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Please Samsung, That’s Not How You Treat Your Fans! | Opinion

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First of all, before I get carried away: I really like the Galaxy S23 FE. I also like the original idea of the Fan Editions. And yes, I really am a little Samsung fanboy who has even just ordered the Galaxy S24 Ultra (yes, on my own money— not a test device or anything!) so don’t think that I just want to rant on Samsung, or that I’m just trying to make a pointless fuss.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE: A beautiful smartphone

Galaxy S23 FE in tangerine color stands between two houseplants on a shelf
The Galaxy S23 FE exudes a bit of Samsung flagship style, doesn’t it? / © nextpit

The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE nextpit reviewed is a smartphone that looks like a flagship from the Galaxy S series, has a great main camera, is supported for a long time with software updates, and has a processor on board that was even good enough for the Galaxy S22 Ultra we tested back in 2022. As is typical for Samsung, the AMOLED display is beyond reproach, even if the edges and the entire device are a little too bulky.

This Fan Edition is a smartphone that actually represents something of a link between the cheaper and weaker A-Class and Samsung’s top-of-the-range S-Class models. This also applies to the price, as the MSRP ($599) is also between the recommended retail prices for the Galaxy A54 and the Galaxy S23.

“Hmm, okay, Casi—but what exactly is your problem with the slab?” Good question, I will tell you in the next section.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE: A smartphone that’s too late

Well, what exactly is it that makes me beg Samsung not to have the audacity to release such a fan edition again? It’s simply nonsense to release the device at the wrong time. The device was announced at the beginning of October 2023 and launched on the US market shortly afterward for just under 600 dollars.

However, we Europeans were left in the dark. In fact, it was initially said that the smartphone would not be launched until spring 2024. In the worst case scenario, that would have been months after the release of the Galaxy S24 we are already testing! In the end, it was released “as early as” mid-December—for 699 euros.

What my problem is may become clear if you look at the following table. There I list three Samsung phones with the prices that are currently being asked for them according to the price search engine:

Of course, I didn’t choose these three models at random: The Galaxy S23 is an obvious choice for comparison because it is, after all, the base model in the series, to which the S23 FE also belongs by name. And the Galaxy S22 appears here because it is also a base model, in this case from the year 2022, and has exactly the same processor that powers the S23 FE.

I didn’t take the marketplace offers into account, but the lowest prices for the S23 and S22 can go even lower. So the S23 FE will have to stretch a bit to get there in terms of price. In addition, we mustn’t forget that many of us don’t really have to spend a lot of money because trade-ins and/or contract extensions make it possible to get a new flagship very cheaply or virtually “for free”—nobody really has to opt for a lazy compromise.

I’m also breaking this down for you in such detail because the S23 is of course significantly more powerful than the Galaxy S23 FE. The performance of the Exynos 2200 and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 alone are worlds apart. This also explains why I’m dreaming of the S23—as shown in the picture above—while I’m holding an S23 FE in my hand.

In addition, you get poorer telephoto and selfie cameras, a battery whose significantly larger capacity is not positively noticeable compared to the S23, thick display edges, and a plastic frame that looks outdated. Long story short: The Galaxy S23 FE is a decent smartphone in its own right—but the device lacks an argument as to why you shouldn’t invest a few euros more in the clearly better model.

Oh, you have arguments? What arguments? The “original” 6.4-inch format? The thick edges actually make the device even larger than the 6.6-inch Galaxy S23+. Or do you think the longer software support is an argument? Are you sure you still want to use the Exynos 2200 in five years’ time? Sorry, I just don’t see why I should go for the S23 FE.

Why the Fan Edition at all? A look at Samsung’s history

If you ask Samsung why the devices are labeled “Fan Edition” at all, Samsung answers that they collect feedback from Samsung customers for the regular models and react to it—by incorporating the corresponding changes in the Fan Edition. Seriously, Samsung? How many people have asked for a one year older Exynos instead of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2? And what kind of people demand fatter display bezels?

But let’s take a quick look at Samsung’s history and how it all started with the Fan Edition. Perhaps it’s worth taking a look into the past, if even Samsung itself believes that a page is needed to explain the existence of the Fan Edition.

So: How did it all start with the Fan Edition? As the saying goes—in the beginning there was fire. That actually fits like a glove here, because the Fan Edition was born after another Samsung device went up in flames an unfortunate number of times. We’re talking about the damned Galaxy Note 7.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 next to the Android mascot
This is what it looked like at the time: The Galaxy Note 7! / © nextpit

The Galaxy Note 7 was known to have huge battery problems. They blew up in so many people’s faces that Samsung had no choice but to take the Galaxy Note 7 off the market completely. But how do you close the gap and use all the unused components at the same time? Exactly: launch an almost identical device on the market, avoid the literally burnt model name—and launch the Galaxy Note Fan Edition!

If we only mentioned the Fan Edition of this Galaxy Note in passing in our history of the Galaxy Note series, it’s probably because Samsung didn’t make it available almost anywhere except in Korea. But no matter, the idea of the Fan Edition was born. But that was the end of it for the time being.

When did Samsung remember the Fan Edition again? After there was a Galaxy S10 Lite and also a Galaxy Note 10 Lite in 2020. As the name suggests, these were slimmed-down versions of the 10 series. Problem: Samsung subsequently conducted customer surveys and people told them that the suffix “Lite” made them think of a cheap, inferior smartphone. Android Central has a great article about this, which I recommend you read.

So Samsung immediately scrapped the “Lite” term—and then released the Galaxy S20 FE the following year. While the device sold very well, its success then waned noticeably with the Galaxy S21 FE. No wonder, as Samsung had already pulled off the stunt back then that has now been repeated with the S23 version: Just a Benjamin lower MSRP, a release just under a year after the Galaxy S21 and a few days before the release of the S22.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
Not a big sales hit: The Galaxy S21 FE. / © nextpit

With a potential S22 FE, things got a little more complicated because the pandemic caused supply bottlenecks for components. As a result, Samsung would have had to postpone the release of the Fan Edition further—and so no device with the addition was released at all.

The Fan Edition series now also includes tablets such as the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ (review) and in-ears such as the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE (review).

My conclusion: Samsung should therefore stop producing such a fan edition

My wish flashes through the entire text: The way things are currently going with the Fan Edition, it simply doesn’t need a sequel. Not if the release takes place just a few weeks before the new Galaxy S series and almost a year after the old Galaxy S series. The drop in the price of Android devices and the huge competition in the upper mid-range market segment means that Samsung is launching a really decent smartphone on the market that still can’t compete.

If you listen to the fans and therefore lower the price, that’s actually a good idea. If the device still sells well, it’s probably because people interested in smartphones weren’t given proper advice before buying. However, I don’t want to come out of this article in such a completely negative light and therefore try to end on a conciliatory note.

After all, it’s clear that the Galaxy S23 FE is absolutely great on its own. So I would like to conclude by showing you how it could work:

1. Rename the series!

Just don’t call it “Fan Edition” anymore, because in my opinion this narrative that these are the devices that listen to the feedback of Samsung fans is simply nonsense. Maybe go back to “Lite” models or come up with something completely new.

2. Really consider the fans’ wishes

How about actually listening to what people want? Maybe you will ditch fat display bezels and old processors. The combination of flagship design with a lower MSRP and bright colors is simply the right approach. Perhaps bring back the slot for the memory card or the headphone connection for these models. Offer a modular design with a replaceable battery, or experiment with other ideas in terms of sustainability.

In other words, build something that is actually not found in the regular Galaxy S models.

3. The most obvious: change the timing of the release

I’ve talked a lot about this really bad timing of the release. Both the late introduction and the long time between announcement and availability are just outrageous nonsense. Get it on the market in the summer! Set up a fan edition event in July—or announce the fan edition as part of the Foldables event at the end of August/beginning of September.

If all this doesn’t work because you don’t have the right components together so quickly, or whatever is forcing you to the late release, dear Samsung: Then please leave it alone! You know yourselves that the timing was really bad with the S23 FE.

Dear friends at Samsung: You’re forcing a real, longtime Samsung fan to talk badly about your products here—and nobody can really want that, can they? So: Please leave it alone in future, or change something!

But what does the nextpit community think? Have I gone too far here? Let me know in the comments, but please be fair—both to me and to Samsung.

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