expensive device for raw performance, but it will get the job done and last a long time. I regularly pushed the budget-friendly phone through a day and a half to two days of use, mainly scrolling social media, responding to emails, and very light gaming. It certainly doesn’t set the world on fire with benchmarks, but we’ve seen similar scores from other Snapdragon 695-powered phones — such as the Sony Xperia 10 IV, Moto G Stylus 5G, and OnePlus Nord N20 — that perform similarly well for everyday tasks while remaining cool under light stress.

When you finally tick the hefty cell down to empty, the 25W fast charging gets you moving again in a hurry. It took about 80 minutes to recharge, which isn’t bad, though you’ll need a Power Delivery-compatible charger to hit the fastest charging times — check out our guide if you need to pick one up. There’s no wireless charging, but that’s expected at this price point.

If you’re considering the Samsung Galaxy A23 5G, you’re probably not hunting for top-end gaming chops. However, you’ll most certainly want a smooth, reliable software experience that gets your money’s worth. The Galaxy A23 5G delivers on that front without issue. One UI remains one of the cleanest, most feature-rich Android skins on the market. There’s plenty of room to customize your themes and icons, and the update commitment is second to none at this price tier.

One UI remains one of the best Android skins in the game, and the Galaxy A23 5G’s long-term update commitment is a blessing.

One UI also offers the freedom to axe bloatware apps during the setup process. It’s a nice touch, though I’d much rather skip the bloatware phase altogether. Given a choice between Google and Samsung apps, I’ll take the former and would prefer not to have to uninstall each piece of the latter. That said, if you’re embedded into Samsung’s ever-growing ecosystem of products and services, you might prefer to opt for the latter.

Despite its budget price tag, the Galaxy A23 5G feels like a phone that’s meant for media streaming. It offers an impressively large 6.6-inch display for the price, with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate and a sharp Full HD Plus resolution. Even the teardrop-style notch keeps interruptions to the minimum and can easily be covered by the tip of a finger in landscape if it’s bothering you. The color accuracy is also good, though the LCD isn’t as bright as the AMOLED panel on Samsung’s own Galaxy A53 5G, making it slightly less pleasurable to use in direct sunlight.

What’s not so good?

samsung galaxy a23 microsoft bloat

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Side-mounted fingerprint readers are great, and I’m thrilled they’re having a continued moment in the sun, but the Galaxy A23 5G is a good example of what not to do. It turns out that there’s such a thing as too small and too flat, and Samsung seems to have found that point. I regularly missed the fingerprint reader because my thumb couldn’t find it as I pulled the phone from my pocket. On the bright side, when I eventually located the fingerprint reader, I had no issues with accuracy.

It’s not fair to expect a $300 phone to have the same bezels as a flagship, but the Galaxy A23 5G has a bit of a Dracula problem. It’s styled almost like Bela Lugosi in the original vampire flick — a widow’s peak of a notch flows right into a thick black top that works well on a vampire but not so much on a smartphone. The chin is even larger, too, contributing to a phone that’s a bit taller than it needs to be, even accounting for its sizable screen.

Like Bela Lugosi’s hair in Dracula, the Galaxy A23 5G’s top bezel is a bit taller than it needs to be.

Samsung’s cheap plastic construction is another reminder that this device is just above the bargain price. There’s no flex to the back panel, yet it doesn’t feel quite as refined as other plastic options on the market. The Galaxy A23 5G also features a glossier plastic frame, which is likely to appear premium, but the downside is that it grabs fingerprint smudges. Higher water resistance ratings are generally nonexistent at this price point, too, though it would be nice to see Samsung testing for splash proofing at the very least — instead, you get nothing.

Most of the Galaxy A23 5G’s design elements suggest it’s a dream device for budget-friendly media streaming. The sizeable crisp display and the headphone jack obviously lean that way. However, the single down-firing speaker all but guarantees that you have to enjoy your shows alone. It doesn’t team up with the earpiece for a stereo experience, and its position along the right side of the bottom edge leaves audio sounding weak and unbalanced.

Samsung Galaxy A23 5G camera review

samsung galaxy a23 cameras

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Perhaps the Galaxy A23 5G’s most glaring example of imitation occurs when you flip the phone over. Its relatively flexible camera setup is inspired by the more premium Galaxy A53 5G with an almost identical camera bump that bleeds into the back panel. However, not all quad-camera setups are created equal, as it’s not quite as spec’d out as Samsung’s popular mid-ranger — a phone which remains one of the better budget shooters out there. Instead, like a little kid wearing their older sibling’s shoes, the Galaxy A23 5G gets a few steps right before stumbling over itself.

Most importantly, the Galaxy A23 5G makes good use of its primary sensor… most of the time. The 50MP wide lens bins to 12.5MP by default, delivering good results in most lighting. It’s where I spent most of my time, though even that lens gave me occasional pause. Standard images came back clean, with good details and shadows, but as soon as you tap into portrait mode, it feels like you’re gambling with the color profile.

The Galaxy A23 5G’s cameras are a mixed bag, but its video capture options are outright sub-standard.

To see what I mean, look no further than the portrait of a yellow pumpkin on top of an orange one in the gallery below. It’s saturated far beyond the point of any natural pumpkin (like those in the image directly below or beside it), and the depth of field appears particularly forced. Other portraits taken under cloudy skies, like the stone owl, seem far more natural, but I’d struggle to expect sunlight to have such a drastic impact.

We don’t often praise a smartphone for a measly 2MP macro sensor, but the Galaxy A23 5G managed a few decent results. I was pleased with the image of a maple leaf, even if it isn’t massively close-up, and the image of a Cock’s Comb (the orange flower) preserved good detail in the white area. It suffered a bit in the most vivid orange section, and if you blow it up on a larger screen it’ll fall apart in the details, but it’s a good enough macro shot considering what the phone is working with.

Then, there’s the ultrawide camera. The Galaxy A23 5G delivers a reasonable 123-degree field of view, but the edges immediately start to suffer. The distortion is evident in the trees across all three images, with leaves that blend into soft green blobs. Both the image of the red church and the garden also feature completely blown-out skies, appearing as white voids rather than the cloudy sky of the middle picture. It’s still a good way to capture extra detail compared to the zoom comparison below, but the soft details limit how much use you’ll get from your shots.

Despite not having a zoom lens, the Galaxy A23 5G delivered usable results when zoomed up to about 4x. The colors are consistent across all four shots, and only the details start to break down when you hit 10x zoom. Even then, the result isn’t atrocious given the price of the phone and the understandable lack of dedicated hardware. I also struggled to get Samsung’s typically excellent image stabilization to kick in at 10x, so you might notice some hand shake unless you can prop your camera on something solid.

Night mode on the Galaxy A23 5G isn’t excellent, but it’s serviceable in some situations. It feels like a natural enhancement for the subject, such as the pavilion, but the background remains relatively dark and devoid of details. The pool sign, for example, has plants and flowers in front of it, though you’d never know it, given the processing. Overall, the results are accurate to what my eye could see, though not so much enhanced in the way we expect from Night mode on more capable camera phones.

Finally, we have the 8MP selfie camera. It’s the second sharpest lens on the phone and probably the second most useful. I have no complaints about the color accuracy or details regarding my face or shirt, and portrait mode only blurred out a few of my wilder hairs. Background details, like the trees’ leaves, get a bit messy, but the non-portrait shot preserved the partly sunny skies well.

If you’re hoping for crisp video capture, you’re fresh out of luck. You’ll instead have to settle for 1080p at 30fps from the primary and selfie cameras. Both specs align with the more affordable Galaxy A13 5G but stop short of the Galaxy A53 5G’s 4K/30fps recording with electronic gyro stabilization. Offering 1080p/60fps recording would’ve at least made the Galaxy A23 5G somewhat usable for video. Sadly, you’ll have to live with some pretty choppy footage that isn’t particularly nice to watch now, but will age very poorly if you’re looking to capture memories for the future.

Samsung Galaxy A23 5G specs

Samsung Galaxy A23 5G

Display

– 6.6-inch LCD
– 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
– 2,408 x 1,080

Processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon 695

RAM

6GB

Storage

64GB
Up to 1TB expandable storage via microSD

Power

5,000mAh battery
25W fast charging
No charger in box

Cameras

Rear:
– 50MP wide, OIS, ƒ/1.8
– 5MP ultrawide, 1.12μm, ƒ/2.2, 123-degree FOV
– 2MP Macro, ƒ/2.4
– 2MP depth sensor, ƒ/2.4

Front:
– 8MP, ƒ/2.0

Audio

Single speaker
3.5mm headphone port

SIM

Dual nano-SIM tray

Biometrics

Side-mounted fingerprint reader

Software

Android 12
One UI 4.1

Dimensions and weight

165.4 x 76.9 x 8.4mm

197g

IP52 water resistance

Color

Black

Samsung Galaxy A23 5G review: The verdict

samsung galaxy a23 back upright

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The $300 no man’s land of Android phones is a wild and unpredictable place. It’s full of devices that make you pick and choose between capable cameras, long-lasting batteries, and rugged designs that are built to last. Samsung’s Galaxy A23 5G, however, asks what would happen if you found the middle ground between those specs. It pulls a little bit of everything into a solid but flawed budget-friendly device.

The large, smooth, Full HD display won’t let you down, nor will its durable Gorilla Glass 5 construction. A physical dual-SIM tray with microSD expansion and a headphone jack show that some old fan-favorite features can also live on in 2022. Even the four rear cameras are an example of Samsung trying to push the envelope at an approachable price point, though they lack the consistency that keeps the brand among the top budget camera phones year in and year out. No matter the shortcomings, the Galaxy A23 5G offers a commitment to software and security updates that remains tough to match.

Samsung’s Galaxy A23 5G is a fine but flawed attempt to find the middle ground in a ~$300 price bracket that’s largely uncontested in the US.

It stacks up remarkably well once you consider its US-based competition, too. The Motorola Moto G 5G ($299 on sale) is perhaps the closest rival, though it comes with a litany of compromises. OnePlus’ Nord N20 ($282) fares better, bringing a 64MP primary camera and 16MP selfie shooter to the table, though its limited promise of future updates makes it a poor long-term choice.

In the end, the Galaxy A23 5G’s biggest challenges might come from Samsung itself. It’s a better buy than the Galaxy A13 5G ($249), a phone that we felt was overpriced at its asking point. However, you might be able to track down a carrier deal that saves enough money to sway you one way or the other. You might also be considering the Galaxy A23 5G as a pseudo-successor to the Galaxy A32 5G ($279), though it’s not quite like-for-like. It offers a sharper, brighter, and punchier display and faster charging, but the Galaxy A32 5G triumphs in the camera department. Its relative age means that you might also find the Galaxy A32 5G somewhere for a steal.

If you’re buying outright and unlocked, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G ($449) is the real test. Yes, it’s a step up to a higher price point, but it takes on the best mid-range devices from the likes of Google and Apple and smooths many of the Galaxy A23 5G’s rougher edges. It’s a better performer (though a little behind on power compared to its closest rivals), has a full IP68 rating for water resistance, stereo speakers, and is a clear upgrade across all of its cameras, too. The Galaxy A53 5G also offers a better software commitment to see you into the future, thanks to a guarantee of five years of security patches and four years of OS upgrades. Sometimes it’s worth spending that bit extra if it’ll save you in the long haul.

Samsung Galaxy A23 5G

Samsung Galaxy A23 5G

Affordable price • Excellent display • Long-lasting battery

It looks like the Galaxy A53 5G but is priced closer to the Galaxy A13 5G

If you need a phone that will last you all day (and then some) without breaking the bank, the Samsung Galaxy A23 5G is worth a look. It has all the basics you need, an enormous 5,000mAh battery, and a sub-$300 price.

Top Samsung Galaxy A23 5G questions and answers

The Samsung Galaxy A23 5G doesn’t have any official rating for water resistance, so we advise against getting it wet.

The Galaxy A23 5G supports two nano-SIM cards in its removable tray, with no eSIM support.

The Samsung Galaxy A23 5G does not support wireless charging.

The 6.6-inch 120Hz display and 5,000mAh battery are great for gaming, though the Snapdragon 695 limits you to lighter, less graphically intense games.

The Galaxy A23 5G’s fingerprint sensor is mounted on the side of the device, right below the volume buttons.

Samsung released its budget-friendly Galaxy A23 5G on September 1, 2022.

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