Samsung Galaxy S21 FE hands-on: Better phone, worse price


Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe SnowSource: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

It’s onerous to consider that it is been a yr and 4 months since Samsung redefined the “flagship killer” thought with the Galaxy S20 FE. At the time, the phone blew us away with its high quality, handing over a real flagship revel in for a considerably decrease price than a “common” Galaxy S20. The Galaxy S21 FE has been rumored for almost six months, and now we in the end were given the danger to take a look at it out.

The Galaxy S21 FE debuts with one of the vital anticipated upgrades over its predecessor however nonetheless keeps most of the issues that made the S20 FE a extra reasonably priced instrument. You would possibly not to find a brand spanking new digicam array in this phone when in comparison to closing yr’s instrument — that is a 12MP sensor for the primary and ultra-wide lenses, whilst an 8MP sensor nonetheless is living in the back of the 3X telephoto lens — however Samsung has upgraded the styling to be extra in keeping with the Galaxy S21 and the rumored Galaxy S22 sequence.

The reveal were given a large contact latency improve — as much as 240Hz contact reaction price when the usage of sport mode — and the processor has been bumped as much as the similar Snapdragon 888 that powers the remainder of the Galaxy S21 lineup. But, in spite of the Galaxy S21 being more cost effective than the Galaxy S20 at release, the Galaxy S21 FE launches on the identical $699 price because the Galaxy S20 FE.

That makes it $100 not up to a normal Galaxy S21 — and it sports activities a larger display than that phone, too — however does it make too many concessions for a trifling $100 financial savings? Our Samsung Galaxy S21 FE hands-on will have to will let you get an concept of the solution.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE hands-on: Price and availability

Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe With Box

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

Category Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
OS Android 12 + One UI 4
Chipset Snapdragon 888
Memory 6GB or 8GB
Display 6.4 inches, 120Hz refresh price, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 2340 x 1080 solution
Storage 128GB or 256GB
Rear Camera 12MP, ƒ/1.8 (wide-angle)
12MP, ƒ/2.2 (ultra-wide)
8MP, ƒ/2.4, 3x optical zoom (telephoto)
Front Camera 32MP, ƒ/2.2
Battery 4500mAh
25W Fast Charging
15W Wireless Charging
Reverse Wireless Charging
Weight 177g
Water and mud resistance IP68
Colors White, Graphite, Olive, Lavender

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE will probably be to be had on January 11 from all primary carriers and unlocked from Samsung, in addition to the standard shops that lift Samsung telephones. Samsung set the MSRP for the Galaxy S21 FE to $699.99 — the similar price the Galaxy S20 FE introduced at — making it $100 not up to the common Galaxy S21.

The Galaxy S21 FE with 6GB RAM with 128GB inside garage sells for $699.99, whilst $769.99 will improve that to 8GB RAM with 256GB inside garage.

As is the case with maximum Samsung phone launches, the Galaxy S21 FE will also be had for a deal at release from many carriers, together with AT&T. AT&T is promoting the Galaxy S21 FE for $15/month on a qualifying installment plan, which makes it $540 general. That’s $160 not up to the retail price. At that price, the phone is an absolute scouse borrow and extremely simple to suggest.

Samsung will be operating its same old trade-in promotions for the phone, which means you’ll be able to get the Galaxy S21 FE for masses much less when you commerce in a qualifying smartphone and use the credit score against the acquisition of a brand new Galaxy S21 FE.

Don’t name it finances

Galaxy S21 Fe Olive Render Crop

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

The extra reasonably priced flagship phone

The Galaxy S21 FE places the entire highest portions of the Galaxy S21 in a extra reasonably priced shell.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE hands-on: Hardware refinements

Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe Hold Snow

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

For the previous yr and alter, we have been raving in regards to the Galaxy S20 FE. Not best used to be the price very good — particularly when it went on sale — however the total revel in used to be simply as excellent as a normal Galaxy S20 for many customers. The Galaxy S21 FE brings about an upgraded processor that may be capable of deal with the rest you throw at it, together with the upgraded 120Hz reveal.

The Galaxy S21 FE may be very a lot a mixed and subtle model of the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S20 FE.

Now, the Galaxy S20 FE additionally had a 120Hz panel, however the S21 FE options the Dynamic AMOLED 2X from the S21 sequence — bringing about common enhancements in symbol high quality and refresh price tweaks — which includes a new 240Hz enter refresh whilst sport mode is enabled.

While it used to be refined, I may inform the variation between the enter latency whilst taking part in rapid video games that require twitch reflexes. In quick, a 240Hz refresh price signifies that the Galaxy S21 FE is in a position to discover any touches at the display two times as rapid because the 120Hz reveal bodily refreshes the picture.

Because of that, you can really feel like several touches made to the display are completely on the spot. This kind of 240Hz enter refresh tech has been used at the Galaxy S20 and S21 — in addition to various telephones from different producers — however it is a first for the FE sequence.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe Snow

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe Camera Hump

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

The panel itself seems completely stunning, as chances are you’ll be expecting from a Samsung reveal, and is each lots shiny outdoor in addition to ultra-smooth when 120Hz mode is enabled. You’ll to find that 120Hz is enabled out of the field, so the most efficient revel in will also be had with out tweaking a unmarried factor.

As a ways as design is worried, the Galaxy S21 FE may be very a lot a mixed and subtle model of the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S20 FE. As with either one of the ones telephones, the facet rails of the Galaxy S21 FE are steel, whilst the again is plastic. This is a pleasing powdery plastic that feels cast right through, and not using a obtrusive give even supposing you press onerous on it.

The whole frame sports activities a matte end, which is helping make it harder to inform which portions are steel and which can be plastic. That’s a stark distinction from the glitzy, glossy Galaxy S21.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe Logo

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

Samsung continues to scale back the entire selection of curves discovered on its telephones, straightening out the again nook contours and the steel facet rails to shape a extra uniform curve. The distinctive digicam hump from the S21 has been introduced over however now includes a smoother transition between the again and the hump. I most well-liked the dual-tone colours of the S21 sequence however just like the curve at the S21 FE’s digicam hump higher.

Samsung additionally decreased the site of the in-display fingerprint reader when in comparison to the S21, which I to find to be a much more herbal place. In truth, there have been a number of occasions the place I pulled the phone out of my pocket best to seek out that I had unlocked it within the means of grabbing it, merely since the fingerprint reader now is living within the precise location the place I take hold of the phone.

Samsung continues to scale back the entire selection of curves discovered on its telephones.

The greatest {hardware} downgrade is, surely, the haptic motors. Out of the field, the Galaxy S21 FE’s haptic motors really feel affordable and outdated, handing over that harsh, obscure vibration of the telephones of yore. This would possibly not hassle you in case you are anyone who turns haptic comments off instantly however, for other folks like myself, it is a large turnoff when you’ve turn into a haptic comments snob over the last few years.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE hands-on: Software, battery, and digicam upgrades

Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe Android 12 Theme

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

The Galaxy S21 FE launches with One UI 4, constructed upon Android 12, and the entire implausible options from different Samsung flagships are right here and as excellent as ever. The new theme engine guarantees that your instrument feels distinctive by means of converting the colour of the UI based totally upon the wallpaper you may have selected.

Additionally, Android 12 introduced sweeping privateness adjustments, together with a privateness dashboard and icons that seem at the display any time an app requests using your digicam, microphones, or location. Unlike Google, Samsung did not pass out of its option to considerably modify the visible taste of One UI with the Android 12 improve. Rather, it is the identical interface you like, now with a little bit extra colour.

Good Lock stays one among my absolute favourite causes to make use of a Samsung phone, just because it provides extra customization choices than another OEM bothers to. Want a unique multitasking display that is way more helpful than the inventory one? How about your complete historical past of your entire notifications? No subject what you wish to have to modify, Good Lock is sort of assured to permit it.

While it options the similar battery measurement as closing yr, I used to be in a position to squeeze two complete days of use out of the phone within the quick few days I’ve had with it. Even energy customers will be capable of get greater than a complete day’s price of use from this phone, and charging up is fast, due to the 25W stressed and 15W wi-fi charging. It’s additionally were given opposite wi-fi charging in case you want to most sensible up a couple of the most efficient wi-fi earbuds.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe Camera Viewfinder Snow

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

The digicam, too, has noticed a couple of tweaks and upgrades in spite of no longer having any primary {hardware} spec adjustments. I’ve been in a position to snap a couple of pictures between the Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21 FE and got here away inspired with the effects. Samsung seems to have additional enhanced the HDR processing, including in additional shadow element and balancing out highlights relatively higher than the Galaxy S21, either one of which have been operating Android 12 with One UI 4 in those comparisons.

The best position the place the S21 FE fell in the back of used to be in video recording, as there is no solution to document 8k video. Still, it is not most probably that the general public will fear themselves with this selection, so it is most likely no longer an actual loss.

The Galaxy S21 FE helps the entire remainder of the anticipated modes and lines, together with 30x Space Zoom, which mixes a hybrid virtual and optical zoom by way of the 3x telephoto lens. The drawback here’s that the telephoto digicam is best 8MP, so it would possibly not ever glance as excellent as a phone with a bigger sensor.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE hands-on: Still the worth king?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe Hold Back

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

When the Galaxy S20 FE introduced, it shocked many of us as it minimize out the “least essential” specifications and delivered an enormous $300 price minimize when in comparison to the Galaxy S20. This time round, the Galaxy S21 FE is best $100 not up to its respective more-premium Galaxy S21 phone, which makes it really feel like much less of a price win for patrons.

Still, from my slightly couple of minutes with the phone over the weekend, I’m prone to proceed recommending the FE type over the usual Galaxy S21 as a result of there are only a few concessions made that may subject to the vast majority of other folks.

But the elephant within the room is the Google Pixel 6. At $100 not up to the Galaxy S21 FE, the Pixel 6 will most probably stay the selection for other folks in need of to spend much less with out in fact getting much less from their phone.

The elephant within the room is the Google Pixel 6, which is an extra $100 more cost effective than Samsung’s choices.

The query, in fact, is whether or not or no longer Google can iron out the myriad of Pixel 6 insects that stay cropping up. Google undoubtedly has the price merit right here, however Samsung has a tendency to be higher about strong tool updates at the present time, along with customers extra choices and lines out of the field.

We’ll have our complete overview in a while however, for now, Samsung seems to haven’t begun some other winner with the Galaxy S21 FE although the price aid over the usual S21 is not as stark as the former iteration.

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