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Samsung Galaxy S21 FE evaluate: Again to the previous future

Is the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE related in 2022? One yr after the discharge of the vanilla Galaxy S21 that may be bought for a similar value, and in addition unveiled just some weeks earlier than the launch of the technically superior Galaxy S22, that is one specific query that wants addressing. I’ll attempt to reply it on this full evaluate of the brand new previous Samsung smartphone.


  • Vivid, easy and responsive 120Hz AMOLED show
  • Snapdragon 888 efficiency with out overheating points
  • Neat and fashionable design (regardless of all of the plastic)
  • Convincing wide-angle and 3x zoom digital camera module
  • Evening Mode works nice
  • 3 main Android variations and 4 years of safety updates
  • IP68 certification


  • Mediocre battery life
  • Archaic 25-watt quick charging
  • No microSD port or 3.5mm audio jack
  • Charger just isn’t included within the field
  • Worth just isn’t aggressive

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE in a nutshell

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE was launched within the US earlier this January 11 for $699 a pop for the 6 GB RAM/128 GB storage mannequin, whereas the 8 GB RAM/256 GB storage mannequin goes for $769.99. This makes it $100 cheaper than the vanilla Galaxy S21 that was launched in 2021 on the tail finish of January.

The factor is, if you happen to had been to roll again the calendar by one yr, it is possible for you to to seek out the vanilla Galaxy S21 being bought at a less expensive value circa $750 on Amazon with costs dropping even decrease than that in Black Friday 2021. And that is not even taking the Galaxy S22 under consideration which is tipped to be launched formally in only a matter of weeks or maybe, even days.

That is the principle query that we ask ourselves concerning the Galaxy S21 FE is: Why? Why launch this smartphone which, within the first place, has little or no relevance inside the Samsung ecosystem? Other than the Snapdragon 888 SoC that isn’t present in chosen markets (particularly in Europe) aside from foldable gadgets? Did not Samsung wait too lengthy to launch this smartphone?

Sure, there isn’t any doubt about that. However simply because it is launched on the flawed time does not imply the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is a nasty smartphone. It is also not the poor timing that ought to discourage you from choosing it up later with none dangers of it turning into completely out of date, even after the Galaxy S22 hits the market.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Design: Plastic is in vogue 😞

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a sober and slim design with a matte plastic again that covers the complete system, even on the digital camera module on the again. This isn’t one thing I hated, to my biggest shock. Nevertheless, this alternative of a much less premium materials doesn’t essentially mirror any technical compromises.

What I favored:

  • Unified “one block” design regardless of the plastic.
  • Matte coating on the again regardless of the plastic.
  • IP68 certification regardless of the plastic.
  • Skinny and lightweight type issue regardless of the plastic.

What I disliked:

  • Plastic appears to be like a bit fragile.
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack or microSD port.

Sure, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is made out of plastic. P-L-A-S-T-I-C! The Antoine of 2021 would certainly have scribbled a 3,000 phrases article about this affront. However in truth, I discover the look of the Galaxy S21 FE to be quite good. The matte coating is comfy to the contact and gives a great grip.

The smartphone can be lighter because it suggestions the scales at 177 grams whereas remaining quite slim with a thickness of 79 mm. The facility button could be very effectively positioned, working effectively no matter whether or not you might be right- or left-handed, though the amount rocker is positioned means too excessive for my liking which doesn’t augur effectively for one-handed use.

NextPit samsung galaxy s21 fe back
The “full plastic” look is actually much less premium nevertheless it has its charms. / © NextPit
NextPit samsung galaxy s21 fe camera closeup
The digital camera module is sort of a direct extension of the again of the Galaxy S21 FE. / © NextPit

The swap to an all-plastic design additionally implies that the digital camera module is not nested inside an aluminium base as discovered within the vanilla Galaxy S21. And albeit, this uniform design is a quite fashionable take. Oppo has already completed this on its Discover X3 Professional, however this idea has additionally confirmed itself to be modern with Adidas’ Yeezy Foam Runners, for instance.

In any case, our pricey readers have already shared their opinion about how they actually really feel about glass backs in a ballot. As Charles would say, “I received you.”

NextPit samsung galaxy s21 fe front
The 6.4-inch display screen sports activities the traditional punch-hole digital camera that’s centered on the high. / © NextPit
NextPit samsung galaxy s21 fe unosay
I can not consider the Galaxy S21 FE has IP68 certification! / © NextPit

Let’s check out the negatives. I believe it’s a disgrace that there isn’t any microSD slot, particularly because the storage within the base mannequin of the Galaxy S21 FE stands at a mere 128GB nowadays. There isn’t any 3.5mm headphone jack both, however that is nearly a given on this value vary now, which remains to be no excuse for smartphone producers to provide it a move.

Alternatively, the smartphone has IP68 certification towards mud and water immersion for an hour and as much as 1 meter deep. It is a good factor that Samsung did not skip this factor.

NextPit samsung galaxy s21 fe vs s21 ultraS21 Extremely (left) vs S21 FE (proper): 
I actually like this matte coating in the end, plastic or not. / © NextPit

Display: OLED with 120 Hz refresh charge and Full HD+ decision merely works!

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE gives a high quality display screen, as Samsung obliged with a 6.4-inch AMOLED panel in Full HD+ decision providing a refresh charge of 120 Hz.

What I favored:

  • Easy 120 Hz refresh charge.
  • 240 Hz contact sampling charge.
  • Good brightness degree.
  • Flat and never curved display screen (relies on private choice).

What I disliked:

  • Flat and never curved display screen (relies on private choice).
  • Colours should not very correct by default

NextPit samsung galaxy s21 fe standing
The display screen of the Galaxy S21 FE is an prompt traditional, which Samsung all the time delivers more often than not. / © NextPit

I cannot dwell on the display screen high quality of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. Most of you need to be acquainted by now in regards to the high quality of the panels made by Samsung. This mannequin is not any exception. Certain, the AMOLED display screen at 1080 x 2400 pixels decision with a 120 Hz refresh charge is a traditional recipe that merely works.

The display screen is shiny sufficient to be readable underneath all circumstances, the show can be very easy because of the 120 Hz refresh charge but in addition very responsive with the 240 Hz contact sampling charge, making it excellent for gaming.

My colleague Stefan additionally positioned the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE underneath the microscope of a calibration software (Spyder 5) coupled with HCFR software program to be able to look at the colorimetry of the show. We have an interest right here within the common deltaE determine, which is the common distinction between the colours reproduced in a given colour area.

And the statement is that with the default colorimetry settings underneath “vivid colours”, there have been indicators of significant deviations. Colours had been saturated and really unnatural. We will see that the measurements made on the Galaxy S21 FE and depicted by the white triangle don’t follow what they need to be within the ultimate colour area that’s depicted by by the darkish triangle.

cie samsung galaxz s21 fe vivid
The colorimetry of the display screen in “shiny colours” mode. / © NextPit

The replica is unquestionably extra trustworthy with the “pure” show mode (no joke), with a mean deltaE of two.4. However personally, I discover the colour palette a bit too poor and far choose the “vivid colour” mode. In any case, it is the primary time we used this check protocol and we’ll must measure different smartphones and be extra conversant in this software to be able to make these figures extra related.

cie samsung galaxz s21 fe natural
The colorimetry of the display screen in “pure” mode is extra dependable though somewhat too chilly (take a look at the hole on the blue tones). / © NextPit

Interface/OS: OneUI 4 and Android 12 make a distinction

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE runs on OneUI 4 that’s based mostly on Android 12. The producer guarantees three main Android updates and as much as 4 years of safety updates.

I am actually going to skim over this part since we not too long ago revealed a full evaluate of Samsung’s OneUI 4 pores and skin. There have been no main interface improvements or revolutionary options to supply right here. I nonetheless famous that Samsung gives the perfect multitasking options of any Android producer with its tremendous intuitive flying home windows, for example.

The battery utility can be gentle years forward of the one supplied by OnePlus and their OxygenOS. As for the remainder of the working system, Samsung has solely built-in the additions of Android 12 with the Privateness Panel or the Materials You customization choices, resembling aligning the general theme to comply with your wallpaper’s colour palette. 

samsung galaxy s21 fe review ui
Whereas there may be nothing new underneath the solar, OneUI stays one in every of my favourite Android skins./ © NextPit

However the truth that the Galaxy S21 FE comes with Android 12 proper out of the field and advantages from the identical replace coverage as the bottom Galaxy S21 already makes it a bit extra related. You’ll obtain one further yr of software program and safety updates for a small value distinction between the 2 fashions. For me and plenty of different demanding customers, it is a important plus level.

Efficiency: No overheating however…

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE options the SnapDragon 888 SoC as a substitute of the Exynos chipset, which is a welcome transfer. Regardless of the quite strict thermal throttling, efficiency of the Galaxy S21 FE remained wonderful.

What I favored:

  • Stable graphics efficiency.
  • Triple-A cell video games run at 60 FPS.
  • Little or no overheating regardless of the Snapdragon 888 SoC.

What I disliked:

  • Aggressive thermal throttling.
  • Constant body charge losses on account of thermal throttling.

When it comes to purely CPU-related calculations, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE does carry out barely higher than the essential S21 with Exynos 2100 or the Xiaomi Mi 11 that’s powered by the Snapdragon 888 chipset. However once we check out the graphics benchmarks, we will notice a quite aggressive thermal throttling sample.

On the one hand, the temperature all the time stays contained at a degree that doesn’t exceed 43 ° C, which is a uncommon incidence for a smartphone powered by the Snapdragon 888 SoC. However alternatively, this means occasional body charge losses and subsequently a relative stability of about 60% through the assessments I’ve completed on 3D Mark.

samsung galaxy s21 fe review performance wild life test
Simulation of a gaming use throughout 1 minute: The body charge stays above 30 FPS throughout a brief session. / © NextPit
samsung galaxy s21 fe review performance wild life stress test
Simulation of a 20 minutes gaming session: Stability drops noticeably in lengthy classes. / © NextPit

I’ve seen a couple of reviewers complain about framerate points for Fortnite in HD at 60 FPS. However actually, this recreation is so poorly optimized on Android that it’s not a dependable benchmark, no less than for my part. Personally, I used to be capable of run Name of Obligation: Cellular with the graphics on “excessive” (notch 3 out of 4) and the body charge on “excessive” (notch 4 out of 6) with none issues.

In real-world use, we skilled some dropped frames within the recreation after half an hour of continuous gaming. However with extra traditional and informal titles, the smartphone gives a efficiency degree that’s completely in line with its value vary.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Graphics benchmark
Mannequin/Benchmark Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Google Pixel 6 Samsung Galaxy S21 (Exynos) Xiaomi Mi 11
Geekbench 5 (single/multi) 1096/3002 1031/2803 899/2961 722/2259
3DMark Wild Life 5712 6721 5461 5390
3DMark Wild Life Stress Take a look at 5603 6707 5609 5407
3DMark Wild Life Excessive Stress Take a look at 1484 2017 1785 1226


The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has two stereo audio system however no 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s clearly not the perfect smartphone for watching motion pictures with none headphones or Bluetooth earbuds.

What I favored:

  • Stereo sound.
  • Voice high quality.

What I disliked:

  • Bass is way too flat.
  • Distinction in amplitude between the 2 audio system.
  • Dangerous placement for one of many audio system (which explains the above defect).
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack.

NextPit samsung galaxy s21 fe ports
This speaker is basically poorly positioned and harms the stereo sound output. / © NextPit

The primary speaker of the Galaxy S21 FE is positioned on the underside edge, whereas the opposite is straight positioned in the other way. The position of the primary speaker is poorly thought out because you are likely to impede it together with your arms, particularly when sound is directed away from you if you maintain the smartphone in panorama mode.

This leads to a distinction in amplitude that critically impacts the stereophony of the sound as a result of the amount is louder on the left speaker than on the precise (in panorama mode).

As for audio high quality, it’s frankly unimpressive in my eyes and ears however that is additionally partly on account of the truth that I’ve been pampered by the ROG Telephone 5’s audio efficiency which is an actual residence theater by comparability. However the sound stays appropriate on the mediums and voices come out clearly sufficient, which is greater than sufficient to watch a film or stream a TV sequence.

When it comes to connectivity, the Galaxy S21 FE doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack, nevertheless it clearly helps HD audio codecs like most Android smartphones do since Android 8. To your audiophile-level headphones and earphones that are wired, it’s higher to make use of a transportable DAC.

Picture and video

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE packs a triple digital camera module that’s spearheaded by a 12 MP wide-angle major lens, a devoted 8 MP telephoto lens, a 12 MP ultra-wide-angle and a 32 MP selfie digital camera.

What I favored:

  • A devoted telephoto lens (absent on the vanilla Galaxy S21).
  • 3x zoom is efficient all the way in which to 10x.
  • Good degree of particulars and dynamic vary is effectively managed with the principle sensor.
  • Environment friendly evening mode (besides in extremely wide-angle).

What I disliked:

  • Extremely wide-angle lens is disappointing.
  • Portrait mode in 3x zoom by default is not so good as in wide-angle.
  • Colour saturation could trouble purists.

NextPit samsung galaxy s21 fe space zoom
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE digital camera configuration works for me. / © NextPit

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE daytime photographs

Through the day and underneath good lighting situations, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE gives very convincing photographs. The extent of element is excellent, whether or not in wide-angle or with the telephoto lens, so long as you don’t exceed the 3x magnification. The 10x zoom nonetheless produces usable footage, however the 30x is completely unusable and the artifacts critically sting the eyes.

The extremely wide-angle lens is essentially the most disappointing among the many lot for my part. If the colorimetry stays in line with the principle lens more often than not, the lower of the extent of element in addition to the poor administration of the dynamic vary is simply too noticeable for my style.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE in portrait mode

The portrait mode of Samsung is quite unusual. By default, with the rear digital camera module, it depends on the telephoto lens in 3x zoom. However personally, I a lot choose the extent of element obtained utilizing the first wide-angle lens. Clipping is fairly clear most often, whether or not with folks or objects.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE photographs in selfie mode

In the case of selfies, the distinctive 32 MP lens performs very effectively for my part. With none stabilization or autofocus, I discovered it tough to take sufficiently sharp self-portraits. I did nonetheless discover the smoothing of my facial pores and skin fairly restricted, which makes the photographs look extra pure.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE at evening

At evening, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE does fairly effectively. Logically, the extremely wide-angle photographs are actually ugly, even with the evening mode enabled. However the principle lens and the 3x telephoto lens supply a quite environment friendly rendering of the scenario. Digital noise is effectively contained with out smoothing issues out an excessive amount of that make them look muddy.

And the flare results are mitigated in evening mode which prevents city lighting from burning up your image. In brief, now we have an actual “earlier than/after” impact with a notable acquire within the degree of element and sharpness as soon as evening mode is activated.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE movies

In the case of video, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is able to taking pictures in 4K at 60 FPS. It additionally gives a Tremendous Regular mode that first debuted on the Galaxy Notice 10 however limits the video to a decision of 1080p and a body charge of 30 FPS. Samsung additionally gives a couple of gimmicky modes like portrait mode movies with a bokeh impact.

However these options are neither new nor revolutionary, so I will not dwell on them. As for the general high quality, I’m not actually satisfied by the Tremendous Regular mode. Other than extraordinarily particular situations, the sacrifice that you need to make by way of video high quality just isn’t price it for my part.

As for the remaining, it is a very traditional rendering that may be discovered on many different smartphones, no matter their value vary, which I will allow you to uncover within the quick clips under.

  • 1080p at 60 FPS in huge angle
  • 1080p at 30 FPS with Tremendous Regular extremely huge angle mode
  • 1080p at 30 FPS with Tremendous Regular wide-angle mode

Battery life and quick charging: Get up, Samsung!

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a 4,500 mAh battery that accepts 25-watt wired and 15-watt wi-fi “quick” charging.

What I favored:

  • Wi-fi charging supported (though 15 watts is fairly gradual).
  • Essentially the most detailed and full battery utility on Android (possibly except Xiaomi).

What I disliked:

  • Mediocre battery life
  • Quick charging is way too gradual in 2022.
  • Charger doesn’t come included within the field.

NextPit samsung galaxy s21 fe window mode
I actually missed OnePlus’ Warp Cost throughout my Galaxy S21 FE evaluate. / © NextPit

As for the battery life, I submitted the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE to the PC Mark benchmark, which simulates a theoretical utilization (nevertheless it’s already extra correct than no benchmark in any respect). And the smartphone took 7h39 to go from 100% to twenty% battery life. This can be a very common rating and it will take no less than 10 hours to contemplate battery life nearly as good for my part.

In real-world utilization, the Galaxy S21 FE lasted in the future within the workplace, not more than that. If you do not have entry to an influence outlet at work, it is best to activate the completely different battery optimization modes for peace of thoughts that your smartphone nonetheless works on the finish of the day. In any case, you will must plug it again in at evening as a result of it will not final greater than a day.

samsung galaxy s21 fe review battery
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE battery life is simply too quick for this value vary / © NextPit

It is actually fairly disappointing. And it is even worse for the charging charge as a result of providing 25 watts in 2022 is completely archaic! It is critically gradual. Transfer on with the occasions, Samsung! It took me nearly two hours (1h 50m) to go from 0 to 100%, it is loopy!

I do give it a great level to combine wi-fi charging assist, though it’s quite gradual at 15 watts. Nonetheless, it’s higher than not having it in any respect on this value vary!

Technical specs

  Editor’s Selection
Product identify
Picture Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
Weight & Dimensions

155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm / 177 g

Show Amoled / 6.4 inch / Full HD+ (1080 x 2400) / 441 dpi / 120 Hz refresh charge / 240 Hz contact sampling
Reminiscence 6/128 GB / 8/256 GB / Non-expandable
SoC+GPU Snapdragon 888 / Adreno 660
OS OneUI 4 / Android 12
Digicam module
  • Main (wide-angle): 12 MP / f/1.8 aperture / 1/1.76″ sensor measurement / 1.8µm pixel measurement / Twin Pixel PDAF / OIS
  • Extremely wide-angle: 12 MP / f/2.2 aperture / 123° FOV / 1/3.0″ sensor measurement / 1.12µm pixel measurement
  • Telephoto: 8 MP / f/2.4 aperture / 1/4.5″ sensor measurement / 1.0µm pixel measurement / PDAF / OIS / x3 optical zoom
  • Selfie: 32 MP / f/2.2 aperture / 123° FOV / 1/3.0″ sensor measurement / 1.12µm pixel measurement

2 stereo audio system / no 3.5mm jack

Battery 4500 mAh / wired charging at 25 watts / wi-fi charging at 15 watts
Worth $699/$769.99


Does the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE’s solely fault lie in the truth that it was launched too late? No.

To begin with, its major flaw is its mediocre battery life in addition to its quick charging charge that’s completely outdated in 2022. The battery life is a pox upon an in any other case first rate value-flagship system that delivers a stable efficiency, a profitable design, and a really convincing digital camera module.

Additionally no, as a result of I do not assume the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is basically launched too late to be related. In fact, if you happen to had been evaluate the value/efficiency ratio with the essential Galaxy S21, you would possibly assume that the Fan Version would not add something and that the value is simply too costly.

However the further yr of software program updates for the Galaxy S21 FE, which comes with Android 12, already differentiates it from the vanilla S21 mannequin. Sure, you could find each on the similar value, however then why go for the mannequin that can have one much less yr of software program and safety updates?

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

I will even go additional to say that Samsung did wait “too lengthy”, though this isn’t intentional. They had been capable of give Google time to completely screw up with their in any other case wonderful Pixel 6 software program. With a launch value of $699, I’d by no means have really helpful the Galaxy S21 FE that’s dearer than the Pixel 6. Nevertheless, it’s a completely completely different story right now.

Lastly, I’d say that it isn’t too late for the Galaxy S21 FE. It could even be too early. Simply be affected person and watch for the discharge of the Galaxy S22, and let the hype practice cease at one other station. Anticipate promotions that Samsung will undoubtedly supply to spice up the gross sales of this mannequin that can be eclipsed by their new flagship.

We hold saying that purchasing the newest smartphone is like chasing the wind. With the Galaxy S21 FE, it is a possibility to make these phrases come true. Purchase a 2021 flagship that’s nonetheless aggressive towards 2022 requirements, even when this implies having to attend for its value to drop by $100!


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