The Galaxy S23 FE and the Phantom V Flip are the latest smartphones from Samsung and TECNO respectively. Yes, they differ in format as the S23 FE comes in the regular candy bar shape while the V Flip is TECNO’s first clamshell-style foldable.
They’re both available at the same price – slightly under 100K as the S23 FE goes for Ksh 98,000 while the Phantom V Flip goes for Ksh 95,000.
We’ve already gone in-depth with the S23 FE in our full review and for the Phantom V Flip, this will be more of a first impressions review and a slab vs. fold comparison overall. It’s worth noting that Samsung already launched their Z Flip5 in the country months a few months[Full Review] ago and it’s at a higher price point selling for Ksh 193,000.
And since I had both the S23 FE and the Phantom V Flip, I thought it might be fair to see how Samsung’s most affordable flagship competes against TECNO’s most affordable foldable. The Phantom V Flip is also the most affordable clamshell fold in the country as well since the OPPO Find N2 Flip[Full Review] goes for Ksh 130,000. So as you can see, the Phantom V Flip sits in a unique position when it comes to the foldable smartphones available in the country, price-wise.
With the S23 FE, you get the phone, some ejector tool, a user guide and a USB-C to USB-C charging cable while the V Flip box comes with a 45W wall charger, a USB-A to USB-C charging cable, two back cases with a ring to hold the phone and paperwork.
TECNO gets its good points here by being generous with what you get in the box and the accessories so you don’t have to go buy after purchasing the phone.
Despite the format difference, the V Flip is lighter than the S23 FE coming in at 194g compared to the 209g. This is attributed to the build material as Samsung goes for a glass back while TECNO opts for an eco-leather back.
They both have aluminium frames.
For protection, the S23 FE has Gorilla Glass 5 for both the front and back glass. It also sports IP68 water and dust resistance. While the V Flip isn’t rated for ingress protection, the hinge closes completely with zero gap which prevents any sand/dust from getting inside.
The S23 FE has a 6.4-inch AMOLED screen sporting 1080 by 2340 pixel resolution while the Phantom V Flip has a 6.9-inch AMOLED screen with 1080 by 2640 pixel resolution which gives it a slight edge.
The S23 FE is brighter at 1450 nits peak brightness while the V Flip has 1000 nits brightness. Both have 120Hz refresh rates. The S23 FE is the only one here that supports HDR10+.
The V Flip’s cover screen sits at 1.32 inches with a 466 by 1466 pixel resolution at 800 nits peak brightness. TECNO is calling it the Planet Cover screen. While the main screen has Always-on-display, the cover screen lacks that feature. It does let you access quick settings toggles and clock widget with interactive pets.
The cover screen also lets you access widgets like the timer, weather, alarm, voice recorder, stopwatch, camera, fitness rings, music controls and schedule.
You can use the V Flip’s cover screen for previews when shooting hands-free pictures using the main rear camera setup.
While the V Flip’s inner screen can close completely, it doesn’t open flat when unfolded, making the crease visible on the screen. The hinge can support the phone from 30 degrees to 150 degrees when opened.
It’s worth noting that the hinge made of steel has the Phantom name engrained.
The S23 FE IP68 protection and glass design with Gorilla Glass 5 protection for both the front and back make it more premium than its rival. The glass back is glossy which picked a lot of fingerprints and smudges so you’ll want to slap a case to avoid this.
Colour options for the V Flip include Iconic Black and Mystic Dawn(purple shade) while the S23 FE include Graphite Black, Purple, Mint and Cream.
Other features the V Flip comes with include dual microphones, stereo speakers, side-mounted fingerprint reader. The S23 FE comes with dual primary microphones and the bottom-facing Dolby-Atmos-tuned speaker, face unlock and an optical under-display fingerprint reader.
In terms of usage, the relatively brighter screen of the S23 FE beats the V Flip when you’re out and about.
The foldable format in the clamshell style for the V Flip makes it compact and its lightness gives it a win over the slab-style S23 FE. But at this point, it’s all up to your preference – either as a first adopter of the new foldable or play it safe with the regular candy bar format of the S23 FE.
Samsung and MediaTek chipsets power the two phones with the S23 FE having the Exynos 2200 processor while the V Flip has a Dimsnsity 8050 processor.
The V Flip also has 16GB of RAM(8GB onboard and 8GB virtual) and 256GB of onboard storage. It ships with Android 13 and HiOS 13.5 straight out of the box.
The S23 FE has 8GB of onboard RAM, 8GB of virtual RAM and 128GB of storage. it also ships with Android 13 and OneUI 5.1 with Samsung promising four years of Android OS upgrades and five years of security updates.
In terms of storage, you get more with the V Flip. But Samsung wins in terms of software support.
While the Exynos chip is older, it performs better than the Dimensity processor both with synthetic benchmarks and in real-world use.
The cover screen had limited use in comparison to its other flip smartphones which is the whole point of foldables at least for me. I found myself opening the screen more frequently and if this would be the case, then a regular slab smartphone makes more sense. It all boils down to fashion vs utility.
Samsung’s solid and timely updates will sway a lot of users to the S23 FE especially those looking to upgrade in the next four years. The V Flip will likely get Android 14 as its next update and the timeline isn’t confirmed when compared to the OneUI 6 rollout plan.
The S23 FE comes with a 4500mAh battery that supports 25W wired fast charging, 15W wireless charging and 4.5W reverse wireless. It takes 30 minutes to top up from empty to half.
The V Flip has a relatively smaller 4000mAh battery and the 45W fast charging lets you get to half from 0% in 15 minutes. You’ll be better suited with the V Flip with its fast charging.
The bigger battery of the S23 FE gives it a longer battery life than the V Flip.
The two phones pack equally capable cameras. The V Flip has its camera setup led by a primary 64MP camera that ships with an RGBW sensor with a secondary 13MP ultrawide lens. It doesn’t have OIS on the primary camera.
We get a 32MP front-facing camera for selfies. Video recording is capped at 4K 30fps while selfie videos are capped at 2K 30fps and 1080p 60fps. Ultra-steady modes let you shoot videos at 1080p 30fps.
The S23 FE has the same 50MP primary camera with OIS and VDIS(advanced digital image stabilization) as the S23 with an 8MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom and a 12MP ultrawide. It also comes with a 10MP selfie camera.
The S23 FE can record up to 8K 24fps video with the main cameras and 4K 60fps with the front-facing camera.
Both phones take great photos and in some cases, exchange blows with one taking a better phone than the other one. In certain situations, the S23 FE took relatively brighter shots than the V Flip. Samsung also takes more flattering photos which a lot of people like.
For night shots which you’ll see below, the S23 FE takes better-looking photos in situations with challenging light conditions.
Overall, the S23 FE is more consistent but it was a close race.
Here are some samples[Check below for the link to the uncompressed photo files]
It was a tight race between the S23 FE and the V Flip. While its sibling, the Phantom V Fold[Full Review] came out with shining colours, the V Flip needs a little bit of refinement to not only fight the regular smartphones but also the rivals in the flip foldable format as well.
As a first-generation product, it gets a few things right but the competition is very tough on both smartphone formats. The S23 FE carries some of the charm of its true flagship S23 siblings[Galaxy S23 Review] to help it win favour with me in this comparison review.
PRICING AND AVAILABILITY
The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is going for Ksh 97,999 and Ksh 105,999 for the 128GB and 256GB storage versions respectively at Samsung’s official retail stores countrywide.
Purchasing one gets you Galaxy Buds FE wireless earbuds for free and Samsung Care+(Register within the first 30 days of purchase) with 1 year of free screen replacement.
The Phantom V Flip is available at authorized Safaricom and TECNO-exclusive stores in select towns across the country.