The Samsung Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 FE are two interesting smartphones, part of the current flagship generation. It is only natural to wonder about their differences, their performance and most importantly – which one to choose. If so, you are in the right place.
The Galaxy S23 FE is more like a late-to-the-party Galaxy S22 FE because it has the previous-generation chips, and it shares much of the same hardware. Although the extra weight and thicker bezels give away its less-than-premium nature.
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Let’s start by comparing the full spec sheets here.
The Galaxy S23 FE is noticeably larger and heavier than the compact Galaxy S23. Sure, it has a bigger screen, but we also found it with thicker bezels and body, further adding to this more mid-range than flagship build.
Apart from the size and weight, the phones look similar as they have identical designs with flat Gorilla Glass panels, an aluminum frame and three camera rings. The Galaxy S23 uses Gorilla Glass Victus 2, while the S23 FE relies on the older Gorilla Glass 5 sheets.
Both phones are IP68 rated for dust and water resistance, rated to survive 1.5 meters deep.
Aesthetically, both flagships are incredibly stylish, although the lighter and more compact body of the Galaxy S23 gives it a certain advantage over the FE.
Both Galaxies use Dynamic AMOLED 2X displays with identical resolutions and maximum refresh rates. The Galaxy S23 FE has a slightly larger screen and thus – a slightly lower pixel density.
The Galaxy S23 has the brighter screen, although there is not much of a difference – 1198nits vs. 985nits in auto mode and 476 nits versus 451 nits with manual control.
Both displays offer accurate color calibration.
The Galaxy S23 has far granular control over the refresh rate – the screen dynamically switched between 120Hz, 90Hz, 60Hz, 30Hz and 24Hz on the fly, depending on the content. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23 FE only uses the fixed 120Hz and 60Hz modes.
Finally, the two Galaxies support HDR10+ streaming.
The Galaxy S23 is powered by a 3,900mAh battery, while the Galaxy S23 FE has a larger 4,500mAh cell.
The Galaxy S23 FE underperformed in all of our active battery tests but voice calls. It scored at least 1 hour less in web, video streaming and gaming scenarios, resulting in a subpar 9:45h for the Active Use Score. The newer control circuit inside the S23 is much more energy efficient.
The Galaxy S23 and S23 FE are officially rated for 25W fast charging. Wireless charging is up to 15W, and there is support for reverse wireless charging as well.
Despite the differences in battery capacity, the Galaxies charge just as quickly, just like Apple’s iPhones.
The Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 FE both have hybrid stereo speaker setups with a dedicated bottom speaker for one channel and an amplified earpiece for the other.
The Galaxy S23 FE has the louder speaker system – it got a very good rating on our loudness test, while the Galaxy S23 – a good rating. However, they offer a nice rich and deep sound quality.
Samsung Galaxy S23 is powered by Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy – it’s once Samsung exclusive version with overclocked CPU and GPU compared to regular SD8G2.
The Galaxy S23 FE brings back the chipset fragmentation and different markets get different hardware platforms. The US version gets the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC (our review unit), while the global model elsewhere is based on the Exynos 2200 chip. Both hardware platforms are a generation older than the one inside the regular Galaxy S23, lifted from the Galaxy S22 series.
Quite expectedly, although still relevant, the Galaxy S23 FE is inferior to the Galaxy S23, not only in energy efficiency, but also when it comes to performance.
1,550 single core
In addition to the performance, the Galaxy S23 FE also offers interior GPU stability – 60% vs. 46%. The S23 FE can maintain high performance for about 5 minutes, just like the Galaxy S23, and then it goes downhill from there. And while this doesn’t exactly represent real-world gaming, you can expect performance drops from time to time in demanding games.
With a faster GPU and better GPU stability, the Galaxy S23 seems to be the best performer here.
Both the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 FE have similar triple cameras on the back – wide, UW, 3x tele. The front images, while different in resolution, are also similar in terms of lens and quality.
Both the Galaxy have the same 50MP OIS primary.
The 3x zoom camera uses a similar OIS lens, but the Galaxy S23 has a 10MP sensor, while the S23 FE has an 8MP sensor.
The ultra-wide cameras on both phones have 12MP sensors with similar ultra-wide-angle lenses.
Finally, the Galaxy S23 has a 12MP selfie camera with AF, while the FE model has a 10MP with fixed focus.
Long story short, the main and ultra-wide cameras appear to be pretty similar on both Galaxy S23 models, while the FE model has lower resolution zoom and selfie cameras.
The main cameras on both phones offer equally good images with slightly oversaturated colors. There is plenty of resolved detail across all photos, with low noise, high contrast and wide dynamic range.
The same goes for the ultra-wide cameras – there is a lot of resolved detail, noise is low and the field of view is impressively wide. Corner softness is slight and the images do not exhibit a fish-eye appearance.
The zoomed images are almost the same too, but there is a slight difference in the sharpness across the zoomed images in favor of the Galaxy S23. That’s because both phones upscale their output to 12MP, but the Galaxy S23 goes from 10MP to 12MP, while the S23 FE goes from 8MP up to 12MP.
Finally, the 12MP selfie from the Galaxy S23 offers a bit more detail due to the higher resolution sensor compared to the 10MP mug shot from the S23 FE. Again, it’s a minor difference, but it’s there.
Galaxy S23: 1x • 3x • 0.6x • selfie
Galaxy S23 FE: 1x • 3x • 0.6x • selfie
And here’s another comparison:
Galaxy S23: 1x • 3x • 0.6x
Galaxy S23 FE: 1x • 3x • 0.6x
Samsung’s camera app supports Auto Night Mode in low light – it appears as a small moon icon, and if you tap it – you’ll disable it. It usually takes 1s less than regular night mode, but we found that automatic night mode (where it was triggered) and regular night mode were identical for all cameras.
Both the Galaxy S23 and S23 FE offer identical images from all three cameras. There are some incredibly small differences in noise levels and global sharpness, but for all intents and purposes – these are pretty much the same.
Galaxy S23: 1x • 3x • 0.6x
Galaxy S23 FE: 1x • 3x • 0.6x
Finally, let’s talk about video recording. The Galaxy S23 can do up to 8K30 videos and 4K60 recording, while the Galaxy S23 FE maxes out at 8K24, although it still supports 4K60.
The daylight videos offer equally good quality from both smartphones.
Galaxy S23: 8K main • 4K main • 4K 3x tele • 4K UW • 4K selfie
Galaxy S23 FE: 8K main • 4K main • 4K 3x tele • 4K UW • 4K selfie
The Galaxy S23 has a slight advantage over the S23 FE when it comes to noise reduction at night for main and ultra-wide videos.
Galaxy S23: 4K main • 4K 3x tele • 4K UW • 4K selfie
Galaxy S23 FE: 4K main • 4K 3x tele • 4K UW • 4K selfie
Here’s a look at how the Galaxy S23’s main camera compares in image quality to the Galaxy S23 FE’s in our photo comparison tool.
And here’s how the Galaxy S23 main camera compares in video quality to the Galaxy S23 FE in our video comparison tool.
As far as we know, the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is only officially available in the US, Canada, Australia, Turkey, and several Asia Pacific countries at the time of writing. It has been subject to both price increases and price decreases since launch. It will probably launch in Europe in December or January for £599 and €650 or so.
And with those prices in mind, the Galaxy S23 FE doesn’t exactly feel like a more affordable alternative to the Galaxy S23, but the Galaxy S22 or S22+. Not that it really matters, but it’s just that the Galaxy S23 FE is neither a Fan Edition nor a real S23. It’s more like an S22 FE arriving extra late to the party because everyone expected it when the S23 series came out.
Long story short – you either get the Galaxy S23 for its more powerful hardware and slightly better cameras, or you get the Galaxy S23 FE for its larger screen and slightly louder speakers. And that’s only if you can’t find the Galaxy S22+ at the same price.
- The more compact body.
- The more robust construction – Gorilla Glass Victus 2.
- Faster Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset.
- High resolution zoom and selfie cameras.
- Better battery life.
Get the Galaxy S23 for:
- The bigger screen.
- Louder speakers.
- The more affordable price.
Get the Galaxy S23 FE for:
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