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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review: A flagship grade experience from Samsung at an affordable price!!

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

Great value offering from Samsung with those flagship specs!! 

Ever since its inception in 2020, the Galaxy FE series has provided a great combination of flagship-grade specifications and a cracking price making it one of the most balanced series of smartphones that sits right in between the value flagship in the form of the Samsung A series and the higher-end flagship S-series. The Galaxy S20 FE was a solid package when it was launched and had a huge sale in the market.

Similarly, its successor i.e. the Galaxy S21 FE (Review) came in 2022 and followed the same trajectory as its predecessor which made a good amount of success. Now there is the third entrant in the FE series called the Galaxy S23 FE launched last year and brings a lot of features from its elder siblings i.e. the Galaxy S23 series.  

There was no Galaxy S22 FE variant launched but Samsung continues to impress its fans with the Galaxy S23 FE which brings some very good specifications this time around Samsung has gone with an Exynos instead of Snapdragon as on its predecessor. So will the Galaxy S23 FE stand out amongst other flagship smartphones in the market and is it worth considering? 

Let's find out in the full review.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Design:

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

The Galaxy S23 FE sports a similar design to that of its higher siblings, i.e., the Galaxy S23 series. It carries forward the glass design at the back instead of the polycarbonate back of the Galaxy S21 FE, which seems to be a good upgrade. At the back of the smartphone, you get a smooth matte finish which provides a solid grip and the back is completely flat except for the edges that are curved which makes it easier to hold in hands.

Just like the Galaxy S23 (Review), there is no such camera module on the Galaxy S23 FE also as the three cameras are stacked vertically along with the LED flashlight. The cameras are slightly protruded so it does wobble slightly when kept on a flat surface. The Galaxy S23 FE comes with an IP68 rating thus making it dust and water-resistant.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

The smartphone is available in various colours - Mint, Cream, Indigo, Purple, and Graphite all of which look attractive when viewed from the back. The smartphone also has a matte-finished aluminium frame around the sides, unlike the polycarbonate frame on the Galaxy S21 FE which is good. This frame holds the volume buttons with a power key on the right side whereas the left side remains completely cleaner with no controls.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

On the top, there is a secondary noise-cancelling microphone and a dual SIM card tray that holds two nano SIM cards only and there is no microSD card slot for storage expansion. At the bottom, there is a USB Type-C port, two primary microphones, and a secondary speaker which doubles up as a stereo speaker along with the earpiece. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

The Galaxy S23 FE weighs around 209 grams which is slightly heavier than its predecessor as now it has a glass back. Both the front as well as the back have Gorilla Glass 5 for protection which is a slight letdown as its predecessor i.e. Galaxy S21 FE had Gorilla Glass Victus for protection. On the front, the Galaxy S23 FE has a single punch hole located at the top at the centre. 

Overall, the design looks good and the presence of glass this time makes it feel premium.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Display:

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

The Galaxy S23 FE houses a 6.4-inch Full HD+(1080x1920 pixels) Dynamic 2X AMOLED display similar in size to its predecessor i.e. the Galaxy S21 FE. Still, it is slightly larger compared to its higher model i.e. the Galaxy S23 which has a 6.1-inch display but comes with more premium Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection at the front which is not present on the Galaxy S23 FE.

Now coming to the display, the bezels are slightly thicker around the display, especially if you look at the lower chin, which is thicker compared to other sides. The display is a 10-bit and since it is a Samsung AMOLED panel, you get deeper blues and blacks with great viewing angles. The display here has a standard 120Hz refresh rate, unlike the Galaxy S23 with an LTPO panel.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

So the display can either refresh between 60Hz (Standard) or 120Hz (Adaptive) only which is still good. The display when set to Standard mode refreshes at 60Hz only whereas when set to Adaptive mode either refreshes at 60Hz or 120Hz depending on the content on the display. Combined with the 120Hz refresh rate, there is a 240Hz touch sampling rate for faster touch responses during gaming. 

In terms of display. the one on the Galaxy S23 FE can reach a very good peak brightness of 1450nits and in normal situations can reach a brightness of around 900nits. Under direct sunlight, the display has good visibility. In terms of colour reproduction, the display of the Galaxy S23 FE has two different modes to choose from - Vivid which covers the DCI-P3 gamut scale and there is the Natural mode which covers the sRGB mode.

The latter one produces an off-white tone with less saturation on the display whereas the Vivid mode provides saturated colours on the display. The display of the Galaxy S23 FE has an optical in-display fingerprint scanner instead of an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner as on the Galaxy S23, but still, the optical one is faster and works accurately. 

The display has support for HDR on YouTube and there is Widevine L1 also for streaming HDR content on the OTT platforms but currently, Netflix does not have support for HDR yet. Overall, the display is a great binge for multi-media consumption.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Performance:

The Galaxy S23 FE sports a powerful Exynos 2200 chipset which has: a 1x2.8 GHz Cortex-X2 core with 3x2.5 GHz Cortex-A710 cores and another 4x1.8 GHz Cortex-A510 cores) configuration based on an efficient 4nm process means you will get a great battery life. However, it is slightly disappointing as you do miss out on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset which is present in international markets on the Galaxy S23 FE.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

Regarding daily activities, the smartphone handles almost all tasks easily, whether heavy or light. Even in heavy tasks like playing games like Call Of Duty Mobile, BGMI, etc. at the highest graphics settings, the smartphone runs fine. Still, after a certain time, there are slight frame drops noticed and switching back to medium graphics settings does ensure smooth gameplay.

In BGMI, the smartphone could easily run at Smooth graphics with Extreme frame rates without any frame drops but the gameplay does lag slightly when you set the graphics to HDR and frame rates to Ultra. However, after playing games for 3-4 hours continuously, the back of the smartphone does heat up quite a bit and mostly around the camera module, it becomes warmer to a larger extent.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

Still, Samsung has equipped the smartphone with a dedicated vapour cooling system which dissipates heat faster. In the CPU throttling test, the smartphone could only achieve a sustained performance of around 65-70 per cent with the majority amount of throttling detected which is not so good when compared to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset that provides much better sustained performance with almost no throttling present.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

In benchmarks, the smartphone scores well whether in Antutu v10 or Geekbench 6. There are two different performance profiles to choose from - Standard and Light where Standard provides better performance combined with good battery life whereas switching to the Light mode, you get much better battery life with balanced performance.  However, these two modes are not applied while playing games.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

In terms of network connectivity, you get support for good carrier aggregation and there are 14 bands of 5G present. The Galaxy S23 FE is available in two different variants - 8GB RAM with 128GB storage and another 8GB RAM with 256GB storage where RAM speeds are of LPDDR5 and the storage speeds are of UFS 3.1 which is a downgrade from UFS 4.0 speeds present on its higher Galaxy S23 series.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Software:

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

Initially, when the Galaxy S23 FE was launched, it came with Samsung OneUI 6.1 based on Android 13 out of the box. Recently it received Android 14 and you get a host of newer features out of which the biggest buzzword has been the introduction of AI. As soon as you open the notification panel, there is a newer look with the music play widget getting the new album art display.

The home screen layout remains similar to before and now you can move two icons from one homepage to another where one hand holds the icon which is floating. In contrast, the other hand makes it switch between different homepages. Within the display settings in OneUI 6.1, there is the Adaptive colour tone which uses the front camera as an ambient light sensor and adjusts the colour tone.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

In terms of AI features which is one of the biggest buzzwords, you get some features like Circle To Search where you can scribe on an object by selecting a specific area where once an object is detected, it searches that specific scribed image through an image as well as text search by asking additional questions related to it. Even you can strike the specific text which is detected by OCR and gets copied easily.

Under Writing Assistant, there is a feature called Advanced Intelligence which offers generative AI responses based on your conversations and there is also the spelling and grammar check with instant translation. There is also the Photomoji which crops a specific subject in the image and creates an emoji of it which is easily shareable.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

Then there is Live Translate which helps where the incoming calls get transcribed along with translation in whichever language the person is speaking and also reads aloud the specific text and vice versa. It also allows to muting of the specific person on both sides and displays only the text with proper translation. There is the Live Translate feature is available in different languages.

In the Samsung Notes application, now the text can be translated, correct spelling and grammar, and generate a summary for the specific notes. The Voice Recorder can automatically transcribe scripts now. In the gallery, there are a host of newer AI features like the new Edit feature comes with object detection where you select most objects in an image you can move these, scale and even delete them.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

There is the Instant Slow-Mo feature to upscale the 30fps videos to 60fps by increasing the number of frames as soon as you tap and hold anywhere in the video when the videos are playing in the Samsung application. There are a lot of other AI features also. Other features present are the Samsung DeX, Good Lock module, etc.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

Regarding software updates, the smartphone will receive another four years of AndroidOS updates and five years of security patches which is really good. However, there is a lot of bloatware present which can be uninstalled. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Cameras:

The Galaxy S23 FE sports a triple-camera setup that includes a 50MP f/1.8 Samsung ISOCELL GN3 sensor for the primary camera, an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto camera, and a 13MP f/2.2 ultrawide camera. There is a 10MP f/2.4 front camera for selfies. The primary camera is now the similar one found on the Galaxy S23.

The images taken from the primary camera during the day come out with sharper details and have a wider dynamic range with punchier colours in the background. The noise is also much less in the background. With the HDR turned on, the images do look very saturated but there is some amount of oversharpening taking place at times. 

The images taken from the 50MP resolution come out with sharper details, great dynamic range, and almost less noise in the background. However, the colours look slightly washed out but not by a huge margin and by default these images are saved in 12.5MP by default. At night, the Auto-Night Mode gets triggered automatically whenever the primary camera takes an image during the night.

With the Auto-Night Mode turned on, the primary camera does a great job with details that look sharper, have a wider dynamic range, and exposure is well under control in the low-light. The details in the shadows look great also. The noise is also on the lower side. With the regular Night Mode turned on, the images come out with good details that look sharper and have great dynamic range.

Without both the respective Night Modes, the images come out with good details that look sharper. They do also look a tad bit softer in some scenarios but are negligible. The colours look accurate without any oversharpening in the background but the noise is slightly on the higher side compared to the images shot using the Night Modes, but still, the exposure is well handled.

The 13MP ultrawide camera does a great job in terms of details that look good but around the edges, there is some amount of distortion present. The colours look vibrant without any kind of oversharpening and the white balance is handled well. However, there is some amount of noise present in the background. Just like the primary camera, the ultrawide camera also supports Auto Night mode.

With the Auto-Night mode triggered automatically, the images from the ultrawide camera come out with sharper details, have great dynamic range, exposure is well handled, and noise is on the lesser side. With the Night Mode turned off, the images come out with brighter colours compared to the ones shot using the Auto Night mode. However, the dynamic range is good and you get less noise in the background.

The 8MP telephoto camera does a great job in terms of details during daylight as you get sharper details, the dynamic range is wider, the noise is less in the background, and the colours look vibrant without any kind of oversharpening. The 3x optical zoom works great but if you go beyond 3x, there is the digital zoom taking place and beyond 5x, the images have softer details with the noise on the higher side.

During the night, the telephoto camera does a good job in terms of details that look sharper, have a wider dynamic range, the exposure is well balanced, and the noise is present on the lower side. The colours look great but do look toned down at times. Beyond 3x zoom, you do get good details but they come out with washed-out colours and noise is slightly on the higher side.

When it comes to portraits, the main camera takes portraits in the 3x mode which provides sharper details with great dynamic range. The edge detection is perfectly handled and you get a proper background blur also. The human skin tones look accurate without any oversharpening. Even the telephoto camera can take some very good portraits with sharper details and good dynamic range.

In terms of selfies, the 10MP camera does a good job in terms of details that look sharper and have a good dynamic range with less noise in the background. The skin tone looks natural without any oversharpening but the field of view is not so wide. When it comes to selfie portraits, the edge detection is good but the skin tone looks slightly muted.

When it comes to videos, the primary camera can record 8K videos at 24fps as well as 4K videos at 60fps. Both the ultrawide and the telephoto cameras can record 4K videos at 30fps and the main camera can record 4K videos at 60fps. The 8K videos shot from the primary camera come out with an excellent level of detail and have a great dynamic range with less noise in the background as OIS is present.

The exposure is well handled in low-light videos and noise comes out very less. The colours in the videos look accurate without any oversharpening. The videos from the ultrawide camera come out with sharper details and the dynamic range comes out to be good but there is some amount of noise present. The videos from the telephoto camera come out with sharper details and have great dynamic range.

The colours look vibrant without any oversharpening and since there is OIS present, the noise is much less even in low light. The videos from the front camera come out with good details with sharper details and EIS works here well to reduce noise in the background. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Battery Life:

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

The Galaxy S23 FE sports a similar-sized 4500mAh battery as its predecessor. With Android 14, the battery life is slightly better than when it was running Android 13. Since it has the Exynos variant, you may not get the battery life as that of the Snapdragon variant but still with normal usage, it can easily last for one and a half days; with heavy usage, it lasts around one day.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

The standard screen-on time of around 7.5-8 hours with normal usage that includes casual gaming, browsing social media, etc. whereas with heavy usage that includes playing games, running benchmarks, and taking videos and images from the camera, the standard screen-on time comes around 4-5 hours which is really good.

Like other Samsung smartphones, this one also does not get a fast charger bundled inside the box but it does support 25W fast charging and you need to buy the charger separately. With the 25W fast charger, the smartphone takes around 30 minutes to charge from 0 to 50 per cent but a full charge from 0 to 100 per cent takes around 1 hour 30 minutes completely.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

Other than that, there is also the 15W wireless charging capability and reverse wireless charging using which you can charge both devices (that also support wireless charging) when kept on the back of the smartphone. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Audio Quality:

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

The Galaxy S23 FE sports a dual stereo speaker setup that sounds adequately loud and clear. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack present. The sound quality comes out equally well from both the earpiece as well as the bottom-firing speakers. 


Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

The Galaxy S23 FE is a well-rounded package that brings along with itself the right balance of all specifications which include a premium build quality, a great 120Hz AMOLED display with stereo speakers for multi-media consumption, a good powerful chipset for daily performance, a great set of cameras, and great battery life combined with fast charging.

One of the main icings on the cake is the newer software update based on OneUI 6.1 built on top of Android 14 which brings a host of newer features some of which are AI-related to elevate the software experience and the assurance of longer software updates have stayed strong in case of Samsung smartphones. However, there are some areas where things could have been improved.

When it comes to the chipset i.e. the Exynos 2200 chipset which is a flagship-grade chipset does provide good performance in all daily activities and casual gaming but when it comes to heavy gaming, the chipset is not able to cope with other flagship chipsets which do provide better gaming experience. 
Also, the peak and sustained performance is not so good as the chipset throttles to a larger extent.

The battery life has been improved over the Galaxy S21 FE but still, it is not the best in class compared to other flagship smartphones. The low-light performance in some scenarios needs some improvement when it comes to the ultrawide camera and you do miss out on the Gorilla Glass Victus for protection as on its predecessor. However, this will not make much of a difference.

Overall, the Galaxy S23 FE is a great smartphone for those who want the best value for money option in the market from Samsung that packs the best of everything and will serve very well in longevity thanks to the assurance of a longer software update lifecycle but if you can live with that Exynos chipset and decent gaming performance compared to other flagship smartphones in its price segment. 




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