Galaxy S23 FE and Galaxy A54 — can these flagship alternatives co-exist?

Samsung Galaxy S23 lineup
(Image credit: Samsung)

If you prefer Samsung phones but don't feel like paying $800 or more for the latest Galaxy S23 flagships, it sounds like you're about to enjoy an embarrassment of riches. Rumors suggest the release of Samsung's new lineup of midrange Galaxy A phones will soon debut, highlighted by Galaxy A54. That particular model will look to build on the success of last year's Galaxy A53 as one of the best cheap phones under $500.

But wait — there's more. Rumors also suggest that Samsung is planning to revive the FE model of its Galaxy S phones after skipping over a Galaxy S22 FE release in 2022. The FE sheds some of the pricier features found in the standard Samsung flagships while retaining a few key capabilities and re-packaging everything in a lower cost model. Which is almost exactly what the higher-end Galaxy A models promise to do.

In other words, the coming months should bring us a new Galaxy A54 followed by a Galaxy S23 FE with seemingly very little to separate these two lower-cost alternatives to the Galaxy S23. How are you supposed to decide between these two devices?

It's a little early for a Galaxy A54 vs. Galaxy S23 FE face-off. While a seemingly accurate list of Galaxy A54 specs have already leaked, more concrete Galaxy S23 FE deals have yet to emerge. Still, we can identify the likely areas where these two handset will stand out from each other, leaving room for both among the best Samsung phones.

Galaxy A54 vs. Galaxy S23 FE: Processor

Galaxy A54 rumors suggested that the upcoming midrange phone would use one of Samsung's own Exynos chips, just like the Galaxy A53 did. And that's essentially been confirmed by the Galaxy A54 listing that went up early on an Austrian retailer's website, showing that the Galaxy A54 ran on an Exynos 1380 chipset.

The Exynos 1380 figures to be a solid-enough process for a midrange phone, but it lacks the processing oomph you'll find in top-of-the-line Qualcom silicon. And that's exactly what is likely to be powering the Galaxy S23 FE.

Samsung has released two FE phones to date — the Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S21 FE — and both have run on the same chipset found in their more expensive flagship siblings. If Samsung sticks to that policy with the Galaxy S23 FE, that means the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy is going to find its way into the new FE model. And that would be very good news indeed from a performance standpoint.

Photo of Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip

(Image credit: Future)

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 produces the best numbers of any Android phone we've tested, and it even manages to put up better numbers on some graphics tests than the A16 Bionic found in Apple's iPhone 14 Pro models. What's more, it's also a very power efficient chip with every Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-powered phone we've tested turning in above average times on our battery test. Three of those phones — the Galaxy S23 Ultra, Galaxy S23 Plus and OnePlus 11 — even landed on our best phone battery life list.

So if the Galaxy S23 FE ends up featuring a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, it's likely to hold a big performance advantage over the Galaxy A54.

Galaxy A54 vs. Galaxy S23 FE: Camera setup

Another spec the FE models tend to share with the full Galaxy S lineup is the type of cameras included on the back of the phone. All Galaxy S phones feature a telephoto lens — and that even includes the cheaper FE model.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE back and camera

(Image credit: Future)

Oh, the telephoto cameras on the regular Galaxy S models tend to be more powerful. The Galaxy S21 featured a 64MP telephoto camera with a 3x hybrid zoom compared to the Galaxy S21 FE's 8MP telephoto sensor. It's possible that the Galaxy S23 FE's telephoto camera won't match the 10MP sensor that the Galaxy S23 offers. But we're pretty sure a telephoto lens will still be there.

We're just as sure that the Galaxy A54 will not have a telephoto lens, matching the setup of its predecessor. The Galaxy A53 only offered a main camera and an ultrawide shooter, augmented by macro and depth sensors. Leaked Galaxy A54 specs indicate that the upcoming phone will get rid of the depth sensor, but stick with the rest of the camera setup. You'll only get support for a digital zoom, in other words. 

Samsung Galaxy A54

(Image credit: Media Markt)

Galaxy A54 vs. Galaxy S23 FE: Price

The most crucial difference between the Galaxy A54 and Galaxy S23 FE will be their respective starting prices. And finding just the right price to charge may prove especially challenging for Samsung.

We have a pretty good idea of what the Galaxy A54 is going to cost, as its predecessor has a staring price of $449. Leaked European pricing suggests a slight increase — the A53 sold for €469. but early A54 listings have that hone starting at €499. Whatever the price ends up being, we can assume that it's not going to top the $500 mark in the U.S.

The Galaxy S23 FE is a bit harder to predict, as previous models don't offer much guidance. The Galaxy S20 FE cost $300 less than the Galaxy S20, but that was back when Samsung's flagships started at a stratospheric $999. Once the Galaxy S's starting price dropped to $799, so did the pricing gap with the FE model — the S21 FE cost just $100 less than the standard Galaxy S phone, which proved to be a less compelling price for some shoppers. 

The sweet spot for the Galaxy S23 FE looks to be around $599. That would make the phone $200 less than the Galaxy S23 while still keeping a $100 cushion with the most likely Galaxy A54 price. Whether Samsung can find enough trade-offs to keep the Galaxy S23 FE's price at that level remains to be seen.

Galaxy A54 vs. Galaxy S23 FE outlook

With the Galaxy S23 FE not expected until the second half of this year, we've got enough for more potential difference to emerge, giving us a sense of how that phone can co-exist with the A54, without both model cannibalizing each other's sales. Samsung clearly thinks there's enough room for both phones in its lineup — time will tell if the phone maker is right.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.