Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Review: Right Phone, Wrong Time


Phone delays are not anything ordinary, however few telephones had been as behind schedule because the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. First tipped through leakers to release as early as August 2021, the phone as a substitute didn’t release till January 2022, when Samsung unveiled the brand new handset at CES in Las Vegas – over 11 months after the opposite S21 telephones arrived.

That prolong hasn’t had a right away have an effect on at the phone itself, however does exchange the place it sits out there. The tech here’s a couple of months older than it will have to be, the competitors it could have had closing summer season have since had worth cuts (as has the common S21, lest we disregard), and it arrives proper as we’re about to look the release of the Galaxy S22 sequence – due in February.

So whilst there’s not anything incorrect with the Galaxy S21 FE in step with se – it is a lovely nice phone, truly – it is trickier to counsel presently, as at complete worth there are higher buys in different places.

Design and construct

  • S21-esque design
  • Plastic again with aluminium body
  • IP68 ranking

It most effective takes one look on the S21 FE to look what it stocks in not unusual with the remainder of the S21 line.

From the entrance it appears to be like virtually just like the opposite S21 telephones, with a slender bezel and central punch-hole selfie digital camera, whilst at the rear you’ll spot the trademark ‘contour reduce’ digital camera within the nook.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

The primary distinction is in color and end. Like the S20 FE prior to it, Samsung has opted for extra vibrant hues for this phone. There’s black (properly, ‘graphite’) and white, but additionally an olive inexperienced and a pastel pink.

This time across the digital camera is wrapped in the similar color as the remainder of the phone too, quite than a contrasting reflective end – a nod to the design we’re anticipating to look in subsequent month’s S22. I’ve were given to mention, I in reality assume this leaves the S21 FE having a look higher than its costlier sibling.

In phrases of dimension this phone sits in a candy spot between the S21 and S21+, and is just a little heavier than the common style at 177g. It’s were given mainly the similar construct high quality too – Gorilla Glass Victus over the display, an aluminium body, and plastic again, with an IP68 ranking to offer protection to from water and mud.

Display and audio

  • 6.4in demonstrate – between the S21 & S21+
  • 120Hz AMOLED panel
  • Stereo audio system

The 6.4in demonstrate used here’s just a bit higher than the 6.2in display at the common S21, however now not such a lot as to make this really feel like a large phone – it’s nonetheless at ease to carry, helped through the curved frame and light-weight subject matter.

With a 120Hz refresh price, Full HD+ answer, and an AMOLED panel, that is necessarily simply as just right a demonstrate as you’ll to find within the different telephones within the sequence – which is to mention, it’s about as just right as you need to hope to get at this worth.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE display

You’ll additionally get a fingerprint sensor constructed into the demonstrate, which has labored properly for me thus far, together with the choice to make use of the selfie digital camera for face unencumber.

Samsung has additionally nonetheless packed stereo audio system into the phone, so that you’re getting first rate audio – despite the fact that naturally there’s no headphone jack.

Specs and function

  • Snapdragon 888 5G or Exynos 2100
  • 6/8GB RAM
  • 128/256GB garage

In maximum portions of the sector the S21 FE is powered through Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chipset, which is paired with both 6 or 8GB RAM, and 128 or 256GB garage. Some markets – together with Australia – as a substitute get Samsung’s personal Exynos 2100, however the majority get the 888, which is what I’ve been checking out.

That’s an impressive chip, and if the phone had introduced closing summer season that’s all there would had been to mention about it. Unfortunately, since then Qualcomm has introduced the 888’s successor – the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 – and we’re already seeing the primary telephones release with that chip.

Again, it doesn’t make the S21 FE a worse phone, however does elevate the spectre that almost all patrons can be ready some other month or two to shop for a brand new phone with the next-gen chip.

In any case, benchmarks disclose predictably spectacular efficiency from the 888, despite the fact that now not up there with the quickest telephones the usage of that chip. I’ve spotted the phone getting sizzling right through benchmarks and different tough packages, which is surely retaining it again a bit, so it looks as if Samsung’s warmth control leaves a bit to be desired.

I’ve in reality been checking out the style with simply 6GB RAM, so any individual purchasing an 8GB style will have to be expecting moderately higher effects, despite the fact that that’s not going to lend a hand with the overheating.

The Snapdragon 888 supplies 5G reinforce too, in fact, and also you’ll additionally get Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 to spherical out the wi-fi connectivity.

Camera

The digital camera is most likely the executive space the place the S21 FE is, on paper, a slight downgrade from the common Galaxy S21 – despite the fact that the distance is small, and in some particular respects the FE may also have the brink.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE camera

The primary digital camera is actually the similar because the S21’s primary shooter: a 12Mp, f/1.8 sensor with Dual Pixel auto-focus and optical symbol stabilisation (OIS).

It’s lovely very good, reality learn. Samsung does not rather make the most productive cameras round presently, however it isn’t a ways off, and it is a just right instance of why. Shots are robotically crisp and shiny, with colourful colors and very good dynamic vary.

Thanks to the OIS it holds its personal in the dead of night too. Light resources nonetheless have a tendency to get a bit  blown out, and there is a softness to a few of my night time mode pictures that means extra stabilisation is wanted, however few telephones at this worth would do significantly better.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE camera test

It’s joined through a 12Mp ultra-wide and 8Mp telephoto. The former isn’t rather to the similar usual because the S21’s due to a smaller sensor, which particularly holds it again at night time. In just right lighting fixtures despite the fact that, that is nonetheless higher than the common ultra-wide.

The telephoto provides 3x zoom, and due to OIS pictures keep crisp and transparent, even in the dead of night. This lens is trickier to match to the S21’s, as that phone in reality makes use of a standard 64Mp digital camera as a substitute of a real telephoto, and vegetation in digitally – to strangely just right impact. Those who practice the specifications might respect that the FE includes a ‘true’ telephoto digital camera, however in follow the consequences are lovely an identical.

On the entrance you can discover a 32Mp selfie digital camera. This is in reality upper answer than the S21’s similar, however that does not all the time turn out a lot. It’s additionally a bigger sensor, however the further answer way it really works out to smaller pixels.

All of which is a long-winded, spec-heavy approach of claiming that that is other to the selfie digital camera at the S21, however now not significantly higher or worse. It’s obviously on a par in just right lighting fixtures, however at night time it falls again, with a lack of element and moderately cushy concentration.

Battery and charging

  • Good – however now not nice – battery existence
  • Average 25W stressed out charging
  • No charger integrated

Battery and charging are two spaces the place Samsung telephones have a tendency to be advantageous, however not anything particular – on no account in comparison to gadgets coming from the likes of Oppo and Xiaomi.

The similar is right right here. The 4500mAh battery will closing an afternoon of standard use, however now not lots greater than that. That’s almost certainly just right sufficient for most of the people, but when you already know you’re a heavy person you may wish to take a look at different telephones with higher battery existence.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE USB-C

Charging is an identical tale. Samsung does not provide a charger with the S21 FE, so you will have to both purchase one or use your outdated phone’s charger. The phone is in a position to as much as 25W stressed out charging – checking out with a third-party charger, it used to be sufficient to go back 51% of the phone’s battery existence in part an hour. That’s now not dangerous, however with telephones out now that may be offering a complete price in the similar period of time, you’ll be able to surely recuperate in different places.

It is just right to look wi-fi charging despite the fact that. The 15W velocity is first rate, if you’ll be able to discover a charger that helps it – maximum Qi chargers are restricted to 5W or 15W – however Samsung additionally contains opposite wi-fi charging, so to use the phone to most sensible up headphones or different equipment.

Software

  • Android 12 with OneUI 4.0
  • Three years of Android updates

Samsung is delivery the S21 FE with Android 12 out of the field, operating the corporate’s personal OneUI 4.0 pores and skin on most sensible.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Material You

Samsung has integrated some, however now not all, of Android 12’s largest options. Most significantly, Google’s Material You tech – which draws color tones from wallpaper pictures and used them to set the colors of the phone’s complete interface – is right here, however given a moderately narrower implementation than at the Pixel 6. You received’t see the customized colors seem in as many puts, so the impact is a bit more muted.

Importantly, the primary Android 12 privateness options are integrated. There’s a tweaked model of the privateness dashboard – right here referred to as ‘permission utilization’ – which helps you to know which apps have used which of your telephones safety permissions just lately. Alert icons when the microphone and digital camera are in use additionally function right here, protective you from unwelcome apps activating options they shouldn’t be.

The different just right information is that Samsung stays some of the Android manufacturers with the most productive replace promise. The S21 FE gets 3 main Android model updates – so will have to in the end get Android 15 – together with 4 years of safety patches. That is helping the phone seem like a long-term acquire, quite than one thing that may want changing in a yr or two.

Price and availability

And right here’s the rub. The S21 FE is out now and broadly to be had, and it’ll set you again:

  • 6GB + 128GB: £699/$699/€749
  • 8GB + 256GB: £749/$769/€819

If you’re tempted, you’ll be able to purchase it directly from Samsung, or from Amazon or any of the opposite standard phone and tech outlets.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

The large drawback for the S21 FE is that it’s base pricing is most effective £100/$100/€100 inexpensive than the unique S21, which if not anything else will get you a greater digital camera. That’s in response to the S21’s release worth despite the fact that – through now you’ll be able to in reality to find an S21 for cheaper than an S21 FE, and that worth will most effective drop additional as soon as the S22 is going on sale.

That makes the S21 FE a tough phone to counsel. It will get even worse while you glance in different places, as you need to pick out up a Google Pixel 6, OnePlus 9, or Xiaomi Mi 11 and spend much less. Even the iPhone 13 Mini is available in inexpensive than the S21 FE presently.

Check out our pick out of the most productive Android telephones for different flagship choices, or the most productive mid-range telephones for a couple of moderately inexpensive choices that during some instances can nonetheless fit the S21 FE for efficiency and contours.

Verdict

The S21 FE is a phone out of time. It’s a beautiful nice, well-rounded {hardware} package deal, that’s truly most effective let down through some minor overheating problems and the truth that Samsung nonetheless lags a ways in the back of the Android pack on battery and charging tech.

If it price $100 lower than it does I may well be right here making a song the phone’s praises – however, for now a minimum of, it doesn’t. And at this worth, it’s a phone I will be able to’t wholeheartedly counsel.

If you’re keen on the glance, or assume the function set is simply best for you, then opt for it. This is a great phone and I doubt many of us would come away upset from it.

But if you wish to store round and get the most productive bang to your dollar then different Android telephones offers you extra for much less. And with the S22 simply across the nook, you’d almost certainly most effective must spend a bit extra to get a significantly better phone from that vary.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Specs

  • 6.4in Full HD+ AMOLED 120Hz demonstrate
  • In-display fingerprint sensor
  • Gorilla Glass Victus (entrance)
  • Reinforced polycarbonate (again)
  • Aluminium body
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100 (market-dependent)
  • 6/8GB RAM
  • 128/256GB non-expandable garage
  • 12Mp, f/1.8 primary digital camera with OIS
  • 12Mp, f/2.2 ultrawide digital camera
  • 8Mp, f/2.4 telephoto digital camera with OIS
  • 32Mp, f/2.2 front-facing digital camera
  • Stereo audio system
  • Android 12 w/ One UI 4.0
  • IP68 mud/water resistance
  • 5G
  • WiFi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 4500mAh battery
  • 25W speedy charging (contains PD charging reinforce)
  • 15W wi-fi charging
  • Reverse wi-fi charging
  • 155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9mm
  • 177g
  • Launch colors: White, Graphite, Olive, Lavender



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