Why Samsung still uses inferior displays on its flagship Galaxy S23 phones

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Why Samsung still uses inferior displays on its flagship Galaxy S23 phones
While competing brands like Apple or Oppo have moved to using the type of OLED displays that allow very granular dynamic refresh rates depending on the speed of your touch, Samsung only uses the screen technology that allows this for its high-end Galaxy S23 Ultra, but without the touch-sensitive adjustments.

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Called LTPO panels, for low-temperature polycrystalline oxide, these screens allow for 1Hz-120Hz dynamic refresh rate range to save on battery when higher values aren't needed, like looking at a static picture. They are also more power-efficient and typically brighter than regular LTPS (low-temperature polysilicon) OLED screens. 

As mentioned, a phone with LTPO display can adapt its refresh rate to the touch of a finger, like on the iPhone 14 Pro or Oppo Find X6 Pro models which are priced as the Galaxy S23+, to sense if you are trying to scroll fast through an article, or just flicking gradually through pages, and react accordingly, saving a few precious mAh in the process.

The case of the inferior Galaxy S23 series displays

For some reason, however, the maker of those same superior LTPO OLED displays - Samsung - only offers them on its highest end Galaxy S23 Ultra, and without the touch speed adaptation for added measure. 

Not only that, but the other two members of its "flagship" 2023 line - the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23+ - still come with the old power-hungry LTPS display technology that it's been using since the S22 and S22+ as well. 

Samsung still lists a narrower 48Hz-120Hz refresh range in their 1080p display specs, they consume way more energy when lit up, and have much lower pixel density than what's on the S23 Ultra. What gives?

Galaxy S23+ display cost analysis

The reason that Samsung is still using inferior LTPS OLED screens for its flagship phone line in 2023 may be very prosaic - panel prices. A Galaxy S23+ display cost analysis by DSCC shows that it uses a 6.55-inch panel which costs Samsung about $55 to make and install.

If Samsung went with an LTPO OLED with absolutely the same characteristics for the Galaxy S23+, it would have added about 20% to the cost of the panel, raising the manufacturing expenditures for the phone in an industry with already razor thin margins for most phone makers but Apple.

This may be why, despite that the S23+ starts from $999 barring any Galaxy S23 series deals, Samsung still equipped it and its smaller S23 sibling with oldie LTPS screen technology. It apparently considered it good enough for the average user who may not notice the difference or wouldn't care as long as it says 120Hz refresh on the tin.

Still, the use of an LTPS panel on the Galaxy S23+ makes it somewhat of an odd bird in the whole S23 lineup. It still costs a grand like the iPhone 14 Pro or Oppo Find X6 Pro, for instance, yet offers a screen with aging OLED panel technology.

For a few dollars more...

For $10 in production costs more, Samsung could have equipped it with a display to match the Galaxy S23 Ultra and made it a real flagship proposition in that regard to compensate for the lack of periscope zoom camera. 

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That nickel-and-diming, however, resulted in a phone that can only be considered flagship because of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor when it comes to specs, yet it sells for high-end prices. 

This is valid for the S23 to a certain extent as well, and explains why the lion's 60% market share of the S23 line sales belongs to the Ultra, while the S23 and S23+ languish with 20% each, they are just not that good of a value for their MSRP prices.

Samsung may have taken notice and there were rumors that it mulls scrapping the middle child of its upcoming S24 family altogether, though subsequent debunking pegged a Galaxy S24+ still readied for release, perhaps for one last time before a grand Galaxy phone roster reshuffle.

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