Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Review: Intro
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is an Android-based smartphone designed, developed, marketed, and manufactured by Samsung Electronics as part of its Galaxy S series. It is also part of the phone device line up that is: S21, S21+, S21 Ultra and later the S21 FE which was unveiled as the “Fan Edition”.
Samsung has focused on three fan-favorite features for this Fan Edition; display, performance, and camera. The S21 FE checks all the boxes most people would expect from a modern phone. The performance is snappy and takes great photos.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Specs
- OS/Software: Android 12, One UI 4.1.
- Rear Camera: 12MP + 12MP + 8MP
- Front Camera: 32MP
- Display: 6.4 inches | 1080 x 2340 pixels’ resolution
- Chipset: Snapdragon 888
- RAM: 6/8GB
- Storage: 128/2566GB
- Battery: 4,500mAh fast charging| 25W wired, 15W wireless
- Colors: White, graphite, olive, lavender
- Slender design
- Bright, colorful display
- Good performance
- Ships with the latest Android 12 right out of the box
- Battery life disappoints
- Hard to recommend with the availability of Galaxy S22
- No microSD card slot
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Review: Design
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G looks just like the Galaxy S21 bunch but with a twist. The phone has a flat front, a thin metal frame, and a slightly curved back that flows into the raised camera block and that where it differs.
The build is identical to the Galaxy S21 as well – there is a Corning Gorilla Glass Victus at the front, the frame is brushed aluminum, and the back is a piece of grippy plastic with a matte finish. The S21 FE is water and dust resistant with the same IP68 rating as the rest of the S21 series.
Like the regular S21, the Galaxy S21 FE uses a fingerprint reader that’s embedded under the display. An overlay that appears when the phone is locked makes the sensor easy to find and more responsive.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review: Display
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G has a 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, an update over the S20 FE’s 6.5″ Super AMOLED. It still has the usual 1,080 x 2,400 px resolution (411ppi), supports a 120Hz refresh rate and Always-on features. Like the S20 FE, the Galaxy S21 FE can support a 120Hz refresh rate, if you set motion smoothness too High in the device’s Settings app. That means scrolling will look smoother on the Galaxy S21 FE’s display, which leads to a better overall experience with the phone.
The Galaxy S21 FE has HDR10+ support at launch. This, with the combination of the Widevine L1 DRM support, allows you to stream Full HD HDR10 content from all popular services. The screen is the Galaxy S21 FE’s strong suit. Colors, contrast, and brightness all look great, and it made streaming TV shows or playing games on the phone a treat.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review: Camera
This device has a triple-lens camera that’s similar to the Galaxy S20 FE’s camera setup. It features a 12MP main camera, augmented by a 12MP ultrawide lens and 8MP telephoto lens, with the latter shooter capable of delivering a 30x Space Zoom There’s a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a 12-megapixel wide camera and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera with a 30x digital zoom, which is not something you can say for other phones in its price range.
The pictures taken on the main camera are very colorful, which is pretty standard for shots taken on a Samsung phone. Still, the main camera capabilities make shots look instantly social media-worthy, especially pics taken in well-lit situations. With regards to video recording, both the front and rear cameras can hit 4K resolution and 60fps, and while that’s expected for the rear camera.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review: Performance
Many of the new top-of-the-line Android phones coming out this year will run on Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, but the Galaxy S21 FE will stay a year behind with 2021’s Snapdragon 888 silicon. So, the Snapdragon 888 may not be Qualcomm’s current best as it was recently dethroned by the new Snapdragon 8 Gen1 chip. Still, it’s one of the best on the market and expect good performance.
The Galaxy S21 FE 5G is available in three versions, all with LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage – 6GB/128GB, 8GB/128GB and 8GB/256GB. There is no microSD expansion here, the S20 FE was probably the last one with this feature.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review: Software
The delayed Galaxy S21 FE launch has a silver lining in one regard, you won’t have to wait for an update to Android 12. Instead, the Galaxy S21 FE ships with Google’s latest software already installed, along with Samsung’s updated One UI 4.0 interface. One UI 4 introduces a number of ways to customize the look of your phone’s home screen, icons, wallpapers and more. Widgets get a redesign, and are more customizable too.
Additionally, the launch of the Galaxy S22 has prompted Samsung to extend software support for its top phones to four years. The Galaxy S21 FE is one of the models to benefit from this extended support.
Battery and Charging
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a 4,500mAh power pack – that’s a fairly standard size for a mobile, but we still found the battery life disappointingly lacking. If you’re only a light phone user, you might find the Galaxy S21 FE’s lasting power is just fine but if you like to use your mobile a lot, it might not be enough. It supports up to 25W fast charging using wired and 15W wireless, but since there is no charger in the box, you will need to shop for one.
ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy S10+ Review
Price and Availability
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE comes in two storage sizes. First, there’s one with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage that costs £699 / $699 / AU$999, and there’s also an 8GB RAM and 256GB storage model for £749 / $769.99 / AU$1,099.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE offers many of the same features found in the Galaxy S21, but at a slightly lower price. With the Galaxy S22 available, this phone is a hard sell. Otherwise, this is a solid phone, matching the performance of the top Android flagships from a year ago and delivering photos that hold their own against some of the best camera phones we’ve tested.
- You want a good-looking medium-sized screen. While the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has similar screen specs to its siblings, it sits at a nice middle ground between them in terms of size.
- You want a slender mobile. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE comfortable to hold in the hand, with a thin body and light weight, so if you don’t want a chunky device it’s a good option.
Not recommended if…
- You need a long lasting battery and a high usage freak