Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Review summary:

Editor’s rating: 3.85/5

Pros

  • Excellent Display
  • Appealing design
  • Capable cameras
  • Android 12 based software

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Comparatively slow charging speeds
  • No charging adapter in the box

Design

Display

Performance

Software

Camera

Battery

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is finally here. The most affordable S21 series phone has been making headlines since August but after several delays, it finally managed to see the daylight in January 2022. The successor to Galaxy S20 FE is probably a few months late as Samsung flagships for 2022 are just around the corner which will lead to price cuts for the existing S21 series phones.

Having said that, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE makes a positive first impression with flagship-level specs on paper and its elegant design. But is it worth buying? Well, we have been testing this phone for a week now. Based on that experience, I am sharing this review of Galaxy S21 FE. Here I will be addressing what I liked, where the Galaxy S21 Fe fell short and how does it compare against the competition. Let begin.

Navigate this review:


Unboxing | Specs | Design | Display Software | Performance | Camera | Verdict


Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Unboxing

In recent years, Samsung has cut down heavily on box content. Things like a wall charger, AKG wired earphones, a phone case – all have become history. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE box includes the following items:

  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE handset without a pre-applied screen protector
  • USB Type-C to Type-C cable
  • SIM ejector tool and documentation
  • A USB C to 3.5mm connector

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Specs & Price

Body: 155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm, 177g; Gorilla Glass Victus protection, metal frame
Display: 6.4″ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 800 nits (peak), 2400x1080px resolution, 20.9 aspect ratio,
Chipset: Exynos 2100 (5 nm): 1x Kryo 680 up to 2.84GHz, 3x Kryo 680 up to 2.42GHz, 4x Kryo 680 up to 1.8GHz; Mali-G78 MP14 GPU.
Memory: 128GB ROM + 8GB RAM, 256GB ROM + 12GB RAM;
Software: Android 12, One UI 4.0.
Rear camera: Wide (main): 12 MP, f/1.8, PDAF, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS; Ultra wide-angle: 12 MP, f/2.2 123˚ FoV; Telephoto: 8 MP, f/2.4.
Front camera: 32 MP, f/2.2 Battery: 4,500mAh; Fast charging support 25W
Misc: Fingerprint reader (in-display); NFC; Stereo speakers.


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Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Review: Design and build quality  

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE follows the design language Samsung established for its S-lineup of 2021. Yes, the Galaxy S21 FE is slightly taller and wider when compared to the vanilla Galaxy S21 thanks to its slightly taller screen and a slightly bigger battery. However, the waistline of the Galaxy S21 Fan Edition is just as slim at 7.9 mm. Yes, it is slightly heavier than the Galaxy S21 (177 grams vs 169grams), however, its excellent weight management ensures you won’t mind those extra grams. Samsung has delivered four fresh colors, out of these four colors we have the Olive Green one which looks quite appealing.

The front of the phone is dominated by a glorious 6.4-inch screen with a small punch hole cutout to house the selfie camera. Samsung has also placed an under-display optical fingerprint sensor that performs well. There are razer thin bezels on the sides and a narrow chin which ensures it looks appealing to the eye.

Talking of the rear panel, the triple camera module juts out slightly similar to its other S21 siblings. Samsung has one of the better implementations of camera hump that seamlessly merges with the frame. As far as durability is concerned, the phone has Gorilla Glass Victus on the front which is the toughest glass available in an Android phone today. The phone also has an IP68 rating for certified protection against dust and water. 

All said and done, I am quite pleased with the Galaxy S21 FE design. Yes, it’s not as flashy as some of its competitors. It looks elegant and has a very reassuring in-hand feel. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Review: Display

Once again, Samsung delivers the best in class display. The Galaxy S21 FE gets to flaunt a 6.4-inch display with 1080 x 2400 pixels. It’s an LTPO display which Samsung markets as a Dynamic AMOLED 2X screen. Its advantage over regular AMOLED is that Samsung has been able to implement a 120 Hz high refresh rate. Having said that, it lacks that adaptive feature that Samsung offers in its other S21 offerings. 

The display mesmerizes you with its vibrant colors and punchy contrast. If you are worried about outdoor visibility, Samsung has you well covered with 1200 nits peak brightness. 

Stream your favorite show on Netflix or any other OTT platform, you will love the colors, contrast, and brightness that the S21 FE display delivers. It is worth pointing out that, the S21 FE display is HDR certified and I was able to play the HDR content on Youtube and Netflix.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Camera Review

Samsung seems to have borrowed the camera hardware from its last Fan Edtion phone. Just like the S20 FE, its successor also houses a triple camera setup with a 12MP main sensor mated to an 8MP telephoto lens and a 12MP ultrawide sensor. Both main sensors and ultrawide sensors have optical stabilization which means they can cover up for minor shakes without compromising on image or video quality. Even the 32MP selfie camera is the same as last year. 

While it doesn’t have the big numbers like 108MP camera or 64MP camera to through around, it does manage to deliver satisfactory results that can stand firm against the competition. 

Yes, it delivers slightly boosted colors but most of us social ninjas do appreciate that while scrolling through Instagram or Facebook feeds. Apart from Samsung’s signature boosted colors,  the main rear camera delivers a good dynamic range with plenty of details in shots.

Even in low light, the Galaxy S21 FE’s primary rear camera manages to retain a good amount of details while efficiently suppressing most of the digital noise.

The 8MP telephoto sensor managed to get us lossless images up to 3X optical zoom. There’s also digital zoom up to 30X which is not advisable to use. It can also do 4K at 60Hz from both front and rear cameras with a fair amount of detail. In fact, it is among the few phones that can do 4K at 60fps from the selfie camera. Samsung’s new director’s cut feature allows you to use both front and rear cameras together or you can toggle between the three rear sensors while filming. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Review: Software

Samsung’s One UI is one of the better adaptations of Android in 2022. The Galaxy S20 FE 5G comes running on OneUI 4 which is based on Android 12. Samsung has secured it with its cutting-edge Knox security. Samsung has partially integrated Android 12 highlights in One UI 4.0. It has implemented some of the Material You themes options. 

Samsung has implemented color palette extracts from wallpaper so that users can choose and one of the wallpaper colors and use that as an accent. Samsung has also cut the number of pre-installed apps and bloatware significantly. 

What about software upgrades? Well, Samsung has once again reiterated its promise of offering 3 years of software updates which makes the phone highly future-proof.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G review: Performance and battery

On the performance front, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE depends on an Exynos 2100 chip which is paired with 8GB of RAM and up to 256 GB of storage. The Exynos 2100 consists of a Cortex X1 extreme performance core, 3 Cortex A78 cores, and 4 Cortex A55 cores for power efficiency.  On paper, the number appears similar to the Snapdragon 888 SoC, but does it perform similarly? 

Well, yes and no. Yes, in terms of day-to-day performance. It managed to perform all my everyday tasks effortlessly. As a part of our review process, we ran several tests and benchmarks on the Galaxy S21 Fe and it felt smooth in action even with several apps running in the background. 

Where it behaves slightly differently it’s an issue with CPU temperature that leads to slight throttling over a longer period of work. We ran several tests and here are the findings:

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G benchmark results

  • Geekbench Single Core – 1047 | Geekbench Multi-core – 3170
  • PCMark Work 3.0 – 13980 | 3D Mark Wild Life – 6045
  • CPDT Random Read – 27.68 MB/s | CPDT Random Write – 261.53 MB/s

But what about gaming? Well, we tried several popular AAA game titles from PlayStore including Battleground unknown and Call of Duty Mobile. We manage to run both of these popular titles at max settings and our experience remained lag and jitter-free.

On the battery front, the Galaxy S21 FE packs a 4500mAh non-removable battery that supports both 25W wired charging and 15W wireless charging. With this large battery, the Samsung phone manages to deliver good mileage. With the display refresh rate set to 120 Hz is was able to extract a day’s battery life without compromising on day-to-day activities. With Samsung’s 25W fast charger it took us 1.5 hours to fully refill this battery.

Review verdict: ​​Should You Buy the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE?

Absolutely, if you wish to experience one of the better implementations of Android 12, Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is clearly one of the best options to try. While it’s not a head-turner like its costlier siblings, Samsung has done enough to justify its FE legacy by offering an amazing design, decent cameras, and reliable performance.  

Where it fell short is charging time. You cannot top it up as quickly as a OnePlus 9 Pro or Xiaomi 11T Hypercharge. Had Samsung priced it slightly more competitively, it would have been a killer buy. 

Reasons to buy:

  • Excellent Display
  • Appealing design
  • Capable cameras
  • Android 12 based software

Reasons to not buy:

  • Pricey
  • Comparatively slow charging speeds
  • No charging adapter in the box

Samsung Galaxy s21 FE FAQ:

Q: Is the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Water and dust resistant?

A: Yes, the Galaxy S21 FE is IP68-rated, which means just like its other Galaxy S21 lineup siblings, it is also water- and dust-resistant.

Q: Is there a headphone jack on Galaxy S21 FE?

A: No, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE doesn’t have a headphone jack but Samsung bundles a connector that let you connect your wired headphone via a type C port. 

Q: Does the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a microSD card slot?

A: Unfortunately, no. 

Q: What version of Android does the Galaxy S21 FE have? What about the future updates?

A: Out-of-the-box, the Galaxy S21 FE comes running on Android 12. Samsung promises to deliver Android for the next 3 years.

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