Sunday, April 21, 2024
Smart Phones

Galaxy S23 FE vs Galaxy S21 FE: upgrades to look forward to


In 2020 Samsung started a new line of phones dubbed the Galaxy “Fan Edition,” which was meant to deliver a user experience close to that of its flagship Galaxy S series, but at a more affordable price.

The last iteration was the Galaxy S21 FE which was in January 2022, and now reports are saying that a Galaxy S23 FE is coming very soon. In fact, we might see Samsung release a new Fan Edition Galaxy as soon as this September, so we thought it was only natural to compare the two phones.
Of course, keep in mind that everything we know so far about the S23 FE is based on leaks and rumors and it cannot be fully trusted. With that said, we have a general idea of what to expect thanks to reliable leakers and business insiders. So far, the new generation is said to come with new cameras, more powerful chipsets, and a refreshed design. Let’s dig in!
Galaxy S23 FE vs Galaxy S21 FE expectations:

  • S23 FE has the faster and more power-efficient chipset options
  • S23 FE comes with completely new set of cameras
  • Refreshed design matching the rest of the S23 series

Table of Contents:

Design and Size

A small but visible refresh

The Galaxy S23 FE is said to be ever so slightly larger than its predecessor, coming in at 6.22 x 3.0 x 0.32in (158 x 76.3 x 8.2mm) vs 6.13 x 2.93 x 0.31 in (155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm) of the S21 FE. The overall design will be a bit different too, with the S23 FE matching more the current look of Samsung’s phones, resembling the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy A54.

Materials-wise, we expect the same plastic/aluminum combo for the back panel and frame, with IP68 water and dust protection, meaning it can be submerged in fresh water to a maximum depth of 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes.Unfortunately, just like with the Galaxy S21 FE, Samsung’s new Fan Edition phone is still not expected to come with a headphone jack, in case you were hoping for that.

Display Differences

There are no display-related changes expected with the Galaxy S23 FE. That is to say, it will probably adopt the same 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED display with a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels, a screen refresh rate of 120Hz, and HDR support.

We can’t really say we are disappointed here, as the Galaxy S21 FE already had a great display to begin with. Maybe the only improvement that we are hoping for is an increase in brightness, but that’s about it.

As for the bezels, don’t get your hopes up for thinner ones. With a slightly larger body and the display not getting any bigger, there is a good possibility they might even get a bit thicker.

Performance and Software

The Galaxy S23 FE is said to come in two variants, one equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (most likely meant to be released in the US), and one with the Exynos 2200 (meant for the rest of the world). This is nothing new, as the company took the same approach as the previous generation.

Compared to the Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100 chipsets that the Galaxy S21 FE variants came with, the silicon inside the S23 FE should offer much higher levels of performance as well as power efficiency. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, for example, can also be found in popular phones such as the Galaxy S22 Ultra, OnePlus 10 Pro, Galaxy Z Fold 4, and more.

There is still no word about what type of RAM the S23 FE will be using. S21 FE has LPDDR5 RAM, which is still really fast by today’s standards. We at least know that it will come in the same options of 6GB or 8GB of memory.

When it comes to software updates it is a clear win for the Galaxy S23 FE. On top of being a newly released model, it also comes with one more year of software support compared to its predecessor. The Galaxy S21 FE will get to Android 15 while the S23 FE will reach Android 17.


The main focus of improvement
The new chipsets and longer software support are crucial upgrades and there is no denying that, but it is the camera system on the Galaxy S23 FE that will likely receive the most attention as it is said to feature new image sensors for each camera.

Well, actually, the jury is still out on whether all of the cameras will be changed or it will be the main and selfie ones only. No matter if it’s just the two or all of them, however, the camera performance and image quality should be a big step up compared to what the Galaxy S21 FE offered.

There are a few reasons for that. First and foremost we have the brand new 50MP main (wide) camera on the S23 FE said to be borrowed straight from its more expensive brother, the Galaxy S23. In comparison, the S21 FE comes with a 12MP main camera so we should see more detail and natural sharpness in images and video. The sensor itself is expected to be larger too, meaning better low-light performance that results in a more clear picture.

Moving on to the other two cameras on the back, the Galaxy S21 FE has a 12MP ultra-wide and an 8MP telephoto. Now, some rumors are saying that things will be the other way around with the Galaxy S23 FE, with the ultra-wide being 8MP and the telephoto 12MP, although we are rather skeptical about this at the moment.

A new selfie camera, on the other hand, is a more likely upgrade. Reports say that we should see a new 10MP image sensor compared to the S21 FE’s 32MP one. Don’t let the rather steep drop from 32 to 10MP scare you though, image quality is rarely defined just by how many megapixels the camera has, as other factors like aperture, sensor size, and software play huge roles in that too. The new front-facing one on the S23 FE should be the same as the one Samsung used with the Galaxy S22 last year, which marked a noticeable jump in quality.

Audio Quality and Haptics

When we reviewed the Galaxy S21 FE, we were pleasantly surprised to find out it was very close to the Galaxy S21 in terms of audio quality. If this trend continues with the Galaxy S23 FE we can expect its dual speakers to offer even better sound, as the Galaxy S23 series has improved in that segment compared to the S21 from two years ago.

Battery Life and Charging

Battery life should be better
While the S23 FE’s alleged spec sheet shows the same 4,500mAh battery that the S21 FE has, we still expect to see some improvement with the battery life, mainly because of the more power-efficient chipsets.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Exynos 2200 are both built on the 4-nanometer process, and they perform more or less the same when it comes to efficiency, so we shouldn’t see too much of a difference between the two.

For context, the Galaxy S21 FE got around 7 hours of video streaming, 10 hours of web browsing, and 5 hours of gaming at 120Hz in our independent tests. We can expect the S23 FE to beat those numbers by at least an hour or two in each segment.

As for charging, things shouldn’t be too different given that we have the same maximum 25W here. It took approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes for the S21 FE to charge from 0-100% in our testing.

Now, wireless charging might be a different matter, with some rumors saying that Samsung will equip its next Fan Edition Galaxy with just 4.4W of maximum wireless charging speeds, compared to the 15W on previous iterations. However, we find that hard to believe, so we don’t think there should be any reason for concern yet. Most likely than not the S23 FE will keep the same 15W of wireless charging.

Specs Comparison

Here’s a quick look at the Galaxy S23 FE vs Galaxy S21 FE specs. Just remember that the S23 FE specs remain speculative and can turn out to be different when the phone gets announced.

So, there are two major differences here and those are the upgraded chipset options and the new camera hardware. These are the two main areas where we expect the Galaxy S23 FE to be visibly superior to its predecessor.

As already mentioned earlier, there is one weird detail, and that’s the wireless charging speed on the S23 FE, which leaks have pointed to be just 4.4W, unlike the 15W on the S21 FE and even the OG Galaxy S20 FE. That said, we find this information hard to believe as it just doesn’t seem like something Samsung would backtrack on, especially to such an extent.


So, the S23 FE is shaping up to deliver better performance when it comes to processing power and image quality, possible longer battery life, and longer software support. It is by no means something remarkable, but we have to remember that this is not a flagship phone we are talking about here. It sounds like a worthy successor to the Galaxy S21 FE.

That being said, what would really give the Galaxy S23 FE a chance at being one of the best mid-range phones in 2023 is its price. After all, the whole idea of the series is to show the fans some love by offering them an almost premium experience for a significantly lower cost. If Samsung makes this new generation cheaper than the previous one in times when high-end phones just keep getting pricier, it is bound to catch more positive comments than last year’s iteration.


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