By | November 22, 2023
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE vs.  Galaxy S23+: Medium or Medium?

  • Front and back of Samsung Galaxy S23 FE in mint green

    Source: Samsung

    Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

    The FE series returns

    400 USD 600 USD Save $200

    The Galaxy S23 FE is the successor to the disappointing S21 FE, which seems to redeem the series in many ways. At $600, it’s a compelling device, but how does it stack up to the S23+, one of the best phones of 2023?

    Disadvantages

    • Worse cameras
    • Exynos in international markets
    • Optical fingerprint reader

  • samsung-galaxy-s23-plus-green-render-square

    Samsung Galaxy S23+

    Big and powerful

    800 USD $1000 Save $200

    The Galaxy S23+ is a superb smartphone, one of the best this year, but the $1,000 price is expensive. Now the S23 FE is here, offering comparable specs for just $600. Can the S23+ justify its price?

    Benefits

    • Larger screen in the same size frame
    • Faster loading
    • Better cameras

The Galaxy S23+ is a great phone. It doesn’t appear in our list of the best Samsung phones of the year because it’s the middle child between the petite S23 and the gigantic S23 Ultra, but that shouldn’t detract from how good it is.



The S23+ may cost $1,000, but it gives you a lot of phone for the money. Likewise, the S23 FE offers similar specs and features but for $400 less. Can this new contender dethrone the S23+, or does it sacrifice too much to achieve this lower price?


Price, availability and specifications

The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE and Galaxy S23+ are available worldwide and from major retailers for $600 and $1,000 respectively.

The specs are similar in most places, but there are some key differences. Not only does the S23 FE use a year-old processor (unlike the S23+), but the chip will differ by region. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 available in the US is a mighty fine chip even in 2023, but the Exynos 2200 that the S23 FE uses everywhere else was terrible when it came out, let alone now.

  • Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Samsung Galaxy S23+
    SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (US), Exynos 2200 (Worldwide) Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
    Ram 8GB 8GB
    Storage 128 GB, 256 GB 256 GB or 512 GB
    Battery 4500mAh 4700mAh
    Ports USB-C USB-C
    Operating system Android 13 and One UI 5.1 Android 13 with OneUI 5.1.1
    Front camera 10MP f/2.4 12MP f/2.2
    Reverse 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 f2.2 ultra-wide (120°); 10 MP f/2.4 OIS telephoto (3x)
    Colors Mint, purple, cream, graphite Phantom, Cream, Green, Lavender + Samsung.com exclusive Lime, Graphite
    Weight 209g 196g
    Charging speed 25W wired, 15W wireless 45W wired, 15W wireless
    IP rating IP68 IP68
    Award 600 USD From $1,000
    Measure 158 x 76.5 x 8.2 mm 163.3 x 78 x 8.9 mm

Design

The design of the S23 FE and S23+ is very similar. Both have aluminum frames, while the FE uses Gorilla Glass 5 front and back, and the S23+ uses Gorilla Glass Victus 2. Both also have flat screens with punch-hole cameras and under-display fingerprint readers, a USB-C port at the bottom next to the speaker, a blank left side, and a power button with a volume button on the right.

The S23 FE has its SIM tray on top, while the S23+ has the flanking USB-C port opposite the speaker. Both devices adopt the individual camera lens design that originated in the S22 Ultra, ditching the popular camera bump from the last generation.

Show

The S23 FE has a 6.4-inch 120Hz, 1080p Super AMOLED display that can reach 1,450 nits. The S23+ has a larger and brighter 6.6-inch adaptive 120Hz, 1080p, Super AMOLED display with a maximum brightness of 1,750 nits.

You’d expect the S23 FE to be a smaller phone, given the 0.2-inch difference in screen size, but the opposite is true. The S23 FE is 0.2mm taller, 0.7mm wider and 0.6mm thicker than the S23+. This is the first place you’ll notice the corner Samsung has cut to lower the price of the S23 FE. Its bezels look good in a vacuum but are huge compared to the small bezels of the S23+. They’re not symmetrical either, with the S23 FE giving the impression that it likes to cosplay as Crimson Chin.

Design aside, both are good screens, with the S23+ packing the extra features that suggest a more expensive device. It’s brighter and can dynamically adjust its refresh rate from 48Hz to 120Hz to save battery.

Under both displays you’ll find fingerprint readers, but they’re not the same thing. The S23 FE uses a more common optical scanner, while the S23+ has an ultrasonic sensor. The S23+ is fast enough and works for most people, but optical scanners don’t always work for people with dry skin. However, the ultrasound scanner in the S23+ has come a long way since its introduction in the S10 series. Now it’s faster and more reliable than optical scanners ever, and it works well with both dry skin and freshly moisturized hands.

Software, performance and battery life

Both phones currently run Android 13 with One UI 5.1 on top. The S23+ is nearing the end of its One UI 6/Android 14 beta and should see a stable update in the next few weeks. S23 FE will get the update later. Both phones are promised four Android upgrades with a fifth year of security patches, so you’ll see Android 17 arrive on both.

We haven’t had the S23 FE long enough to judge performance and battery life, but we can make some educated guesses based on the S22+, which used the same processors and had the same battery size. The Snapdragon S23 FE should have solid battery life and performance in the US, with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. This is still a good chip today, easily capable of handling any task you throw at it. Battery life will see most users through the day, but heavier users may need to top it up before bed. It runs hotter than we’d like, but it never came close to overheating or throttling, so that’s a minor annoyance.

The story is completely different if you live outside the US. I had to live with the Exynos 2200 for a year in my S22 Ultra, and it was a horrible experience. This chip works well when it’s cold, but it’s always hot. Even in the middle of a British winter, my S22 Ultra could heat the whole house, and that heat build-up also destroyed the battery.

A smartphone with the quick settings panel open.

The S23+ has the amazing Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 across the board, and it’s the best processor Android has ever seen. It stays cool no matter how hard you push it, with my S23 Ultra coping with the hottest summer the UK has ever seen without breaking a sweat. The S23+ also benefits from an adaptive display and a larger 4700mAh battery, which combined with 8 Gen 2 leads to much better battery life than the S23 FE.

The S23+ also performs better when charging. While both phones can charge at 15W wirelessly, the S23 FE maxes out at 25W over USB-C, while the S23+ can reach 45W if you have a PPS charger.

Cameras

The S23 FE and S23+ both have 50MP f/1.8, 24mm primary cameras. That means they should take similar shots, with the superior ISP in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 likely giving the S23+ an edge.

Unfortunately, the rest of the cameras are not the same, and the S23 FE has telephoto and ultra-wide sensors similar to its predecessor. Flanking the primary sensor is an 8MP 3X telephoto and 12MP ultrawide. While 3X is good magnification for a telephoto, 8MP resolution is underwhelming, and the S23 FE will likely resort to automatically cropping the main sensor in most scenarios.

The S23+ does one better here, sharing the same 10MP 3X telephoto lens as the S23 Ultra. This is a great camera for taking portraits of people without using portrait mode. The focal length of 75 mm provides natural bokeh while keeping the subject sharp and in perfect focus. The ultra-wide sensor is similar to 12 MP but with superior stabilization.

Which phone is right for you?

The S23+ might be $400 more at full price, but its benefits are worth it, especially if you live outside the US. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in the S23 FE is a good chip for now, but it heats up faster than others, which could become more of a problem as the phone ages. The 8 Gen 2 found in the S23+ doesn’t have this problem, and the phone stays cool as a cucumber no matter what you ask of it. Combine that gain with better battery life, build, screen and cameras and we think it’s worth the extra money.

samsung-galaxy-s23-plus-green-render-square

Samsung Galaxy S23+

Editor’s Choice

Big and powerful

800 USD $1000 Save $200

The Galaxy S23+ is a superb smartphone, one of the best this year, but the $1,000 price is expensive. Now the S23 FE is here, offering comparable specs for just $600. Can the S23+ justify its price?

The S23 FE is still an excellent phone for $600, especially if you can get the Snapdragon variant. If that’s the most you want to pay for a smartphone, the S23 FE retains enough of the magic of the S series to feel like an affordable flagship. But if you can stretch to the S23+ or wait for it to drop in price during an event like Black Friday, that’s the option to go for.

Front and back of Samsung Galaxy S23 FE in mint green

Source: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

The affordable challenger

The FE series returns

400 USD 600 USD Save $200

The Galaxy S23 FE is the successor to the disappointing S21 FE, which seems to redeem the series in many ways. At $600, it’s a compelling device, but how does it stack up to the S23+, one of the best phones of 2023?

#Samsung #Galaxy #S23 #Galaxy #S23 #Medium #Medium

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