Samsung Galaxy S23 FE evaluation: purchase this telephone as a substitute of that different one

Editor’s Notice

• Unique evaluation date: December, 2023
• Galaxy AI options and OneUI 6.1 replace have arrived
• Launch value: $599.99 / £599 / AU$899
• Lowest value on Amazon: $449.99 / £490 / AU$899

Replace: April 2024. The Galaxy S23 FE could have been overshadowed by the Galaxy S24 household, which launched simply over a month after this late bloomer arrived. That does not imply the Galaxy S23 FE is not value a glance, particularly if you could find it on sale for a terrific value. The S23 FE acquired the most recent Galaxy AI options with the OneUI 6.1 replace, which implies it may create textual content messages, generate new images, and extra. Plus, it is nonetheless highly effective sufficient that we are able to hope for extra AI options to return, together with long-rumored updates to Samsung’s woeful Bixby voice assistant that might make it an AI powerhouse. 

The remainder of this evaluation stays as beforehand printed.

Philip Berne

Philip BerneSenior Editor, Cellphone Evaluations and Shopping for Guides

Galaxy S23 FE: Two-minute evaluation

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Picture credit score: Future / Philip Berne)

For those who ask Samsung of us what the ‘FE’ in Galaxy S23 FE stands for, they’ll inform you it now not stands for ‘Fan Version’; it doesn’t stand for something. I’m telling you this actually is a Galaxy S23 for the followers. By ‘followers,’ I imply of us who respect one of the best that Samsung provides, even after they can’t afford one of the best that Samsung provides. Like automobile followers will search for nice used automobile offers, and fashionistas discover flash gross sales and samples, Samsung followers can nonetheless get (most of) one of the best of the Galaxy S world with out paying sky-high costs. 

The Galaxy S23 FE is a discount, particularly should you discover it on sale, and it rapidly went on sale for Black Friday quickly after launch. This telephone lists for $599 within the US, however it dropped as little as $399 for Black Friday, and it’s nonetheless acquired a reduction as of this writing. This can be a telephone that’s meant to fill the huge value hole between the Galaxy S23 and the Galaxy A54, however it is going to even be a terrific discount when gross sales are energetic. 

What makes this a Galaxy S23 for the followers? It’s very highly effective, due to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 platform that was the engine for the Galaxy S22 Extremely. It has strong cameras with wonderful options, together with cool photograph modes which are straightforward to make use of and make your images look a lot better. It additionally has a strong construct high quality, with whole water resistance. It even is available in some cool colours. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Picture credit score: Future / Philip Berne)

In fact, as a result of it’s a Samsung, the Galaxy S23 FE additionally goes excessive in ways in which different discount telephones don’t. As an example, the Galaxy S23 FE can run DEX, Samsung’s desktop surroundings that turns your telephone right into a laptop computer while you plug it right into a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. That’s a terrific characteristic should you use your telephone for e mail, apps, and taking part in video games that you simply don’t normally run in your laptop, and I can’t imagine it’s included on the Galaxy S23 FE. 

The Galaxy S23 FE is overloaded with options, like each good Samsung telephone. It not solely contains wi-fi charging, it may share its cost wirelessly with different gadgets, so in case your earbuds run out of battery you’ll be able to simply sit them on the Galaxy S23 FE. 

In some methods, the S23 FE even tops Samsung’s largest competitor. It has Wi-Fi 6E, which the iPhone 15 can’t match. The iPhone has USB-C, however the Galaxy has a way more succesful USB-C port with quicker charging. Oh, it additionally has an actual telephoto zoom lens with 3X optical zoom, along with the huge and ultra-wide lenses. Take that, iPhone. 

The draw back? It appears like a less expensive model of the Galaxy S23. It doesn’t appear like a discount telephone. Discount telephones gussy up low-cost plastic to make a nice-looking shell that isn’t actually sturdy. The Galaxy S23 FE feels a lot sturdy. It additionally feels thick and heavy. Positively not chintzy, in no way, the supplies really feel robust and premium. Samsung simply didn’t hassle slicing any bulk from this large man.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Picture credit score: Future / Philip Berne)

That stated, you’ll respect the sturdiness in three or 4 years when you find yourself nonetheless utilizing this telephone. Samsung has made a superb promise of 4 years of OS updates and 5 years of safety patches, and that’s stellar for a telephone on this value vary. 

The Galaxy S23 FE is simple to advocate, whether or not or not it’s on sale, particularly in opposition to different telephones you could find for a similar value. It’s extra highly effective than a Google Pixel 7, with extra options. It’s acquired higher cameras than the Motorola Edge. It’s not already two years previous, just like the comparably-priced iPhone 13. 

For those who’re deciding whether or not to spend a bit of bit extra to get this telephone, I’d say it’s value the additional. Samsung offers you numerous while you bounce into the Galaxy S household. If you need a telephone that’s higher than this, you’ll have to spend so much extra.

Need extra of our ideas on the most recent Galaxy telephones? Try our information round-ups for the upcoming Galaxy S24 and the rumored Galaxy S24 Extremely

Galaxy S23 FE evaluation: Value and availability

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Picture credit score: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Begins at $599.99 / £599 / AU$899 for 128GB and 8GB RAM
  • Inexpensive than the Galaxy S21 FE was
  • Nice gross sales already dropped this to $399.99 in US

For some time, should you had round $600 / £600 / AU$900 to spend on a telephone, there weren’t any nice choices from Samsung. You can discover cheaper telephones just like the Pixel 7 or the Galaxy A54. Or, you possibly can get an iPhone 13, which remains to be accessible new. In any other case, you principally needed to hope for a deal to drop a terrific flagship telephone into your value vary. 

Enter the Galaxy S23 FE, or I ought to say re-enter the FE as a result of we had a Galaxy S21 FE, however that telephone was disappointing. It was costly and underpowered. There was no Galaxy S22 FE, regardless of rumors, and Samsung appears to have listened to criticism to get the Galaxy S23 FE into the candy spot for a discount version of its flagship telephone. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the offers we’ve already seen on this telephone. We not often get such wonderful offers earlier than we are able to even end a evaluation. This telephone hadn’t launched within the UK when Amazon dropped the value within the US to $399.99, which is absurdly low. From right here on, we’ll be searching for value drops on this gadget, because it appears to be an early favourite to placed on sale. 

Even at full value, nevertheless, the Galaxy S23 FE is an effective selection. It has some necessary options that different telephones lack, like IP68 water and dirt resistance, and it has some niceties that even some flagship telephones nonetheless skip, like wi-fi charging and reverse wi-fi charging. It’s highly effective and sturdy, and Samsung will assist it with main updates for 4 years, so it has higher longevity than most telephones. 

If you could find a deal, completely seize this telephone. Even should you can’t, that is one of the best new telephone you should purchase at this value.

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Galaxy S23 FE costs
Storage US value UK value AU value
128GB $599.99 £599 AU$899
256GB $659.99 £659 AU$999
  • Worth rating: 5 / 5

Galaxy S23 FE evaluation: Specs

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Picture credit score: Future / Philip Berne)

The Galaxy S23 FE makes use of the identical Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 platform discovered on the Galaxy S22 household, together with the Galaxy S22 Extremely. It has the identical 8GB of RAM that you simply’ll discover within the Galaxy S23. In different phrases, it’s a lot highly effective. It’s highly effective sufficient to be an actual workhorse for inventive varieties, operating photograph modifying software program like Lightroom and recording video as much as 8K decision.

The place does Samsung reduce corners? Properly, Qualcomm’s latest processor is a bit quicker than the 2022 chipset. The display on the S23 FE could be very good, however the common Galaxy S23 is brighter. The primary digicam is comparable, however the ultra-wide and zoom cameras are higher on the Galaxy S23, which might deal with extra superior video taking pictures. 

Nonetheless, that is a formidable telephone for the cash, particularly due to the superb construct high quality that screams sturdiness, and the additional massive battery inside. This telephone had no hassle lasting all day, and it was enjoyable to make use of. Nothing concerning the Galaxy S23 FE tells you that it is a discount telephone except you spend quite a lot of time with telephones just like the Galaxy S23 Extremely.

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Row 0 – Cell 1
Dimensions: 158 x 76.5 x 8.2mm
Weight: 209g
Show: 6.4-inch OLED; 1,500 nit peak brightness
Decision: 1080 x 2340 pixels
Refresh fee: 120Hz
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Storage: 128 / 256GB
OS: Android 14; One UI 6
Rear Cameras: 50MP huge; 12MP extremely huge; 8MP 3X zoom
Entrance Digicam: 10MP
Battery: 4,500 mAh
Charging: 25W
Colours: Mint, Graphite, Cream, Purple

Galaxy S23 FE evaluation: Design

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Picture credit score: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Nice shade choices, with exclusives on Samsung’s web site
  • Massive, thick, and chunky
  • Design is youthful, like a My First Galaxy telephone

Do smartphone colours appear a bit critical to you? The Galaxy S23 FE is right here to assist. The purple on my evaluation pattern is the happiest purple I’ve seen on a telephone in years. The tangerine shade will encourage oohs from of us who spot your telephone. The colours are vibrant, shiny, and saturated. You possibly can nonetheless get cream or graphite if you wish to be boring, however there may be additionally a beautiful mint and a cloudy indigo blue. 

Why begin with the colours? As a result of should you’ve seen one Galaxy S telephone, you’ve seen the remainder. The design for the Galaxy S23 FE comes straight from the Galaxy S playbook. It’s glass back and front. The cameras are like portholes peeking out from beneath the ocean of purple (or tangerine). The branding is remarkably refined: you’ll be able to’t see the phrase “Samsung” except you maintain the telephone within the mild simply so.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Picture credit score: Future / Philip Berne)

This telephone is thick, for certain. The center-child Galaxy S23 Plus has a bigger show than the Galaxy S23 FE, however the FE is greater than a half mm thicker, and it weighs a hefty 13 grams greater than its larger sibling. It appears large and feels large. It isn’t uncomfortable. The perimeters are brushed steel and properly rounded, so it’s very snug to carry. It’s only a large chongus of a telephone. 

With a thicker design, thicker bezels across the show, and brighter colours, the telephone offers off a youthful vibe nearly like a toy, however a toy that received’t break. It looks like a terrific starter telephone in order for you your child to have one thing critical, but in addition one thing sturdy that received’t break the financial institution in the event that they break it.

  • Design rating: 3 / 5

Galaxy S23 FE evaluation: Show

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Picture credit score: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Sharp with good shade
  • Vivid sufficient however not the brightest
  • Bezels are too massive and asymmetrical

As you’d count on from a Samsung telephone, the show on the Galaxy S23 FE appears nice, particularly in opposition to different telephones at this value. It’s not fairly as vibrant because the Galaxy S23, however it appears simply as sharp and colourful, and it holds HDR10+ certification for watching streaming content material in superior HDR high quality. 

The bezels across the show are large they usually aren’t symmetrical, which bothered me. I didn’t assume it might hassle me this a lot, however as soon as I seen that the decrease bezels had been larger than the remainder, I all the time seen. I couldn’t not see the unevenness. Perhaps this form of factor doesn’t hassle you. If it does, you understand who you’re, and this can hassle you. 

There’s an excellent always-on show possibility on the Galaxy S23 FE, however it’s turned off by default so that you’ll need to dig to search out it. For those who’re a real Samsung fan, I additionally advocate downloading Samsung’s Good Lock app from the Samsung Galaxy Retailer. It has quite a lot of nice themes, wallpaper, and lock display choices that aren’t a part of the conventional Samsung One UI. Just for true followers, although.

  • Show rating: 4 / 5

Galaxy S23 FE evaluation: Software program

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Picture credit score: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Numerous apps, perhaps too many
  • Options could be buried below layers of menus
  • Good search (and Bixby) can assist

The wonderful thing about Samsung telephones is that they’re loaded with options. The horrible factor about Samsung telephones is that yearly an increasing number of options get crammed in, and the previous ones simply get pushed to the again of the Settings closet. The excellent news is that Samsung has nice instruments that may assist, should you’re keen to present them a attempt. 

I’m speaking about Bixby, and should you’re a Samsung fan then you definately don’t shudder or flip away in disgust once I say that identify. The Galaxy S23 FE has extra options than another telephone in its value vary, and Bixby is one of the best ways to search out them. 

As an example, the Galaxy S23 FE can cost different gadgets wirelessly utilizing a characteristic referred to as Wi-fi Energy Sharing. So, the place do you discover this characteristic? I’m going to inform you (and also you received’t imagine me), however the best method to discover it’s to simply ask Bixby. Maintain the Bixby button (learn: Energy button) and say, “Activate wi-fi energy sharing.” Voila! The characteristic is turned on. You received’t have to fret concerning the subsequent half. 

4 Samsung Galaxy S23 FE phones

(Picture credit score: Future / Philip Berne)

If you wish to discover wi-fi energy sharing by yourself, first seize your bullwhip and fedora, as a result of that is an journey. At first, I believed the characteristic was referred to as “reverse wi-fi charging,” however it’s referred to as wi-fi energy sharing. I regarded below the Battery and gadget care settings, however it wasn’t there. It wasn’t even buried below the nook submenu dots. I couldn’t discover it. 

Then, on the Battery Settings display, I see three meters that present how full your battery, your storage, and your RAM are at the moment. To search out wi-fi energy sharing, you must faucet on the Battery meter. There’s no indication that that is even a button or a menu. You simply need to know. I’m a longtime Samsung person, so I count on this stuff. 

The issue with the Galaxy S23 FE and all of Samsung’s software program is that far too many helpful options are like this. They’re buried. They’re inconceivable to search out. They’re hidden below buttons that don’t even appear like buttons. It’s nice to have so many options, however Samsung must simplify.

Samsung DeX

Samsung DeX offers you an actual desktop with a taskbar (Picture credit score: Future)

I used to be shocked to search out Samsung’s highly effective DeX on the Galaxy S23 FE. DeX is Samsung’s ‘desktop surroundings expertise.’ It’s principally a brand new house display that your telephone creates while you hook up with an exterior monitor. You possibly can run a number of apps in home windows side-by-side, similar to you’ll on a laptop computer. It looks like a Chromebook. 

DeX is endlessly helpful if you understand when to make use of it. It’s particularly nice while you’re touring and might simply plug your telephone right into a workstation, and even join wirelessly to a TV. It’s additionally good if in case you have a piece telephone and a private laptop, or vice versa, and also you don’t need to combine your work and private lives on every gadget. You possibly can simply work in your telephone the way in which you’d work on a pc.  

The Galaxy Z Flip 5, which has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor inside, doesn’t have DeX on board. Amazingly, a discount telephone just like the S23 FE has such highly effective software program. what’s additionally wonderful? Samsung forgot to load a Clock app. Or a Calendar. You will get the Google Clock and Google Calendar from the Google Play Retailer, however this was a extremely, actually bizarre oversight. 

It’s time to simplify.

  • Software program rating: 3 / 5

Galaxy S23 FE evaluation: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Picture credit score: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Cameras are superb for a telephone this value
  • Some hassle with evening images
  • Stable zoom and nice photograph modes for enjoyable choices

The Galaxy S23 FE has superb cameras, and it sits in the course of telephones on this value vary. The primary digicam is superb, particularly below vibrant lighting circumstances, although particulars weren’t all the time excellent. The 3X optical zoom digicam is satisfactory and higher than the digital zoom you’ll get on different telephones for this value. 

Samsung does an excellent job with its digicam app, and you’ll belief the photograph modes to do what they promise. The Meals mode on Samsung cameras is one among my favorites, making use of heat shade tones and a pleasant bokeh blur to the background to make meals topics pop. In each mode, images are extremely saturated on this telephone, however that’s nothing new to Samsung followers.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

An awesome sandwich deserves a terrific Meals mode (Picture credit score: Future / Philip Berne)

For those who care about pictures, you is likely to be higher off with an older telephone just like the Google Pixel 7, which takes barely higher pics and likewise offers you Google’s distinctive photograph modifying instruments. In fact, the Galaxy S23 FE is highly effective sufficient to run Adobe Lightroom, if you wish to edit, so Google isn’t the one recreation on the town.

The Pixel 7, just like the Motorola Edge and the iPhone 13, skips the telephoto lens. If you need actual zoom in your digicam, you’re going to wish the Galaxy S23 FE. I discovered zoom to be one among its finest qualities, and even at evening, zoomed-in pics regarded fairly good.

In fact, as a result of it’s Samsung, there are perhaps too many digicam modes, and never all of them are clear. If I’m taking pictures video, ought to I simply use Video mode, or do I want to make use of Director mode? And what’s this enigmatic Single Take mode, that allows you to shoot something from ‘boomerang clips’ to ‘collages’ to ‘cropped photographs’ with out rationalization?

There’s so much to like within the Digicam app, however similar to every part else on the Galaxy S23 FE, it must be simplified. Samsung must make extra selections for us and do away with so many pointless choices.

Confusingly, Samsung contains two photograph gallery apps: its personal Gallery and Google Pictures. You possibly can persist with Pictures, however I’ve been utilizing each for a very long time, and Samsung Gallery backs as much as OneDrive, so you have got a cloud backup that follows you to your subsequent gadget, similar to with Google.

The digicam was a bit much less responsive than I’d like, and it appeared to take a beat to focus and snap a photograph, particularly in evening mode. My images nonetheless got here out nice, however should you’re chasing quick animals or rugrats to your pics, it’s your decision a greater digicam telephone.


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