Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Everything you need to know about Samsung’s latest affordable flagship!

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Everything you need to know about Samsung’s latest affordable flagship!

After numerous leaks, renders, speculations and delays, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is finally officially launched on January 3, 2022. The Galaxy S20 FE was a popular device that offered great value for your money. If you wanted a phone with flagship specifications without breaking the bank, the Galaxy S20 FE 5G was one of the best recommendations. The Galaxy S21 FE also follows the same path by giving users solid specifications without too many compromises. While the device was expected to launch earlier, a few delays meant that the launch had to be pushed to early 2022, closer to the Galaxy S22 unveil. If you’re in the market for a relatively affordable flagship phone, here’s everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Price and Availability

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is essentially a cheaper version of the Galaxy S21. You’re getting all the important features that you expect from a flagship phone at a more affordable price point. the Galaxy S21 FE will go on sale in the US from 11 January starting at a price of $699. Given that the Galaxy S20 FE was a big success even in countries like India, the device should make its way to other parts of the world soon. We will update this section with availability details outside the US as and when they’re available.

Variant Price
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (6GB+128GB) $699
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (6GB+256GB) $769
    The Galaxy S21 FE is Samsung's latest affordable flagship phone for the masses. It provides a flagship experience at a lower price.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Colors

These are all the colors in which the Galaxy S21 FE will be available. Samsung has generally provided fun colors with its Fan Edition phones and this time is no different.

    Lavender

    Samsung has made purple phones with a similar hue in the past and this time too, it looks like a nice and fun color.

    Olive

    This color is similar to the one Samsung used on the Galaxy Buds 2 earlier this year. It looks quite sober.

    White

    The white colorway is the classic one with a silver frame. If you like elegant colors, this is the one to pick.
    If you're not a fan of bright colors and want something subtle and stealthy, Samsung is also giving you the option to pick the black variant of the phone.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Specifications

Specification Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
Build
  • Plastic back
  • Metal frame
Dimensions & Weight
  • 155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9mm
  • 177g
Display
  • 6.4-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X
  • 2340 x 1080p
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 240Hz touch sampling rate
SoC
  • USA: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • International: Exynos 2100
RAM & Storage
  • 6GB + 128GB
  • 8GB + 256GB
Battery & Charging
  • 4,500mAh
  • 25W fast charging
  • 15W Qi wireless charging
  • Reverse wireless charging
Security
  • In-display fingerprint scanner
  • Samsung Knox
Rear Camera(s)
  • Primary: 12MP, f/1.8, Dual Pixel AF, OIS
  • Ultra-wide: 12MP, f/2.2, 123° FoV
  • Telephoto: 8MP, f/2.4, 3X optical, 30X space zoom, OIS
Front Camera(s) 32MP, f/2,2
Port(s) USB Type-C
Audio
  • Stereo Speakers
  • Dolby Atmos
Connectivity
  • Sub6/mmWave 5G
  • 4G LTE
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/x
  • Bluetooth
Software OneUI 4.0 based on Android 12
Other Features
  • Samsung Pay with NFC
  • IP68 rating

Design

The Galaxy S21 FE follows a design language that’s similar to the Galaxy S21 series. The back looks pretty unique with the camera module blending in with the frame of the phone. Just like the standard Galaxy S21, the S21 FE also has a plastic back which is expected given the price point of the device. Samsung has been doing plastic backs for a while now and the one used on the Galaxy S21 FE seems quite nice. It’s got a matte texture so it’s not going to accumulate fingerprints.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE in four colorways on cream background

The phone has a metallic frame which is good since it adds to the overall rigidity of the device. If you’re not a fan of extremely large phones, the Galaxy S21 FE might interest you. The form factor isn’t too huge owing to the 6.4-inch display. This is the sweet spot since it’s neither too small to enjoy content on, nor is it uncomfortably large like the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The Galaxy S21 FE is also comparatively lightweight at 177g so your hands and pockets are going to appreciate it.

Like most premium phones from Samsung, the Galaxy S21 FE has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. This is as good as the rating found on the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Display

This is the department where most Samsung phones score big, including the Galaxy S21 FE. Samsung makes some of the best displays in the market so if you watch a lot of content on your phone, you’re going to enjoy doing that on the Galaxy S21 FE. The 6.4-inch display is a Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel, the same as the one used on the more premium Galaxy S21 series. You’re going to get punchy colors with great levels of contrast and excellent viewing angles. It is a Full HD+ display which is quite standard at this price point.

Apart from the quality of the panel, the major highlight of this display is the 120Hz refresh rate. A faster refresh rate makes your overall experience of using the phone a lot smoother. Whether you’re navigating through the different pages of your homescreen or scrolling through your social media feeds, you’re going to notice how smooth the display feels. If you play games on your phone, you are surely going to appreciate the extra frames that you’re going to see. Speaking of gaming, the S21 FE also has a 240Hz touch-sampling rate when you enable the gaming mode on the phone.

SoC, RAM, and Storage

Samsung’s Fan Edition phones generally retain the same flagship-grade SoC as their elder ‘S’ series siblings. Thankfully, that’s the case this year too with the Galaxy S21 FE. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 is what you’ll find at the heart of the affordable flagship from Samsung in the US, while the international version gets the Exynos 2100. This is accompanied by 6 or 8GB of RAM. Now, the Snapdragon 888 was the best chipset on the Android side of things in 2021. However, due to the delayed release of the S21 FE, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is already out which means the Snapdragon 888 isn’t technically the best out there.

The Exynos 2100 also has its own performance woes and isn’t the best chipset for mobile gaming. It also tends to run slightly warmer which means you can run into some throttling issues with prolonged heavy usage. If you play a lot of games on your phone, especially heavy ones like PUBG, BGMI, and Genshin Impact, we would say avoid the Exynos variant of the Galaxy S21 FE.

All color variants of the Galaxy S21 FE on white background

This does not, in any way, mean that the S21 FE in the US isn’t going to perform well. The Snapdragon 888 is a proven performer so you can expect reliable performs for a few years to come. Gaming on the Galaxy S21 FE is going to be a great experience and so is just about any other task you do. Samsung will give you two storage options to choose from — 128GB on the base variant with the top-end variant getting 256GB of onboard storage. Depending on whether you use your cameras a lot or you store a lot of games on your phone, you can pick the storage variant that’s best-suited for you.

Cameras and Camera Features

One department where Samsung has cut corners slightly on the Galaxy S21 FE to make it more affordable is cameras. The primary shooter is a 12MP sensor with an aperture of f/1.8 and OIS. This seems to be the same as the one used on the standard Galaxy S21. The secondary camera also seems similar to the one on the flagship S21. It’s a 12MP f/2.2 camera that’s going to give you standard results that you expect from an ultra-wide shooter.

S21 FE camera

The main difference would be in terms of the tertiary telephoto lens. The Galaxy S21 has a 64MP telephoto lens which would ideally result in more details being captured due to the higher resolution. The S21 FE forgoes a sensor with a high megapixel count in favor of another 12MP shooter. The 12MP sensor is coupled with a lens that results in 3X optical zoom along with up to 30X hybrid zoom that Samsung refers to as Space Zoom. The front houses a 32MP f/2.2 camera for selfies.

Samsung is quite heavy on features when it comes to the camera software so expect to see most features that you see on Samsung’s flagship phones making their way to the Galaxy S21 FE too. This includes Single Take, multi-camera recording, slow-mo, timelapse, etc.

Battery and Charging

A 4,500mAh cell is what you get with the Galaxy S21 FE and it should be able to last an entire day with moderate usage. Of course, if you play a lot of graphic-intensive games, you may have to charge it twice a day. When it’s time to charge, the S21 FE supports 25W fast charging just like most Samsung phones. It’s not ultra-fast, but it should get the job done.

If you want a more convenient method of charging, the Galaxy S21 FE also supports Qi Wireless charging at 15W. You can also charge other wireless charging compatible devices on the back of the S21 FE using the reverse wireless charging feature.

Software

Samsung One UI 4 featured 2

Apart from the attractive price tag, one of the highlighting features of the Galaxy S21 FE is that it’s the first Samsung phone to come with One UI 4.0 based on Android 12 out of the box. Samsung’s software is one of the most improved Android skins out there and the One UI 4.0 update makes it even better. Apart from the usual set of features, you also get things like Secure Folder and a bunch of customization features. If you’re planning to buy the Galaxy S21 FE, make sure you check out the list of the first 10 things to do with a Samsung Galaxy Phone to know more about software features.

Security and Extras

The Galaxy S21 FE has an under-display fingerprint scanner just like other phones in the S21 series. However, there’s one big difference here. The Galaxy S21 has an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner whereas the more affordable S21 FE has an optical fingerprint reader. While this is indeed a cost-cutting move from the brand, it might actually be a blessing in disguise.

Lavender Galaxy S21 FE on white background

The ultrasonic fingerprint readers on Samsung’s flagships are great in terms of security but aren’t the best in terms of speed and accuracy. Optical scanners aren’t as secure as ultrasonic ones, but they are much faster when you’re trying to unlock the phone.

If you consume a lot of media on your phone, the Galaxy S21 FE gives you stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support. Listening to music on the loudspeaker or watching videos and shows is going to be a fine experience with the Galaxy S21 FE. Given that the phone has the Snapdragon 888 SoC, it also comes with 5G support.

Our Recommendations and Suggested Reading

While this page should give you an extensive idea about the Galaxy S21 FE and all its new features, there will be certain specific topics you may be interested in, like how the phone compares to another phone in this price range, or how the Galaxy S21 FE fares compared to its predecessor, etc.

We would suggest you take a look at some of the other articles around the device that would help you to make an informed decision.


FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re interested in buying the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, you probably have some questions that you want answers to. Here are some frequently asked questions about the Galaxy S21 FE with all the answers.

Galaxy S21 FE

When did the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE release?

The Galaxy S20 FE was officially announced on 3 January 2022 and will go on sale starting from 11 January 2022 in the US. The phone will be made available in other parts of the world as well pretty soon.

What’s in the box of the Galaxy S21 FE?

Samsung gives you the phone itself accompanied by a USB-C cable and the usual set of user manuals that you get with every phone. You will also find a SIM ejector pin inside the box.

Does the Galaxy S21 FE come with a charger in the box?

Unfortunately, Samsung has gotten rid of the charger from the box of the Galaxy S21 FE, just like it did with the standard S21 series.

Does the Galaxy S21 FE come with earphones in the box?

Samsung isn’t bundling in earphones with the Galaxy S21 FE. However, in some regions in the EU like France, shipping a pair of earphones with a smartphone is mandatory so you will be getting one by default if you order the phone there.

Do I need a case for the Galaxy S21 FE?

The Galaxy S21 FE has a plastic back with a metallic frame. While plastic is resistant to drops, it can get pretty scratched up with time and the metallic frame can also get dented when dropped. Not to forget, the display is made of glass and can easily break when dropped. This is why using a case is recommended with just about any phone you buy. You can take a look at the best Galaxy S21 FE cases and get one that you like the best.

Do I need a screen protector for the Galaxy S21 FE?

The display on the Galaxy S21 FE is made of Gorilla Glass and while that increases the strength of the glass, it’s not scratch-resistant or drop-resistant by any means. If you drop your phone and your luck is bad, you will end up with a broken display and a rather large bill. To avoid this, it’s wise to use a screen protector along with a case. You can take a look at our list of the best Galaxy S21 FE screen protectors.

Galaxy S21 FE Screen

Which SoC does the Galaxy S21 FE have in my region?

If you’re in the US, the Galaxy S21 FE will come equipped with the Snapdragon 888 SoC from Qualcomm. In countries outside the US, the phone will ship with Samsung’s in-house Exynos 2100. both are flagship chipsets but the Exynos 2100 lags behind slightly in terms of gaming performance. If you play a lot of heavy games on your phone, the Snapdragon variant is what you should prefer.

Does the Galaxy S21 FE have a 120Hz refresh rate display?

Yes, the refresh rate of the display on the Galaxy S21 FE is indeed 120Hz. You can, however, dial the refresh rate down to 60Hz if you wish to save more battery. Note that the display used on the Galaxy S21 FE is not an LTPO panel like the one used on the more premium Galaxy S21 Ultra. This means that when the 120Hz mode is selected, the screen will constantly refresh at 120Hz at all times.

Does the Galaxy S21 FE have a fingerprint scanner?

Yes, the Galaxy S21 FE has an optical under-display fingerprint reader that can be used to unlock the device.

Does the Galaxy S21 FE have face unlock?

Along with the fingerprint scanner, the Galaxy S21 FE also gets the face unlock option which is less secure, but also faster at times.

Galaxy S21 FE back

Is the Galaxy S21 FE waterproof? What is its IP rating?

While the Galaxy S21 FE isn’t really waterproof, the IP68 rating makes it water-resistant. The phone should survive the occasional spill or rain, and you can even submerge the phone in water for a brief period. However, any sort of water damage isn’t covered under warranty so we wouldn’t suggest taking your phone near water frequently.

Does the Galaxy S21 FE have wireless charging?

Yes, the phone supports Qi Wireless Charging at up to 15W. You can also use reverse wireless charging on the phone to charge other devices.

Does the Galaxy S21 FE have fast charging?

The Galaxy S21 FE supports fast-charging up to 25W.

Can the Galaxy S21 FE shoot 4K videos? At what FPS?

Yes, the Galaxy S21 FE can indeed shoot videos in 4K at up to 30fps.

Galaxy S21 FE cameras

Does the Galaxy S21 FE have OIS?

The primary 12MP camera and the 3X telephoto camera both have OIS.

How many software updates will the Galaxy S21 FE get? Will it get the Android 13 update?

The Galaxy S21 FE comes with Android 12 based on One UI 4 out of the box. Samsung has promised 3 years of software updates for its premium devices so the Galaxy S21 FE should be supported for at least 3 years. This also means that the phone will indeed be updated to Android 13.

How much warranty does the Galaxy S21 FE have?

Samsung will give you 1 year of warranty with the Galaxy S21 FE which is pretty much the industry standard.

Is USB OTG supported on the Galaxy S21 FE?

Yes, there is support for USB OTG on the device.

Does the Galaxy S21 FE have a headphone jack?

No, the 3.5mm headphone jack isn’t present on the Galaxy S21 FE.

Galaxy S21 FE screen protectors

Does the Galaxy S21 FE have Always-on Display functionality?

Yes, Samsung does give you the Always-on display feature with the Galaxy S21 FE.

Is there an SD card slot on the Galaxy S21 FE?

No, the Galaxy S21 FE does not have an SD card slot.

Does the Galaxy S21 FE have stereo speakers?

Yes, stereo speakers are present on the device.

What are some other alternatives to the phone?

The Pixel 6 is a great alternative to the Galaxy S21 FE. It has a powerful Tensor chip, a great of cameras, and a nice 90Hz OLED display. On paper, the Galaxy S21 FE might trump the Pixel 6 but for $100 cheaper, the Pixel 6 might be the more practical phone for a lot of people.

Galaxy S21 FE design


This is pretty much everything you need to know about the Galaxy S21 FE. The Galaxy S21 FE is a good entry-level flagship that doesn’t make a lot of compromises. While it is quite late to the market, the set of features that it offers at the asking price results in a combination that a lot of people will be attracted to.

If you wish to know more in detail about various aspects of the device, you can wait for our Galaxy S21 FE review and that should answer all your questions. If you want to know anything specific, you can leave your questions in the comments below and we will add them to the FAQ section.

About author

Pranob Mehrotra
Pranob Mehrotra

A Literature and Linguistics graduate with a keen interest in everything Android. When not writing about tech, Pranob spends most of his time either playing League of Legends or lurking on Reddit.

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