What to expect from Samsung's February Unpacked event

The Galaxy S23 lineup might not be the only big news.


Samsung is holding its first Unpacked event of 2023 on February 1st, and many expect the Galaxy S23 family to be the centerpiece. The company has even teased a few details, such as camera and performance upgrades. But will this phone lineup be a major revision, or a modest yearly refresh? Let’s take a look at what you’re likely to see when Samsung takes to the stage in San Francisco.

Galaxy S23 Ultra

If the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s main appeal was its Note-style pen functionality, the S23 Ultra may revolve around its camera system. Rumors from leaker Ice Universe and others have long pointed to the highest-end S23 model sporting a 200-megapixel main camera, and Samsung added fuel to the discussion by unveiling a sensor that could fit the bill. The ISOCELL HP2 promises extremely detailed photos and 8K video at 30 frames per second while still offering solid low-light capabilities. It might also capture more accurate colors in brightly-lit scenarios. The front camera may get a slight bump to 12MP as well.

It won’t surprise you to hear that Samsung is poised to give the S23 family a speed boost with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. It’s supposedly over 25 percent faster than Gen 1 while offering hardware-accelerated ray tracing for more realistic lighting in games. You may see up to a fourfold improvement in AI processing, too. Qualcomm claims Gen 2 is up to 40 percent more energy efficient, and you might get emergency satellite communication in addition to WiFi 7 networking.

However, the biggest shock may be where you find that chip. Well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims Samsung will use the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 to power the Galaxy S23 in every country, rather than using its in-house Exynos chips in regions like Asia and Europe. Critics have routinely knocked Exynos-based Galaxy phones for having worse performance and battery life than their Snapdragon counterparts, but that might not be an issue this time around.

You may not see other sweeping changes, but that’s not necessarily a problem. If leaked images at Nieuwe Mobiel are accurate, the Galaxy S23 Ultra will have a slightly flatter design than its predecessor, addressing complaints about the 6.8-inch screen’s curved edges. You’d still find a 12MP ultra-wide camera, dual 10MP telephoto lenses, an S-Pen and up to 12GB of RAM. You may get a 1TB storage option, though, so you might not have to worry as much about that 8K footage chewing up all your free space.

Galaxy S23 and S23+

Samsung Galaxy S23+ leak

Samsung’s more mainstream smartphones aren’t expected to receive as dramatic an update, but there could still be meaningful improvements. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and the rumored 12MP front camera might arrive alongside an ever-so-slightly larger battery. The phones could also ship with 256GB of storage as the baseline — important if you’d rather not spend extra just to hold a sizable media collection.

Otherwise we’ll probably get the familiar 6.1- and 6.6-inch displays of the Galaxy S22 line, not to mention a 50MP main rear camera, a 12MP ultra-wide and a lone 10MP telephoto. Leaked pictures at Nieuwe Mobiel suggest Samsung is redesigning the camera array to look more like that of the Ultra family, so the conspicuous camera hump of the S21 and S22 may vanish.

Galaxy Book 3 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Ultra leak
The Tech Outlook

Samsung rarely sticks to phone introductions at Unpacked events, and there are signs a high-end laptop may be the other star of the show. Samsung’s reservation page hints at a new Galaxy Book range, while the company’s mobile experience president TM Roh makes clear in a blog post that there will be Ultra products in “more device categories” besides phones. Expect an Ultra laptop, then.

Provided a leak at The Tech Outlook is authentic, that new model would be the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra. It’s not entirely clear what that laptop might deliver, but Samsung Display said the high-end Galaxy Book line will feature OLED screens with built-in touch, much like smartphones. The Ultra is also expected to arrive in tandem with a more conventional Galaxy Book 3 Pro and a Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 convertible with pen support. We’d expect improved performance, and possibly extras like pen input and advanced display technology (this is Samsung, after all).

Wildcards: New Galaxy Tabs and Galaxy Buds

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

There hasn’t been much talk of other product unveilings at Unpacked, and there are even rumors casting doubt on potential releases. The Elec sources claim Samsung has pushed out the launch of a Galaxy Tab S9 family, possibly due to economic uncertainty and poor sales of the Tab S8 series. As it is, the company tends to wait longer between tablet revisions than it does phones — the Tab S8 arrived in early 2022 where its S7 predecessor arrived in summer 2020.

We also wouldn’t count on new earbuds. Samsung introduced the regular Galaxy Buds 2 in summer 2021, and the Buds 2 Pro a year later. Short of a revamp of the so-so Galaxy Buds Live, there’s no pressure on the company to update its in-ear audio roster.

Other products are only likely to appear at Samsung’s later events. Don’t brace yourself for new Galaxy Z foldables, Galaxy A budget phones or Galaxy Watch timepieces this early in the year.

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