- Source: Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23 FEReturn to form
The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is a return to form for the Fan Edition brand, invoking the spirit of the original S20 FE instead of the disappointing S21 FE. Using last year's chip and compromising on the telephoto lens is a reasonable trade-off for the savings over the regular S23, especially as both share the same 50MP primary camera.Pros
- Larger battery
- Great price
- Mediocre telephoto camera
- Optical fingerprint reader
- Source: SamsungPocket rocket
The Galaxy S23 is one of the best small phones around. Its slim bezels allow the 6.1-inch display to nestle into the palm of your hand, and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 makes sure that this phone can still trade punches with other flagship phones.Pros
- Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner
- 3X telephoto lens
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
- Smaller battery
- More expensive
The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE brings back the Fan Edition branding for the first time since 2021, and it looks like it could be a return to form. But how does it stack up against the regular Galaxy S23, one of the best small flagships we've seen in a long time? Is the S23 FE cheap enough to draw you away from the S23, or does it make too many compromises to get to that price?
Price, availability, and specs
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition was a fantastic phone because of the market it found itself in. The regular Galaxy S20 could be purchased for $1,000, so compromising the specs to deliver 90% of the experience for 70% of the cost ($700) was a bargain we couldn't ignore.
Times have changed, however, with the regular Galaxy S23 now available everywhere and starting at $800. The Galaxy S23 FE is also available worldwide from Samsung and all major carriers and retailers, starting at $600.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Samsung Galaxy S23 SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (US), Exynos 2200 (worldwide) Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy RAM 8GB 8GB Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB or 256GB Battery 4500mAh 3,900mAh Ports USB-C USB-C Operating System Android 13 and One UI 5.1 One UI 5.1 w/ Android 13 Front camera 10MP f/2.4 12MP f/2.2 Rear camera 50MP f/1.8 OIS main, 12MP f/2.2 wide (123°), 8MP f/2.4 zoom (3x) 50MP f/1.8 OIS main, 12MP f/2.2 wide (120°), 10MP f/2.4 OIS telephoto (3x) Colors Mint, Purple, Cream, Graphite Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender + Samsung.com exclusive Lime, Graphite
Aside from the more vibrant colors on the Fan Edition, looking at these two phones is a "they're the same picture" situation. Both phones obviously use the same design language: a flat frame, flat display, and rounded corners. Look more closely, though, and you'll see their differences. For instance, the cameras on the S23 FE are smaller, while the bezels on the front are larger.
Aside from that, they are the same. The right side houses the volume rocker and power button, the left side is blank, and the bottom of the phone has a USB-C port, SIM card reader, and loudspeaker.
The display on the Galaxy S23 is beautiful, as we've come to expect from a Samsung phone. It has a 6.1-inch 1080p AMOLED display that can vary its refresh rate from 48-120Hz and reach a peak brightness of 1,750 nits. In comparison, the S23 FE has a 6.4-inch 1080p AMOLED display, but we aren't sure how bright it gets just yet.
The Galaxy S23 hides an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner beneath its screen, and it's one of the best on the market. It's faster, more reliable, and easier to set up than optical scanners. Sadly, this is an area where the S23 FE cuts corners, as it has a lesser optical scanner.
Software, performance, and battery life
Both phones ship with Android 13 with One UI 5.1 over the top, although the S23 can currently participate in a One UI 6 beta based on Android 14. In addition, both phones are guaranteed four years of Android updates with a fifth year of security patches, so they will end their support on Android 17. One UI isn't for everyone, but many, like myself, view One UI as the only version of Android worth using. It's packed with features that make it infinitely customizable, especially if you dig deep into Good Lock.
Performance should be rock solid on both, but the regular S23 has an edge. To start, the Fan Edition uses a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1; it's a fine chip, but the 8+ Gen 1 is much better, and we would have liked it included instead. On the other hand, the S23 has a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which is the best processor we've ever seen in the Android world. It's blisteringly fast, but most importantly, it also stays icy cool.
We haven't used the S23 Fan Edition long enough to judge its battery life, but there's a solid chance it'll be better than the regular S23. The S23 has a more efficient chip but a much smaller battery, 3,900mAh, versus the 4,500mAh cell in the Fan Edition.
The phones share the floating camera lens design, but the two systems differ. We haven't been able to confirm this yet, but it looks like they both share the same primary camera. They're not 50MP F1.8, but they could be different sensors. Either way, that's a big step up from the old 12MP sensor the S20 FE and S21 FE shared. We'll need to get more hands-on with the Fan Edition before judging its cameras, but if the main sensor is the same as the regular S23, expect sharp images with plenty of natural depth of field.
The other two sensors are where Samsung cut corners. The telephoto is an 8MP 2X lens, while the S23 has a 10MP 3X lens that's one of my favorite portrait shooters in any phone, thanks to the natural bokeh that doesn't need a portrait mode. The ultrawide on the FE is 12MP, just like the regular S23, although they might not be the same sensor. We'll update this part of the article when we find out.
Which phone is right for you?
If you like small phones, even though the Fan Edition could be the best phone in the world, you still wouldn't consider it — it's too big for you. If the size isn't a concern, the S23 FE is the phone I recommend.
The sacrifices made are noticeable, yes, but the phone is significantly cheaper than the S23. Unless you absolutely need that 3X telephoto camera and symmetrical bezels, the FE is more than enough phone for most people.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
A return to form
The Galaxy S23 FE is a return to form for the Fan Edition brand, invoking the spirit of the original S20 FE as opposed to the disappointing S21 FE. Using last year's chip and compromising on the telephoto lens is a reasonable compromise for the savings over the regular S23, especially since both phones share the 50MP primary camera. But is the price difference enough to poach customers from the S23?
If you want a smaller phone or demand the latest chipset and superior optics, the regular Galaxy S23 is a superb option that will please almost anyone.
The Galaxy S23 is one of the best small phones around. Its small bezels allow the 6.1-inch display to nestle into the palm of your hand, and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 makes sure that this phone can still trade punches with other flagship phones.