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Samsung just did something strange to its newest Android phone

The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE laying face-down on a table.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Earlier this month, Samsung announced a slew of new products to end 2023 on a high note. Alongside some new tablets and a pair of earbuds, one of those new products was the Galaxy S23 FE. It looks a lot like the other S23 phones released earlier this year, but it has some lower specs and a cheaper price. When Samsung announced the S23 FE on October 3, it said the phone would be available for $600.

However, it looks like something changed between then and now. The Galaxy S23 FE officially went on sale on October 26, but it doesn’t cost the $600 Samsung claimed it would. If you buy the phone from Samsung’s website, you’ll have to pay $630 for the base model with 128GB of storage — a seemingly random increase of $30. Samsung didn’t previously confirm how much the 256GB variant would cost, but it’s currently listed on Samsung’s site for $690.

But here’s where things get even stranger. You can buy the 128GB Galaxy S23FE for the original $600 price at Amazon and Best Buy. It’s the exact same phone that Samsung is selling on its website, just $30 cheaper.

What’s the cause of this sudden price increase? We aren’t really sure. Plans change all the time for smartphone launches, from tweaked specs to different release dates. However, I can’t think of another time when a phone was announced at one price and then launched at a different price, and with no explanation about why it happened.

Although a $30 increase isn’t the end of the world, it does put the Galaxy S23 FE in a bit of an awkward spot. There’s now just $70 separating it and the Google Pixel 8, which is one of the best smartphones we’ve reviewed all year. It also pushes it ever-so-slightly closer to the regular Galaxy S23‘s $800 retail price. While $630 isn’t a horrible price for everything the Galaxy S23 FE has to offer — like a 120Hz AMOLED display, triple-camera system, and 4,500mAh battery — the value proposition is a bit worse than we’d anticipated. And again, the price change only applies if you’re buying the phone directly from Samsung.

Samsung One UI 5 on Galaxy S23 FE smartphone.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

After reaching out to Samsung for comment about this, the company told Digital Trends that the S23 FE still starts at $600, but that price is only for the carrier version, while the new $630 price is for the unlocked model. That obviously didn’t explain why Amazon and Best Buy are specifically selling “unlocked” versions of the phone for $600. We reached out to Samsung for further clarification and received this:

“We are excited to offer Galaxy S23 FE at the lowest at-launch price point ever for a Galaxy FE smartphone – providing the ultimate combination of value and performance to our consumers. Through our channel partners the Galaxy S23 FE is available for $599 through carriers as well as Unlocked for $599 at national retailers like Best Buy and Amazon.”

It all boils down to this. If you buy the Galaxy S23 FE at Amazon, Best Buy, or your carrier, it’ll cost $600. If you buy it from the Samsung website, you’ll pay $630. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but for whatever reason, that’s how Samsung has decided to handle this one.

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Joe Maring
Section Editor, Mobile
Joe Maring is the Section Editor for Digital Trends' Mobile team, leading the site's coverage for all things smartphones…
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