Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review – The Highly Anticipated Return
RM2,999 (128GB / 8GB RAM)
RM3,299 (256GB / 8GB RAM)
+ Flat Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with up to 120Hz refresh rate
+ Good design with sturdy build, even with eco-friendly materials
+ Good CPU performance
+ Excellent main camera
+ Reliable battery life
+ Futureproofed features like 5G and Wi-Fi 6E
+ 4 major OS upgrades with 5 years of security updates guaranteed
- GPU performance needs a boost
- Can get rather warm
- Large bezels make it look rather dated
- Zoom photos a little too soft
- Somewhat of a fingerprint magnet
Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
Kicking off the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review with the unboxing, the design is different from the typical Fan Edition branding so far as it’s clad in black, just like the other three S23 devices. It’s a minimal black box that is equally slim as the other models, so you would know what to expect, or not expect, from it. Inside the box, you can find the following items:
- USB-C to USB-C cable
- SIM ejector pin
- The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE itself
|SoC||Exynos 2200, 4nm
1 x Cortex-X2 @ 2.8GHz + 3 x Cortex-A710 @ 2.5GHz + 4 x Cortex-A510 @ 1.8 GHz
Xclipse 920 GPU
|Storage||128GB / 256GB UFS 3.1|
|Display||6.4″ FHD+ (2340 x 1080) Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
1450 nits (peak)
60Hz to 120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate
240Hz Touch Sampling Rate in Game Mode
|Rear Camera||50MP f/1.8 wide angle camera, PDAF, OIS
8MP f/2.4 telephoto camera, 3x optical zoom, PDAF
12MP f/2.2 123˚ ultra-wide
LED flash, auto-HDR, panorama
8K@24fps, 4K@30fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, 720p@960fps
|Selfie Camera||10MP f/2.4 wide-angle selfie cam|
25W fast charging
USB-PD 2.0 fast charging
10W wireless fast charging
|Dimensions||158 x 76.5 x 8.2 mm
|Software||One UI 5.1 based on Android 13|
|Colours||Mint, Cream, Graphite, Purple|
Starting off our benchmark suite with Antutu v10, the Exynos 2200 performed well enough on its own but when you compare it to your usual 2023 flagships, you can see where it falls short. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since, given the price, it’s definitely within acceptable range.
Moving on to Geekbench 6, it’s interesting to see that the gap between itself and other flagships have widened, particularly in the multi core area. It seems to be situated in the upper midrange area, where it has a healthy lead over them.
Then on 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited, it follows a similar trend to the previous benchmark, with the Exynos 2200’s graphical performance being on par with upper midrange smartphones instead of being closer to a flagship. This shouldn’t be a big surprise given that Samsung focused on having Snapdragon chips for their flagships instead of their own Exynos ones. CPU-wise, it’s still fine but it’s clear that the GPU needs a boost.
Lastly on PCMark’s Work 3.0 benchmark, this is an area where the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE shines as it shows that it’s more than capable as a daily driver. It also shows that it’s practically on par with last year’s flagships, which still packs more than enough firepower for most consumers.
It’s worth noting that throughout these tests, the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE does heat up rather easily. I’m very certain that it does overheat from time to time, especially with certain benchmarks here where I expected it to do a little better. However, the heating only seems to be an issue with more resource-intensive tasks so day-to-day usage, especially if it’s just social media, will not be a problem. This is likely why it performed well enough in PCMark’s Work 3.0 benchmark.
For those of you who are wondering about battery life, the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE managed to last 9 hours and 36 minutes (576 minutes) before it died on me. It might not be the best around but practically speaking, it’s still plenty and you should be able to easily have it last for a whole day’s use unless you’re heavily gaming on it. As for charging speed, this is what we got starting from 2% battery life:
- 15 minutes = 38%
- 30 minutes = 60%
- 45 minutes = 88%
- 60 minutes = 99%
- 62 minutes = 100%
The camera is an area where the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE excels in. The main wide angle camera is capable of capturing photos with excellent details along with colors that really pop. The telephoto camera seems to be just as good initially but as you continue zooming in, the softening effect can get a bit excessive so I would personally not use anything higher than 5x zoom. The ultrawide camera is a surprisingly pleasant affair, just that details aren’t as sharp and colors look a little more bland compared to the main camera. Lastly for the selfie camera, it’s more dependent on light for good photos because pictures can look a little unnatural without it.
There are a number of good reasons to consider getting the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE. For starters, you get an excellent Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with up to 120Hz refresh rate, and it’s flat. It’s got great colors and while it might not be as bright as its other S23 siblings but at 1,450 nits peak, it’s still more than enough for most consumers today.
While many people may think of the FE series as a flagship with cut corners, the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is still one that looks as good as it is built. With an aluminum frame along with Gorilla Glass 5 on the display and the rear, it feels very solid in my hands. Going into more specifics, it uses pre-consumer recycled aluminum and glass along with post-consumer recycled plastic that is said to be sourced from discarded fishing nets, water barrels, and PET bottles. They managed to do all of this and still retain its IP68 resistance rating.
With consumer trends now pointing towards smartphones with a longer lifespan, the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is equipped to last. On top of the Exynos 2200, which still packs plenty of firepower despite not being the best performing chip around, it has 5G capabilities along with Wi-Fi 6E support.
Furthermore, you are guaranteed to get 4 major OS upgrades along with 5 years of security updates with this. This means that if you take care of this smartphone well enough, you can easily get by for the next 5 years without feeling like you need to upgrade to keep up with the times. It’s already futureproofed well enough from my perspective, and the only reason you’d want to upgrade is if you need something with better graphics / processing power for specific apps within the next couple of years.
Of course, there are a number of drawbacks to getting the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE as well. For starters, the bezels are on the larger side, making it look rather dated right from the start. It feels like a flagship from about 3 to 4 years ago or recent midrange smartphones. In fact, it really reminds me of the Galaxy A54 even. This is purely an aesthetic thing so it doesn’t reflect anything on the smartphone’s capabilities, so it’s a matter of whether this type of thing bothers you or not.
While I do enjoy how it looks (apart from the bezels), the glossy rear does mean that it’s going to be a fingerprint magnet. It might not be as prone as other smartphones with glossy finishes but it will definitely be noticeable after some time. This can be easily remedied with the use of a protective case, which most people would do anyway to prevent any major damages to it.
Lastly, is the charging speed. At this point in time, not having a charger is something I’m fine with since it’s becoming the norm and I usually rely on a 3rd party GaN charger anyway but I wish Samsung would have bumped up the abysmal 25W charging speed to something a little faster, perhaps 50W. We don’t need it to go toe-to-toe with some of the other insane speeds around like 100W and higher, but a 50W minimum sounds reasonable enough in this day and age so we don’t have to charge it for too long.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE might not be up to par with the flagships of 2023, but it’s not far off from it either. It is a reliable smartphone that can serve plenty of consumers well, and with prices starting from RM2,999, it’s hard to say no. At the end of our Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review, I award this smartphone with our Silver Pokdeward.
Big thanks to Samsung Malaysia for sending us this smartphone for the purpose of this review.