5 phones you should buy instead of the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Mint Green color along with a Samsung notebook and a cermaic bowl with lemons.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE has much going for it — including a bright AMOLED display, four promised Android upgrades, fast wireless charging, and a competitive price. And yet, the Android landscape is filled with excellent alternatives to it, many of which are even more compelling purchases. With that in mind, before you pull the trigger on an S23 FE, we’d recommend shopping around a bit first.

The following alternatives have various features that make them suitable substitutes for the Galaxy S23 FE. Some are less expensive, others offer more features, and some are newer. With that in mind, here are a few phones with think you should buy instead of the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE.

Samsung Galaxy S24

Samsung Galaxy S24 in Marble Gray leaning on post.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Galaxy S24 is an excellent alternative to the Galaxy S23 FE. The base model of the Galaxy S24 is equipped with Qualcomm’s latest chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, which makes it faster and more efficient than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in the S23 FE.

The Galaxy S24 boasts a premium build featuring Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and armored aluminum. Additionally, the phone includes a 6.2-inch display that provides a brighter and more adjustable experience, with a maximum brightness of 2,600 nits and a refresh rate of 120Hz. Another noteworthy difference between the Galaxy S24 and the Galaxy S23 FE is their weight. The Galaxy S24 is significantly lighter than the S23 FE, a factor that can be a crucial consideration for many buyers.

Meanwhile, both phones feature a 50-megapixel primary camera and 10 MP telephoto camera. The Galaxy S24 also includes a 12MP ultrawide camera, while the Galaxy S23 FE has a 10MP lens for its ultrawide shooter. Both models support Galaxy AI. Both phones also offer wireless and reverse wireless charging.

Storage upgrades are another reason to consider the Galaxy S24 over the Galaxy S23 FE. Samsung promises seven Android upgrades for the S24, but only four will be offered on the S23 FE. This is especially important if you plan on keeping your phone for a long time. Some things are better on the older phone, however. For example, the Galaxy S23 FE offers a slightly larger 6.4-inch display and a larger battery.

Of all the benefits of the Galaxy S24 vs the Galaxy S23 FE, the chip difference and more premium build are probably the two most important reasons to consider it over the other.

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OnePlus 12R

The OnePlus 12R lying on a table.
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Like the Galaxy S24, the OnePlus 12R is one of the best Android phones available right now. The latter is also among the best values, making it another great Galaxy S23 FE alternative.

It’s important to note that the OnePlus 12R features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, while the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE and its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor only have 8GB of RAM. The OnePlus 12R boasts a stunning 6.78-inch OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and an impressive 2780 x 1264 resolution.

The OnePlus 12R features a triple-lens rear camera system with a 50MP primary sensor, an ultrawide sensor, and a macro sensor. The front-facing camera is 16MP. It’s not the very best camera system in the world, but for the price and other specs you’re getting, it’s a very respectable package.

Moreover, the OnePlus 12R offers extended battery life and faster charging. It supports 80W wired charging speeds and includes an 80W charger. In contrast, the Galaxy S23 FE has a maximum charging speed of 25W but also features 15W wireless charging, which the OnePlus 12R doesn’t. No wireless charging is a bummer, but when you can charge your phone from 0-100% in about 30 minutes, it’s a pretty fair tradeoff.

Finally, let’s consider price. The OnePlus 12R starts at $500, while the Galaxy S23 FE, without discounts, starts at $630. This significant price difference shouldn’t be overlooked, especially since the OnePlus model has a large display, a better chip, and more.

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Google Pixel 8a

A person holding the Google Pixel 8a
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Google Pixel 8a is a strong competitor to the Galaxy S23 FE. Released in May, this phone succeeds the Pixel 7a and shares many key features with its more-expensive counterparts (the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro). These features include a Tensor G3 chipset, various AI capabilities, and a 120Hz screen.

The Pixel 8a has several strengths, including its compact and lightweight design, vibrant camera, and user-friendly Android software. Like the other Pixel 8 models, Google offers seven years of software updates for the Pixel 8a. In contrast, the Galaxy S23 FE only has four years of updates, and the OnePlus 12R gets three.

The Pixel 8a features a 6.1-inch display that utilizes Actua OLED technology. It offers a vivid display with rich colors and deep blacks. Although the display is slightly smaller than the one found on the Galaxy S23 FE, the Pixel 8a excels in the camera department.

The Google Pixel 8a offers better photo quality despite not having a telephoto lens like the Galaxy S23 FE. The Google phone includes a 50MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide camera, and a 10.5MP selfie camera. Photos are very pleasing, and with powerful AI photo-editing tools, it’s an impressive setup at this price.

Furthermore, the Google Pixel 8a shares several similarities with the Galaxy S23 FE — offering 8GB of RAM, 128GB or 256GB storage options, and shipping with Android 14.

The Pixel 8a has 128GB or 256GB storage options, starting at $499.

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Samsung Galaxy A35

A person holding the Samsung Galaxy A35.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

There is another Samsung phone worth considering instead of the Galaxy S23 FE: the Galaxy A35. It’s slightly cheaper but still offers an excellent user experience.

The Galaxy A35 offers a vibrant 6.6-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display that delivers crisp and clear visuals with a high 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling and transitions. The Samsung Exynos 1380 chipset, an octa-core processor with an enhanced GPU and NPU, powers the device, improving overall performance.

The phone provides flexibility with options for 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage — allowing users to choose the configuration that best suits their needs.

On the rear, the Galaxy A35 sports a versatile triple-lens camera system featuring a 50MP primary sensor for high-resolution shots, an ultrawide sensor for capturing expansive scenes, and a macro sensor for detailed close-up photography. The device also has a 13MP camera on the front for clear and sharp selfies. The ultrawide and macro cameras leave much to be desired, but the main camera is a lot of fun to shoot with.

With a starting price of just $400, the Galaxy A35 presents an affordable alternative to the Galaxy S23 FE. Similar to the Galaxy S23 FE, the Galaxy A35 also benefits from a guarantee of four years of Android updates, ensuring a lasting and up-to-date user experience.

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Nothing Phone 2

A person holding the Nothing Phone 2, with the lights active.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Nothing Phone 2 is a solid alternative to the Galaxy S23 FE. It features a striking appearance with a larger 6.7-inch PTPO AMOLED display equipped with a 120Hz refresh rate. Powered by an improved Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, it offers a choice of 8GB or 12GB of RAM, catering to users with different performance needs.

The phone’s camera setup includes a 50MP primary sensor, an ultrawide sensor, and a 32MP front camera, ensuring versatile photography options. Additionally, the device houses a 4700mAh battery with 45W fast charging capability, offering a nice balance of long battery life and speedy recharging.

In our 2023 review, we highlighted the Nothing Phone 2 as the “phone to beat.” It stands out for its modern design, practical and visually appealing Glyph lights, vibrant screen, and impressive daytime camera performance.

With a starting price of $600, the Nothing Phone 2 presents a compelling option for users considering the Galaxy S23 FE. And despite being over a year old, it’s still one of the most unique smartphones on the market.