The Galaxy S23 FE may be back in the mix for Samsung phones, after the phone maker skipped over the Galaxy S22 FE last year. Apparently, Samsung's decided there's still enough demand for a lower cost version of its flagship phone that won't also detract from the midrange Galaxy A series.
Samsung last released an FE phone in early 2022, in the form of the Galaxy S21 FE. But the timing of that release was all wrong — due to Covid-related delays, the Galaxy S21 FE didn't ship until a month before the Galaxy S22's arrival. And with only a $100 difference between the Galaxy S21 FE and Galaxy S22, the stripped-down phone didn't capture people's interest the way the Galaxy S20 FE did.
As a reminder, the FE devices contain most of the major features found in Samsung's Galaxy S phones, but with a few sacrifices made in the name of keeping costs down. Usually, that's in the form of the materials Samsung uses on the phone — they aren't as top-tier as what you'd get from a regular Galaxy S device. Other potential areas where Samsung could compromise include the display refresh rate or the camera setup on the upcoming FE.
While rumors insist a Galaxy S23 FE is in the works, we have very little in the way of reports about what to expect from this new phone and how it will differ from the standard Galaxy S23 that arrived in February. Nevertheless, it's not too early to round up what we know so far about the Galaxy S23 FE and share what we hope to see with this device.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE rumored release date
Given Samsung's irregular release patterns for past FE models, it's difficult to guess how long after the Galaxy S23 rollout we can expect to see a Galaxy S23 FE. Most Samsung watchers seem to agree that the phone will likely appear in the second half of the year.
Korean publication Hankooki (opens in new tab) offers the most concrete timeline, predicting an August/September release for the Galaxy S23 FE. That would be somewhat in line with the Galaxy S20 FE's release three years ago, as that phone arrived seven months after the rest of the Galaxy S20 lineup.
Samsung typically holds an Unpacked launch event in August each summer, though the focus has been on new versions of its foldable phones. With the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 in the works, too, the Galaxy S23 FE could wind up sharing the stage at this summer's Galaxy Unpacked — though Samsung could always spread things out with multiple product launches.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE rumored price
Price is a key consideration when it comes to the FE models, as the main appeal is a phone that costs less than the standard Galaxy S model while retaining many of its key features. We've heard no Galaxy S23 FE pricing speculation yet, and Samsung has complicated matters by continuing to sell last year's Galaxy S22 at a reduced price.
The Galaxy S23 starts at $799, while the Galaxy S22 now costs $699. Given the few major differences you'll find in a Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S22 comparison, that doesn't give Samsung a lot of wiggle room on pricing. Two scenarios we see is that the S23 FE would either cost the same as the Galaxy S22 or it could start at $100 less, debuting at $599. We hope Samsung goes for the latter option.
Samsung will also have to consider the price of its rumored Galaxy A54 midrange phone. Assuming that device costs about as much as its $449 predecessor, the Galaxy A53, you'd imagine Samsung would charge more for the Galaxy S23 FE.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE design and display
To date, there've been no leaked renders hinting at what the Galaxy S23 FE might look like, but the design of the Galaxy S23 gives us a pretty good clue. All three Galaxy S23 models sport a fairly unified design, with the rear cameras stacked vertically down the left side of the phone. With early leaks of the upcoming Galaxy A models suggesting Samsung's using this approach for its midrange phones, too, we'd imagine that the Galaxy S23 FE is going to blend in with the crowd.
The materials Samsung uses on the FE model provide one area where Samsung can cut costs on this model. The regular Galaxy S23 models all use Gorilla Glass Victus 2, but that could be one feature the S23 FE misses out on.
If Samsung sticks to its past pattern with FE models, we'd expect the display size of the Galaxy S23 FE to split the difference between the 6.1-inch standard model and the 6.6-inch Plus version. The Galaxy S21 FE offered a 6.4-inch AMOLED panel, and that's likely what the Galaxy S23 FE is going to feature, unless subsequent rumors tell us differently.
Past FE models have featured the same 120Hz refresh rate as the displays on the regular Galaxy S flagships, with one big exception — the refresh rate on the FE panel hasn't been adaptive. Instead, you've got to manually adjust the refresh rate. Again, that sounds like an area where the Galaxy S23 FE could distinguish itself from the rest of the S23 lineup.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE cameras
A lot has changed with the camera setup on the Galaxy S flagships since the Galaxy S21 FE arrived at the start of last year. After that phone debuted with a 12MP main camera, Samsung boosted the sensor for the Galaxy S22 to 50MP. That's the same wide-angle lens the phone maker uses for the S23 and S23 Plus.
So the big question is whether Samsung uses that same improved main camera on the Galaxy S23 FE or sticks with the 12MP sensor. The argument for using the upgraded lens is that it would mean a consistent camera experience across most of the Galaxy S23 lineup, with the Galaxy S23 Ultra and its 200MP main camera offering the ultimate experience for camera phone enthusiasts.
We'd expect the Galaxy S23 FE to also feature ultrawide and telephoto lenses like its predecessors. Samsung could go with the same 8MP telephoto camera it used on the Galaxy S21 FE if it's looking to separate the new model from the rest of the Galaxy S23 lineup.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE specs
One of the few concrete Galaxy S23 FE rumors to emerge thus far centers around the upcoming phone's chipset. Samsung is expected to use something from Qualcomm's 8 Series of high-end silicon for this new phone, but it likely won't be the custom version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset that made the Galaxy S23 models such powerhouses.
Instead, the Galaxy S23 FE has been tipped to take a step back with its processor, turning to the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. That's the same chipset found in the Galaxy Z Fold 4, so it's not exactly a laggard, though you won't see the big performance gains the other S23 models have enjoyed.
More significantly, you'd also be giving up the superior power management features found on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy. That more efficient chip helped all three new Samsung phones last longer than their predecessors, with the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy S23 Plus landing on our best phone battery life list. We'd worry about the Galaxy S23 FE's ability to deliver long battery life on a charge without the help of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, but perhaps Samsung could surprise us.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE vs. Galaxy A54
We've spent a lot of time focusing on how the Galaxy S23 FE might differ from the rest of the Galaxy S23 flagships, but there's another consideration for Samsung. given the growing importance of its midrange lineup. How does Samsung make sure the Galaxy S23 FE doesn't impact sales of the Galaxy A series?
Just by existing, the Galaxy S23 FE will have some impact, as it's being touted as a replacement for this year's Galaxy A7 model. (We've already heard reports that the Galaxy A74 was being scrapped.) If that's the case, we could see Samsung position the Galaxy S23 FE as a step up from the Galaxy A54, which is rumored to be coming out later this spring. That phone's tipped to run on a less powerful Exynos chipset, and it's likely to miss out on a telephoto lens as part of its rear camera setup.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE: What we want to see
Assuming that the Galaxy S23 FE is a go — and we have every reason to believe it's part of Samsung's plans for later this year — our wish list for the phone is a fairly modest one. Mostly, we hope Samsung is able to deliver a device that still has flagship-level capabilities but for more a more alluring price.
To that end, here's what we're hoping to see with the Galaxy S23 FE.
Upgraded cameras: It may be tempting for Samsung to hold back on the camera setup for the Galaxy S23 FE, especially if it wants to differentiate this model from the rest of the S23 lineup. But we think a consistent camera experience is more important than whatever cost savings Samsung might gain from going with lesser lenses. To that end, we hope to see a 50MP main camera on the Galaxy S23 FE when it debuts later this year.
Some durability: Sacrificing Gorilla Glass Victus 2 may be the cost of doing business with a less expensive version of the Galaxy S23. That said, we hope Samsung doesn't completely forget about durability when designing the FE. An IP68 water resistance rating seems like the absolute minimum for a device in the Galaxy S family.
A $599 price tag: We spoke about the challenge of setting a price for the Galaxy S23 FE, so we'll save Samsung the agitation. Make this phone a $599 model, which means it's $200 less than the standard Galaxy S23. The big reason the Galaxy S20 FE caught people's attention was that it cost several hundred dollars less than the Galaxy S20. While Samsung has subsequently adjusted the pricing on its flagship models, it needs to do likewise with the FE version if this new release is destined to be a hit.