Yes indeed, this week Samsung announced new additions to its FE range of products. However, unlike other recent tech unveilings, Samsung’s reveal was decidedly low-key: Just a press release and promotional video.
But while Samsung might have kept things relatively tame, their new lineup is interesting enough to make some noise about.
The FE (that’s ‘Fan Edition’) range of products are a sort of budget flagship experience; they tend to share some tech with the brand’s halo products, while cutting corners in other areas to bring the price down. Essentially, if the flagship Samsung Galaxy is a do-it-all phone, then the FE is a do-most-of-it offering, generally with a populist emphasis towards things like photography.
Here’s the breakdown on some tasty new tech from the Korean giants.
Samsung Galaxy Buds FE
Starting small, the new Galaxy Buds FE join the wider Galaxy Buds range as a definite budget choice – but budget doesn’t mean bad.
The new earphones come with a winged design that promises a more secure fit in your ear, touch controls, and active noise cancellation. This means you can control the amount of outside noise you hear while using the buds, a handy safety feature.
The Galaxy Buds FE offer up to six hours of continuous use, or up to 21 hours when used with the included charging case.
Galaxy Tab S9 FE and S9+ FE
If you want a big screen but aren’t keen on a laptop, then this might be the answer. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE and S9+ FE bring big screen tech at a reasonable price. The S9 FE clocks in with a respectable 10.9 inch screen, while the S9+ FE brings a pretty gargantuan (for a tablet) 12.4 inch display to the party.
Both tablets feature a respectable 90Hz variable refresh rate, making them smooth when they need to be and efficient the rest of the time. Their screens also offer improved blue light reduction to reduce eye strain, and you can expect the usually high-quality Samsung screen tech to make an appearance as well. The display should be admirably sharp, and full of dynamic contrast.
As is becoming common with tablets from the bigger manufacturers, the tablets both come with a stylus. Samsung’s S-Pen makes it easy to take notes, while for a bit of extra money you can get a full keyboard when you really need one, making these even more versatile.
Power specs are light on the ground for the Galaxy Tab S9 FE and S9+ FE, but Samsung themselves are touting these as containing their latest Exynos chip, so they should be able to do plenty.
One nice inclusion: A MicroSD card slot, allowing you to boost the storage on your tablet by up to one terabyte, if you happen to have an extra couple of grand lying around for one.
Galaxy S23 FE
If the Galaxy Buds FE is the bread course, and the Galaxy Tab FE is your starter, this is the main course and dessert all in one – the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE.
Previous Galaxy FE phones have followed a definite formula. They’re recognizably Galaxy, mimicking much of the design language of their flagship elder siblings. At the same time, they tend to put a bit of a fun spin on things. Cost in these models is usually reduced through material choices and power, while their cameras are normally emphasised as something with broad appeal. Or at least, judging by the promotional material, and strong appeal to youth.
At first glance, these phones stick to the formula. They look a lot like the standard S23, but offer exciting colours like Mint, and a purple that reads decidedly plummy. There’s also a decidedly 70s (and amazing) shade they’re calling ‘Tangerine’, but as an online exclusive, we’re unlikely to get our hands on it in South Africa. However, this year’s FE still has enough in it to excite just about anyone.
Samsung’s long been at or near the top of the pile when it comes to their displays, and this phone is no different. The Dynamic AMOLED 2X is pretty much guaranteed to deliver deep blacks and bright, contrasting colours, while the phone also boasts a 120Hz variable refresh rates, for oh-so-smooth scrolling. At 6.4 inches, it’s decently sized as well.
The cameras have always been a selling point of the FE phone range, and that’s no exception with this edition. You’ll get a 10MP selfie camera in front, while the back of the phone boasts three bumps: a 12MP ultra-wide, 50MP wide camera, and 8MP telephoto, all with improved low-light capabilities (called ‘Nightography’) and the now-standard AI boosting.
Surprisingly, given that the budget focus of these phones typically impacts power, there’s plenty on offer this time. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip in the S23 FE might not be the beefiest chip on the market, but it’s not a long step down from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in the standard S23, and should handle most tasks with aplomb.
Are You a Fan?
While Samsung’s latest hasn’t come totally out of nowhere – rumours of an S23 FE were floated as early as February – the new additions to the FE lineup have nevertheless arrived as a pleasant surprise. Are these the most powerful devices in the world? No, of course not. But that’s not what they’re trying to be.
What they are is an open door to experience a taste of the flagship life, without quite as much cost.
Still, you could just get an actual S23 on a subscription. Much easier.