Samsung’s ‘Fan Edition,’ or FE series, was made to provide enthusiast users with flagship-level smartphone features for mid-range prices. For this Fan Edition, Samsung has concentrated on three fan-favourite features: display, performance, and camera. The screen of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is colourful and brilliant, making content consumption enjoyable. The powerful processor is ideal for playing games, and the cameras performed admirably in most of our testing.
Samsung has attempted to provide more flagship features for less money, a task best suited with the flagship-killer kind. However, I believe Samsung should have priced it more competitively in India, given that the competition isn’t afraid to match the features and performance at a lesser cost. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G has all the potential of a good value flagship, but is it worth the asking price?
Samsung will provide two RAM and storage variants, with the Samsung Galaxy S21FE 5G bringing 8GB + 128GB and 8GB + 256GB options, respectively. The smartphone will cost Rs Rs 54,999 for the base variant and Rs Rs 58,999 for the 256GB variant. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is available in four colour options: black, white, pink, and green. Samsung is currently running a cashback offer that slashes the official price by Rs. 5,000, as well as some other trade-in offers.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G will be available starting on January 11, 2022, on Samsung.com, Amazon.in, as well as other top online portals, and select retail outlets.
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The big Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G comes in a compact box that includes the following:
- Quick Start Guide
- SIM Tray Ejector
- USB Cable
Before we talk in detail about the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G, let’s see what the on-paper specs look like:
- Display: 6.4 inches AMOLED
- Chipset: Samsung Exynos 2100
- RAM & ROM: 8GB RAM 256GB Storage, 8GB RAM 128GB Storage
- Software: Android v12
- Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 8MP
- Selfie camera: 32 MP
- Battery: 4500 mAh
- Weight: 177 grams
- Dimensions: 155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm
Samsung’s move to a plastic-dependent polycarbonate build for the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus makes it clear about what material the Galaxy S21 FE will be made of. While this isn’t a big change from the S21, there’s no attempt to hide the fact that this phone is made of plastic. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G has a haze texture on the back that gives it a professional look, but it’s not going to confuse anyone into thinking it’s a premium phone.
Though the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G does not have the premium construction like its brothers, there are no compromises in build quality and durability. Unless you purposely put it through some punishment, the phone feels solid and should probably last years without having any quality issues. Even if you do try to test out the build, the smartphone should be able to withstand it to some level because it is water and dust resistant to IP68 standards, and the screen is protected by top-notch Gorilla Glass Victus.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G, like the standard S21, has a fingerprint scanner built into the display. The sensor is easy to find thanks to an overlay that shows up when the device is locked. The FE’s power button and volume buttons are located on the right side of the device, just like the S21, and we found them to be easy to access when using the phone. There is a USB-C port, but no 3.5mm headphone jack, so you’ll have to use a USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor or Bluetooth headphones to listen to music.
The brushed aluminium frame would be slightly curved and matches the back’s touch and feel. It has a comfortable grip and a stylish look. This is a very slim phone, and despite being larger, it maintains the same thickness as the S21, so it’s fairly easy to carry in the hand. Samsung is certainly not wasting any room here, a design aspect that can also be seen in the bezel, which is razor-thin. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G comes in four colours: black, white, pink, and green.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G comes with a 6.4-inch screen, which fits between the 6.1-inch Galaxy S21 and 6.7-inch Galaxy S21 Plus in the galaxy lineup, and the display, like other phones, has a resolution of 1080 x 2400. The 6.4-inch AMOLED display is beautiful and offers sufficient brightness levels. Although the glass is flat, making it easy to use, the edges of the front panel are slightly curved to join the sides and back, adding to the in-hand comfort.
Because of the 120Hz refresh rate, the flat screen is highly responsive and smooth. It’s a joy to go through your Twitter/Instagram feed and browse web pages. There are two Motion Smoothness options (also known as refresh rates) to choose from – High (120Hz) and Standard (60Hz). Unfortunately, the 120Hz mode is not dynamic; regardless of the content on the display – video, streaming, surfing, or gaming – 120Hz is always forced. I was expecting a dynamic refresh rate similar to the rest of the Galaxy S21 smartphones, so this came as a surprise. The screen has a shell of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on it, which protects it from scratches and significant damage.
Text, images, and animations are very sharp and colourful, both outdoor and indoor. Samsung’s AMOLED displays are also great for watching movies and playing games. Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G’s display supports HDR10+, making it ideal for binge-watching your favourite content on OTT platforms. I have no issues regarding the display in general. At this price point, it has one of the nicest displays you’ll find on a smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is powered by an Exynos chipset, the Exynos 2100, which previously powered the S21 Ultra and S21+ last year. It’s a capable chipset that has performed admirably in previous Samsung devices. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 is used in some global variants of this device, which is what I along with other Indians were hoping to see in the Indian version. There are likely to be some unhappy customers as a result of this decision once again. The Galaxy S21 FE is available in two storage configurations: 8GB RAM + 128GB storage and 8GB RAM + 256GB storage.
These specifications result in consistent day-to-day performance for both heavy and light tasks. Despite the number of applications running in the background, Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G never felt slow. Without any major performance issues or glitches, you can record 4K videos, run different apps, and play the most graphic demanding games like COD Mobile, Battlegrounds Mobile India, and Genshin Impact. The in-game graphics are really detailed, however, you may notice occasional fps fluctuations and slight heat signatures if you play for an extended period of time.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G runs OneUI 4.0 which is based on Android 12. The OneUI 4.0 is visually appealing and packed with features and customising options. During my testing period, the phone (with the January 2022 security patch) ran without any issues or app crashes. The OneUI 4.0’s UI gestures are among the smoothest of their kind. While customizing the home screen with wallpapers, you may also notice some Material UI elements. New widgets with vast customization options, as well as new emojis and GIFs, are available on the new keyboard. OneUI 4 also has a new privacy dashboard featuring various controls and new ways to track permissions, bringing improved privacy.
You get plenty of options for connecting your Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G to other devices. DeX is a Samsung-exclusive feature that allows you to use your phone as a computer and connect a monitor and keyboard for increased productivity. It works both wirelessly or via HDMI. Overall, the software performed wonderfully, and it offered the usual Samsung experience, along with many shortcuts and customization options.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G’s camera specs are comparable to those of its predecessor. On the back, there’s a 12-megapixel main camera with optical stabilisation and an f/1.8 aperture, as well as an 8-megapixel telephoto lens with 3X optical zoom, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens, and the front boasts a 32-megapixel selfie camera. Despite having the same camera technology as its predecessor, the results are somewhat better this time, which could be due to some good software optimizations or hardware tuning.
Daytime images were vivid and colourful on the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G’s display. There’s a lot of detail, the colours are vibrant, and Samsung’s post-processing does a fantastic job of removing noise. Close-ups were also handled beautifully by the main camera, which created a nice background blur. Autofocus was responsive and quick. A single shot can be taken with a quick tap, a video can be recorded with a long press, and a burst can be taken with a right-swipe gesture.
The ultra-wide camera captured fewer details, but it’s useful since it allows you to capture some unique angles on your subject. The telephoto camera was usable up to 10X digital zoom, however, the image quality quickly decreases beyond this magnification level. With this camera, you can get a maximum hybrid zoom of 30X.
The camera app’s scene optimiser automatically switched to Night mode for a brighter image in low light. In low light, objects in the viewfinder were grainy, but the actual processed image was much better. Even in low-light situations, shots from the front camera were bright and clear, which is impressive. Portrait shots with the selfie camera are also quite nice. Subject separation is good, the blur is appealing, and the subjects are nicely exposed, clear, and colourful. Many of the photography and videography features from previous Samsung smartphones are available on Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G, including Single Take, which takes a photo with multiple lenses all at once so that you can choose the best, and Dual Recording, which lets you record video on both the back and front cameras at the same time.
Video recording is also good on the Galaxy S21 FE 5G. The video has good stabilisation both during the day and during the night, with just little jitter. Both back and front cameras on this smartphone can record videos at up to 4K 60fps, which is amazing.
The battery performance and charging speeds of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G are the only features or hardware that haven’t received any upgrades. The Galaxy S21 FE has a 4,500 mAh battery, which is the same capacity as the battery pack inside the phone’s predecessor. The Galaxy S21 FE worked well in ordinary situations, though towards the end of the day, it was in great need of a charge.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G’s 25W fast-charging, unlike many other mid-range and flagship phones in 2022, can test your patience at times. The Galaxy S21 FE 5G offers up to 25W fast charging, although it does not come with a power adaptor, as it did not come with other S21 variants. The phone takes roughly an hour and a half to charge from empty to full at 25W, and I expect most users will charge it overnight like me. Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G also has 15W wireless charging and 4.5W reverse wireless charging, which allows you to charge other devices. Those aren’t fast speeds either, yet given how very few smartphones have wireless charging, they’re acceptable.
The audio quality of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G will also amaze you in your everyday usage. The dual speakers sounded great for both gaming and watching media. The Exynos 2100 has a lot of 5G bands, as well as common wireless technologies like Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, and NFC for Samsung Pay. This phone also has wireless Dex mode, which allows you to share content on a bigger screen and use it as a PC. For biometric authentication, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G offers an in-display fingerprint reader and face recognition. The fastest way to unlock this phone would be the fingerprint sensor. Face recognition is a little slow, and it doesn’t work very effectively in the dark unless the phone is held very near to your face.
- 120Hz refresh rate display
- 8GB RAM + 256GB storage
- 15W wireless charging
- Snapdragon 888 chipset
- IP68 certification
- 5G connectivity
- 3.5mm headphone jack missing
- Hybrid SIM Slot
- No Gorilla Glass protection
- Only 4500 mAh battery
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is a great addition to the Samsung S21 series, retaining all of the flagship’s best features at a lower price. It ticks all the boxes in regards to specs and features, and despite the high price, it remains one of the few smartphones in this price range to include premium features like wireless charging and IP68 waterproofing. I find the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G to be a comfortable device to hold in my hands, with a slim design and lightweight; so it’s a fantastic choice if you don’t want a bulky smartphone.
With the Galaxy S22 heading to be launched, it’s tough to recommend getting the Galaxy S21 FE unless you’ve seen all of the new features on the upcoming phone and decided whether it’ll be worth spending a little more. The Galaxy S21 FE seems to be a good smartphone in general, but it could have had a bigger impact if it had been launched sooner. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G will make far more sense as its price falls and the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G phases out of the market.