Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

GSMArena Team, 15 November 2023.

Introduction

The Fan Edition is no more, yet the FE series live on. Indeed, the new Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is bringing back the beloved affordable flagship vibe, but there is no mention of the original FE meaning, just Standout Features. And the Galaxy S23 FE has plenty of those.

This review covers both the Exynos-based global model of the Galaxy S23 FE as well as the US version with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset as we've had a chance to test both devices extensively.

The Galaxy S23 FE is a refresh of the rather popular Galaxy S21 FE, improving the design, the performance, and the camera quality. The usual stuff, obviously.

The design is the real standout here, especially our Purple version. It is one of the most strikingly beautiful colorways we've seen in years, and we are just in love with it.

The phone is IP68-rated, looks a lot like the Galaxy S23 models, but has a matte frame. It borrows the Galaxy 21 FE display - it's a 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X with 1080p resolution and 120Hz refresh rate.

The chipset upgrade is inevitable, of course. The Galaxy S23 FE jumps one generation ahead with the Exynos 2200 (the Galaxy S22 series SoC), up from Exynos 2100 on the S21 FE. That is for the international version. The US model is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, up from Snapdragon 888.

The base model remains 128GB, but the base RAM is now 8GB. There is no microSD expansion, a feature known to be, well, a fan favorite.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

Moving on to the camera. The setup on the back is like the one on the S21 FE but with a higher resolution primary camera - it's now a 50MP OIS main cam, accompanied by an 8MP 3x OIS telephoto and a 12MP ultrawide camera. The selfie camera uses a 10MP imager.

And that's about it. The rest is the same as on the S21 FE - a pair of speakers, a 4,500mAh battery with 25W fast charging, wireless charging, UD fingerprint scanner. The S23 FE arrives with Android 13 and One UI 5.1.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE specs at a glance:

  • Body: 158.0x76.5x8.2mm, 209g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass 5), glass back (Gorilla Glass 5), aluminum frame; IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 min).
  • Display: 6.40" Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1450 nits (peak), 1080x2340px resolution, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 403ppi.
  • Chipset: Exynos 2200 (4 nm) - International, Qualcomm SM8450 Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (4 nm) - USA: Octa-core (1x2.8 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3x2.50 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4x1.8 GHz Cortex-A510) - International, Octa-core (1x3.00 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3x2.50 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4x1.80 GHz Cortex-A510) - USA; Xclipse 920 - International, Adreno 730 - USA.
  • Memory: 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM.
  • OS/Software: Android 13, One UI 5.1.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 50 MP, f/1.8, 24mm, PDAF, OIS; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 123˚; Telephoto: 8 MP, f/2.4, 75mm, PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom.
  • Front camera: 10 MP, f/2.4, 26mm (wide).
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 8K@24fps, 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps, 720p@960fps; Front camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60fps.
  • Battery: 4500mAh; 25W wired, PD2.0, 50% in 30 min, Wireless.
  • Connectivity: 5G; eSIM; Dual SIM; Wi-Fi 6e; BT 5.3; NFC.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, optical); stereo speakers; Virtual proximity sensing, Samsung DeX.

The Galaxy S23 FE seems like an affordable premium smartphone with an excellent display, powerful hardware, and a capable camera kit. You can easily tell where Samsung had to cut some corners to keep a decent price - last year's chip, the low-res tele camera, and even the Gorilla Glass went from Victus down to Glass 5. And yet, the cherrypicked features do make for one well-rounded smartphone, at least on paper.

The updates over the Galaxy S21 FE are not major - next-gen chip and a higher-res main camera, so we doubt the S21 FE owners would find this one intriguing. And this is the only thing we can think of upfront that some may find upsetting.

Unboxing the Galaxy S23 FE

The Galaxy S23 FE arrives in one of those super thin eco-friendly boxes that Samsung has been using for the last couple of years.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

The retail bundle includes the S23 FE, a black USB-C-C cable, and a SIM ejection PIN. That's it.

Reader comments

  • Dono
  • 17 Jul 2024
  • vam

pretty impressive all round, very clear camera fairly very good quality screen with Amoled X2 and nearly 1500 nitts brightness and it's very quick speed wise on anything you do or ask, I bought mine brand new from a store at $600 and I'm ...

  • MsI0
  • 19 Jun 2024
  • AAr

Meh, depends if you want camera or battery and expandable storage.

From the A55 review on gsmarena. "The only real advantage the Galaxy A55 has over its higher-end sibling is battery life, which is one area where it wipes the floor with the S23 FE. However, it's hard to overlook other aspects and feat...