itel S23+ review: elegant design, good display

Review Summary

Expert Rating
7.5/10

Design
★  
8.0
/10
Display
★  
8.0
/10
Software
★  
7.0
/10
Camera
★  
7.0
/10
Performance
★  
6.5
/10
Battery
★  
7.5
/10

Pros

  • Appealing design
  • Curved AMOLED display
  • Reliable battery life

Cons

  • Performance could have been better
  • Not 5G capable

The itel S23+ comes across as a unique offering in the sub-Rs 15,000 segment. At a time when everyone is embracing the 5G trend, the smartphone is sticking to a generation-old cellular connectivity. However, it compensates with its display, design, cameras, and battery life. How does it turn out for the smartphone? Let’s find out in this itel S23+ review. Read on.

Verdict

The itel S23+ comes across as a good device for multimedia consumption for budget buyers. Its design and battery life are also something to write home about. The cameras impress too, with their daylight photography, but just like most other smartphones in the segment, struggle in low light. However, the major deal breakers for the smartphone could be its performance and absence of 5G.

Design and display

One cannot easily discern that the itel S23+ is a budget device solely by its appearance. The handset features an elegant curved screen design, a common characteristic in the segment where this smartphone is positioned. The curved screen design not only enhances the device’s aesthetics but also contributes to its sleekness, making it easier to hold with thin edges. The phone’s back panel has a matte finish, except for the camera module, which adds a glossiness, creating a distinct and appealing contrast.

The design language also keeps fingerprints at bay, although smudges may get in the way if you are a no-case person. However, it’s worth mentioning that the handset comes bundled with a high-quality case. Additionally, despite sporting a substantial 5,000mAh battery, the itel S23+ is remarkably lightweight, tipping the scales at just 178 grams. This feather-light feel can be attributed to its plastic build. You’ll experience no discomfort holding the device for extended periods while streaming your favourite content or gaming.

Speaking of streaming content or gaming, the itel S23+ does justice to them with its 6.78-inch AMOLED display. The display bears FHD+ resolution and minimal bezels, ensuring an immersive viewing experience. However, unlike its competitors, the itel S23+ only boast a standard 60Hz refresh rate. This should only be of concern for users coming from a phone with a high refresh rate, say 90Hz or 120Hz, as animation and scrolling might look jittery. Nevertheless, the viewing experience on the device is commendable. The colours on the panel look vibrant, and the shadows and deep blacks enhance the overall picture quality when watching movies and TV shows.

The itel S23+ is equipped with a single bottom-firing speaker that delivers decent audio at a moderate volume level. For security, the phone employs an in-display fingerprint scanner. The scanner is passable with a remark over its positioning. Ideally, it should have been slightly higher on the screen, aligning with the natural resting position of your thumb.

Cameras

The itel S23+ is equipped with a dual-camera setup, comprising a 50MP primary sensor and an AI lens. Additionally, setting it apart from the competition, the handset features a high-res 32MP front camera in the punch-hole setup for selfies and video calling. That said, the image quality is typical of a budget smartphone. To provide perspective, both the front and rear-facing cameras use pixel-binning technology to produce a compressed image, which looks good in daylight. The colours appear punchy and bright, and the details are generally pleasant. However, I would have appreciated better dynamic range to enhance the overall appeal of the image.

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Talking about the selfies, while the bigger sensor size does assist with facial detailing, the exposure to background details and skin tones could have been better. In low light or indoors, there isn’t much to expect from the cameras. Even with night mode, the images tend to appear grainy, and the colours are somewhat muted. The cameras struggled to meter the light effectively.

Performance and software

Coming to the performance, the itel S23+ employs a Unisoc Tiger T616 chipset paired with up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage onboard. This is where you will find the phone cutting corners. For starters, the handset is not 5G capable, which would have been fine if it had been launched a year or year and a half ago. 

Additionally, the phone performs underwhelmingly both in benchmarks and in the real world. The performance is more on par with budget devices, which means the S23+ is ideal for basic tasks such as browsing, streaming, and social media activities. Anything more than that like multitasking and gaming, you will notice the phone struggling and running into issues such as lags and frame drops.

On the software front, the itel S23+ boots Android 13 with a custom skin on top, which looks relatively clean. There are a handful of proprietary apps, besides Google’s, which are pre-loaded and non-removable. Fortunately, you won’t be bothered by ads or other pop-up notifications, a much-appreciated feature. In terms of customisation, the software provides numerous options, although it would be even better with the addition of some unique themes.

Be that as it may, the software expands the punch-hole on the display to form a pill shape when the phone is plugged in for charging or used for face unlock. Unfortunately, the feature is not interactive and cannot be customised. Overall, it is a good feature for a swift glance at the essential information.

Battery and charging speeds

The itel S23+ packs a 5,000mAh battery, which delivers an outstanding battery life given the general usage of the device. As the handset is not specifically designed for power users, it should last you an entire day, including regular activities and some streaming. Moreover, the handset supports 18W fast charging, taking anywhere between 60 and 90 minutes to recharge from 0 to 100 percent using the compatible charger provided in the box.

Final verdict

As interesting as the device is, it is important to reconsider your needs before buying the itel S23+. The handset is neither the fastest-performing smartphone within the segment nor it comes with the latest contemporary features like a high refresh rate screen and 5G capability. If that’s what you are after, then you should explore other budget options like Redmi 12 5G (review), Realme 11x 5G (review), and Lava Blaze 2 5G (review).

Priced starting at Rs 13,999, the itel S23+ is targeted more towards users who value an impeccable viewing experience. There hasn’t been a smartphone with an AMOLED display in the budget space for long. The itel S23+ does it gracefully by including a curved one with minimal bezels. For those who predominantly consume movies and TV shows on a smartphone, the S23+ proves to be a worthwhile investment in the budget category. Additionally, the design, cameras, and battery life come as bonuses for the device.

Editor’s rating: 7.5 / 10

Reasons to buy

  • The handset looks aesthetically pleasing, with its curved screen design and sleek appearance.
  • The curved AMOLED display outputs crisp and vibrant colours.
  • The phone delivers outstanding battery life given the general its usage. 

Reasons not to buy

  • The performance of the device feels a bit underwhelming.
  • The phone lacks 5G capabilities.

Key Specs

Itel S23 Plus
RAM8 GB
ProcessorUnisoc T616
Rear Camera50 MP
Front Camera32 MP
Battery5000 mAh
Display6.78 inches (17.22 cm)
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Itel S23 Plus Price
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Rs. 14,499.00
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