There are multiple phones to choose from in the Galaxy S23 range, be it the premium Ultra model, the higher-end Plus, or the original base S23. The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is another addition to the family, catering to those who want most of the best bits from the S23 range, but without the budget-stretching that can come from the upper-end models.
In this review, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the Galaxy S23 FE, looking in detail at its performance, design, features, and more.
You can pick up the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE from a variety of colours and storage sizes, making it easy to find the one that suits your style.
Release date and price
The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE released on 8th December 2023.
• Samsung Galaxy S23 FE 128GB - £599
• Samsung Galaxy S23 FE 256GB - £649
• Dimensions: 158 x 76.5 x 8.2mm
• Weight: 209g
• Display: 6.4” OLED; 1500 nit peak brightness
• Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels
• Refresh rate: 120Hz
• CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
• RAM: 8GB
• Storage: 128 / 256GB
• OS: Android 14
• Rear cameras: 50MP wide; 12MP ultra-wide; 8MP 3x zoom
• Front camera: 10MP
• Battery: 4500 mAh
• Charging: 25W
• Colours: Mint, Graphite, Cream, Purple
When it comes to design, the Galaxy S23 FE very much sings from the same hymn sheet as its siblings, particularly the base S23. At its core, this phone is supremely minimalistic without losing Samsung’s sleek design features. The edges are rounded much like the S23, yet the rest of this handset is quite chunky in comparison. The bezels around the S23 FE’s screen are thicker than those surrounding the displays on other S23 devices, as is the brushed metal frame around the handset itself.
The benefit of this thicker design is that the S23 FE feels extremely sturdy in the hand. Holding it, you get the sense that even if you were to drop it at any moment, it could withstand any serious damage (naturally, a case will also help with this). The S23 FE is also heavy, weighing in at 209g and exceeding that of the S23 Plus. This handset isn’t unwieldy, though; it carries some weight and heft, but the rounded edges ensure that holding the S23 FE is a comfortable experience.
This durability makes the S23 FE an ideal choice of phone for children and teenagers; perhaps you’re getting them their first phone, and you want one that can survive a tumble. The S23 FE’s inherent sturdy design, combined with Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back, shape it into a top smartphone option.
When it comes to style, the Galaxy S23 FE excels with some of the most vibrant colour choices in recent memory. Samsung dialled up the saturation this time around, resulting in colours that pop from every angle. The Purple in particular is less lavender, more Spyro the Dragon in vibrancy, and the Mint option is a soft green that glimmers thanks to the rear panel’s glossy finish.
A key selling point of the Galaxy S23 FE is its lower price point compared to other members of the S23 family, but not at the expense of powerful tech under the hood. Its display is a prime example of this philosophy, impressing us with a high level of sharpness and detail.
Corner-to-corner this screen measures at 6.4”, only 0.2” less than the S23 Plus. The panel itself is a beautiful and rich OLED, so you can expect to see detailed images and videos with impressive clarity. A max refresh rate of 120Hz is another jewel in the crown; when running at this 120Hz refresh rate, the Galaxy S23 FE feels silky-smooth when scrolling or watching videos at higher resolutions. The cherry on top is HDR10+ support, which provides even greater colour and contrast levels than standard HDR.
The Galaxy S23 FE’s vibrancy is boosted by a 1500 nit peak brightness. This doesn’t quite match the levels possible on the base S23 or S23 Plus – maxing out at 1750 nits each – but it’s more than enough brightness to easily see the screen in heavily illuminated settings.
All of the above contributes to the S23 FE’s position as the ‘best of the rest’ handset in the S23 range, putting it in touching distance of its higher-end siblings whilst being more budget-friendly.
In the engine room of the Galaxy S23 FE is Samsung’s proprietary Exynos 2200 chipset (S23 FEs in the US are powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip). This is a significant boon for the S23 FE, as the Exynos 2200 chip is a mightily capable processor; games like Call of Duty Mobile run smoothly with minimal lag, and switching apps is a breeze.
Getting this kind of performance from the Galaxy S23 FE in its price range is superb, but it doesn’t stop at the processor. Supporting the Exynos 2200 is 8GB RAM, which boosts processing speeds by taking some of the workload off the CPU. The result is a highly efficient engine at the heart of the S23 FE, and a top smartphone for any gamers out there.
People less interested in gaming will also benefit from the S23 FE’s processing power. It’s incredibly easy to jump between files with little in the way of slowdown, and if you want to turn the S23 FE into a laptop via DeX Mode, you can do so with ease.
Software & features
As you can see, we came away impressed by the performance chops on the Galaxy S23 FE. When reviewing the software underneath the shiny exterior, we found similar levels of performance; step forward Android 14 and Samsung’s OneUI 6.
Google’s 14th iteration of its operating system leans heavily on customisation, providing ample ways to shape it around your personality and style. This includes AI-generated wallpapers, monochrome themes, and more ways to customise your S23 FE’s lock screen.Updates to OneUI 6 – the interface that overlays every menu on the Galaxy S23 FE – enhance what is already a user-friendly experience. Commonly used buttons like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have been moved to the top of the Quick Panel for easy access, and notifications can be sorted by when you received them, not just by priority.
From top to bottom the UI on the Galaxy S23 FE is a joy to use, refined over time from previous versions to create a sleek, responsive interface.
Similarly to the other key areas we’ve highlighted, the camera array on the Galaxy S23 FE is very impressive for this price bracket. These cameras on their own are excellent, but considering that the S23 FE was not designed as the premium option in its range, getting cameras like these for a snip of the price is outstanding.
On the rear of the phone you have a 50MP wide camera, a 12MP ultra-wide lens, and an 8MP 3x zoom camera. For taking selfies there is also a 10MP camera on the front. Picture quality is impressive, with images showcasing high levels of detail and balanced brightness levels. You’re naturally not getting the greatest pixel counts on the Galaxy S23 FE, but as we said previously, in this mid-range bracket it absolutely excels.
Filmmakers can rejoice, too; it’s possible to record videos on the Galaxy S23 FE at stunning 4K resolution with a 60FPS frame rate. Thanks to the AMOLED display and HDR support, every detail is crystal clear in low-light and bright settings.
The Galaxy S23 FE’s increased size compared to other phones in the S23 range means more space for a larger battery. The unit in question has a capacity of 4500mAh, 600 mAh more than the base S23’s battery. This is a significant win for the S23 FE, and makes it an ideal choice of smartphone if you travel frequently or enjoy long gaming sessions.
Charging speeds are also very respectable, with 25W wired charging on offer. 15W wireless charging is possible when combined with a charging pad, giving you plenty of ways to keep the S23 FE juiced up throughout the day.
The appeal of the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is how it offers so many of the range’s best features without breaking the bank. It occupies a sweet spot between the base model and premium handsets, providing a great way to jump into the S23 lineup.
If our Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review has inspired you to pick up a handset for yourself or another, you’ll need to know how to move any old data across. Our step-by-step guide is on-hand to help you do this with ease.
What does the ‘FE’ stand for on the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE?
‘FE’ stands for ‘fan edition’. It is given to a phone that has been designed with feedback in mind, where Samsung incorporates tweaks and adjustments to address pain points on the other phones in the range.