For the better part of the past two decades, Apple and Samsung have been fighting to one-up each other with their smartphone releases. Every winter, a Galaxy phone arrives and six months later a new iPhone lands, often with similar features and upgrades to keep pace. In particular, Apple has a habit of taking years-old Samsung features and making them better, as we saw with the always-on display, gesture navigation, face unlock, and even the App Library.
But you probably shouldn’t expect to see any Galaxy S23 features show up on a future iPhone. The marquee features—a faster Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip that gives the A16 some real competition and a significant upgrade with low-light photography—are more overdue than groundbreaking or interesting. Samsung’s newest smartphones are good (great even), but there isn’t much for iPhone users to crave.
Even compared to last year’s Galaxy phones, the S23 is pretty bland. The cameras on the S23 and S23+ are essentially the same. The designs all borrow from the Galaxy S22 Ultra by eliminating the characteristic camera array. And most importantly, the whole experience is the same. That’s kind of the way it is with phones nowadays. The hardware is so good, the cameras are so great, the designs are so ingrained, and there’s not much to change year after year.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
That’s why Apple introduced the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, a feature that’s expected to expand to all four iPhone models this year. There’s nothing new or different about front camera cutouts–you’ll find one on Samsung phones going back nearly a decade–but the Dynamic Island is a feature that’s both brilliant and uniquely Apple. The Dynamic Island is at once an admission that annual hardware upgrades aren’t enough to generate buzz and a testament to Apple’s mastery at turning banal features on other phones into exciting ones.
But the S23 has nothing even close to a feature as exciting as the Dynamic Island. Samsung’s new phone is so boring, in fact, there’s nothing for Apple to steal. No one needs a 200MP camera on their phone and the pictures probably won’t be much better than ones taken with the iPhone 14 Pro’s 48MP camera anyway. With the launch of the Galaxy S23, it seems as though Samsung has run out of ideas and the smartphone arms race may officially be over.
Granted, there will be plenty of Samsung influences in the iPhone 15 lineup. Apple is expected to launch its own iPhone Ultra this year with a periscope zoom lens, a feature of Samsung’s flagship phone since 2020. And all models will almost certainly switch to USB-C from Lightning, which debuted on the Galaxy S8 in 2017.
But if you were looking to the Galaxy S23 to see the next trend or big thing coming to Android phones, you’re going to be disappointed. Maybe Samsung is saving all of its innovations for the Galaxy Z Fold 5.