Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Two-minute evaluation

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE in point of fact demanding situations the idiom ‘higher overdue than by no means’: arriving round five months after it was once anticipated – and 11 months and one week after the opposite telephones within the Galaxy S21 circle of relatives – the S21 FE is in the end right here just a month or so ahead of the next-gen Galaxy S22 fluctuate.

That is purportedly the finances member of the Samsung Galaxy S21 fluctuate, providing options and specifications from the primary S21 circle of relatives, however at a decrease asking value on account of a couple of make a selection downgrades that reasonable telephone customers most likely gained’t understand. This telephone could also be now not the primary Fan Version telephone from Samsung (it will have to be famous that the Galaxy S20 FE proved slightly standard).

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Proper off the bat, the fee is an issue. The S21 FE is meant to be the finances member of its circle of relatives (a truth denoted via the FE within the title) however arriving see you later after different telephones within the S21 fluctuate, it’s complete value while others had been discounted. You’ll be able to select up the Galaxy S21 – a now older telephone with extra spectacular specifications and contours – for much less (assuming you discover a excellent, sub-$600 deal). As Rick Rossovich says in Most sensible Gun: “no issues for 2nd position.”

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE’s value downside is a disgrace, for the reason that cell generally is a tempting purchase at a extra aggressive value level. At the moment, you’ll be able to get telephones with the similar processor, display specifications and digital camera functions for much less.

However the fee isn’t the cell’s simplest factor. The telephone – even with its wi-fi charging – is slightly gradual to price, and it additionally doesn’t closing lengthy sufficient between fees. We infrequently needed to curtail our usual utilization to verify the telephone lasted a complete day.

We additionally discovered the instrument to be slightly laggy, and swiping between menus, final and booting up apps, and easily unlocking the telephone incessantly took longer than it might have on some other cell. That’s a marvel given the telephone’s processor, display refresh charge and RAM, however this isn’t the primary time we’ve discovered Samsung’s One UI to act like this.

To be transparent, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE isn’t a foul telephone, which is why we gave it a combined ranking versus a damaging one. We discovered the S21 FE display to be colourful and vivid, which made staring at content material relaxing. The robust processor is excellent for gaming, and the cameras had been as much as the duty for many pictures we took.

If you’ll be able to select up the telephone as a part of a package, with value decreased in gross sales, refurbished or 2nd hand, then you may uncover the cell is worthwhile. However at its release value, it’s laborious to counsel.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE value and availability

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

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The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is available in two garage sizes. First, there’s one with 6GB RAM and 128GB garage that prices £699 / $699 / AU$999, and there’s additionally an 8GB RAM and 256GB garage type for £749 / $769.99 / AU$1,099.

We are ready on global pricing and can replace this evaluation after we obtain it.

The Galaxy S21 introduced for $799 / £769 / AU$1,249 for 8GB/128GB, however on the time of writing, we will simply in finding it for £649 / $549 / AU$949 (it’s been even inexpensive all over gross sales sessions like Black Friday and Cyber Monday).

What’s extra, many mid-range telephones just like the Realme GT, Moto G200, Pixel 5 and iPhone SE (2022) value so much much less, and maximum include related specifications that lead them to extra tempting mobiles.

Design

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You’d be forgiven for complicated the Galaxy S21 FE with its non-FE siblings, as a result of rather then its measurement, it’s a useless ringer for the vanilla and Plus individuals of its circle of relatives.

Like the ones aforementioned mobiles, the FE has the similar rear digital camera, Contour Minimize bump to accommodate its three lenses. One tiny distinction is that the FE makes use of plastic subject matter round those rear cameras while the S21 options steel.

That’s proper, it is a plastic telephone – or possibly we will have to name it Glasstic, which is Samsung’s advertising and marketing time period for it, even supposing its similarities to glass (a commonplace smartphone subject matter) finish with the title. There are professionals and cons of a plastic telephone: it’s tougher and more straightforward to grip, nevertheless it feels a little bit reasonable within the hand.

As with the S21, the FE’s energy button and quantity rocker are at the proper fringe of the telephone, and we discovered each simple to achieve when the usage of the cell. There’s a USB-C port however no 3.5mm headphone jack – that implies you’ll want a USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor, or Bluetooth headphones, to hear tune.

This can be a very narrow cell, and it has the similar thickness because the S21, regardless of being higher, so it’s quite at ease to carry within the hand. Samsung’s obviously now not losing any house right here, a design part additionally noticeable within the bezel (the distance at the entrance between the telephone’s display and the threshold of the cell) as it’s extremely skinny.

There are four Samsung Galaxy S21 FE colours: black, white, red and inexperienced, and because the colours display, we examined the previous. 

Show

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With a 6.4-inch display, the Galaxy S21 FE sits between the 6.1-inch S21 and 6.7-inch S21 Plus within the circle of relatives line-up, and similar to the ones mobiles, the show has a 1080 x 2400 answer and 120Hz refresh charge.

Every other level of similarity is the Dynamic AMOLED 2X display tech – that’s mainly a Samsung advertising and marketing time period for a kind of AMOLED panel that first confirmed up within the Galaxy S20 telephones. To summarize a whole lot of tech fluff, that implies the display is colourful and vivid, and from the usage of the telephone, we’d certainly agree.

The display is the Galaxy S21 FE’s robust go well with. Colours, distinction, and brightness all glance nice, and it made streaming TV presentations or taking part in video games at the telephone a deal with.

Breaking apart the show is a cut-out for the front-facing digital camera alongside the tip edge, nevertheless it’s now not too large, so now not a lot actual property is misplaced.

Cameras

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Despite the fact that one of the specifications are other, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE’s digital camera efficiency is in large part related to that of the S21 and S21 Plus. We might even say there are way more similarities than there are variations.

The primary snapper here’s a 12MP major digital camera and that, in addition to the 12MP ultrawide, are each holdovers from the S21. However whilst the S21 additionally has a 64MP telephoto digital camera, the S21 FE simplest has an 8MP one.

This telephoto snapper is also lower-res than the S21’s, nevertheless it’s in fact paired with the similar lens, which permits for 1.1x optical or 3x hybrid zoom; this seeming downgrade subsequently gained’t make an enormous distinction for most of the people.

At the entrance of the telephone is a 32MP snapper – that’s a leap up from the 10MP at the different S21 fashions – however answer isn’t essentially the be all and finish all of digital camera high quality.

We discovered photos taken at the major digital camera to be very colourful, which is lovely usual for photographs taken on a Samsung telephone – it’s obvious the logo’s scene optimization instrument hasn’t ever heard of oversaturation. Nonetheless, the primary digital camera functions make photographs glance right away social media-worthy, particularly pics taken in well-lit scenarios.

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We additionally admire how photos taken at the three other cameras shared a colour profile – many telephone cameras don’t have those in sync, so leaping between a zoom and usual shot can have an effect on how colours and brightness glance. For the S21 FE, shall we make it possible for it doesn’t matter what zoom degree we picked, sunglasses would glance the similar.

Many pictures and videography modes from earlier Samsung telephones are provide right here, together with choices like Unmarried Take, which captures a photograph on more than one lenses without delay so you’ll be able to select the most productive, or Twin Recording, which lets you report video on a rear and entrance digital camera concurrently. 

Speaking of that entrance digital camera, snaps appeared vivid and detailed, even in low-light settings, which is spectacular. However we discovered ourselves heading off Portrait mode, as it was once infrequently faulty at making use of the virtual bokeh background blur, even supposing it was once nice at balancing publicity and distinction to tell apart the topic from their background, .

If we’ve got a grievance, it’s that at the rear digital camera, the autofocus was once a little bit iffy for close-up topics, each ones that had been very shut like vegetation, and ones taken at a medium distance like pets. It’s one thing you’ll be able to toggle whilst taking an image, however relating to hairy buddies, you incessantly don’t have the time to manually trade the point of interest.

In the case of video recording, each the entrance and rear cameras can hit 4K answer and 60fps, and whilst that’s anticipated for the rear digital camera, it’s a marvel for the entrance one, as only a few telephones hit 4K selfie recording. The Galaxy S21 can in fact report 8K video, so the FE may disappoint all four other people on this planet who need that on a telephone – however we don’t thoughts.

Digicam samples

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That very same image of a park shot on an ultra-wide digital camera (Symbol credit score: Long run)
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An indoor shot, with a fantastic saturated Christmas tree (Symbol credit score: Long run)
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A regular image – we needed to grapple with the autofocus slightly somewhat to seize this, or even nonetheless, simplest one of the vegetation is even remotely in center of attention. (Symbol credit score: Long run)

Efficiency and specifications

We wouldn’t be shocked if the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE finally ends up being the closing telephone the usage of the Snapdragon 888 chipset – the 888 was once the top-end Android processor for the most productive a part of 2022, however right now, the newly-unveiled Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is already being utilized in a couple of telephones.

That 888 chipset is a 5G-enabled one, so the Galaxy S21 FE can connect with next-gen networks you probably have a 5G contract and are in a space that permits for it. The chip could also be paired with 6GB or 8GB RAM, relying at the type of telephone you go for.

Regardless of now not being the latest or maximum robust chipset at the block, the adaptation between the Snapdragon 888 and its successors are marginal, and the previous remains to be a supremely robust processor that runs tough apps with out breaking a lot of a sweat.

We took the telephone for a spin taking part in video games, and it carried out admirably, with fast loading, height graphical choices to be had, and no vital lagging or freezing.

The telephone is excellent for cell gaming then, and in addition positive for streaming media, however we’d counsel the usage of headphones. Why? As a result of we discovered it really easy to by accident duvet up the telephone’s audio system when retaining it horizontally.

Instrument

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The Galaxy S21 FE runs Android 12, with Samsung’s One UI 4 fork laid excessive. The primary adjustments Android 12 brings over earlier variations is larger customization, in particular on your skill to pick out a colour scheme for the menus and icons, and One UI 4 brings this selection throughout.

The RAM, processor and display refresh charge will have to make navigating the FE’s menus a breeze, however in our revel in, that wasn’t the case. We discovered that swiping between house pages, opening apps and unlocking the telephone felt a little bit gradual, particularly when the usage of gesture navigation. Particularly, the usage of the telephone menu’s seek to discover a specific app was once incessantly laggy.

Now not everybody may understand or care about this, as the telephone isn’t gradual in any way, nevertheless it’s value not anything that the telephone just isn’t as snappy as you’d be expecting for its specifications. As tech reviewers, we’d be remiss if we didn’t level this out.

We additionally want to indicate that this sluggishness was once simplest a topic for the telephone’s menus. When the usage of apps, the telephone felt completely snappy.

Battery existence

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The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a 4,500mAh energy pack – that’s a quite usual measurement for a cell – however we nonetheless discovered the battery existence disappointingly missing.

With reasonable use – this is to mention, some social media surfing, tune streaming and possibly the peculiar sport and photograph seize right here and there, we discovered the battery almost about limped to the end line and infrequently survived a complete day between powering. However heavy use ensured we’d want to price the cell within the early night to stay it ticking till a better morning.

So for those who’re just a gentle telephone consumer, you may in finding the Galaxy S21 FE’s lasting energy is simply positive; however for those who like to make use of your cell so much, it may not be sufficient.

Powering wasn’t precisely spectacular both, because the FE’s 25W powering is startlingly uncompetitive in comparison to the massive choice of fast-charging telephones available on the market, a few of which pass as much as 65W and even 120W.

At 25W, the telephone takes about an hour and a part to energy from empty to complete, even though we’d consider maximum customers will energy it up in a single day at that velocity.

Strangely for a ‘finances’ telephone, the Galaxy S21 FE additionally provides 15W wi-fi powering and 4.5W opposite wi-fi powering, the latter of which helps you to juice up different mobiles. The ones aren’t rapid speeds both, however for the reason that now not many mobiles be offering wi-fi powering, the specifications would possibly tempt some patrons.

Must I purchase the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE?

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Purchase it if…

Do not purchase it if…

First reviewed January 2022.

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