Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra production plans leak as the S-line's flagship status is questioned

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Samsung's Galaxy S23 production plans leak out with a heavy Ultra skew
Samsung has a rather tepid sales expectation towards its Galaxy line of phones due to the looming 2023 recession, reports Korean media. According to The Elec's sources, the world's largest phone maker held a business meeting with partners two weeks ago, and informed them about its phone production forecast for the next year.

The plans are to reportedly produce about 291 million handsets, a double-digit 13% reduction from the phones Samsung expected to sell when it made the 2022 forecast at this time last year. Those "curb your enthusiasm" expectations might be reflecting the upcoming ugly economic reality of rising interest rates and rampant inflation that eats into its customers' disposable income.

Still, Samsung forecasts that its actual shipments, which are usually about 10% lower than the overall production numbers, will be a healthy 270 million number. That's more than the 260 million it would ship in 2022, so the production forecast adjustment might be reflecting better portfolio distribution planning and tighter cost controls instead of simply a recession doom and gloom.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra sales

This year, Samsung was somewhat surprised to witness such a huge interest in the Galaxy S22 Ultra at the expense of its cheaper siblings that it was forced to delay some launches and orient the top-shelf Qualcomm Snapdragon processors they would've hogged towards the S22 series production.

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For the Galaxy S23 Ultra in 2023, however, Samsung has set the broader production goals of 14.74 million units, or about 45% of the S23 series total, while the S23+ model is only expected to move 5.42 million units, with the rest going to the cheapest S23 with 38%.

A new Galaxy S series may be in the cards

Overall, Samsung intends to ship 21% "flagship" phones in its 291 million total, and that includes the upcoming Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Z Flip 5 for which it forecasts a more conservative sales growth number than it envisioned for the Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 in 2022 due to lower than expected sales of the Flip 4. 

The Fold 5 is still expected to move 3.54 million units, a fine increase from the 2.9 million forecast for the Z Fold 4, but demand for the Flip 5 Samsung expects to stay largely flat in 2023. This could mean that Samsung is not planning any huge design or specs changes to its clamshell line of phones with bendy screens.

The lion's share of Samsung's phone production forecast for next year, however, goes to its bread-and-butter Galaxy A-series which are expected to net the whopping 74% if its 2023 sales. As such, Samsung is mulling an overhaul of what it considers "flagship" phones, as only one in its typical S-line trio could be called that with clear conscience and priced as such.

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In a conference call set last week, Samsung mentioned that it is preparing to launch a new S-series of phones that will strengthen the "core identity and experience" of the Galaxy brand. While it may have simply meant the upcoming Galaxy S23 series, Samsung could also be envisioning changes in the composition of its top-end S-line of phones to better reflect their flagship status.

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