Samsung was so focused on being newest foldable Phones last fall, it looked like there was no room (or more likely the resources) for a refresh of its flagship Galaxy S phone line. But it’s a new year and now Samsung is kicking off with the launch of the Galaxy S21 FE.
Like previous Fan Edition devices, the Galaxy S21 FE is essentially a cheaper version of the S21 and S21+ that starts at $700. With a 2340 x 1080 6.4-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, the S21 FE slightly larger than the standard 6.2-inch S21, but not as big as the 6.7-inch S21+.
Samsung has mixed and matched many of the standard S21 features for the Fan Edition, while also adding a few new and improved elements. For example, instead of going with a fancier (and more precise) ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor, Samsung opted for an optical fingerprint reader on the S21 FE.
To make up for the less advanced fingerprint sensor, Samsung gave the S21 FE a higher-resolution 32MP selfie camera, 25-watt wired fast charging, and a larger 4,500 mAh battery instead of the smaller 4,000 mAh power pack you get. on the standard S21.
Inside, the S21 FE should have as strong a performance as the S21, with the same Snapdragon 888 chip. The FE will be available in two slightly different configurations: a base model with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, and an upgraded version with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. And whichever version you choose, both models support both sub-6Ghz and mmWave 5G.
To round out the rest of the package, the FE has three rear lenses: a 12MP main camera, a 12MP ultra-wide camera and an 8MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom. And as a small added bonus, Samsung claims that the S21 FE has an improved night mode compared to last year’s S20 FE.
Samsung is sticking to the S21’s signature Contour Cut design for the S21 FE, which will be available in four new colors: olive, lavender, white and graphite.
The biggest upgrade of the S21 FE may be under the hood: the phone comes with Samsung’s One UI 4.0, which is based on Android 12 and includes a number of upgrades, including new security and privacy settings, improved home screen customization, updated lock screen controls, and more.
On paper, the S21 FE ticks all the right boxes. It’s essentially a more compact but still just as powerful version of the S21+ with a few extra upgrades for just $700, which is about the same as a new S21+ costs today.
That’s why I wonder if the S21 FE might have arrived a little late. While it’s hard to blame Samsung for delaying the S21 FE because of the supply chain problems that have plagued practically every electronics manufacturer over the past year, getting a new S21 in early 2022 seems like a bad decision, especially when you consider that the S21 was originally announced all the way back on January 14, 2021. Instead of an all-new S22, we’re getting a iteration (albeit a very solid-looking iteration) of last year’s device, which feels a little underwhelming.
That said, the S21 FE looks set to have a good mix of specs and value when it goes on sale (both unlocked and through all major carriers) for $700 starting January 11.
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