The Galaxy S20 FE was one of Samsung’s best-selling phones of 2020 It comes with the promise of a flagship smartphone experience, but the S-Series flagship is more affordable than you usually pay for the best-of-the-line galaxy. But despite packing some really good cameras, a fun design language and a fantastic display, the phone was a bit damaged in terms of original hardware.
Now earlier this year, Samsung introduced the Galaxy S21 FE as an upgrade over the Galaxy S20 FE 5G. The new phone follows the same script as last year’s Fan Edition phone but made significant improvements in key areas, including design and core hardware.
We’ve had the Galaxy S21 FE with us for a few days, giving us the opportunity to examine it in depth and make a judgment on whether the phone is worth your money.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G Review: Design
Let’s get to the interesting bit first. Design.
So, the moment you touch the Galaxy S21 FE you will notice some interesting things. The first of these is the obvious similarity of the design of the phone with the Galaxy S20 FE. Both phones are made of metal and have plastic on the back with a frame.
Both have curved corners and a central punch-hole camera at the top of the display. However, there are many differences. Due to the S21 FE’s slightly smaller display and thinner bezel, the phone looks and feels more compact compared to the Galaxy S20 FE. It is also slightly lighter at 177 grams than the S20 FE which weighs 190g.
The Galaxy S21 FE also has a redesigned camera module that is compatible with other phones in the S21 series. The Galaxy S20 FE has a camera island that extends like the Galaxy S20 series phones.
All these elements combined make the S21 FE a very attractive-looking phone, in my opinion, it will appeal to a large audience.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G Review: Display
On the front of the phone, we have a 6.4-inch display with no fancy curves. It is a flat display that supports up to FHD + resolution. The flat panel is rarely in terms of bezel and has a center-aligned punch-hole for the selfie camera.
As you might expect from Samsung, the AMOLED panel used in the device is quite feature rich and capable of fast refresh rate. While there is no support for adapted refresh rates, it does support working at 60Hz or 120Hz. And as we’ve got during our review, it’s also not disappointing in performance. It offers deep black and pale colors, which makes it great for watching movies or using multimedia content on the device.
In our Callman display tests, the Galaxy S21 FE performed well, averaging delta 2.6 clocks in sRGB and DCI-P3 color space. However, both were slightly higher on the DeltaE high side. The display’s Calman testing also showed a very good contrast ratio and decent RGB balance. Samsung has done a good job of tuning the display so that there is no visible color bias running in the natural color profile. This is something that Calman testing has also shown, the panel has a very good average correlation color temperature of 6513.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G: Performance
In India, the Galaxy S21 is powered by FE 5G Exynos 2100 SoC. It is a chip built using the 5nm process. On the phone, this chip is paired with 8GB of LDRR5 memory and up to 256GB of UFS3.1 storage. Since the phone runs on Samsung’s One UI 4, we also get support for the company’s RAM Plus feature which adds up to 4GB of RAM. While not the strongest in early 2022, it is a very strong combination.
At the benchmark, this combination serves the phone well, achieving high scores in tests like the S21 FE 5G AnTuTu, Geekbench and 3D Mark Wildlife. Interestingly, these benchmark scores weren’t much higher than what the specifically Galaxy S21 Ultra achieved, but surprisingly, some Snapdragon 888-based phones, such as the OnePlus 9, were better than what we got in the test. The only benchmark where the Galaxy S21 FE 5G did not perform very well is the CPU throttling test. Here, we see that the chipset dramatically throttle after the 15-minute mark of the test, which leads us to believe that the phone probably has a thermal handling problem.
In real-world situations, these numbers transform into smoother performance in everyday work when running everyday use apps like Twitter, Facebook, and even browsing the Internet through apps like Chrome. The gaming performance was also quite good, with the gamebench showing that the Galaxy S21 FE can handle resource-intensive games such as Asphalt 9 Legends and Call of Duty 5 relatively easily. However, it should be noted that the performance of the games was not as stable as we saw earlier on competing devices like the OnePlus 9 running on last year’s flagship Snapdragon chipset.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Camera
In terms of optics, the Galaxy S21 FE doesn’t offer anything new in the camera segment. This is because Samsung has equipped the device with a triple rear camera setup that includes a 12MP primary lens with OIS support that sits next to another 12MP ultra-wide camera. Complete camera setup is an 8MP telephoto lens with 3X optical zoom.
All three lenses give some really good results, the primary lenses take good shots during the day when the camera is given a good amount of natural light. As we expected, the lens captured detailed shots with rich and accurate colors. These shots offer better dynamic range and better results with HDR on.
Ultra-wide lenses are also good, with a lot of detail and clicking shots However, images captured using this lens have some fish-eye effects. The telephoto lens is the least favorite lens in our set up. However, this is not the result of poor performance of the lens. Rather, it is because of the low usability of telephoto lenses in general. The lens provides serviceable details with 3x optical zoom. However, once you zoom in more digitally, image quality becomes a hit.
In addition, the S21 FE’s camera app and supporting computational photography algorithms ensure that the phone performs well in low light. With the help of the primary lens, we clicked some really good shots that lost the frame in a lot of detail and very little noise.
In addition to these, the phone also comes with modes like Single Tech and Live Focus. The latter is the portrait mode of the phone which clicks some really nice shots with good depth effects. The mode works almost equally well in both daylight and low light conditions. However, later, the level of ambiguity and precision along the edges of the subject goes for a little toss.
For selfies, the phone comes with a 32MP lens that captures the exact skin tone and skin details in well-lit situations. The low light performance of the lens, however, is something that leaves something to be desired.
Galaxy S21 FE Review: Battery
For the battery, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE comes with a 4,500mAh battery pack – much like the Galaxy S20 FE 5G. This pack manages to ensure that the phone lasts more than a day in moderate use and gets you through the day despite heavy usage. Once the phone runs out of charge, the device can be top-up using a 25W charger in about an hour and a half.
Honestly, for a phone in 2022, it just won’t cut it anymore because many more affordable devices are now offering 120W faster charging to be fully charged in less than 20 minutes. But there are a few more strategies above the sleeve of the S21 FE. The phone comes with wireless charging support. However, the speed here is a bit slow, topping up to 15W.
Galaxy S21 FE 5G Review: Judgment
Closing the path of all knowledge, let us come to the all-important question.
Is Galaxy S21 FE worth buying?
For me, the answer would be a yes. The Galaxy S21 FE is a good deal if you want to buy a new phone that not only works like a real high-end device but also looks and feels. It flaunts a killer display, offers good performance and comes with the promise of clicking good pictures in different situations.
The only catch here is its price.
At Rs 54,999, the price of Galaxy S21 FE is not really bad. But could the price be better? Maybe yes. Considering that the phone has been heavily fought, the Samsung S21 FE 5G could do a favor by launching the phone with a more aggressive price tag. This not only helped the S21 FE 5G compete better with phones like OnePlus, iQOO and Xiaomi, but also made it look like a no-brainer in front of the Galaxy S20 FE 5g, offering the same camera and overall performance. Selling at a much more aggressive price point.