Samsung Galaxy S21 FE – 4 reasons to buy and 3 reasons to ignore

With the Galaxy S21 FE, Samsung hopes to regain the magic of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE launch from 2020. This phone offered many of the same features as Samsung’s flagship phone, but for hundreds of dollars less. It’s no wonder the phone has proven to be so popular – Samsung says it sold 10 million Galaxy S20 FE models in just over a year after its release, making it one of the most popular Galaxy phones. sold all the time.

The Galaxy S21 FE seeks to repeat this using the same formula. Many features of the standard Galaxy S21 are on display here, and the price is lower as well. With the Galaxy S21 FE deals currently available, it would be very tempting to pick up the phone right now.

But wait before you mash that buy button. There are also good reasons to delay this purchase of the Galaxy S21 FE – at least for a little while – if not to ignore it altogether.

Here are the arguments for and against the Galaxy S21 FE, whether you are planning to buy or ignore Samsung’s new smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Reasons to Buy

You don’t have to sacrifice a lot to save

We only have two previous FE models, but it’s clear that Samsung is trying to keep these phones as close as possible to their flagship counterparts. In the case of the Galaxy S21 FE, in fact, you can count the main differences to the rest of the Galaxy S21 lineup on one side.

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

The Galaxy S21 FE doesn’t have as much RAM as the other phones in the S21 line, and while that does have performance implications, it won’t be enough for you to notice a real difference.

The telephoto lens of the Galaxy S21 FE isn’t as sharp – it’s 8 MP to the 64 MP telephoto camera of the Galaxy S21, but some phones in the Galaxy S21 FE’s price range don’t have a telephoto lens at all. . (And with that, we’re ostensibly looking at Apple’s iPhone 13.)

Probably the most important thing you forgo by opting for the Galaxy S21 FE over one of Samsung’s more expensive flagships is the lack of an adaptive refresh rate. While the S21 FE’s display can support a 120Hz refresh rate, it’s a feature you need to turn on and off, rather than one that adjusts dynamically.

As you’ll see in our Samsung Galaxy S21 FE vs Galaxy S21 comparison, there are some differences that work in favor of the FE. You will get a bigger screen and a bigger battery with the Galaxy S21 FE compared to the regular S21.

Galaxy S21 FE Snapdragon 888 system on chip

Even with just 6GB of RAM in this new phone, you won’t notice much of a performance gap between the Galaxy S21 FE and last year’s Samsung flagships. That’s because Samsung uses the same Snapdragon 888 system-on-a-chip in the S21 FE that powers its top 2021 handsets.

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

In the Geekbench 5 general performance test, the Galaxy S21 FE posted single-core and multi-core results of 1,101 and 3,199. This matches the standard Galaxy S21 results of 1,048 and 3,302, respectively. Both phones also produced around 34 fps in 3DMark’s Wild Life Unlimited test for graphics. In fact, look at any Snapdragon 888 powered phone (except the best gaming phones with RAM), and the Galaxy S21 FE’s performance results will be in the same range.

The bottom line: Buy a Galaxy S21 FE and you’ll get flagship-grade performance in a mid-range device.

The Galaxy S21 FE has great cameras

Besides the telephoto sensor of the S21 FE, it has the same camera setup as the standard Galaxy S21. And given that last year’s Samsung flagship was among the best camera phones we’ve tested, you can imagine the Galaxy S21 FE produces some strong images as well.

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

In fact, for our Galaxy S21 FE review, we ran photo showdowns between the Galaxy S21 FE and two high-end camera phones that cost roughly the same price – the iPhone 13 and Pixel 6. The S21 FE more than held its own with those two phones, even outperforming them in some tests. The Galaxy S21 FE took better photos in low light, for example, and as you might expect, this telephoto lens produces zooms that the iPhone and Pixel just can’t match.

It helps that Samsung equipped the Galaxy S21 FE with the camera capabilities you would get on the regular S21. This includes useful additions such as zoom lock to keep your camera still as you zoom in on a subject, single shot to capture photos from all of the S21 FE’s cameras simultaneously, and dual recording to capture videos from the front and rear cameras.

You get Android 12

The Galaxy S21 FE was supposed to debut last year, but the launch was pushed back, apparently due to supply chain issues similar to other tech companies. There is a silver lining to this delayed launch, however – it gave Samsung enough time to ship the Galaxy S21 FE with Android 12 preinstalled.

(Image credit: Samsung)

This means that there is no need to wait for the latest version of Android or Samsung’s new One UI 4 interface. It also extends the life of the Galaxy S21 FE, as Samsung promises three years of Android software updates for Galaxy S devices. This means that you will still enjoy Android updates until 2025 if you buy this phone.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Reasons to ignore

The design of the Galaxy S21 FE is not premium

Get the Galaxy S21 FE and you are definitely not going to confuse it with a high-end flagship. With its plastic back, the S21 FE does little to hide its origin story as a lower-cost device.

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

Admittedly, this will not matter for bargain hunters who prioritize value over aesthetics. But there is a practical concern about the materials and design of the Galaxy S21 FE – the phone is a bit slick and difficult to hold. You’ll definitely want to consider a case to improve the grip of the Galaxy S1 FE.

The price difference between Galaxy S21 and S21 FE is not that huge

Look, $ 100 – the price difference between the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 FE – is nothing to sneeze at. For some people, keeping an extra $ 100 in their wallet makes all the difference. But part of what made the Galaxy S20 FE so appealing was that it cost $ 300 less than the standard S20, and there’s no denying that the gap has narrowed.

The main reason the price difference is so much smaller this time around is because Samsung responded to user criticism of Galaxy S20 pricing and cut the cost of its Galaxy S21 models by $ 200. Samsung deserves credit for this move, but it makes the Galaxy S21 FE’s value argument more difficult to sell than before.

Galaxy S22 coming soon

There’s always a new phone lurking around the corner, but in the case of the Galaxy S21 FE, that corner is just steps away. The Galaxy S22 is supposed to launch in February – at least if the rumor sites are to be believed – and that makes it difficult to buy a Samsung phone right now. Unless you need a phone right away, it makes sense to see what Samsung has planned for this year’s flagships.

(Image credit: Unbox Therapy)

In the case of the Galaxy S22, we expect a more powerful processor like the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, camera upgrades and other features that might be worth paying for the flagship instead of a device based on last year’s top. characteristics.

It will all depend on the price of the Galaxy S22, of course, and whether it sticks to the S21’s $ 799 starting point. If the new phone costs the same price, but offers more features, that $ 100 saving for the Galaxy S21 FE will look like a silly change.


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