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Samsung Galaxy F23 5G Review: Choose Wisely

The Samsung Galaxy F23 5G is the South Korean company’s attempt at stealing some thunder from the dominant Chinese players in the sub-Rs. 20,000 smartphone segment. On paper, the Galaxy F23 5G looks like a decent step up from the Galaxy F22. The big upgrades include a more powerful SoC with 5G, a high-resolution display, and a newer (hopefully better) main camera. If you’ve read our first impressions of the phone and seen the pictures, you probably know that the Galaxy F23 5G doesn’t have any major cosmetic innovations. Overall, it still looks strictly like a budget offering. Having spent some more time with it, let’s see if this should be your next smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy F23 5G price in India

The Samsung Galaxy F23 5G starts at Rs. 17,499 in India for the variant with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which is what I’ve been testing. There’s a 6GB variant with the same amount of storage for Rs. 18,499. Samsung has announced an instant Rs. 1,500 discount as an introductory offer. Both variants are available in Aqua Blue and Forest Green. 

Samsung Galaxy F23 5G design

The minor updates to the design of the Samsung Galaxy F23 5G can be seen mostly on the back panel. The camera module is now rectangular, with the camera lenses placed one below the other. The back panel has a matte finish which contrasts well with the glossy frame on the sides. Smudges and fingerprints are not immediately visible on the Forest Green unit that I have, but it does’t mean they aren’t present. You don’t get a case in the box either.

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The Samsung Galaxy F23 5G has a sharp display but it could be brighter
Photo Credit: Roydon Cerejo/ Gadgets360

 

The Samsung Galaxy F23 5G is a slightly heavy and chunky phone, but after a few days with it I got used to that. It’s built well and feels sturdy, despite the all-plastic body. The power button on the right side has an integrated fingerprint sensor. The bottom of the phone has the headphone jack, USB Type-C port, and single speaker. The SIM tray is placed on the left, all the way at the top, and it supports two nano-SIMs as well as a microSD card.

The display on the Samsung Galaxy F23 5G has improved in some ways compared to its predecessor, but it also takes a step backwards. You get an LCD panel this time, instead of AMOLED, but it has a full-HD+ resolution and a 120Hz maximum refresh rate. It also has Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The front of this phone looks a little dated though, with its prominent notch and chin along with thick black bezels all around.

In terms of bundled accessories, you don’t get much. There’s only a USB Type-C to Type-C cable and a SIM ejector tool. Samsung does not include a power adapter, which might surprise buyers.

Samsung Galaxy F23 5G specifications and software

The Samsung Galaxy F23 5G gets a much-needed performance boost with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G SoC. In India, the Galaxy F23 5G supports 12 5G bands, making it relatively future-proof. The usual assortment of wireless connectivity standards are all present. These include dual-band Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5, NFC, and multiple satellite navigation systems. You don’t get stereo speakers or any sort of IP rating for water resistance.

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The Samsung Galaxy F23 5G has all the ports and slots you might expect
Photo Credit: Roydon Cerejo/ Gadgets360

 

The Galaxy F23 5G runs One UI 4.1 based on Android 12. Samsung has promised two years of software updates and four years of security updates for this phone, which is not bad and is more than what most other manufacturers offer in this segment. You don’t get an always-on display or Samsung DeX support like you would on higher-end models, but the Galaxy F23 5G offers an experience that should be familiar to users of previous mid-range models. The interface is not the snappiest and we’ll get into that in the next section, but as far as features go, One UI is fairly well loaded. There are quite a few preinstalled apps such as Josh, Dailyhunt, etc, apart from the usual Microsoft, Google and Samsung apps, but these can be uninstalled.

Samsung Galaxy F23 5G performance and battery life

I’m glad Samsung sent me the 4GB variant for review, because I can now say with certainty that you should avoid it and only look only at the 6GB variant, if you’re considering the Galaxy F23 5G. Things were fine when I first began using it but I noticed that once I had a couple of apps running in the background (and it didn’t matter which ones), this phone ran low on RAM very quickly. When I checked the memory stats, the phone typically had only between 400MB and 700MB of free RAM, which clearly wasn’t enough to run the OS smoothly. The RAM expansion feature was enabled by default, and allocated 4GB (the maximum limit) of storage as RAM, but that didn’t seem to help in any meaningful way.

The usage experience can get sluggish really quickly, and at times, even simple tasks such as switching from portrait to landscape orientation in the gallery app after rotating the phone, took a couple of seconds. Lag was also very noticeable when switching between the camera app and the gallery to preview a photo I had just taken. There were bursts of smoothness when I was simply scrolling through the UI but these were sometimes followed by annoying bouts of sluggishness, which could be very frustrating when trying to get something done. I hope the 6GB variant offers a smoother experience.

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The 4GB variant of the Samsung Galaxy F23 5G can feel sluggish pretty quickly with apps running in the background
Photo Credit: Roydon Cerejo/ Gadgets360

 

Benchmark scores were slightly lower than usual for this SoC, perhaps due to the limited RAM. AnTuTu for instance, could only run the lite version of its 3DBench test suite, in which the Samsung Galaxy F23 5G returned a score of 303,898 points. Graphical benchmarks fared a bit better, such as the T-Rex test in GFXBench averaged 77fps.

The single speaker can get very loud with media and games, but sound is unidirectional. When using the Samsung Galaxy F23 5G indoors, the brightness of the display was more than adequate and colours looked good, although not as vibrant, as they would have on a good AMOLED panel. However, under bright sunlight, the display washed out pretty badly in my experience, making it difficult to see what was on the screen. Automatic brightness adjustment behaves a little oddly, and doesn’t increase the brightness beyond the 50 percent level even with the sun beating down on the display. Even after I raised the brightness to its highest level manually, display legibility under bright light did not improve, so maybe the phone simply doesn’t bother doing this.

Casual games ran well on the Samsung Galaxy F23 5G but heavier titles struggled. Asphalt 9: Legends didn’t look its best and there was a bit of stutter in gameplay. PUBG: New State defaulted to the ‘Low’ graphics setting which didn’t look very good. Bumping up the visual quality made the game look better but gameplay wasn’t very smooth. This is a relatively powerful SoC, so this performance is disappointing.

The battery of the Samsung Galaxy F23 5G has a slightly lower capacity than that of its predecessor, but 5,000mAh should still be enough for most use cases. I was easily able to get up to two days of runtime on a singe charge, which I think is very good. Our HD video loop test echoed this too, running for a solid 21 hours and 49 minutes on a single charge.

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The Samsung Galaxy F23 5G can charge pretty quickly if you use the right power adapter
Photo Credit: Roydon Cerejo/ Gadgets360

 

The Galaxy F23 5G supports up to 25W fast charging, but you’ll have to either buy Samsung’s charger  or use your own PD fast charger. Using a 65W power adapter with a Type-C output, I was able to charge the Galaxy F23 5G up to 44 percent in half an hour and up to 80 percent in an hour. It took another 20 or so minutes to reach 100 percent.

Samsung Galaxy F23 5G cameras

The Samsung Galaxy F23 5G has a 50-megapixel primary camera with an f/1.8 aperture, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and a 2-megapixel macro camera. There’s an 8-megapixel camera on the front for selfies. The camera app is quite feature-rich, with plenty of shooting modes that we’ve seen on Samsung’s higher-end offerings too, such as Single Take. There’s a ‘Fun’ shooting mode, which lets you use filters with the front and rear cameras.

Samsung Galaxy F23 5G main camera sample (tap to see full size)

Samsung Galaxy F23 5G ultra-wide camera sample (tap to see full size)

Samsung Galaxy F23 5G main camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

In daytime, the main camera did a good job with landscapes and close-up shots. Details were decent and so were the colours in outdoor shots. However, artificially lit indoor scenes often had a pale, almost washed-out look to them. The ultra-wide camera did a better with colours in such scenarios, but details were much weaker. Close-ups captured during the day looked good, with a pleasing depth of field and sharp details. Macros didn’t look too good, and even under ample sunlight, colours looked skewed and details were weak.

Low-light performance was the Galaxy F22’s biggest weakness and while things have improved a little on the Galaxy F23 5G, it’s still just about average. Close-ups looked good under dim lighting but trying to capture a wider scene at night was challenging for the Galaxy F23 5G. Details were still okay but not great. Sadly, Night mode didn’t really do anything to improve details but it did fix the exposure on light sources. The ultra-wide camera is best left unused in low light, unless you have a well-lit scene.

Samsung Galaxy F23 5G main camera sample (tap to see full size)

Samsung Galaxy F23 5G ultra-wide camera sample (tap to see full size)

Samsung Galaxy F23 5G selfie camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

The selfie camera was surprisingly good. In broad daylight, light metering was handled well and my face and the background were properly exposed. Skin tones and details on my hair and clothing were also captured very well. In low light, I noticed I had to be extra steady when shooting in order to get a blur-free shot, but colours and details were above average.

The Samsung Galaxy F23 5G can shoot videos at up to 4K, but you don’t get any stabilisation at this resolution. Quality was pretty good during the day but was strictly average in low light. At 1080p, the stabilisation works well during the day, even if you’re shooting from a moving vehicle on a bumpy road. The camera app even lets you switch to the ultra-wide camera while recording, which is nice. Low-light video quality was still quite poor even at 1080p and electronic stabilisation caused some unpleasant artefacting in the footage if I moved around while filming.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy F23 5G excels when it comes to battery life. The upgraded hardware with plenty of 5G bands and the promise of timely software updates should keep it relevant for a few years. I’d suggest opting for the 6GB RAM variant though, as the 4GB variant did not deliver a very good experience in this review. Compared to the Galaxy F22 5G (Review), the display has somewhat better specs but it isn’t bright enough for outdoor use in sunlight. I also found the cameras to be strictly average, and low light performance is still not all that great.

The Galaxy F23 5G faces stiff competition in the sub-Rs. 20,000 segment. There are the Vivo T1 (Review) and the recently announced iQoo Z6 to consider. Oppo is also making a lot of noise about its upcoming K10 smartphone, which is expected to be priced under Rs. 20,000. There’s even the Redmi Note 11 Pro, if you don’t care much for 5G, not to mention some older models such as the Realme 8s 5G (Review) and Narzo 30 Pro 5G (Review), which are still worth considering.


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