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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Review: A premium mid-range smartphone at best

If you’re genuinely asking my opinions on the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE after couple of weeks testing, I would said it is a premium mid-range smartphone. While there are some subtle touch added to make it feel premium, but the phone often shows certain limitations to remind users that it is a FE device.

With that said, let’s find out more about the Galaxy S23 FE at below.

Design – Wait, didn’t I saw this before?

Truth to be told, the moment Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S23 FE to the world, I noticed the design was similar to the Galaxy S23 series and Galaxy A54. It wasn’t a bad thing to mimic the design of Galaxy S23 series and Galaxy A54 since it has a glass back cover and Floating Camera design.

Other than that, the S23 FE’s ergonomic design and 209g allows a convenient one-handed control. The colour options – Mint, Graphite, Purple and Cream – will suit most general buyers taste. The review unit I’m using is the Graphite, has been a fantastic one as the back cover usually doesn’t show any fingerprint or smudges.

Together with Gorilla Glass 5 (front and back) and IP68 rating, S23 FE is going to be a durable.

Performance – Speedy for normal usage, not so great when being pushed to its limits

The Malaysian market will get the S23 FE with Exynos 2200 chipset and paired along with 8GB RAM and up to 256 GB of internal storage. The Exynos 2200 is a year old plus flagship chipset, which can deliver great experience for normal day to day usage, but certainly shows sign of hiccups when being pushed to its limit.

For 4K video rendering, you will noticed the rendering sequence is a bit slow when compared Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips. While for gaming, intense gaming title such as Genshin Impact will show frame rate dips occuring early during long period gaming. To overcome dip framerates while gaming, I highly recommend to turn on Alternate Game Performance Management. But turning on Alternate Game Performance Management will incur high temperature on the device, so take note.

However, my biggest concern for the performance department is the thermal. Whether you’re rendering video or gaming, you have to be prepare for the Galaxy S23 FE to warm up. During my Genshin Impact with Alternate Game Performance Management, the device can reached 45° celcius. Even for casually scrolling Chrome and social media apps, you will feel the warm building up over time if you don’t use a casing.

But, the Exynos 2200 definitely shows its performance in the photography department. Also, the Galaxy S23 FE supports DeX mode, so it is ideal for those who wants to setup a mobile computing with their monitor.

Display and Audio – Just perfect

S23 FE uses a 6.4 inches Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with 120Hz refresh rate and has a peak brightness of 1450 nits. It also supports HDR10+.

You will hardly find anything to complain for the display as it work well for scrolling and viewing content.

As for speakers, the stereo speakers audio is loud and precise. You can use the stereo speakers at any moment, be it for music or watching your favourite streaming app.

Camera – Adequate for creators

The Galaxy S23 FE features a triple rear camera, including a 50MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide camera and an 8MP 3x optical zoom telephoto camera. On the front, a 10MP front camera will handle selfies and vlogs.

The Exynos 2200 helps to process great  photos, with pleasant HDR and white balance. The processor also can handle 8K video recording, although in 24fps from the main camera. However, I noticed it was the hardware that’s limiting certain photography and videography experience.

For photos, the 50MP main camera is the go to for every shots. Shots from the main camera always looks good, whether good lighting condition or low light condition.

For the 12MP ultrawide camera, you have to use it in a proper lit area as it quickly develop noises and artifact during low light conditions. The ultrawide on the S23 FE is capable of capturing amazing landscape shots.

The addition of the 8MP 3x optical zoom telephoto camera is great when you need to zoom in, however, I notice it can loses focus easily during taking photos and videos and take a while to refocus. Photos taken with the telephoto camera is good when there is adequate lighting and quality is acceptable at 5x digital zoom.

The selfie camera delivers good selfies, but in low light scenarios, it will tend to have noises. Both front and rear camera has Night Mode to enhance their visual in low light conditions.

In the video department, S23 FE is capable of recording up to 8K 24fps from the main camera. The selfie camera can record up to 4K 60fps while both ultrawide and telephoto camera is limited up to 4K 30fps video.

Shot and edited entirely with Galaxy S23 FE

The main camera video quality always present flagship grade videos, even in low lighting conditions. The ultrawide and telephoto camera video, similar to their photos performance, will perform well during adequate lighting. The selfie video is definitely reliable for vlogs as it produces great vieeo quality, albeit you need to be in proper lighting conditions.

Overall, the S23 FE’s cameras are suited for mass or new creators that requires a smartphone that deliver at all range and format, especially with 4K video recording for front and rear camera.

Battery and Charging – Below average battery performance

As the S23 FE uses a 4,500mAh battery, my expectation for the device to deliver a day of battery life. It can deliver a day’s worth of battery life, however, the caveat is you’re not a heavy user.

I have recorded a 4+ hours screen on time for the device as it hitting the 20% battery level. This is via shooting 4K videos, snapping pictures, watching YouTube and browsing social media. Yet, I’ve also recorded 3+ hours after a mix of heavy usage of camera, gaming, watching YouTube and browsing YouTube.

As for charging, the S23 FE supports 25W fast charging, which is ok but certainly loses out to the competition offerings.

Verdict – Premium mid-range smartphone with some caveat

The price of the Galaxy S23 FE in Malaysia will starts from RM2,999 for the 8GB+128GB model and RM3,299 for the 8GB+256GB model.

My biggest concern for the Galaxy S23 FE is the thermal and battery life. A powerbank will help extend the battery life for heavy users, but for users who are planning to use it for a long period, you have to take note on the warm back cover if you’re not using a casing.

While it did ticked some boxes for what Galaxy Fans wanted from it, it comes with caveats to differentiate from the Galaxy S23 series. If you’re ready for a true premium flagship experience, then you just get the Galaxy S23 series. If you’re someone who has a limited budget but wished to have premium features, then the Galaxy S23 FE will be an ideal device to consider to purchase.

So, who should be buying the Galaxy S23 FE in Malaysia? I would highly recommend it to youths and creators. You are getting almost identical Samsung’s flagship premium feature such as DeX and good cameras for photos and videos. However, my rating for the device is only 7 out of 10 due to its caveat.

This review is made possible by a review unit provided by Samsung Malaysia. Since, this is not a paid content, hence, there is no creative input nor final approval is needed by the brand. The review is based on 2 weeks of usage with the first update released.

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