Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy S23 FE, a new premium phone. Just like previous FE series phones, the S23 FE aims to be a more affordable yet still premium alternative to the true Galaxy S flagships. Compared to its predecessor, the S21 FE, the new model brings updates to the design, chipset performance, and camera quality.

Design and build quality

The back of this phone is made of glass, a departure from the plastic back of past models. Ours is in this stunning purple color way, not flashy but captivating when it catches the light. A nice silver accent on the separate camera rings complements the matte aluminum frame, making the S23 FE surprisingly heavy—over 30 grams more than the previous model.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

As expected from a Galaxy S smartphone, it comes with IP68-rated ingress protection against dust and water. The 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED display features a 1080p resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. However, it has rather thick bezels, reminding you that it isn’t a true flagship. The front uses Gorilla Glass 5, not Gorilla Glass Victus like the previous model—a sort of downgrade.

Display on Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

display on Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

The display performs well, with decent sharpness and consistent color accuracy. It supports HDR10 Plus video content, and the maximum brightness is higher this time around. Measuring about 450 nits manually and boosting to nearly 1,000 nits in auto brightness mode, the display’s refresh rate makes it quite smooth and adaptive, though not as much as on the flagships. It can dial down to 60Hz when idling to save energy.

Audio and feature

For audio, there’s a pair of stereo speakers with excellent loudness and richer, deeper sound than previous models. To wake up and unlock the phone, you can use the under-display fingerprint scanner, which is fast and reliable. The S23 FE comes with 128 or 256 gigs of storage, not expandable through MicroSD.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

At the time of this review, the interface is Samsung’s 1UI 5.1 running over Android 13. However, the new 1UI 6 and Android 14 are set to roll out soon. Samsung promises up to 4 years of OS upgrades and 5 years of security patches for the S23 FE. The software experience mirrors higher-end Galaxy models, including DeX support.

performance on Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

The FE series is known for using flagship-grade yet slightly outdated chipsets, and the S23 FE is no exception. It comes with either an Exynos 2200 or a Snapdragon 8 Gen1 chipset, depending on the market. In benchmarks, it sits well towards the top of the charts, offering practical use with snappy performance. However, thermal management results during prolonged stress tests show significant throttling in the CPU, and GPU performance stability is unimpressive, with occasional drops in demanding games.

Battery life

Moving on to battery life, a new test based on active phone use reveals a score of 9 hours and 45 minutes for the 4500mAh battery. Individual times are solid for calls and video streaming but below average for web browsing and gaming, with better results observed in the Galaxy S23.

The phone supports 25W fast charging, wireless charging, and reverse wireless charging. In the camera department, the setup mirrors the S23, with a 50MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide, and an 8MP 3x telephoto. The main camera captures detailed photos with high contrast and wide dynamic range. In low light, the automatic night mode enhances photo quality, and the main camera supports 8K video recording.

Camera on Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

The telephoto camera, offering 3x zoom, delivers satisfactory detail, while the ultra-wide excels in capturing wide shots with impressive detail and dynamic range. Selfies from the 10MP front camera exhibit good detail, contrast, and realistic color reproduction.

camera on Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

In conclusion, the Galaxy S23 FE offers a great display, nice speakers, a powerful enough chipset, and capable cameras. Compared to a full-on flagship, it’s relatively affordable. However, the decision between the S23 and S23 FE depends on individual preferences and market prices. In some cases, the price difference isn’t significant, making the S23 a viable option, especially if you prefer a smaller screen. Nonetheless, the S23 FE stands out as a nice, well-rounded smartphone, and even more appealing if it saves you some cash. Thanks for watching, and if you’re looking for alternatives to the Galaxy S23 FE, check out our reviews of the Asus Zen phone 10 and the Nothing phone 2. Let us know your thoughts, and I’ll see you on the next one.