Fan Edition series from Samsung has changed the smartphone trajectory by a lot – it became the series that offered proposition no brand could: a proper budget flagship. But since the S21 FE, we didn’t see a Fan Edition until this year when Samsung ventured into making more Fan Edition products – Tablet, Smartphone which we have seen before but now there’s a Wireless earbuds too. But let’s put that all aside and in this Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review, we have a lot to say about this phone.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review

Identity clashing Design and Build

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

Right out of the box, by now many reviewers have said this: the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE looks exactly like a Samsung Galaxy A Series. The uncanny design choices put this Fan Edition S series smartphone with the A series instead of being a part of the S Series. Now this isn’t a huge deal breaker for me, while it may be for some. However, what I am not a fan of is the design cue – it is not a comfortable phone to use. Despite going for premium materials such as glass and metal, they didn’t finetune the design to be user-friendly.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Back

So, my personal suggestion – get a case the moment you get the phone to use it comfortably without having this odd feeling of the metal rails digging into your hands. The thing is, Samsung’s idea of offering a premium experience is there and that’s great, but the execution says otherwise in the design department. It doesn’t end here either.

Fine Display but…

The S23 FE is equipped with a 6.4” FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with 120Hz refresh rate. Now, with more and more devices tout 120Hz displays, it definitely fulfills users who want that. The 1080p resolution is no deal breaker because if there’s one thing we know by now, it’s how well Samsung makes displays for their phones. Expect the nice and rich colours you’d want from this display with good viewing angles that aren’t going to disappoint when you lie down to watch your favorite show on Netflix.

But what irks me the most about this display is the thick bezel which we have not seen on a flagship (well, this phone kind of is) in a long time. Let alone, even the S21 FE didn’t have this much bezel and it got too many complaints for its plastic finish. This phone has bezels for days and a thicker chin at the bottom. Now, I understand it isn’t a deal breaker, however, it once again alienates the S23 FE from its other family members. Otherwise, the display itself is pretty nice.

Specification and Performance

Now just like the previous FE that featured an Exynos processor, the new S23 FE touts the Samsung Exynos 2200 under the hood. Yes, this is exactly the same processor powering the S22 Series (in certain countries whereas in Malaysia we had the Snapdragon variant). So, think of it as a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 equivalent processor. Paired with that, in our review unit, we get 8GB RAM with 256GB Storage. (You can opt for the 128GB if that’s all you need).

The thing with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, it wasn’t a pleasant processor with all the issues it had. So, we thought the Exynos 2200 would have been better. After using it for the past few weeks, we have to say, that this processor has its moments of hits and misses. Now, if you do use it for daily tasks, the phone does alright – like in social media apps, media consumption apps, and so on. However, there are rare moments where the phone just straight-up glitches – especially when the phone battery drops to the 20% mark.

We tried replicating the scenario and we got the exact same results – when someone calls in that “less-than-20%-battery” zone, the phone takes its sweet time to display calls, glitches for a second, and goes back to a normal state. Otherwise, when the phone has enough battery, the performance seems to be okay.

Another area where the phone struggled a little is in the gaming department – specifically when we ran Grid – and it was apparent that the S23 FE has some odd issue of behaving sluggishly. In Lowyat’s review, they found out that Genshin Impact has some odd issues too – which you can read here.

This odd sluggish and stutter issue we mentioned and what others have found so far, I hope it can be fixed with the help of an update – and I do have hopes for that as Samsung’s update track record has been impressive for a while now.

Camera Experience

On the back of the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE, we find a triple camera setup – which has the following sensors: 50MP f/1.8 Primary Sensor, 12MP f/2.2 Ultrawide, and 8MP f/2.4 Telephoto.

Let’s begin with the primary sensor. Take a look at the image below with stickers and everything taken at Bukit Bintang’s crossroads. Immediately, we find out that the camera sides more towards the colder tones over warmer or neutral tones. To be frank, this is a little more colder than the S23 series we have reviewed.

While in other pictures we noticed some levels of warmth in it, but add a blue color into the image and it becomes obvious how cold the phones coming out of the primary sensor is. In other moments, we do see a green tone – which is expected. It doesn’t have the “vibrance” of a typical Samsung camera, but to some extent the other colors do pop. The lowlight experience of this camera is okay, as you can see in this night shot, we do see a certain level of details intact – like the sign on top of the hotel, the signboard, and the windows.

The Ultrawide sensor does a nice job of taking pictures when there are very few movements. However, the moment it realizes that there’s too much motion and so on, you get odd artifacts like this purple haze on the bottom left in the Street market image. It’s more apparent that the camera does struggle to take “in-the-moment” shots with little blur, as it gives similar results in this shot at MRT. The very same sensor does average at best in low-light situations as you can see in the night shot.

The telephoto sensor – offers optical zoom up to 3x and digital zoom up to 30x. Now digital zoom functions the same way as a digital camera does – it’s not the most appealing image no matter what.

However, the optical zoom offers a certain level of intactness in its details department. So, that’s worth noting. Let’s begin with the low light shot, where the phone does a decent job of capturing the car lights and retaining the details very well in my opinion. It is obvious that in the noise department, the image screams grain – but granted in low-light situations, smartphones do suffer from this.

However, in broad daylight, the telephoto does justice with a nice and clean image which is definitely worth posting on your socials. You can check out the rest of the photo samples taken with the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE below.

As for the front-facing camera, Samsung is one of the few on my list that I do prefer as it captures au natural shots (granted, you turn off the beautify modes), and it looks very beautiful.

Battery Life and Charging

Under the hood, we find a 4500mAh battery that powers up the phone. I hear so many pitchforks rising from a thousand miles away that the battery is small. However, granted today majority of us carry a small power bank no matter what (except for a friend of mine who lives on the edge). But that said, throughout my use – and to clarify, this was our daily driver, we probably used our battery packs twice.

Otherwise, the phone did survive a day and more, offering a decent screen on time of 5 hours approx. and screen off time of 15 hours 37 minutes. In situations where we used the phone heavily, we had about a little over 6 hours, however, we had to charge the phone once. Charging the phone, it uses USB-C (of course) but just like the other Samsung flagships, it supports up to 25W fast charging. It took about an hour to get it from 1% to 100% which is good enough.

But of course, by today’s standards where other brands have made phones that charge from noct to 100% in 15-20 minutes, it does look underwhelming. There’s no charger included due to “eco-conscious” reasons.

Things Worth Noting and Sets the Bar Higher

USB 3.0 Port baby!

Surprisingly, this is pretty rare to come across many smartphones these days, and before you go, “Haha, yes, the fruit company”, there are other Android brands that do the same. Now having 3.0 means that you have better transfer speeds when you use external storage. This makes it easier to transfer images and videos if you need to pretty quickly. And vice versa if you want to transfer a movie or some music for on-the-go entertainment.

You get the S Series Experience with DeX and more

The thing about this S23 FE is that it’s a step better than the Z Flip because it has features that only an S Series can offer – especially one: Samsung DeX. You might wonder if this is a feature that’s really important to have, but once you have truly experienced DeX – there’s no way back. On top of that, you get other Lab Features, Video Call effects and so much more – because of OneUI. I do hope that we get OneUI 6 features on this S23 FE.

Stereo Speaker

It’s really nice to have a stereo speaker and honestly, if there isn’t one – it would truly be a deal breaker. That’s all there is to say. And yes, you do get the Dolby enhancements you need to amp up or tune your music to your liking. However, when you do get calls and so on, this phone quite possibly has the worst vibration motors.


The thing is, the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is an extremely capable phone with potential in every aspect of it. However, it cuts corners too much – imagine this: say you have an assignment to turn in and when you have all the information, but the presentation is an absolute downfall – that’s how it feels. We talked about it with other friends who are reviewing it too – and they share the same sentiment.

Despite the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE offering a taste of what the flagships do, that’s what the prime goal is as to how it was designed to be in the first place. At the time of release, the variant we reviewed is priced at RM 3,299 (SRP) for 256GB (RM 2,999 for 128GB) and we think it’s a bit steep.

But right after its launch, during 10.10, we have seen this exact variant go for a whopping RM 2,499-2,599. If you ever come across this price, it’s really a “no-brainer-just-buy-it-over-the-A-Series” phone.

But seriously, Dear Samsung, if you are reading this, the Fan Edition deserves love too – and I hope to see a better, and much finer S24 or S25 FE in the future. Not this injustice the S23 FE got.

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