Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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How the Galaxy S23 copies the iPhone, and why it’s great


Samsung has courted a ton of flak in the past for copying Apple, but in 2023, that penchant for imitating its archrival just might prove to be helpful for smartphone shoppers. Soon after revealing the asking price of the Galaxy S23 trio, Samsung announced that its previous flagship is officially getting a price cut — rather than getting axed from retail shelves.

Apple has been doing the same for years, and it has actually proved to be a wise move for everyone. With a lowered asking price worth a hundred dollars or more, buyers can digest the premium of spending on an iPhone with a lighter hit on their wallets. Of course, it also helps that buying a previous-generation iPhone doesn’t come with any serious FOMO, because Apple is usually quite modest with generation-over-generation upgrades.

Rear panel of Samsung Galaxy S22.
Samsung Galaxy S22 in white Digital Trends

This year, Samsung is serving Apple’s formula to Android phone enthusiasts. The Galaxy S22, which originally hit the shelves carrying a price tag of $799, will now be sold for $699 in the U.S. Assuming the track record of third-party sellers and retailers, you can expect the price to further go down. Should the average smartphone buyer care about the Galaxy S22 at its reduced price? Yes. More so in 2023, than ever.

A surprisingly good value

Almost every single time I am asked, “Which iPhone should I buy?,” I suggest splurging on a previous-gen iPhone instead of the pricier current-gen model. That’s because the differences aren’t huge in terms of hardware prowess. Plus, Apple keeps its phone running in tip-top shape with regular software updates for at least five to six years. Just over a week ago, Apple issued a software update for the decade-old iPhone 5S.

Of course, Samsung hasn’t ever done that, and it’s unlikely that Samsung will ever be able to match Apple in this department. But things have definitely improved. Actually, things have improved to an extent that you can put your trust in Samsung to keep your phone running smoothly for half a decade, at least for its flagships. For example, the Galaxy S23 will get four Android OS updates and general software updates for the next five years.

The display of the iPhone 13 as seen from an angle.
Dan Baker/ DigitalTrends

The Galaxy S22, which made its debut running Android 12, will be updated all the way up to Android 16. It currently runs Android 13, and from my own experience, I can say that the One UI 5 skin offers quite a rewarding smartphone experience.

As for the phone itself, I had a love-hate relationship with it when I initially reviewed it. The compact build is a refreshingly joyous experience, especially in a sea of Android slabs. The build materials are premium, the software is loaded with a ton of intuitive features, and the cameras are reliable.

My only gripe with the Galaxy S22 was its sub-par battery life and the heating problem. Over the past year, some system-level optimizations have been made, and both shortcomings have been resolved. But only to a certain extent. I used the Galaxy S22 for navigation in a car, and it lost about 30% battery in just over an hour.

Samsung Galaxy S22 punch hole display.
Digital Trends

However, if your smartphone usage doesn’t involve a ton of 4K video capture and in-car navigation, this phone should last you a day. Plus, the performance is top-notch. I reset my Galaxy S22 and enjoyed a few rounds of Call of Duty: Mobile at the peak graphics settings. To my pleasant surprise, the phone didn’t get toasty.

Plus, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip inside this phone is seriously fast. If you are interested in the Galaxy S22, rest assured that it will be able to handle anything you throw at it with ease, for the next few years.

Samsung enters the pit roaring

By slashing the Galaxy S22’s price down to $699, Samsung is matching the iPhone 13 right on Apple’s turf. If one were to compare the two yesteryear phones, Samsung’s device is a more compelling option, and it faces legitimate value heat only from Google’s excellent Pixel 7.

But let’s stick with Apple here. The pricier non-Pro iPhones don’t offer the convenience of a telephoto zoom camera. Over at Samsung’s side, the Galaxy S22’s camera performance is also surprisingly good. The output is good enough that the Galaxy S22 beat the OnePlus 10 Pro and its Hasselblad claims in almost all scenarios.

Holding the green Samsung Galaxy S23.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

So, is the Galaxy S22 worth taking as a shooter for your next vacation? I’d say yes. In fact, it’s more versatile than the iPhone 14. The Samsung phone’s OLED screen is beautiful, and it offers the perk of a 120Hz refresh rate, which is again a convenience that you only get on iPhones worth a thousand dollars, or more. It’s the ecosystem benefits where Apple has a meaningful upper hand.

Where does this leave Samsung’s budget-centric Fan Edition? We don’t know yet, but buyers won’t mind if it goes away this year. Take, for example, the Galaxy S21 FE 5G, which also arrived carrying a $699 price tag, but still served a watered-down flagship experience.

With the Galaxy S22, Android flagship enthusiasts won’t have to live with a sub-flagship or budget flagship experience, and won’t have to pay top dollars for it, either. The new Galaxy S23 is still really enticing, but if you don’t have that kind of cash to spend, the S22 is now a better deal than ever before. In a nutshell, Samsung’s flagships are getting even more affordable with the Apple ‘copycat’ strategy. It’s a move that ultimately tilts the balance in favor of the buyer, and that is a forgivable imitation scheme.

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