The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is quite the oddball. First, it’s equipped like an overdue Galaxy S22 FE. Then, in some markets, it is priced as the Galaxy S23. Finally, there is the chipset fragmentation we've been discussing in detail in this article. It does sound like a hard pass at first, doesn’t it?
Yet, it’s a solid smartphone, one that will be worthy of a recommendation once the price settles down. And we believe this will happen quite soon.
While there is zero chance that both versions would become available in a single market, it is still good to know what differences there are.
The Galaxy S23 FE doesn't feel exactly like a more affordable alternative to the Galaxy S23+, but the Galaxy S22+. Not that it doesn't really matter, but it's just that the Galaxy S23 FE is neither a Fan Edition, nor an S23. More like an S22 FE that is coming extra late for the party.
But the Galaxy S23 FE caters to a certain market niche, which we usually call flagship killers, where it brings flagship-grade features at an affordable price. Even better, it's smaller than the average phone, so some users would definitely find it a good offer just for its size.
The Galaxy S23 FE launched at $600 in the US and INR 60,000 in India. Then, it went on sale for $500 in the US and INR 49,000 in India, and from what we can see, it's back to its original pricing. It also launched in Europe at €650.
Having those prices in mind and its compact form factor, we think the first competitor that comes to mind should be the original Galaxy S23 flagship. It has a smaller but brighter screen, a more durable Victus 2 build, a faster chipset, and better telephoto and selfie cameras. The Galaxy S23 has a $800 MSRP in the US, but it can be found for as low as $630 depending on the retailer, which gets it pretty close to the Galaxy S23 FE. It is a similar affair in Europe.
The Nothing Phone (2) also costs the same as the Galaxy S23 FE at launch and it's a very good alternative. The Glyph UI and the physical design is unique, but the phone also has some impressive specs like the large OLED, a similarly powerful chipset with better stability, and notably faster charging. The rear camera setup consists of two cameras - a high-res primary with high-quality 2x zoom and a high-res ultrawide with great macro photography. There is no zoom camera here, and the selfie camera is inferior to the S23 FE's. If unique is what you are looking for, or just a larger screen with a clean UI, the Phone (2) will deliver.
Finally, the OnePlus Nord 3, where available, or its nearly identical OnePlus 10T counterpart, are even cheaper offers that deserve a mention here. The Nord 3 is an IP54-rated smartphone with a large Fluid AMOLED with a higher 1240p resolution and fast and more stable Dimensity 9000 chip. The phone has less impressive cameras all around and no zoom one, but it's a solid offer if your budget is more limited and yet you want a flagship killer phone.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE name makes little sense, but the phone has every chance of finding its footing when its price settles down. This late Galaxy S22 FE has an attractive dual-glass design, a great OLED screen, capable hardware, consistently good cameras, superb speakers, and flagship software.
We did appreciate the dual-glass design, and we are fond of the new colorways. We are not fans of the extra weight and the thicker bezels, though - even the 6.6-inch 22+ is smaller and lighter. Still, the S23 FE retains a classic design, and we think many will like it.
The Galaxy S23 FE has a 6.4-inch 120Hz OLED screen with good brightness, sharpness and HDR10+ streaming. Its punch hole is quite tiny, too. And the screen can be nicely color-accurate.
And we very much appreciated the louder and better-sounding speakers.
The camera quality is excellent across the board - main camera, 2x zoom, 3x telephoto, ultrawide, selfie. This applies for photos and videos, any time of the day. Samsung has been consistent with its quality and processing, and while its punchy colors may not be everyone's cup of tea, they are valued by many.
The chipset is quite powerful and still flagship-grade, but its GPU stability is far from ideal, and gamers should want to consider something else before deciding on this Galaxy. The battery life, especially when it comes to gaming, is below average, too.
Overall, the Galaxy S23 FE is a good all-round smartphone, almost like a flagship-killer, even if it's a year late. It's pretty much a hard pass at $600/€650, but at $500/€500 or less - we'd say it's a good deal that makes sense.
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