For all its innovation, Samsung is still the brand even its fans love to hate. If you don’t believe me, try uttering words like “Bixby” or “Exynos” in mixed company and see the sour faces appear. It’s with a spoonful of sugar, then, that I will report rumors that the upcoming Galaxy S23 FE ‘Fan Edition’ bargain phone will use a Samsung Exynos 2200 chipset, according to a Sammobile.com report.
A phone with a likely Galaxy S23 FE model number, SM-S711B, was spotted on Geekbench on Thursday. Phones on Geekbench report their internal specs, and this phone carries a motherboard that houses a Samsung-branded Exynos chipset. That sent the phone world into a tizzy as Samsung fans panicked over being offered a bargain handset with a cheaper processor inside.
Let’s remember that the Galaxy S23 FE will indeed be a bargain handset, and it needs to cost less than the Galaxy S23. While the Galaxy S23 launched in February at $799.99 / £849 / AU$1,349, we’ve seen regular $100 / £60 deals that knock the price lower.
Samsung made a huge pricing mistake when it launched the Galaxy S21 FE. That phone cost $100 / £70 / AU$250 less than the original Galaxy S21 price, but the FE version came out almost a year later, and by that time the Galaxy S21 had dropped in price below the cost of a new Galaxy S21 FE.
The recipe for a Galaxy S Fan Edition phone
Here’s how Samsung makes a Fan Edition phone, and makes it a bargain. First, the phone gets a slightly larger display that is actually cheaper to make. It isn’t as sharp or accurate as the flagship phone, but it still looks great because Samsung makes great displays.
Once you have a slightly larger display, you can add a slightly larger battery inside. This is a fan favorite because everybody wants more battery life from their phone, no matter what phone they buy.
The main camera might be the same as the base model Galaxy S23, but the rest of the cameras will get a bit of a downgrade. That’s fine. It will also use less RAM and have fewer storage options, and the RAM and storage won’t be the really fast kind (LPDDR5 and UFS 3.1 and all that). Oh, and the chipset will be slower.
Believe it or not, past FE phones have had slower chipsets than their flagship cousins. Even though the Galaxy S21 FE had the same Snapdragon 888 chipset as the Galaxy S21, the individual cores of the octa-core processor were all clocked slightly slower than on the flagship model. It was a slower chip. This isn’t just a processing downgrade. Using slower chips is undoubtedly cheaper for Samsung.
How I learned to stop worrying and embrace the Exynos
The Galaxy S23 was the first phone in recent memory that did not come with a Samsung chipset in any market worldwide. Often, Samsung splits its phones between Qualcomm and Samsung processors, and different markets get different chips as conditions allow.
Phone fanatics have grown to believe that Qualcomm makes the superior mobile platform, and in benchmarks this proves true, but Samsung isn't serving up hot garbage with Exynos. Exynos chips hold their own against Qualcomm, even if they can’t quite edge out their rival on every benchmark test.
The Galaxy S22 shipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip for much of the world, but the European and UK variants got a similar Samsung Exynos 2200 chipset. That means the Galaxy S23 FE will use the same platform as last year’s flagship Galaxy S22 Ultra, at least the European S22 Ultra.
Chip choice isn’t so important, it just needs to be cheap
It’s not time to get mad about this, not yet. First, let’s see how much Samsung charges. The Galaxy S23 is still $799.99 / £849 / AU$1,349. If Samsung follows the last FE phone pricing scheme, the Galaxy S23 FE will cost around $699 / £699 / AU$999. That pricing would be a huge mistake.
The OnePlus 11 costs almost the same as the rumored Galaxy S23 FE pricing, at $699 / £729 / AU$1,199. OnePlus gives you a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, just like the Galaxy S23 Ultra, as well as cameras with some cool Hasselblad tuning for great pics. The Google Pixel 7 costs $599 / £599 / AU$999 right now, but it gets frequent, significant price cuts. Google loves to put its phones on sale.
Besides the Samsung brand, it’s hard to see why we’d choose a Galaxy S23 FE over that OnePlus 11, but the Samsung brand carries huge weight. Carrier weight, that is, and the Galaxy S23 FE would be an easy freebee for US carriers in the upcoming back-to-school and holiday seasons.
The Galaxy S23 FE is coming, and the Samsung Exynos chipset inside is nothing to fear. It will perform just fine, and if you wanted a benchmark-beater, you shouldn’t be shopping for Fan Edition phones anyway. The only cause for concern is the price, and whether Samsung will actually get this phone to market before the Galaxy S23 gets cheaper.
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Phil Berne is a preeminent voice in consumer electronics reviews, having reviewed his first device (the Sony D-EJ01 Discman) more than 20 years ago for eTown.com. He has been writing about phones and mobile technology, since before the iPhone, for a variety of sites including PCMag, infoSync, PhoneScoop, and Slashgear. He holds an M.A. in Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University.
Phil was the internal reviewer for Samsung Mobile, writing opinions and review predictions about top secret new devices months before launch. He left in 2017. He worked at an Apple Store near Boston, MA, at the height of iPod popularity. He has been a High School English teacher at Title I schools, and is a certified Lifeguard. His passion is smartphones and wearables, and he is sure that the next big thing will be phones we wear on our faces.