Apple iPhone 15 Plus
Big camera upgrades
The iPhone 15 Plus is Apple's latest plus-sized standard iPhone, boasting some of the biggest camera improvements we've seen on a non-pro iPhone in years, including a new 48MP sensor that now captures 24MP photos by default and offers 2x zoom. It also has a super-bright 6.7-inch OLED screen, a new color-infused rear glass, and the Dynamic Island and powerful A16 Bionic chip.Pros
- Significant camera improvements
- Refined design
- Now sports a USB-C port
- Last year's silicon
- Lacks a third camera
- 60Hz display
Samsung Galaxy S23+
$800 $1000 Save $200
The Galaxy S23+ is built to provide a top-notch Android experience in 2023 for those who like to live just a little larger. The 6.6-inch AMOLED display runs smooth, the 45W wired charging should allow for longer days with shorter breaks plugged in, and there's also more room to run around with thanks to the 256GB and 512GB options.Pros
- Excellent screen with improved brightness
- Cutting-edge performance
- Four years of software updates
- Modest camera improvements over the prior model
- Some camera annoyances
Apple has unveiled its 2023 iPhone lineup, in what's become its typical arrangement of two standard models — the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus — joined by two higher-end, flagship “Pro” models. As one of Samsung's biggest rivals in the smartphone market, it's always interesting to see how Apple's smartphones compare with the best of what Samsung has to offer.
Six months in, the Galaxy S23 series is still going strong, but if you're on the fence about whether the Apple or Android ecosystem is the best fit for you, then it's worth taking a look at how the new iPhone 15 lineup shapes up. Samsung's Galaxy S23+ is arguably the sweet spot among high-end Android smartphones, with a large screen and an affordable price tag, while those interested in a similarly-sized everyday iPhone will undoubtedly look to Apple's iPhone 15 Plus. So, let's take a look at how these two compare.
Price, availability, and specs
Apple announced its entire iPhone 15 lineup in September 2023, and the iPhone 15 Plus and its siblings are now available to order. The iPhone 15 Plus starts at $899 for the base 128GB model and reaches $1,199 for the largest 512GB capacity. It's available in pink, yellow, green, blue, and black.
Samsung's Galaxy S23+ launched in February and still officially starts at $1,000 for the base model, but that also now delivers 256GB, putting it on par with the same-capacity iPhone 15 Plus. Further, you can often find it on sale — we've seen it as low as $800 — which is much less common with Apple's iPhones. This year, the Galaxy S23+ is available in Phantom Black, Cream, Green, and Lavender, plus two more, Graphite and Lime, available only when ordering directly from Samsung.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus Samsung Galaxy S23+ SoC Apple A16 Bionic Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy Display 6.7-inch, OLED, 60Hz, 2000nits peak brightness, Ceramic Shield 6.6″ FHD+ AMOLED, 48~120Hz refresh, 240Hz touch sampling Storage 128GB/ 256GB/ 512GB 256GB or 512GB Ports USB Type-C, USB 2.0 USB-C Operating System iOS 17 Android 13 (OneUI 5.1.1) Front camera 12MP, f/1.9 12MP f/2.2 Rear cameras 48MP primary with f/1.6, 12MP ultrawide with f/2.4 50MP f/1.8 OIS main; 12MP f2.2 ultrawide (120°); 10MP f/2.4 OIS telephoto (3x) Connectivity 5G (sub-6GHz + mmWave), Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, Ultra Wideband, 5G (inc mmWave), LTE, UWB, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC Dimensions 160.9 x 77.8 x 7.80mm 163.3 × 78 × 8.9mm Colors Pink, Yellow, Green, Blue, Black Phantom, Cream, Green, Lavender + Samsung.com exclusive Lime, Graphite Weight 201g 196g IP Rating IP68 IP68 Micro SD card support No No
Design: Two refined classics
Apple appears to have mostly settled on its iPhone aesthetics since moving to a flat-edged design with the iPhone 12 in 2020. Every iPhone model released since has stuck pretty closely to that design, with the only significant change being a switch to a diagonal rear camera arrangement with the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 followed that, making it virtually indistinguishable from its predecessor.
While the iPhone 15 stays true to form, Apple has made a couple of small but noticeable refinements. For one, the Dynamic Island introduced on the iPhone 14 Pro last year replaces the classic notch, bringing the user interface back into harmony with the Pro models.
Secondly, the iPhone 15 Plus and its smaller sibling now have contoured edges on the aluminum enclosure, plus a new color infusion process in the back glass that creates deeper and more vibrant colors. This year, that leans toward pastels in pink, yellow, green, and blue, plus the traditional black. Oddly, the (Product)Red edition is missing in the lineup for the first time since 2019.
The other big change is that Apple has finally abandoned its proprietary Lightning port and brought USB-C to the iPhone 15. That doesn't change much in terms of design, but it makes all the difference in usability. At the very least, you'll now have one less charging cable to carry around.
Some would argue that Apple's designs have become a bit staid, and they wouldn't necessarily be wrong. Thankfully, Samsung still gets a bit adventurous each year, and the Galaxy S23+ departs more significantly from its predecessor to give itself a classier and more refined look. Gone is the camera bump from the earlier models, replaced by three protruding lenses that put it in the same design class as the pricier Galaxy S23 Ultra. The result is an understated design that starkly contrasts the more ostentatious camera bump on the iPhone 15 Plus.
In terms of durability, the iPhone 15 Plus and Galaxy S23+ are about evenly matched, each in their own way. The iPhone 15 Plus uses an aerospace-grade aluminum frame and Apple's own Ceramic Shield glass on the front, which Apple naturally claims is tougher than any other smartphone glass. However, even if that's true, the Galaxy S23+ takes protection up a notch with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 covering both the front and the back.
Similarly, both smartphones offer IP68 dust and water resistance. For the iPhone 15 Plus, that means it can handle submersion in up to 6 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. Samsung's Galaxy S23+ falls short of that, rated only for 1.5 meters for the same amount of time.
Display: Is brighter better?
The iPhone 15 Plus sports the same Super Retina XDR Display as its predecessor. This translates to a 6.7-inch OLED HDR screen with a 2796×1290 resolution and a pixel density of 460 pixels per inch (PPI). That's a very tiny bump over the iPhone 14 and likely only a result of moving things around to make room for Dynamic Island.
Still, the iPhone 15 display gets significantly brighter, boasting 1,600 nits of peak HDR brightness and a 2,000-nit peak outdoors. That gives it an edge over the Galaxy S23+, which only reaches 1,750 nits peak and 1,200 HDR, at least on really bright and sunny days. You probably won't struggle to see the screen on either one unless there's direct sunlight bouncing off the glass.
While the iPhone 15 Plus gets brighter, Samsung's Galaxy S23+ display has it beat in nearly every other way that matters. That's not surprising since Samsung also makes its own displays and doesn't skimp on them across its lineup in the same way Apple does.
For example, Apple reserves its best displays for the iPhone Pro lineup, while Samsung Galaxy S23 has a nearly identical AMOLED screen to the flagship Galaxy S23 Ultra. You'll get a 6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X screen with 2340×1080 resolution and a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. It's a slightly lower resolution than the iPhone 15 Plus, but it's also a smaller screen, which means the pixel density still works out to a more than respectable 425 PPI.
The iPhone 15 Plus and Galaxy S23+ both offer rich, vivid colors. Samsung offers many more options to manually adjust the look of your screen. At the same time, Apple's True Tone technology uses ambient light sensors to adjust things automatically based on your surroundings.
Software: A personal choice
Naturally, the iPhone 15 Plus runs Apple's iOS and will ship with the latest iOS 17 pre-installed. The Galaxy S23+ comes with Android 13 and OneUI 5.1 layered on top for more customization and integration with the Samsung ecosystem. The two operating systems come from entirely different worlds, so which is the better choice comes down to personal preference and will likely be the biggest deciding factor for most folks when choosing between the iPhone 15 Plus and Galaxy S23+ (or really any iPhone or Android smartphone).
Regarding updates, Samsung has been closing the gap with Apple in recent years. The iPhone has become legendary for getting many years of software updates. For instance, the iPhone 6, released in 2015 with iOS 9, was supported by every major iOS release until iOS 16 came along in 2022. While most Android smartphones used to pale by comparison, Samsung now promises a reasonable four years of major Android updates, which means that the Galaxy S23+ will be able to run Android 17 when it comes along in 2027.
Apple doesn't make such promises, but it doesn't need to with its track record. The iPhone 6s was an outlier, but it's typical to see each iPhone get five years of major iOS updates. That means it's very likely the iPhone 15 Plus will make it to at least iOS 22 in 2028.
Performance: A dead heat
Once upon a time, Apple put its best silicon in its entire iPhone lineup each year. However, that changed last year when the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus models were effectively kept behind on the 2021 A15 Bionic chip. Although they got the slightly better version used in Apple's iPhone 13 Pro, it still left them lagging behind Apple's 14 Pro models.
Apple is continuing that trend with this year's iPhone 15 Plus, which packs in the same A16 Bionic found in last year's iPhone 14 Pro. With six 3.4GHz CPU cores (two high-performance and four high-efficiency) and 6GB of RAM, it's still a beefy chip, but it's no longer Apple's latest and greatest.
On the other hand, the Galaxy S23+ has Samsung and Qualcomm putting their best feet forward. They worked together this year to create a souped-up Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip designed exclusively for the Samsung Galaxy lineup, with eight 3.2GHz cores and 12GB of RAM.
While you may think that gives the Samsung Galaxy S23+ a performance edge, benchmarks put the two chips roughly on par, with the A16 getting the edge in raw CPU performance while lagging slightly behind the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in gaming, despite having a higher GPU frequency.
Even though the iPhone 15 Plus was just announced, the A16 Bionic has been around for a year in the iPhone 14 Pro, so ample comparisons have been making the rounds for a while now. There's no reason to believe the iPhone 15 Plus will fare any differently since it has the same chip inside.
Battery life: Faster charging wins out
Apple typically doesn't say much about the size of iPhone batteries, so we'll have to wait for a review to get specific numbers. Apple says the iPhone 15 Plus should offer 26 hours of playback for locally stored video, 20 hours for streaming video playback, and up to 100 hours of audio playback. Those are the same numbers as last year's iPhone 14 Plus.
Recent leaks have suggested that the iPhone 15 Plus has a 4,912mAh cell, which, if true, would be a 13.5% increase over last year's model and should translate to longer battery life. We'll have to wait for some real-world testing to see how this actually plays out, but it's safe to say that getting through a full day of typical use shouldn't be a problem.
The Galaxy S23+ packs in a 4,700mAh battery, which will likely be about evenly matched with the iPhone 15 Plus. In our testing, the S23+ could get through about 6–7 hours of active use in a 24-hour period, although your mileage will vary in one direction or the other if you play demanding games or don't do much more than check your messages and make a few quick phone calls.
The Galaxy S23+ has the iPhone 15 Plus beat when it comes to charging, though, thanks to 45W charging over a wired connection or 15W wirelessly. Again, Apple doesn't say how fast the iPhone 15 Plus charges, but if the specs from last year's model are any indication, we're probably looking at around 20-25W speeds. The iPhone 15 Plus also supports 15W wireless charging, but only from a MagSafe or Qi2-compatible charger; otherwise, your speeds will be limited to 7.5 watts.
Cameras: Each different in its own way
This year's iPhone 15 Plus brings some very significant camera improvements to the standard iPhone lineup — the first in several years, in fact. However, it's still only a two-camera setup, lacking the extra telephoto lens of the Galaxy S23+.
Specifically, the iPhone 15 Plus boosts the main camera sensor to 48 megapixels with an f/1.6 aperture. That puts it a lot closer to the 50MP f/1.8 primary shooter on the Galaxy S23+. The Galaxy S23+ also bins down the 50MP photos to produce 12.5MP shots by default, which is exactly what Apple did with its 48MP sensor on the iPhone 14 Pro last year. This time around, though, the iPhone 15 Plus will produce what Apple calls “super-high-resolution” photos at 24MP or, optionally, the full 48MP.
The second ultrawide lenses on each are evenly matched at 12MP, with Samsung offering a wider f/2.2 aperture compared to Apple's f/2.4. However, that's where the similarities end, as the Galaxy S23+ also has a third 10MP f/2.4 telephoto lens that offers a 3x optical zoom.
The iPhone 15 Plus has a new trick that arguably makes up for lacking a third lens. As with the iPhone 14 Pro last year, the 48MP sensor provides a virtual 2x optical zoom by using only the center pixels in the sensor to produce a 12MP shot. It's an effective technique, particularly since Apple can still feed the other pixels into its computational photography engine to produce the best quality image.
Ultimately, that's what modern smartphone photography comes down to. It's less about what's coming through the lens and more about what the powerful machine-learning algorithms and neural engines in the A16 Bionic and Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 can do with that data to turn out great photos. The Samsung Galaxy S23+ produces sharp, bright, vivid images, even though it sometimes leans a little hard into saturation and brightness.
We'll have to wait for the inevitable photo comparisons to see what the iPhone 15 Plus can do, but if last year's models are any indication, we don't think anybody will be disappointed with the results. Apple has upgraded its Photonic Engine to combine quad-pixel binning for light capture with 24MP or 48MP photos under the hood for even better low-light performance. The iPhone 15 Plus has the image signal processor from the iPhone 14 Pro to play with now, plus new fifth-generation Smart HDR processing that Apple promises will provide more true-to-life rendering of skin tones and more vivid colors.
Which is right for you?
Choosing between an Apple phone and a Samsung smartphone is rarely simple, as these are both portals into entirely different worlds. They run entirely unique operating systems and have their own disparate ecosystems backing them up.
The choice between an iPhone 15 Plus and a Samsung Galaxy S23+ more often comes down to how many people you interact with that tote iPhones versus Android devices. Many of the best social features, from messaging to photo sharing, work best when everyone is using the same operating system, whether that's iOS or Android. There's also the question of whether your favorite games and apps are available on your platform of choice and how iOS or Android fits in with any devices and accessories you're already using or might be planning to buy in the near future.
When it comes down to raw specs, the Samsung Galaxy S23+ edges out the iPhone 15 Plus thanks to its better screen, more versatile camera array, and faster charging. The Galaxy S23+ also sits much closer in capabilities to the Galaxy S23 Ultra than the iPhone 15 Plus does to its Pro counterpart, which means you're getting more bang for your buck with the Samsung smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy S23+
$800 $1000 Save $200
The Galaxy S23+ is built to provide a top-notch Android experience in 2023 for those who like to live just a little larger. The 6.6″ AMOLED display runs smooth, the 45W wired charging should allow for longer days with shorter breaks plugged in, and there's also more room to run around with, thanks to the 256GB and 512GB options. Backed by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy, it's about as much phone as you can get right on that $1,000 mark.
Of course, if you're already in the Apple ecosystem — or thinking of switching back — the iPhone 15 Plus definitely won't disappoint. The camera upgrades alone are the biggest we've seen in a standard model since the iPhone 11 came along four years ago, and the A16 Bionic has enough power to make it perform well for years to come. Lastly, Apple's reputation for software updates means it won't be left behind for long.
Apple iPhone 15 Plus
Big camera upgrades
The iPhone 15 Plus is Apple's latest plus-sized standard iPhone model, boasting some of the biggest camera improvements we've seen on a non-pro iPhone in years, including a new 48MP sensor that now captures 24MP photos by default and a 2X optical zoom. Combined with a super-bright 6.7-inch OLED screen, a new color-infused rear glass, and the Dynamic Island and powerful A16 Bionic chip from last year's iPhone 14 Pro, it's an exciting update for those looking for an affordable everyday smartphone.