The Galaxy F23 5G is yet another affordable 5G handset from Samsung for the Indian market even as there seem to be few, if any, signs of 5G networks going live in the country anytime soon. It’s the cheapest 5G Galaxy smartphone in India at the moment next to the old Galaxy F42 5G, but is it any good? Time to find out.
I feel a bit of déjà vu here, because the Galaxy F23 5G repeats a design mistake from Samsung’s other affordable 5G phones and I’ve mentioned this before: This phone looks as great from the back as it looks bad from the front.
The back’s got a design similar to the Galaxy A52, with a matte finish and the camera modules sticking out ever so slightly. My Forest Green review unit looks dashing, and people are going to be asking you what phone you’re using if you have it out in public.
At the front, though, as soon as you turn the screen on, you’re greeted with some crazy big bezels on all sides. Plus, since this is an LCD display, there’s a backlight behind the screen, and you can see it bleeding through around the front camera notch.
What I’m getting at is that it’s an outdated look, and I just don’t understand why Samsung doesn’t focus on the side of the phone that you’re actually going to be looking at when it comes to designing its cheap phones. Yes, impressing other people is important, too, but not at the expense of the front-facing design.
Since this is a budget phone, Samsung’s naturally used a physical fingerprint sensor, which doubles up as the power button. And it works great, as you would expect. Oh, and there’s a headphone jack on this phone, although Samsung’s not giving you any earphones in the box. No charger, either, only a USB-C cable, which makes you wonder if the F23 5G is really as affordable as the price tag suggests.
Display and audio
There’s a 120Hz 6.7-inch LCD panel on the Galaxy F23 5G, and it’s pretty good for the price range. While the 120Hz refresh rate feels more like 90Hz, you’re still getting a smooth user experience (when the phone isn’t stuttering, that is; more details in the performance section). And I’m glad Samsung went with Full HD+ resolution instead of HD+, as that makes a notable difference and gives you a sharp video and gaming experience.
The audio experience is rather poor, though. The single bottom-firing loudspeaker is barely audible even at the highest volume unless you’re in a quiet room. Its quality isn’t bad, but that doesn’t exactly matter when you have to strain your ears to be able to listen. And since there are no earphones in the box, your audio experience will simply depend on the quality of the earphones or headphones you buy.
The Galaxy F23 5G is one of the first budget/mid-range Samsung phones to come with a new 50MP sensor instead of the 48MP sensor we’ve seen on countless phones before. Of course, this one is not nearly as good as the 50MP sensor Samsung is using on the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+.
No sir, the 50MP camera here is strictly mediocre. The detail captured is disappointing, and pictures in daylight, indoors, and during nighttime all have fine noise that is visible as soon as you start zooming in. Switching to the full 50MP resolution adds detail ever so slightly, but not enough to make a usable difference.
At night, you can take advantage of Night mode, but all you get is a brighter image with even more visible noise. Below are some images from the main camera (any indoor or nighttime picture that’s repeated is just the regular version next to its Night mode version).
You can capture portrait shots using the main camera, and those are pleasing, though they, too, don’t have a ton of detail in them. Check out a couple of portrait shots below.
Samsung also gives you a proper Pro mode, with the option to control ISO, shutter speed, and more. And it’s a great way to get noise-free results at night, as long as you’re willing to set the phone down on a solid surface. Check out the shot below – the one on the left was taken with Night mode, while the one on the right was taken by setting shutter speed to 10 seconds on Pro mode and ISO all the way down to 50:
The 8MP ultra-wide camera has a couple of problems. First, because of the low megapixel count and the fact that you’re capturing more of the scene, ultra-wide shots pretty much lack any sort of fine detail and you just shouldn’t zoom in on them. The other problem is that the ultra-wide camera can’t properly focus on objects far away. Check out the images below and look at how part of the picture is blurry and out of focus while the rest looks fine.
Some ultra-wide pictures next to their standard counterparts:
There’s also a 2MP macro camera on the Galaxy F23 5G, and the less said about it the better. These macro cameras exist only to pad the amount of cameras on the spec sheet, and at a measly 2-megapixel resolution, you’re getting nothing useful. That resolution is so low that it’s a huge task even detecting when the object you’re capturing is in focus, and the final results are meh. See for yourself in the macro shots below.
For selfies, you’re getting an 8MP camera, and this one is also pretty average. Not much detail is preserved no matter the time of day or lighting conditions, and the pictures can make your skin tone look duller than it actually is. Nighttime selfies are more or less useless unless you turn on the screen flash. However, like with the main camera, you get some nice portrait shots with the front-facing cam, with better-than-expected edge detection.
Here are a couple of selfies; the one on the left is a regular photo while the one on the right is the portrait version:
For video recording, resolutions up to 4K are supported, though you’re limited to 30 fps. And video quality is only just serviceable like the pictures you get from these cameras. Last but not least, the Galaxy F23 5G gets a nice selection of camera modes, including Single Take for capturing photos and videos with a single click of the shutter button, Hyperlapse, Slow-motion, Super Slow-mo, Food, and Panorama. There’s also Fun mode, which lets you use a selection of Snapchat filters right in Samsung’s camera app.
The Galaxy F23 5G is one of the first non-flagship Galaxy smartphones that is launching running Android 12 and One UI 4.1 out of the box. There is no Core version of One UI anymore it seems, so the F23 5G runs the standard version, which means it isn’t stripped off all the nice features.
In fact, Samsung has left quite a few of them in there. From standard ones like Dual Messenger, Quick Share, and a screen recorder to stuff like video call effects and RAM Plus, the F23 5G has a proper One UI experience to offer. We’ve done a couple of videos on One UI 4.0 and One UI 4.1 that you can check out below to see what the latest version of Samsung’s software is like, but the gist is that you’re not missing out on much, except for the flagship-grade features like Samsung DeX.
What you are missing out on is Samsung’s new software update policy. That’s to be expected in this price range – the Galaxy F23 5G will get only two major OS upgrades. Everything after that will be security updates. Security updates are guaranteed for three years if I remember what Samsung told us at our briefing correctly.
Like the Galaxy F23’s design, its performance is a double-edged sword. This is one of the slowest phones I’ve used from Samsung in a while. That’s with general stuff, like navigating through the menus, opening apps, opening the camera and trying to take a picture, or even powering on the display using the power button.
The Galaxy F23 5G manages to introduce lag and stutter into all of that from time to time. When it works well, it works well. But unfortunately there’s just too many times when it doesn’t. The 4GB of RAM on my review unit might be to blame here, and I’m assuming the storage used on the device isn’t all that fast, but I didn’t have a great experience in general use. BTW, Samsung’s RAM Plus feature was enabled, too, but it didn’t seem to help.
However, since the F23 5G is powered by the Snapdragon 750G (only because that’s one of the few processors that support 5G; if this phone didn’t have 5G, it would likely have had a much less powerful chip), all kinds of games run well. From heavier titles like Call of Duty: Mobile to something like Candy Crush, the Galaxy F23 5G can handle them all with good frame rates, and without getting too hot.
As for 5G, the Galaxy F23 5G supports all 12 5G bands so it’s as ready for the future as it can be, but no testing was possible because 4G networks are all we have in India. And with no indication of when 5G networks will go live, 5G support isn’t exactly something you should buy this phone for unless being future-ready is critical for you.
The 5,000 mAh battery doesn’t sound huge on paper, but the Galaxy F23 5G can go all day long on a single charge with heavy use. Battery life is fantastic, in short, and with light use you can even push the phone to two days before you have to plug it in. This is with 120Hz refresh rate enabled; turning it off might let the phone last even longer, though I don’t see why you would want to turn off one of its best features when battery life is already excellent with the feature turned on.
The Galaxy F23 5G also supports 25W charging, and it’s pretty quick. Starting charging at 4%, it took around an hour and 20 minutes for a full charge, while 10 minutes and 30 minutes of charging brought it all the way up to 20% and 49% respectively. It sucks that the charger is a separate purchase, but should you buy one, you’re getting fast charging similar to Samsung’s flagships.
The Galaxy F23 5G is a hard phone to give a verdict on. It has a nice high refresh rate display, fantastic battery life, excellent gaming performance, the latest Samsung software, and a rear-facing design that’s beautiful. However, the cameras are the very definition of mediocre, the bezels are too big for 2022, and non-gaming performance leaves a lot to be desired.
I think the best thing I can say about the F23 5G is that it’s good for high-performance gaming on a budget. If that’s something you’re looking for, by all means, go ahead and get the Galaxy F23 5G. Otherwise, I’d recommend saving up and getting something like the Galaxy A22 5G. The A22 5G has its own negatives, but as an all-rounder, it’s a tad better (and it’s got great gaming performance, too, like the F23).