Can an Android phone replace my iPhone? I found out

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE on the kitchen table.
Brian M. Wolfe/

As an avid Apple fan, I was surprised when I received the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE for review and found that I liked it very much. Can Samsung continue to impress me? That’s what I wanted to know when I received the Galaxy S23 FE. This “Fan Edition” smartphone, which we just put through its paces in our Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review, offers many of the same features as the other Galaxy S23 models, but at a slightly lower price.

My handset of choice has always been the latest iPhone Pro. This usually means buying the Pro Max model, which I did again this year with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. I didn’t expect the Galaxy S23 FE to match my new iPhone, as the Apple device costs twice as much and offers much better specs.

However, I was interested to know if the S23 FE had enough features that I would have no problem doing everyday tasks on it like checking email, making phone calls, surfing the web, watching some videos, etc. How come S23 FE is stuck? Very good, although there is one important thing that held it back for me.

What I like about this Android phone

A Samsung Galaxy S23 FE in front of the tidbit.
Brian M. Wolfe/

Samsung has a history of releasing “fan edition” products such as smartphones. Although some of these products have been well received, others have not. For example, the Galaxy S20 FE received high praise in 2020, including being called “the phone to beat under $700” by . However, when the Galaxy S21 FE 5G was launched, it received less favorable reviews – our reviewer noted that “sequels are never as good.” The poor reception of the S21 FE 5G may have convinced Samsung not to release the S22 FE. Still, it seems fair to skip the S23 FE, as the handset boasts a number of excellent features.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Galaxy S23 FE is its impressive 6.4-inch Dynamic 2X AMOLED display with a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. The display of the S23 FE delivers vibrant and clear visuals and color pop. The display of the Galaxy S23 FE is larger than the 6.1-inch Galaxy S23 display and smaller than the 6.6-inch Galaxy S23 Plus display.

The iPhone Pro series has also included a 120Hz refresh rate for several years. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for regular iPhones. Like their predecessors, the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are stuck at 60Hz. So yes, call it Apple user influence.

Call this Apple user impressed.

I’ve always admired the wide range of color options available on Android devices, especially those manufactured by Samsung. Unlike Apple, which usually offers conservative color options for its iPhones, Samsung consistently offers more vibrant and attractive options.

All colors of Samsung Galaxy S23 FE.
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For example, the Galaxy S23 FE comes in some pretty nice color options. Apart from the usual Graphite and Cream, you can also buy the phone in Mint, Purple (the color of my review unit) and exclusively through Samsung.com, Tangerine and Indigo. Of course, like most people, you probably put a case on your new smartphone as soon as you purchase it. Anyway, it’s nice to know there’s something unique inside!

Just look at the S23 FE in purple; Impressive, no?

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE in purple, showing its back, sitting on a pillow.
Brian M. Wolfe/

This brings us to the S23 FE’s chip. It includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip in the US, while other S23 models are found to have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. (An Exynos 2200 chip is featured on the S23 FE in other regions.)

Samsung’s decision to go with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Gen 2 on the S23 FE will undoubtedly catch some people’s attention as the latter is significantly superior. This is probably an area where the company shouldn’t have cut corners, mainly since the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is known to heat up with excessive use.

While using the Galaxy S23 FE, I didn’t encounter any significant performance issues while performing everyday tasks. It effortlessly handled duties like checking email, sending text messages, opening multiple tabs on Google Chrome, watching videos on YouTube, and playing basic games downloaded from Google Play.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE mint green color with leaf on the front.
Tushar Mehta/

Looking at the cameras found on the S23 FE, it’s worth noting that the phone has a triple camera setup on the back, as is typical for Samsung phones. It includes a 50MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide camera and 8MP telephoto camera. On the front, there is a 10MP fixed-focus camera. I didn’t spend much time taking photos with our review unit, because I knew our reviewer would be doing the same. My focus was to see what Samsung was offering at this price.

When comparing the camera specs of the S23 FE with the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, it is worth noting that the S23 FE has slightly better specs. The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus feature a dual-camera system with a 48MP main camera, a 12MP ultra-wide camera, and a front-facing 12MP TrueDepth camera.

Surprisingly, Samsung decided No To add autofocusing capabilities as found on more expensive phones – and even on iPhones.

Where Samsung can improve

A Samsung Galaxy S23 FE on a hardwood table.
Brian M. Wolfe/

I don’t have any significant complaints about the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE, but a few areas gave me pause.

Firstly, the bezels are a bit thick compared to other S23 models. The device has an older version of Gorilla Glass protection, which means the display may become less secure over time.

However, Samsung’s decision to use the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 on this model may be the most significant drawback. This chip is almost two generations old, and although I didn’t experience any performance issues when performing everyday tasks, it’s worth reiterating that this chip is known to generate excessive heat in overtaking situations. If you plan on using your phone for a lot of 4K video watching and more than casual gaming, look elsewhere.

An Apple Fanboy’s Verdict

The Galaxy S23 FE next to the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Brian M. Wolfe/

There’s a lot I like about the S23 FE, starting with its bright display, unique color options, and mostly good camera specs. I was also happy with the build quality of the phone. However, with prolonged use I would probably get tired of its older chipset. And then there is the operating system.

I’ve been using iPhone since eternity and have become addicted to iOS. Android, on the other hand, regardless of version, doesn’t appeal to me. It’s more challenging to use, doesn’t have the same level of fun, and the Google Play Store feels a lot like the Wild West. Android is reason enough that I would never consider switching from an iPhone, even though I recognize the appeal of many people who choose Android over iOS.

Here’s my bottom line: If you’re currently using an Android phone and plan to upgrade, I recommend considering the S23 FE. Although it lacks some of the fancy features present in other S23 models, it includes all the essential functionality and comes at a low price, making it a great deal. If you’re an iPhone loyalist like me, this won’t change your opinion about Android, but for everyone else, it’s a nice alternative.






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