The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is the company’s latest phone, and it’s made to accommodate anyone who’s fine with a few trade-offs. Samsung’s “Fan Edition” phones are mostly a mixture of older and newer components to craft something that teeters between mid-range and flagship territory. The Galaxy S23 FE leans more towards the former than the latter because of the choices made here, most of which aim to find a balance that maintains performance without raising the price.

Devices like this cater to those who want to upgrade, don’t need all the bells and whistles, yet also want it to last for longer. To get all that with the Galaxy S23 FE, you have to first consider the compromises that go with it.


Samsung Galaxy S23 FE (as tested):

  • Display: 6.4-inch 2340 x 1080 Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, 19.5:9 aspect ratio with 403 pixels per inch
  • OS: Android 14
  • Processor: 3.0GHz + 2.5GHz + 1.8GHz Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 64-bit octa-core processor.
  • Memory: 8GB RAM, 128GB, 256GB (no microSD card slot)
  • Camera: 50-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization, 8-megapixel telephoto lens, 12-megapixel ultra wide-angle, 10-megapixel front-facing
  • Video: Up to 8K video recording
  • Battery: 4500mAh
  • Connections: 5G, LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, A-GPS, NFC, Fast Charging, USB-C, Ultrasonic Fingerprint sensor, Wireless Charging, HDR10+
  • Dimensions: 6.22 x 3.01 x 0.32 inches
  • Weight: 209 grams
  • Comes in graphite, mint, cream and purple.

Familiar territory

Samsung skipped the FE with the S22 series, so the last time the company did this was the S21 FE. As was the case there, the S23 FE is a mixture, based on the Galaxy S23 and S23+ by borrowing heavily from those phones to create something a little different. The 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x screen is actually right in the middle between the S23 (6.2-inch) and S23+ (6.6-inch), only the bezels around the display make this phone wider and longer. That’s not to say the phone is huge, but it’s not necessarily going to feel super small.

The mixture also applies on the inside, and it’s where you have to consider what you want. For example, the Galaxy S23 FE runs on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, a chipset first introduced in smartphones in early 2022. It’s one way for Samsung to cut costs, but it means you’re going to push more out of it over time. That’s fine if you use your phone like most do, but if you’re thinking gaming or creating content longer-term, I’m not sure how well it will hold up with battery life.

There’s not much to worry about with memory and storage, where you start out with 8GB and 128GB, respectively. There is a 256GB variant, in case you need the space, but otherwise, specs largely stay the same. That includes the same IP68 dust and water resistance seen in the Galaxy S23, and Gorilla Glass 5 to protect the screen.

Put together, these specs and design points put the S23 FE decidedly in mid-range territory. It is a little heavier and a little wider than the other S23 models, while the screen won’t get quite as bright, either. There’s also a greater chance of dealing with glare when outside.

Galaxy S23 FE performance and software

At the time of this review, the Galaxy S23 FE runs on Android 14 and Samsung’s One UI 5.1, and gets the same four years of Android and security updates Samsung promises for the other S23 phones. That’s great news for keeping the device as current as possible years down the line, but it’s also ideal for continuity if you’re upgrading to this from an older Samsung phone.

The overall experience won’t come with any real surprises, otherwise. The previous FE handset didn’t have a 120Hz refresh rate, whereas this one does, and it shows when navigating the interface. While not as bright as the others, viewing the screen indoors won’t be much of an issue, as it really only creeps up when outside dealing with glare from the sun.

I noted earlier that the S23 FE probably won’t be great for gaming long-term, but you won’t come across any issues until time goes by. For now, you can use the phone to play games on platforms like Xbox Game Pass with relative ease, while graphics-intensive games from the Play Store will really depend on the Snapdragon chipset.

General usage won’t run into real problems, so the FE achieves its prime objective of simply being a highly functioning phone. It’s just not exceptional in any particular way, and that’s okay if that’s all you want. I streamed content on it, browsed the web, used various apps and messaged without encountering difficulties along the way.

One weird thing did happen, which was that parts of the screen would become far less responsive in colder conditions. I have no idea why, and based on my research, it’s not a pervasive issue affecting the Galaxy S23 FE. If you encounter the same thing, I would advise bringing it in for a diagnostic test.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera

There are three cameras in the rear, which is nice because not every mid-range phone gives you that. These cameras are essentially the same except for the 8-megapixel telephoto, which differs from the 10-megapixel telephoto in the other S23 devices. You still get a 3x optical zoom, plus a slightly wider aperture, but the sensor isn’t quite as good, so results will vary when zooming in.

For the most part, the photos you shoot with the Galaxy S23 FE will look about the same as those in the Galaxy S23. That means you can expect clean images with colour that pops. The better the conditions, the easier it will be to capture something good. As is often the case with Samsung phones, there’s a tendency to ramp up exposure, so I advise adjusting that slider (with the sun icon) so you can dial that back a little.

Again, though, measure your expectations. These aren’t images worthy of a flagship, so just because it is in the S23 lineup, doesn’t mean all photos are going to look fabulous. There are tough competitors around the same price capable of shooting even better, so if you’re an avid mobile photographer, consider your options first.

I’d say the same about video. Adequate results won’t be a problem here, and you may find the various video modes available bring out some creativity in you, which is always good. Samsung doesn’t introduce anything new other than to take what was in the Galaxy S23 and apply it here. You’ll get solid 4K footage and slow-motion clips at 240fps in 1080p, along with some improvement in low-light settings, but you will undoubtedly appreciate what you see more when the lighting is ideal.

Galaxy S23 FE battery life

It’s harder to read overall battery life on the Galaxy S23 FE because the circumstances aren’t always the same. For example, the screen is in a middle-of-the-road sweet spot for size—and isn’t as bright. Together, those two help the battery last longer. What doesn’t is the fact the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor isn’t as efficient as the Gen 2 chip is. In everyday situations, it should last a full day with mixed and moderate usage. Stream a ton of video or play a lot of games, and the calculus changes.

There’s no charging adapter in the box, so you get the single USB-C cable and that’s it. The phone tops up at up to 25W charging speeds, and also supports wireless charging, which is convenient. It takes about 90 minutes to go from 0-100%.

Final thoughts

The Galaxy S23 FE is not a phone for a particular type of user, but it’s definitely not for anyone looking for the best. Samsung made concessions to bring costs down and present it as an alternative within a mid-range category. It’s too similar to the Galaxy S23 to be very different from that device, but also more affordable. When you prioritize performance, you go for the faster phone, but when you can manage just fine, the FE fits just fine.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is available now in graphite, white, olive, and lavender.

Ted Kritsonis
Editor Cellular/Mobile Technology
I’m a fortunate man in being able to do the fun job of following and reporting on one of the most exciting industries in the world today. In my time covering consumer tech, I’ve written for a number of publications, including the Globe and Mail, Yahoo! Canada,, Canoe, Digital Trends, MobileSyrup, G4 Tech, PC World, Faze and AppStorm. I’ve also appeared on TV as a tech expert for Global, CTV and the Shopping Channel.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here