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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE vs Galaxy S23: Which should you buy?

The S23 Fan Edition cuts many corners, but do they matter at all?
By

Published onMarch 8, 2024

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
MSRP: $599.99
Check price
Positives
Bright OLED screen
Good build quality
Solid cameras
Excellent software update policy
A decent value
Negatives
Older, hotter processor
Larger than S23 Plus with a smaller screen
Finicky fingerprint reader
Aging Gorilla Glass
Samsung Galaxy S23
MSRP: $799.00
Check price
Positives
Compact size
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 power
Larger battery
Negatives
No UWB support
Limited charging power
No RAM options

After a nearly two-year-long hiatus, Samsung has revived its Fan Edition smartphone line with the Galaxy S23 FE. It brings some big upgrades to its predecessor, like more capable cameras, a faster chip, and a more modern design. But even though it bears the Galaxy S23 branding, there are still some major differences that set the FE apart from Samsung’s 2023 flagship smartphones. In this comparison, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between the Galaxy S23 FE vs Galaxy S23 and help you pick the right smartphone for your needs.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE vs Galaxy S23: At a glance

  • With its starting price of $599, the Galaxy S23 FE is cheaper than the entire mainline S23 series.
  • Compared to the base Galaxy S23’s 6.1-inch display, the Fan Edition packs a larger 6.4-inch display.
  • The FE’s larger footprint allows it to accommodate a significantly larger 4,500mAh battery.
  • The mainline Galaxy S23 series packs a far more powerful and efficient Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset.
  • In select regions, Samsung will include its in-house Exynos chipset in the Galaxy S23 FE. That’s not the case for the flagship S23 line; all regions enjoy the same chip and associated performance.
  • Compared to the similarly sized Galaxy S23 Plus, the S23 FE is significantly cheaper but has a smaller battery and slower charging speeds. The FE also relies on older UFS 3.1 storage, which may result in slower loading times.
  • While all Galaxy S23 models feature a glass sandwich design, the Fan Edition skimps a bit with Gorilla Glass 5 protection on the front and back. The flagship models use Gorilla Glass Victus 2 for better durability.
  • Samsung’s flagship smartphones include a handful of extra premium features like eSIM support and an ultra-wideband (UWB) chip in the Galaxy S23 Plus.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE vs Galaxy S23: Specs

Samsung Galaxy S23 FESamsung Galaxy S23Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Display
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
6.4-inch Super AMOLED
FHD+ (2,340 x 1,080)
19.5:9 aspect ratio
120Hz refresh rate
Samsung Galaxy S23
6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED
FHD+ (2,340 x 1,080)
19.5:9 aspect ratio
120Hz refresh rate
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED
FHD+ (2,340 x 1,080)
19.5:9 aspect ratio
120Hz refresh rate
Processor
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
USA: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Global: Samsung Exynos 2200
Samsung Galaxy S23
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
RAM
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
8GB
Samsung Galaxy S23
8GB
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
8GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
UFS 3.1: 128GB, 256GB
Samsung Galaxy S23
128GB (UFS 3.1), 256GB (UFS 4.0)
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
UFS 4.0: 256GB or 512GB
Battery and charging
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
4,500mAh battery
25W wired charging
15W wireless charging
4.5W reverse wireless charging
No charger in the box
Samsung Galaxy S23
3,900mAh battery
25W wired charging
15W wireless charging
4.5W reverse wireless charging
No charger in the box
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
4,700mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W wireless charging
4.5W reverse wireless charging
No charger in the box
Cameras
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
Rear:
- 50MP main: ƒ/1.8 aperture, OIS

- 12MP ultrawide: ƒ/2.2 aperture, 123-degree FoV

- 8MP telephoto: ƒ/2.4 aperture, 3x optical zoom

Front:
- 10MP: ƒ/2.4 aperture
Samsung Galaxy S23
Rear:
- 50MP main: ƒ/1.8 aperture, OIS

- 12MP ultrawide: ƒ/2.2 aperture

- 10MP telephoto: ƒ/2.4 aperture, 3x optical zoom

Front:
- 12MP: ƒ/2.2 aperture
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Rear:
- 50MP main: ƒ/1.8 aperture, OIS

- 12MP ultrawide: ƒ/2.2 aperture

- 10MP telephoto: ƒ/2.4 aperture, 3x optical zoom

Front:
- 12MP: ƒ/2.2 aperture
Audio
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
Stereo speakers
Dual mics
No 3.5mm jack
Samsung Galaxy S23
Stereo speakers
Dual mics
No 3.5mm jack
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Stereo speakers
Dual mics
No 3.5mm jack
Security
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
In-display fingerprint
Samsung Knox
5 years of security updates
Samsung Galaxy S23
In-display fingerprint
Samsung Knox
5 years of security updates
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
In-display fingerprint
Samsung Knox
5 years of security updates
Water resistance
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
IP68
Samsung Galaxy S23
IP68
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
IP68
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
Wi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC support
Samsung Galaxy S23
Wi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC support
mmWave 5G
eSIM support
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Wi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC support
mmWave 5G
eSIM support
UWB chip
Software
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
One UI 5.1 based on Android 13
Samsung Galaxy S23
One UI 5.1 based on Android 13
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
One UI 5.1 based on Android 13
Materials
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
Gorilla Glass 5 front
Metal frame
Gorilla Glass 5 back
Samsung Galaxy S23
Gorilla Glass Victus front
Metal frame
Gorilla Glass Victus 2 rear panel
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Gorilla Glass Victus front
Metal frame
Gorilla Glass Victus 2 rear panel
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
157.9 x 76.5 x 8.1mm
209g
Samsung Galaxy S23
146.3 x 70.8 x 7.6mm
168g
Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
157.7 x 76.2 x 7.6mm
196g

Based on the spec sheet, we’re glad to report that Samsung hasn’t changed its strategy with the Galaxy S23 FE. It includes everything we’d typically expect from the Fan Edition line and is essentially a slightly cut-down version of the flagship S23 series. Its display size sits between the regular S23 and S23 Plus, ultimately landing a bit closer to the latter.

Despite the on-paper similarities, however, there are some key differences worth considering. For example, the Fan Edition includes an older SoC compared to the flagship Galaxy S23 models. The performance difference is not what’s most important here. It’s that the Galaxy S23 FE’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is far behind the Galaxy S23’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in terms of efficiency.

The S23 FE uses an older chip, which spells bad news for battery life.

In the real world, the Fan Edition smartphone may get warmer and chew through its battery quicker. Increased heat output may also cause the phone to slow down quicker. The higher-end Galaxy S23 phones will almost always perform better in sustained workloads like video editing and gaming. These downsides may be exacerbated in Europe and some other international markets where Samsung will ship a different variant of the S23 FE powered by its own Exynos 2200. You don’t have to worry about chipset differences when shopping for the regular Galaxy S23, as Samsung sells the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 variant worldwide.

Moving on, the Galaxy S23 FE’s base variant includes 128GB of UFS 3.1 internal storage, which is the same as the vanilla S23. However, the 256GB and higher storage variants of the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus include the latest UFS 4.0 storage tech. This will result in faster app opening times and game loading speeds.

The Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus also offer a broader range of connectivity options than the S23 FE, although not by a lot. The Fan Edition line omits eSIM support, for example, which may be a deal breaker for frequent travelers. Likewise, you won’t find fancy extras like mmWave 5G support and ultra-wideband (UWB) on the S23 FE. This is not necessarily a deal breaker, but it highlights where Samsung cut corners to make a cheaper phone.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE vs Galaxy S23: Size comparison

The Galaxy S23 FE looks very similar to the mainline S23 series, albeit with slightly thicker bezels. If it weren’t for the glossy back on the S23 FE, you might struggle to tell it apart from Samsung’s higher-end phones. That goes in the opposite direction too, unfortunately, as some cheaper Samsung phones like the Galaxy A54 5G also sport a very similar design.

In terms of size, the Galaxy S23 FE’s 6.4-inch display lands closer to the S23 Plus’ 6.6-inch display. The base Galaxy S23’s 6.1-inch form factor, meanwhile, makes it the most compact high-end Samsung phone money can buy. Aside from the Galaxy Z Flip 5, anyway.

For the first time in the series’ history, the S23 FE features a glass back instead of plastic. However, it only gets Gorilla Glass 5 protection, unlike the flagship’s all-Gorilla Glass Victus 2 construction. Surprisingly, the S23 FE’s display gets the older Gorilla Glass 5 treatment too. That’s a downgrade compared to the S21 FE, which had newer Gorilla Glass Victus protection instead.

The S23 FE weighs 209g, nearly 10% more than the larger S23 Plus.

The switch from plastic to glass on the back adds quite a bit of weight. That’s unfortunate as the previous-gen S21 FE was one of the lightest phones for its size and battery capacity. The S23 FE has bulked up to a hefty 209g, a difference you’ll immediately notice in the hand. For context, its predecessor tipped the scales at just 177g.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE vs Galaxy S23: Camera

samsung galaxy s23 camera app landscape
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

For the Galaxy S20 FE and S21 FE, Samsung used the same 12MP primary sensor from the Galaxy S20 generation. Luckily, the company has finally given the series a much needed upgrade this time around. The Galaxy S23 FE has moved onto a 50MP main sensor, which we expect will match the one present in the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus.

However, don’t expect the Fan Edition to match its higher-end siblings when it comes to the auxiliary cameras. The FE’s 12MP ultrawide and 8MP 3x telephoto lens may not deliver as crisp shots as on the regular S23. In our Galaxy S23 FE review, however, we don’t think it’s too far off its more premium sibling.

Here are some shots from the Galaxy S23’s main camera that should give you an idea of what to expect.

And when taking a look at some sample photos from the Galaxy S23 FE, you won’t notice a big gulf vs the S23.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE vs Galaxy S23: Battery life and charging

samsung galaxy s23 fe usb c port
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

The improved chipset and display efficiency helped the compact Galaxy S23 post impressive battery life results despite its small 3,900mAh battery. But don’t expect much better results from the S23 Fan Edition. We’ve already discussed how the S23 FE’s older chip may negatively affect battery life. However, the bad news doesn’t end there.

The flagship Galaxy S23 trio also includes more efficient displays with the latest in OLED tech from Samsung Display. The company usually reserves these top-end displays for its premier smartphones, so we don’t expect them to trickle down to the Fan Edition model within the same year. This means the S23 FE won’t get as bright and will consume 13-16% more power at the same brightness levels. Sure, these are minor differences, but you won’t find them represented on most spec sheets.

The S23 FE's last-gen hardware hold it back from endurance greatness.

The S23 FE does have a large cell at 4,500mAh, but it won’t help you reach the two-day mark on a single charge. If endurance is a concern, I’d recommend the Galaxy S23 Plus and its even larger 4,700mAh battery instead.

The same applies to charging speeds. While the S23 Plus accepts 45W peak power, the regular S23 and S23 FE only go up to 25W. Put simply, you’ll have to wait well over an hour to fully charge either phone. Samsung’s Super Fast Charging isn’t the fastest in the smartphone industry, and you’ll need a Power Delivery PPS compatible wall charger to get the most of it.

The good news is that Samsung hasn’t placed arbitrary limitations on wireless charging. All phones bearing the S23 label support Qi wireless charging at 15W and reverse wireless charging at 4.5W.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE vs Galaxy S23: Price and availability

samsung galaxy s23 fe purple in hand
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
  • Galaxy S23 FE: Starts at $599
  • Galaxy S23: Starts at $799

The Samsung Galaxy S23 released in early 2023, with prices ranging from $799 for the base model to $1,199 for the S23 Ultra. The S23 Plus, meanwhile, occupied the middle position, both in terms of its size and $999 price. These days, you may find all three models on sale for at least a couple hundred dollars cheaper. The Galaxy S24 series has launched too, so you might find the S23 on clearance. Even so, you might be surprised by the S23 FE’s sheer value proposition.

Samsung has subverted our expectations with the Galaxy S23 FE’s pricing, which comes in at an impressive $599. In a world where smartphones keep getting more expensive, it’s refreshing to see a $100 reduction compared to the S21 FE from nearly two years ago. However, keep in mind that the company had to make some sacrifices like a less premium-feeling build to hit that price point. Mainly, the older S21 FE sported newer protection standards and a lighter design.

Considering the amount of raw hardware on offer, the S23 FE is a compelling choice and certainly a contender for one of the top budget Android phones, especially on sale. I just wouldn’t recommend one at full price if you can find a vanilla S23 at comparable prices.

See price at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE vs Galaxy S23: Which one should you buy?

samsung galaxy s23 quick settings
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Fan Edition series is one of Samsung’s least predictable smartphone lineups, with no fixed timeline between releases. We didn’t get a Galaxy S22 FE in 2022, for example, and the S21 FE released weeks before the S22. But the launch of the Galaxy S23 FE might finally put an end to this inconsistency and signals that Samsung finally has a game plan and target audience in mind.

Moreover, the Fan Edition makes (almost) all of the right compromises to reach its lower $599 price point. Compared to the flagship S23 family, you still get a gorgeous AMOLED display, near flagship-grade performance, capable cameras, and even premium features like IP68 water resistance and wireless charging.

Samsung made some smart tradeoffs with the S23 FE, but it's still not everyone's cup of tea.

That said, the Galaxy S23 FE isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The flagship S23 smartphones pack a far more efficient chipset, directly translating to better sustained performance and battery life. They’re also available in smaller and larger display sizes, if you don’t like the S23 FE’s 6.4-inch canvas. Not to mention, the S23 FE is also the heaviest-ever Fan Edition smartphone, surpassing even the S23 Plus. Finally, the extra features like mmWave 5G, eSIM support, and newer display tech you get in the S23 series don’t hurt either.

At the end of the day, it’s a close battle with no clear winner. The $599 price tag does alleviate some shortcomings, but it may not be enough for everyone. If you need a compact smartphone or a powerhouse, I’d still vote for the Galaxy S23 or S23 Plus, but if saving cash is the only factor you care about, the Galaxy S23 Fan Edition appears to be an excellent choice.

Do you prefer the Galaxy S23, S23 Plus, or the Galaxy S23 FE?

562 votes

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