Technology

The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE, Buds FE, and Tab S9 FE are almost flagship

Samsung’s FE series is back after a year off, this time with a pair of Galaxy Buds in the mix.

The Galaxy S23 FE has the specs we’d expect of a “value flagship” smartphone and a price that makes more sense: $599, rather than the $699 Samsung charged for the S21 FE. The Galaxy Tab S9 FE comes with robust water and dust resistance and a much friendlier $449 price tag than the pricey standard S9, which starts at $799 — but you’ll have to settle for an LCD panel rather than OLED. And the Galaxy Buds FE offer active noise cancellation for $99.

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 FE was the most recent phone in the FE series, and it didn’t make a lot of sense priced so closely to the standard S21. The company seems to have recognized the problem with this year’s new entry price without making any drastic tradeoffs in features. There’s still a 6.4-inch 120Hz OLED, as well as a full IP68 rating for water and dust resistance — something you don’t get if you drop down to Galaxy A-series midrange devices.

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And there’s one more feature that Samsung threw in this year: fun! Remember fun? The S23 FE comes in mint, cream, graphite, and purple. If you order from Samsung’s website, you’ll find indigo and tangerine options, too.

The S23 FE comes with 8GB of RAM and a previous-gen Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, which is a full generation behind the current 8 Gen 2 and wasn’t exactly known for its battery efficiency. On the plus side, you get wireless charging and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera to complement the 50-megapixel main and 12-megapixel ultrawide cameras on the phone’s rear panel. You’d be hard-pressed to find either of those features in the midrange class.

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The Galaxy Buds FE have a design reminiscent of Samsung’s previous Galaxy Buds Plus and offer up to six hours of playback when using active noise cancellation. They’re rated IPX2 like Samsung’s standard Galaxy Buds 2, so while they can withstand some water exposure, you won’t want to take them out in a thunderstorm or submerge them. There’s no wireless charging, and sadly, you won’t find fun colors here: just graphite and white.

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The Tab S9 FE comes with a 10.9-inch screen, and the S9 FE Plus has a 12.4-inch display — both are LCDs, rather than the OLED panels on the standard S9 series, and they refresh at 90Hz instead of the 120Hz of the non-FE versions. Rather than the Qualcomm processor on the regular S9, the FE tablets use an Exynos 1380 chipset. But like their more expensive siblings, both come with an S Pen stylus in the box and offer full IP68 ratings. You’ll be able to get them in gray, mint, silver, and lavender colors.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE goes on sale on October 26th with 128GB of storage. The Galaxy Buds FE, Galaxy Tab S9 FE, and S9 FE Plus will be available from “select carriers” on October 5th and at Samsung’s website starting October 10th.

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