We recently received the new Samsung Galaxy A23 and have been using it not only as my main device but also as an emulation machine. The Samsung Galaxy A23 retails for RM999 so we’re interested to see how it’ll fare as a retro gaming machine. Will it impress or will it depress? Here’s our review of how that went.

Samsung Galaxy A23 review

Design and Build

Unlike the Samsung Galaxy A53 or its other higher-end siblings, the Samsung Galaxy A23 comes in a glossy plastic back that is very reminiscent of the plastic design of the iPhone 5c. The glossy plastic makes the device feel quite sturdy but it gets incredibly annoying and disgusting to hold if your hands are dirty or oily. Best to use a case as soon as you can.

1/2

 

At the sides sits the volume rocker, power button/fingerprint sensor and SIM card tray. At the bottom sits a USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a single speaker. The placement of the buttons is pretty good and easy to reach which is great considering the size of the Samsung Galaxy A23.

Display

As mentioned above, the Samsung Galaxy A23 comes with a 6.6-inch APD display with a 90Hz refresh rate. The display works great for watching YouTube videos or watching content from Netflix or Disney+. The colours are decent though the blacks aren’t as rich as you’d find on an AMOLED screen. The brightness is a bit of an issue though as it isn’t as bright as I would’ve liked it hence using the Samsung Galaxy A23 outside can sometimes be a challenge.

Samsung Galaxy A23 1

One thing I would like to point out is that the A23 has quite thick bezels, especially for a current smartphone. You’ll notice it at first but get used to it the longer you use it.

Specifications and Performance

Before we get to the performance bit and how it performs as a retro emulation machine, let’s take a look at some of the specs the Samsung Galaxy A23 has. The device comes with a Snapdragon 680 SoC in tow together with a 5,000mAh  battery, 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage with support for microSD expandable storage.

The Samsung Galaxy A23 performs remarkably well as a retro gaming machine mainly due to the Snapdragon 680 inside. The SoC, even though it’s a midrange one, is powerful enough to play a lot of games from old consoles and should do well comfortably up to PS1 and PSP. In my experience, the SoC is also powerful enough to run some GameCube and Nintendo 3DS but generally, you’d better off with a device with a more powerful chip.

Pair it up with a proper controller and now you’ve got your hands on a powerful and versatile gaming machine. Especially when coupled with that wide 6.6-inch screen, all your emulated games will look beautiful and crisp with great colours. My main partners in crime in terms of controllers are the Saitake 7007F telescopic controller and the GameSir G4 Pro.

I got the Samsung Galaxy A23 hooked up to a lot of my favourite emulators particularly Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS and PSP emulators. I also installed a few other Android ports of other retro games like GTA Chinatown Wars, San Andreas and the OG Doom.

During my tests, the Samsung Galaxy A23 manages to play almost all the games I threw at it as smooth as butter. The only game I had some slight issues with was GTA San Andreas, mainly because the game is quite graphically intensive and needed a more powerful processor to achieve 60fps.

Unfortunately, despite its impressive performances with retro games and emulation, the Samsung Galaxy A23’s Snapdragon 680 SoC isn’t all that powerful when it comes to running modern mobile games. I tried playing some Apex Legends Mobile and Genshin Impact on the Samsung Galaxy A23 and I had to tweak the games down to their lower setting to get a smooth gameplay experience.

Miscellaneous

Another point of contention for me is the fact that the Samsung Galaxy A23 has only a single speaker. Though the speaker is loud and clear, I feel that, especially with its size that the device would benefit greatly if Samsung had included a stereo speaker setup as it’d offer a more balanced experience especially considering the size of the device.

The fingerprint sensor is pretty responsive though it can get a wee bit too sensitive at times. There have been many instances where I accidentally unlocked the Samsung Galaxy A23 just from a simple brush of my thumb.

Camera

The Samsung Galaxy A23 comes with a quad-camera setup that includes a 50MP main camera, a 5MP ultrawide camera, a 2MP macro camera and a 2MP depth sensor. The camera performance is pretty decent in good lighting conditions though the picture quality takes a huge dip the moment the sun goes down.

The colours are quite accurate to real-life overall though there is a noticeable bump in colour saturation, especially when taking pictures of flowers. I have no issues with this as it makes certain photos pop. As for low-light photos, I found that the Samsung Galaxy A23 produces photos with muddy details and struggles to focus on certain objects.

Check out some of the pictures I took with the Samsung Galaxy A23.

1/7

Battery

The Samsung Galaxy A23 has probably one of the best battery life I’ve ever experienced on a smartphone. The 5,000mAh battery has no issues going through the day on a single charge even with multiple hours of continuous gaming which truly impressed me.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy A23 is quite a decent offering and does a lot of things right especially when you consider its RM999 price tag. The Snapdragon 680 SoC packed inside means that the device is a huge powerhouse for retro game emulation and can go through many games from older console generations with ease.

If you want to replay some of the games that you love growing up and would like to do so without breaking the bank then the Samsung Galaxy A23 is the one for you.

The phone is not perfect though. The camera on the Samsung Galaxy A23 is pretty weak all things considered and the glossy plastic back might be a turn-off for some people. There is also the fact that the device only has one speaker when it would’ve benefitted with dual speakers due to the size of the device.

The Samsung Galaxy A23 is available now for RM999 and can be bought at the Official Samsung Online Store.