Samsung S23 FE Review: A robust performer that doesn’t break the bank

The Samsung S23 FE gives you all you need of high-end mobiles in an affordable package while cutting out the frills that you don’t

By Anirban Bagchi

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Published: Sun 17 Dec 2023, 6:38 PM

The best way to describe the Samsung S23 FE in a nutshell is that it is the ‘S23 Lite’ – a scaled back and striped down version of Samsung’s top-of-the-range smartphone of the day.

Now, that might sound a trifle negative on the face of it, but it is actually the best thing about the S23 FE. It offers you all the essentials of its more illustrious stable mates while cutting out the frills. You have everything of the S23 that you need and nothing that you don’t – with the natural attendant cost-saving that this stripping down entails.

The S23 FE offers you the best of all the essentials - features that you use in everyday life - while going easy on those thingamajigs that only serve to increase the price and flauntability of the device while adding little to its real-world performance.

And what are those features? For starters, the screen. It’s an AMOLED 2X, 6.4-incher that has a native resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels, a colour depth of 16M and a refresh rate of 120Hz. Your eyes will never feel anything amiss when you catch that flick on your commute or binge watch that favourite series – or even play Subway Surfers or Candy Crush to your heart’s content.

Another commonly used feature it excels at is the camera. The main rear set-up comprises three lenses - a 50MP, 12MP and 8MP - which are a wide-angle, an ultra-wide and a 3X optical zoom telephoto respectively. Mobile phone cameras with optical zooms are not commonplace, but what is rarer is the Optical Image Stabilisation feature, which works for video as well. A 10MP lens does duty at the front for your selfie needs, again returning more than adequate images.

The photos we took with the S23 FE were all vibrant and stunning. The cameras handle low-light situations with aplomb too, and our outdoor pictures and selfies at night were detailed and bright.

The cameras retain their performance on the video side, shooting in ultra high-definition 8K (7680 x 4320) at 24 frames per second, while a slow motion mode shoots in HD at 960fps. These are of course not numbers that will help you to win an Oscar, and the S23 FE’s more upscale stablemates perform better – but the time is not here yet when UHD video at 24fps is inadequate. Like we said earlier, the S23 FE gives you everything that you need without going overboard with features that wow on paper without making a discernible difference in practical everyday use.

The internal storage of 256GB is, again, adequate. It still takes the average users a couple of years to fill all those GBs up. The RAM at 8GB is, once more, on the high side without being overkill. And Samsung’s own Exynos 2200, 2.8Hz, Octa-Core CPU tackles all processing needs. There’s no latest Qualcom Snapdragon here, which is in keeping with Samsung’s mantra for the S23 FE of keeping it efficient, robust and workmanlike.

Speaking of robust, the S23 FE comes with Gorilla Glass 5 and an aluminium frame. It is smart and sleek in the looks department, without being showy. Let’s just say that it does not draw attention

like its senior siblings, even while managing to be stylish, especially with its colour choices of mint, graphite, cream and purple, with the mint being our pick.

However, this Dh2,299 mobile phone, positioned between Samsung’s powerful flagship models and its low-cost midrange ones, may not stand out enough for some users. It definitely lacks the flauntability of the Flips and the Folds, as well as the tech of the S23 Ultra.

Also, the 4500mAh battery feels a trifle inadequate. Samsung claims up to 22 hours of video playback and a whopping 69 hours of wireless music, but in real world usage, when several functions are usually used together, we needed to charge our test mule quite frequently.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is a great attempt from Samsung to offer the best of its range-topping phones at a more affordable price. If, for you, a mobile phone is not something to show off with, then this is a compelling choice as a no-frills, feature-packed device that does not break the bank.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

Hits:

- Great camera set-up

- Vibrant screen

- 4k videos

Misses:

- Battery

- Does not stand out

Price: Dh2,299

Rating: 4.5 stars

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