Samsung’s FE series has always been a fan favourite since the first Samsung Galaxy S20 FE was released with almost flagship-level specs and a price that sits right between the highest-end A Series smartphone and the entry-level S Series smartphone. This year, Samsung launched two FE devices, the refreshed S21 FE with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 and the new Samsung Galaxy S23 FE with Exynos 2200 SoC and a lot of the features that might make the smartphone look like a flagship on paper. Does the highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S23 FE deliver on the brand’s promise when they introduced the first ‘Fan Edition’ smartphone, and should you buy it at a starting price of Rs. 59,999? Let’s find out in this detailed Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE price in India
I’ve been using the base variant for the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage in the Mint colour option, which is priced at Rs. 59,999. The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is available in a higher-end 256GB storage variant as well, with the same amount of RAM, that is 8GB for Rs. 64,999, which makes this smartphone come very close to the vanilla Samsung Galaxy S23 that comes equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC. The smartphone can be bought in two more colour options: Graphite and Purple. The brand has also launched two special edition colour options for this smartphone, Indigo and Tangerine, which can only be bought through their official website. The 256GB storage variant is a good addition, but a higher-end variant with more RAM would’ve been better and justified the price more.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review: Design
The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE sports a design that might be familiar to many people. It uses the same design language as the Samsung Galaxy S23 and the Samsung Galaxy A54, with matte-finished aluminium side rails, volume rockers and a power key that is very responsive and tactile, as a flagship smartphone should. The smartphone uses a dual nano sim card slot with an option to either use one physical and an E-Sim or two physical SIM cards at the same time. It does not come with expandable storage, which is slightly disappointing. It comes equipped with a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port and stereo speakers that are decently loud. The smartphone comes equipped with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 protection for the display and the back panel with a glossy finish instead of the matte finish that the Samsung Galaxy S23 sports.
The smartphone sports Gorilla Glass 5 on the front as well as on the back.
This makes the smartphone prone to fingerprints and smudges a lot. At 8.22mm thick, the smartphone feels a little thicker than your usual smartphone, and 209 grams of weight puts it on the heavier side. It is IP68 certified for dust and water resistance, which is a plus. I had the smartphone with me for a decent amount of time and used it without a case. After only a few days, I started noticing scuffs and scratches on the display glass, protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5. The smartphone is a little slippery without the case. Despite the thicker chassis and higher weight, the smartphone still carries the premium look and feel that Samsung flagships are known for.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review: Display
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE sports a 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 1080 x 2340 pixels resolution. The display itself is impressive, no matter if I talk about the colours that it produces or the sharpness. I didn’t have any complaints on that front, but the bezels are particularly thick for a smartphone that costs more than 50K and is marketed as an entry-level flagship by the manufacturer. I’d be lying if I said it disappears after you immerse yourself in content; it doesn’t and stares right in your face.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE features a flat display
It is HDR10+ certified and supports a peak brightness of up to 1450 nits, which feels super bright indoors and outdoors. I did not see much discolouration on the display while using the smartphone in harsh sunlight. The smartphone lets you choose between a standard 60Hz refresh or an adaptive refresh rate of 120Hz. It feels smooth across the board while scrolling through the UI and apps or gaming.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review: Camera
It sports a triple-rear camera setup that includes the primary 50-megapixel camera with an f1.8 aperture with a 24mm focal range that comes equipped with OIS, an 8-megapixel telephoto camera that provides 3x optical zoom with f2.4 aperture and a 75mm focal range with OIS and lastly a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera with f2.2 aperture.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE features the signature Galaxy design language
The smartphone does a pretty good job when focusing on moving subjects, thanks to the inclusion of PDAF for the primary as well as the telephoto camera. Daylight shots from the primary camera came out pretty well; it produced plenty of sharp images from corner to corner and had good details in the shadows and the highlight.
Bokeh without the portrait mode looks very pleasing, and to my surprise, this Samsung smartphone didn’t overdo with saturation levels. The telephoto camera also maintained the same saturation levels but produced slightly softer images.
This smartphone’s ultrawide camera maintains the colour scheme like the two other rear cameras, but the images tend to distort a lot on the corners, which could be fixed with a future software update.
The smartphone has a 10-megapixel camera for selfies, which clicks pretty detailed images in daylight.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE also has a good camera system for nighttime shots. The images take longer to shoot, but OIS helps the user with it, and the shots you get look pretty good. I did notice some noise in the ultrawide shots.
It uses a 10-megapixel camera with f2.4 for selfies that does an excellent job with daylight, nighttime and portrait shots. It maintains the colour scheme as the other cameras on board, and you will notice that there is some post-processing happening in the background after you click, as it takes a second to show the final image.
The smartphone can shoot up to 8K 24fps with the primary camera; this is a feature that you do not see very often on a smartphone in this price range. I shot multiple handheld 8K videos using this smartphone, and I was impressed with the results I got. The videos were stabilised, had plenty of details and had plenty of dynamic range to play around with if you ever want to edit these videos. It can shoot 4K 60fps videos as well. The front camera, too, can shoot videos at up to 4K 60fps, which is pretty good for content creators.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review: Battery and Charging
The 4500mAh battery does a decent job for a light usage day, but as soon as you include gaming and video streaming, with a high refresh rate turned on, the smartphone does not last very long. The Samsung S23 FE lasted 16 hours and 25 minutes in our battery loop test. Considering Samsung does not provide a charger inside the retail package, support for charging would have been appreciated, as 25W charging support is way too slow for 2023. In our testing, the smartphone charged up to 25% in 30 minutes and 65% in an hour, which is way too slow compared to the competition in this price range.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review: Performance
Samsung S23 FE uses Samsung’s Exynos 2200 4nm SoC in India and not Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 that the consumers in the US are getting, which is a bummer, at least on paper. We ran all the required benchmarks on the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE, and the results were pretty good. It scored 1,174,800 on AnTuTu v.10.0.10, 1130 single core and 3232 for GeekBench 6. I played Call of Duty & Real Racing 3, which ran just fine with high graphic settings.
The smartphone features the 4nm Exynos 2200 SoC
The frames didn’t drop a lot, and the gameplay was smooth. The smartphone did get a little warm after each gaming session. The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE runs OneUI 5.1 out of the box, which is based on Android 13, and it offers a pretty smooth user experience and does not have a lot of pre-installed apps.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review: Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is a smartphone focused on consumers who wish to get the flagship experience but do not want to spend on something like a Samsung Galaxy S23 or S23+. This one lives up to the FE legacy with flagship-level cameras, a good display, decent battery life and a great processor for almost anything you want to do with this smartphone. All this combined does deliver a premium experience, only if you can live with thicker bezels on a smartphone that costs more than 50K in 2023. Considering this smartphone does not have expandable storage, the base 128GB storage variant might not be sufficient for most people and buying the 256GB variant puts this smartphone in the sub 65K price category, which is already very saturated with the likes of OnePlus 11 (Review) with better performance and modern looking curved display.