The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is predictable – that’s a good thing
Expectations may be high for the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S22, but for CES 2022 it’s the long-rumored Galaxy S21 FE making its debut. The most affordable of the S21 family, the new Android 12 phone starts at under $ 700 but still manages to retain most of what makes its flagship siblings feel special.
While you may be wondering where the “Fan Edition” phones really fit into Samsung’s already crowded Galaxy lineup, the company insists they have already been a huge hit. The Galaxy S20 FE, for example, sold 10 million units in just over a year; indeed, since its launch in the fourth quarter of 2020, it has become one of Samsung’s most popular devices.
The aesthetic of the Galaxy S21 FE certainly matches that of the regular Galaxy S21, at least before you get too close. Samsung kept the “Contour Cut Design” around the camera on the back, while the simple unibody also stays close to what we’ve seen before from the company’s flagship. It will be available in four colors: white, graphite, olive and lavender.
Things are a little different once you get your hands on it, however. The back panel is plastic rather than glass; only the screen gets Gorilla Glass Victus. The edges around this Contour Cut camera section are a bit less crisp than those of a Galaxy S21 Ultra, for example. Kind of like, well, molded polycarbonate. Still, it is IP68 water and dust resistant.
With a thickness of 7.9mm and 177 grams, it’s reasonably thin and light. Samsung also packed a 4,500mAh battery, larger than the 4,000mAh in the regular S21 but smaller than the 4,800mAh in the S21 +. However, you still get fast wired (25W) and wireless (15W) charging, as well as Wireless PowerShare.
The 6.4-inch screen also sits between the S21 and S21 +, although the FHD + Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel has a 120Hz refresh rate, it lacks the adaptive refresh on its more expensive siblings. This means the Galaxy S21 FE can’t slow down the refresh for times when such high rates aren’t needed, in the name of saving battery life. There is also a 240Hz touch sample rate in Game mode.
For the chipset, Samsung has stuck with what you’ll find in the rest of the Galaxy S21 lineup – that means a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 in the US, while other markets will get Samsung’s own Exynos 2100. There is either 6 GB of memory and 128 GB of storage, or 8 GB of memory and 256 GB of storage. No microSD slot, be careful.
The display features a 32-megapixel punch-hole selfie camera with an 81-degree field of view. On the back, there’s a wide 12-megapixel camera with Dual Pixel AF, optical image stabilization, and an f / 1.8 lens. It runs alongside a 12-megapixel ultra-wide with a 123-degree field of view and an f / 2.2 lens and an 8-megapixel telephoto lens. The latter supports up to 30x Space Zoom.
Samsung’s familiar computer photography options are also present and correct. There’s night mode – capable of combining up to 14 shots for maximum dynamic range in low-light situations – and zoom lock for less shaking at higher magnification. Dual recording combines video from the front and rear cameras. AI Face Restoration promises better texture for eyebrows, hair, and lips, while ultimately Object Eraser removes unwanted parts from the scene.
When it comes to connectivity, there’s WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC, along with 5G’s Sub-6 and mmWave flavors. Out of the box, the Galaxy S21 FE will run Android 12 with OneUI 4, and Samsung also promises the same software update policy as its more expensive brethren.
Really, as you compromise, there is a lot to like about the Galaxy S21 FE. It’ll be priced at $ 699.99 when it goes on sale January 11, 2022, in the US, and the Galaxy S20 FE will live – for now, at least – as an even more affordable option. While those who can’t do without the cutting edge of tech in phones may want to wait a bit and see what the Galaxy S22 brings to the table, it looks like Samsung has picked the best of today’s flagship. hui for a much more realistic price.