Outside of some missed portrait mode shots, the Galaxy S23 FE didn’t let me down in any particular way during my testing. It kept up well on a long day outside of the house as I scrolled through Instagram, listened to podcasts, and navigated bus routes across town. There’s nothing wrong with this phone, and if the price and feature set speak to you, then I don’t think it will disappoint.
Generally speaking, though, the S23 FE feels like too little, too late. In 2021, a $600 phone with a telephoto lens, wireless charging, and a top-tier chipset would have been seriously tempting. But the midrange class hasn’t been standing still, and in 2023, the $500 Pixel 7A offers a lot of the things the S23 FE does, including wireless charging and a top-tier chipset. It doesn’t have the telephoto lens, but I’d be perfectly satisfied with its camera’s 2x crop zoom and overall photo capabilities compared to the S23 FE.
In 2023, there’s another $599 phone to consider: the Nothing Phone 2. It doesn’t fully work on Verizon, so it’s not an option for everyone, but it comes with a big 6.7-inch screen, a polished interface, and the newer Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, with all its improvements in battery efficiency. More than that, it feels like a device designed with purpose — not to clear out a parts bin.
Samsung found a way to wedge the S23 FE in between the midrange and premium classes, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we have one more good phone on offer between $500 and the $800 flagships. But as for the “fans” this phone is supposedly designed for? They’re better off waiting for the Galaxy S24.
Photography by Allison Johnson / The Verge
To use the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE, you must agree to:
- Samsung’s Terms and Conditions
- Google Play Terms of Service
- Automatic installs (including from Google, Samsung, and your carrier)
There are many optional agreements. If you use a carrier-specific version, there will be more of them. Here are just a few:
- Sending diagnostic data to Samsung
- Samsung services, including customization for personalized ads, continuity service, nearby device scanning, and smart suggestions
- Google Drive backup, location services, Wi-Fi scanning, diagnostic data
Final tally: there are five mandatory agreements and at least 10 optional ones.