A graphical render of the Galaxy S23 FE in four color variations.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review: Pros and Cons

The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE was introduced on 4 October 2023. This Android smartphone is part of the Samsung Galaxy S23 lineup and it sits between the mid-range Galaxy A54 and the flagship Samsung Galaxy S23. Hence, in terms of specifications and capabilities, it has flagship but older-generation hardware and some premium features found in its most expensive flagship siblings at a less expensive price point. This article reviews the advantages and disadvantages or pros and cons of the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE.

Background: Specifications of Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

A material made of aluminum frames this device. The 6.4-inch OLED screen is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and the back is made of the same proprietary and protective glass material. This device also has an IP68 rating that confers it with dust resistance and water resistance for up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes.

Powering this device is either a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 for the United States market or a Samsung Exynos 2200 for the international market. Both systems-on-a-chip are based on the 4nm process. The former is based on the specific manufacturing process technology of TSMC while the latter uses the manufacturing technology of Samsung.

These two chips are somewhat similar in terms of their architecture. Their respective 8-core CPUs are based on the big.LITTLE architecture of ARM. There is a single high-performance core, three performance cores, and four efficiency cores. The Snapdragon variant uses an Adreno 720 integrated GPU while the Exynos variant has the Xclipse 720 GPU.

Placed on the back is a three-camera system composed of a main 50-megapixel wide camera, a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera, and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera. The front-facing camera is a 10-megapixel shooter. The camera system supports 8K resolution video recording at 24 FPS and up to 1080p slow motion recording at 240 FPS.

An 8GB of RAM is available for both the base 128GB variant and the pricier 256GB variant. There is also a 4500 mAh lithium-ion battery with support for 25-watt fast charging and standard wireless charging. This device also has Wi-Fi 6E standard, the newer Bluetooth 5.3, and sub-6 GHz 5G and 4G LTE cellular network technologies.

Pros of Samsung Galaxy S23 FE: Notable Selling Points

1. Notable Processing Capabilities and Performance

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and the Exynos 2200 were flagship chips from 2022. However, despite being older, these two are still capable and can handle the most recent apps and demanding workloads. Some might prefer the former from the latter but real-world tests have shown that Samsung has managed to optimize the performance of its Exynos 2200 chip.

Nevertheless, considering either of the two chips, one of the advantages of the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is its flagship-level performance that outperforms the Galaxy A54 and the Google Pixel 7A. Its processing capabilities are closer to the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro that were launched in October 2023 and are powered by the newer Google Tensor G3.

2. Affordable Price Point For Premium Features

This device was priced at USD 599.00 at introduction and this price tag could go down in the coming months. It is not as affordable as other mid-range devices but it is still more affordable than the Google Pixel 8 which had an introductory price of USD 699.00 and the Google Pixel 8 Pro which was introduced with a price tag of USD 999.00.

It is worth mentioning that this smartphone comes with numerous flagship-level features. The always-on OLED screen has an adaptive or variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz and a peak brightness of 1450 nits. There is also wireless charging equipped with reverse wireless charging. Samsung promises OS updates until 2027 and security patches until 2029.

3. Notable Camera Performance and Capabilities

Another advantage or one of the pros of the Galaxy S23 FE is its camera system that rests above the mid-range level. The rear cameras perform well in various daytime and nighttime situations. The 3x optical zoom from the telephoto lens shoots sharp and detailed images while photography using the night mode is more than decent compared with mid-range devices.

The 50-megapixel main shooter can capture subtle details under respectable lighting situations while the 10-megapixel selfie camera captures vivid colors. There are a ton of features within the camera app. These include high dynamic range, live filters, facial reconstruction, and various portrait modes. The photo editing app can improve image quality.

Cons of Samsung Galaxy S23 FE: Issues and Drawbacks

1. Performance of Cameras is Still Not Flagship-Level

It cannot be denied that this device has an excellent camera system. However, when compared to the more expensive smartphones under the Galaxy S23 line, it is not as good. The main camera sometimes struggles with exposure and dynamic range. Images taken from the digital zoom also have noticeable noise, lack of details, and blurring.

The more expensive Google Pixel 8 and the iPhone 15 take better images and record better videos. Furthermore, for more inexpensive counterparts, the Pixel 7A also has a better camera system than the S23 FE. The iPhone SE 2022 is also a good alternative. Equivalent devices from Vivo and Xiaomi also offer better or comparable camera performance.

2. Unimpressive Battery Life Despite Large Capacity

Another disadvantage or one of the cons of the Galaxy S23 FE is its battery performance. Battery life could be better. The 4500 lithium-ion battery is definitely bigger than the 3900 mAh battery of the vanilla Galaxy S23 but this capacity does not translate to real-world gains. The device could last an entire day on a single charge under about 5 hours of continuous use.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 might be the reason behind the power intensiveness of this device. Remember that this is a flagship-level system-on-a-chip but it is based on an older process technology that makes it less power efficient than chips based on the 3nm process. Poor optimization between hardware and software is another reason.

3. Design is Not Premium-Level and Flagship-Level

It looks good overall but there are some drawbacks to the design. This device has thicker bezels around the screen than the other smartphones from the Galaxy S23 lineup. The screen-to-body ratio is about 83 percent compared to the above 90 percent ratio of premium smartphones. The chin at the bottom of the screen is also more noticeable.

This device is also heavier than the Pixel 8 and the iPhone SE 2022 at 7.37 ounces. This extra weight can make it feel more cumbersome and less comfortable to hold for long periods. The Samsung One UI provides a good user interface and user experience but the vanilla user interface of Pixel smartphones is cleaner and more straightforward.

Verdict: Pros and Cons of the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

The aforementioned pros and cons of the Galaxy S23 FE make it a respectable Android smartphone situated between the mid-range and flagship categories. It is a good option for someone who wants a Samsung device without having to pay USD 800.00 or more. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 affords it with above-average performance. However, compared with true flagships, it pales in comparison, especially in the camera department. There are also better alternative mid-rangers under the same price bracket.