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, then you are at the right place.
The Galaxy S23 FE is more like a Galaxy S22 FE that’s late to the party as it features the previous generation chips, and it shares much of the same hardware. Though the extra weight and thicker bezels give away its less-than-premium nature.
Table of Contents:
Let’s begin by comparing the complete specs sheets here.
The Galaxy S23 FE is noticeably larger and heavier than the compact Galaxy S23. Sure, it has a larger display, but we also found it with thicker bezels and body, which further contributes to this more mid-range than flagship build.
Other than the size and weight, the phones look similar as they feature 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 at 1.5m depth.
Aesthetically, both flagships are incredibly good-looking, though the lighter and more compact body of the Galaxy S23 gives it a certain edge over the FE.
Both Galaxies use Dynamic AMOLED 2X screens with identical resolutions and max refresh rates. The Galaxy S23 FE has a slightly larger screen and hence – a bit lower pixel density.
The Galaxy S23 has the brighter display even if it is not a major difference – 1198nits vs. 985nits in Auto mode and 476nits vs. 451nits with manual control.
Both screens offer accurate color calibration.
The Galaxy S23 has a far granular control over the refresh rate – the screen switched dynamically between 120Hz, 90Hz, 60Hz, 30Hz, and 24Hz on the go, depending on the content. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23 FE uses only the fixed 120Hz and 60Hz modes.
Finally, the two Galaxies support HDR10+ streaming.
The Galaxy S23 is powered by a 3,900 mAh battery, while the Galaxy S23 FE has a larger 4,500 mAh cell.
The Galaxy S23 FE performed worse across all of our active battery tests but voice calls. It scored at least 1 hour less on the web, video streaming, and gaming scenarios, resulting in the subpar 9:45h of Active Use Score. The newer chipset inside the S23 is much more power efficient.
The Galaxy S23 and S23 FE are officially rated for 25W fast wired charging. Wireless charging is up to 15W, and there is support for reverse wireless charging, too.
Despite the battery capacity differences, the Galaxies recharge equally fast, just like Apple’s iPhones.
The Galaxy S23 and the Galaxy S23 FE both have hybrid stereo speaker setups with a dedicated bottom-firing speaker for one channel and an amplified earpiece for the other.
The Galaxy S23 FE has the louder speaker system – it scored a Very Good mark on our loudness test, while the Galaxy S23 – a Good mark. They both offer nicely rich and deep audio quality, though.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy – it’s a once Samsung-exclusive version with overclocked CPU and GPU compared to mainstream 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 one generation older than the one inside the regular Galaxy S23, lifted from the Galaxy S22 series.
Quite expectedly, while still relevant, the Galaxy S23 FE is inferior to the Galaxy S23 not just in power efficiency, but also when it comes to performance.
In addition to the performance, the Galaxy S23 FE also offers interior GPU stability – 60% vs. 46%. The S23 FE can stay at peak performance for about 5 minutes, just like the Galaxy S23, and then it’s all downhill from there. And while this does not exactly represent real-life gaming, you can expect drops in performance once in a while in demanding games.
Having a faster GPU and better GPU stability, the Galaxy S23 seems to be, hands down, the better performer here.
Both the Galaxy S23 and the Galaxy S23 FE feature similar three-camera setups on the back – wide, UW, 3x tele. The front imagers, while different in resolution, are also similar in terms of lenses and quality.
Both Galaxies have the same 50MP OIS primary.
The 3x zoom camera uses similar OIS lenses, but the Galaxy S23 has a 10MP sensor, while the S23 FE has an 8MP sensor.
The ultrawide cameras on both phones feature 12MP sensors with similar ultrawide-angle lenses.
Finally, the Galaxy S23 has a 12MP selfie camera with AF, while the FE model has a 10MP with AF.
Long story short, the main and ultrawide cameras appear to be rather 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 great photos with slightly over-saturated colors. There is plenty of resolved detail across all photos, with low noise, high contrast and wide dynamic range.
Same goes for the ultrawide cameras – there is a lot of resolved detail, the noise is low, and the field of view is impressively wide. The corner softness is minor, and the images do not exhibit a fish-eye look.
The zoomed photos are almost lookalikes, too, but there is a minor difference in the sharpness across the zoomed photos in favor of the Galaxy S23. That is 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-res sensor when compared to the 10MP mugshot from the S23 FE. It’s once again a minor difference, but it’s there.
Galaxy S23: 1x • 3x • 0.6x • selfie
Galaxy S23 FE: 1x • 3x • 0.6x • selfie
And here is 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 conditions – it appears as a small moon icon, and if you tap on it – you will disable it. It usually takes 1s less than the regular night mode, but we found the Auto Night Mode (where it triggered) and the regular Night Mode output to be identical across all cameras.
Both the Galaxy S23 and S23 FE offer identical photos from all three cameras. There are some incredibly small differences in the levels of noise and the global sharpness, but for all intents and purposes – these are pretty much equal.
Galaxy S23: 1x • 3x • 0.6x
Galaxy S23 FE: 1x • 3x • 0.6x
Lastly, let’s talk about video capturing. The Galaxy S23 can do up to 8K30 videos and 4K60 capturing, while the Galaxy S23 FE maxes out at 8K24, though it still supports 4K60.
The daylight videos offer similarly great 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 minor edge over the S23 FE when it comes to noise reduction at night for the main and ultrawide 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 glimpse of how the Galaxy S23’s main camera compares in image quality to the Galaxy S23 FE’s in our Photo compare tool.
And here’s how the Galaxy S23 main camera compares in video quality to the Galaxy S23 FE’s in our Video compare tool.
As far as we know, the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is only officially available in the USA, Canada, Australia, Turkey, and several countries in Asia Pacific at the time of writing. It has been subject to both price hikes and price cuts since its launch. It will supposedly launch in Europe in December or January for £599 and €650 or so.
And having those prices in mind, the Galaxy S23 FE doesn’t feel exactly 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 that is arriving extra late for the party as everyone expected it around the time 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 is only, if you can’t find the Galaxy S22+ at the same price.
Get the Galaxy S23 for:
The more compact body.
The sturdier build – Gorilla Glass Victus 2.
Faster Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset.
Higher-resolution zoom and selfie cameras.
Better battery life.
Get the Galaxy S23 FE for:
The larger screen.
The more affordable price.