Credit: Pocket Lint
On paper, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is a good mid-range phone with enough features including a beautiful screen, a strong CPU, and excellent cameras for individuals searching for a convenient, low-cost phone. However, the launch price is still much too costly for what you receive, especially when you consider concerns like slow charging, sluggish software, and poor battery life.
- Display that is vibrant
- A large amount of processing power
- Design that is slim
- The Snapdragon 888 processor is the same as that seen in the Galaxy S21
- Night Mode has been improved
- In comparison to the Galaxy S21, the telephoto lens has a lower resolution
- RAM is less than that of the Galaxy S21
- The refresh rate of 120Hz is not adaptable
- With the Galaxy S22 arrival so soon, it’s difficult to recommend
- Battery life goes low and disappoints
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is a budget-friendly addition to the Galaxy S21 series. Is the time for the release of this new $699 smartphone, however, already closed?
The Galaxy S22 range — Samsung’s next batch of flagship devices — is set to come soon, so it’s a subject worth contemplating. As a result, the Galaxy S21 FE invites comparisons not only to other Galaxy S21 variants but also to Samsung phones that may be in our hands in as little as a month. Even smartphone buyers who are holding out for the reduced price of the S21 FE may be persuaded to wait a little longer to see if the Galaxy S22 delivers considerably enhanced features.
That’ll have to wait until the Galaxy S22 makes its first appearance, which is expected to be in February during a launch event. For the time being, our Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review reveals a smartphone that doesn’t compromise too many features from the Galaxy S21 series but doesn’t come with the price cut you were looking for. If you want to see how the Galaxy S21 FE compares to Apple’s iPhone 13, check out our Galaxy S21 FE vs iPhone 13 comparison. Also, you can see the Beats Fit Pro Review
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Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Review
Price of Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
The Galaxy S20 FE’s pricing, which arrived at a $300 savings over the Galaxy S20, was a key part of its allure. However, after slashing pricing on the Galaxy S21 series last year, Samsung found it more difficult to provide the Galaxy S21 FE at such a low price compared to its primary flagships.
In the United States, the Galaxy S21 FE begins at $699. That’s $100 cheaper than the Galaxy S21’s initial launch price, and depending on the Galaxy S21 offers available, you could even be able to get last year’s flagship for less. Unless Samsung boosts the price of the Galaxy S22, which is a possibility according to at least one report, the Galaxy S21 FE won’t be that much less expensive than Samsung’s newer flagship.
The Galaxy S21 FE went on sale on January 11. The phone is available through both carriers and retailers as well as through its online store. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all announced plans to sell the phone, with discounts available as the phone launches if you’ve got a device to trade-in. Our guide on where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE includes information about those deals.
If you plan on buying the S21 FE, make sure you pick up one of the best Samsung Galaxy S21 FE cases to protect your investment.
Features of Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
It is $100 less expensive than the Galaxy S21
For comparable performance, it uses the same Snapdragon 888 chipset as the Galaxy S21
The S21’s 8MP telephoto lens isn’t as crisp as the S21’s 64MP lens
However, you must manually increase the refresh rate to 120Hz
The 4,500 mAh battery is the same size as the one found in the Galaxy S20 FE, however the screen is somewhat smaller
Battery life suffers significantly when the 120Hz refresh rate is enabled, as it does on the Galaxy S21
Among the graphite, white, and olive versions, lavender is the best color option
Samsung’s move to a plastic-dependent polycarbonate construction for the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus leaves little doubt about what material the Galaxy S21 FE will be made of. While this isn’t a huge difference from the S21, there’s no attempt to hide the fact that this phone is made of plastic. The Galaxy S21 FE has a haze finish on the rear that gives it a professional appearance, but it’s not going to fool anyone into thinking it’s a premium phone.
The contour cut design that houses the back camera array on the Galaxy S21 FE is one of the S21’s finest design touches. While there is a hump on the side of the phone that holds the strip of vertically aligned lenses, it blends in with the rest of the phone, making the array appear less conspicuous.
However, I wish the sides of the Galaxy S21 FE were a little more noticeable – they’re slippery, making the phone difficult to grip. The Galaxy S21 FE had already slid out of my hands a few times within a few hours of receiving it, and only my cat-like reflexes saved it from crashing to the ground.
The Galaxy S21 FE, like the ordinary S21, has a fingerprint scanner built into the display. The sensor is simple to detect thanks to an overlay that shows when the phone is locked, and it’s certainly more responsive than the Pixel 6’s clumsy unlocking mechanism.
Another Galaxy S21 feature that is sure to irritate some customers has been adopted by the Galaxy S21 FE. There’s no microSD card slot as there was on the Galaxy S20, so you’ll receive the storage on the phone you buy, whether it’s 128GB or 256GB.
My evaluation unit’s blackish graphite hue is by far the least intriguing of the Galaxy S21 FE’s four color possibilities. The phone is also available in lavender, olive, and white. In my opinion, lavender is the slickest-looking option, but your mileage may vary.
The Galaxy S21 FE’s 6.4-inch AMOLED display is larger than the normal S21’s 6.2-inch display but somewhat smaller than the Galaxy S20 FE’s 6.5-inch display. The smaller panel doesn’t seem claustrophobic, and I’d argue that it makes the S21 FE simpler to operate with one hand than the prior model.
If you set motion smoothness to High in the device’s Settings app, the Galaxy S21 FE, like the S20 FE, can handle a 120Hz refresh rate. That means scrolling on the Galaxy S21 FE’s display will be smoother, resulting in a better overall experience with the phone. However, it appears that you can only manually switch between 120Hz and 60Hz; the other Galaxy S21 phones feature adaptive screens that adjust on the fly. It’s a slight differential, but it explains why the S21 costs $100 more than the normal S21.
I felt the Sorcerer Supreme’s crimson cloak looked adequately vivid while watching Dr. Strange in the Universe of Madness video on the Galaxy S21 FE – except when he was roaming through the moodier areas of the multiverse. A Peacock app-streamed episode of AP Bio was likewise bright and clear.
In natural mode, the Galaxy S21 FE reproduces 119.8 percent of the sRGB color spectrum, proving that it performs a decent job with colors. On the Galaxy S21, the figure is 109.2 percent. Colors are exactly as true on the Galaxy S21 FE as they are on the more costly model, with Delta-E scores of 0.29 on both Samsung phones.
With Adaptive Brightness turned on, we measured the display of the Galaxy S21 FE at 700 nits. That’s only a few nits less than the Galaxy S21, which topped out at 711 nits. While the iPhone 13’s 795-nit display shines brighter than the S21 FE, Samsung’s latest phone is still bright enough to see outside.
The camera performance of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is mostly comparable to that of the S21 and S21 Plus, despite some differences in hardware. We’d go so far as to claim that there are significantly more similarities than differences.
The primary snapper is a 12MP main camera, which is a carryover from the S21, as is the 12MP ultrawide camera. The S21 FE, on the other hand, only has an 8MP telephoto camera, whereas the S21 has a 64MP one.
This telephoto lens has a lesser resolution than the S21’s, but it’s combined with the same lens, which allows for 1.1x optical or 3x hybrid zoom; for most users, this apparent decrease won’t make a significant impact.
The phone has a 32MP camera on the front, which is an upgrade over the 10MP on the previous S21 variants, but the resolution isn’t the be-all and end-all of camera quality.
We noticed that photos taken with the primary camera were extremely vivid, which is quite typical of Samsung phone photos – it’s clear that the company’s scene optimization software has never heard of oversaturation. Nonetheless, the main camera’s features make photos appear instantly social media-worthy, especially when taken in well-lit circumstances.
We wouldn’t be shocked if the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is the final phone to use the Snapdragon 888 chipset – the 888 was the top-end Android processor for most of 2021, but the newly-announced Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is already being deployed in a few phones at this time.
Because the 888 chipset supports 5G, the Galaxy S21 FE can connect to 5G networks if you have a 5G contract and live in an area that supports it. The processor is also combined with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, depending on the phone model.
Despite not being the most recent or powerful chipset on the market, the differences between the Snapdragon 888 and its predecessors are minor, and the former is still a robust processor capable of running demanding apps without breaking a sweat.
We put the phone through its paces by playing games, and it did so wonderfully, with rapid loading, top-notch graphics options, and no noticeable lagging or freezing.
The phone is suitable for mobile gaming and streaming media, although we urge that you use headphones. Why? Because we found it incredibly simple to accidentally cover up the phone’s speakers while holding it horizontally.
Samsung’s One UI 4 fork runs on top of Android 12 on the Galaxy S21 FE. The key difference between Android 12 and earlier versions is enhanced customization, notably the option to choose a color scheme for menus and icons, which One UI 4 supports.
The FE’s RAM, Processor, and screen refresh rate should make navigating the menus a pleasure, but that wasn’t the case in our testing. Swiping between home pages, opening apps, and unlocking the phone, especially when using gesture navigation, felt a little sluggish. Using the phone menu’s search to discover a certain app, for an instance, was frequently sluggish.
Although not everyone will notice or worry about this because the phone isn’t sluggish by any means, it’s worth noting that the phone isn’t as responsive as you’d expect given its specifications. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention this as tech reviewers.
We should also mention that the sluggishness was limited to the phone’s menus. When utilizing applications, the phone was lightning fast.
Despite the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a 4,500mAh battery, which is a very common capacity for a smartphone, we found the battery life to be disappointingly short.
With typical use – that is, some social media surfing, music streaming, and the occasional game and photo capture threw in for good measure – we found the battery limped to the finish line and barely lasted a day between charges. However, due to excessive use, we’d have to charge the phone in the early evening in order to keep it going till the next morning.
So if you’re merely a light phone user, you could think the Galaxy S21 FE’s staying power is just adequate; but if you prefer to use your mobile a lot, it might not be enough.
The FE’s 25W charging capacity is shockingly low when compared to the vast number of fast-charging phones on the market, some of which go up to 65W or even 120W.
Surprisingly for a ‘cheap’ phone, the Galaxy S21 FE has 15W wireless charging and 4.5W reverse wireless charging, the latter of which may be used to charge other phones. Those aren’t high rates, but given how few phones have wireless charging, the stats may entice some customers.