Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review
Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE was well-received when it was released in 2020, so a sequel isn’t surprising. The new Galaxy S21 FE, which will go on sale on January 11 for $700, is $100 less expensive than the original Galaxy S21. It has the same chipset as the iPhone X, but with additional features as as a bigger screen, a triple-lens camera, and support for both 5G variants. The S21 FE ticks all of the criteria that most people look for in a modern phone. It has a quick response time, excellent photo quality, and can run for a long time on a single battery.
These features make the Galaxy S21 FE a tempting option if you’re looking for a new Android 12 handset that’s not too expensive. You won’t receive some of the more expensive amenities featured on more luxury phones, such as a fourth camera lens, a crisper telephoto lens, or a very sophisticated design, but you won’t be sacrificing anything by choosing Samsung’s less expensive alternative.
The Galaxy S21 FE, on the other hand, may get lost in Samsung’s lineup and the broader Android phone market. The Galaxy S22 is set to come soon, and if reports are to be believed, it will have a new 50-megapixel camera and faster charging. The Pixel 6 is also somewhat less expensive than the Galaxy S21 FE at $600, and it was chosen one of our favourite phones of 2021. Although the Pixel 6 lacks the third camera lens found on the S21 FE, it is packed with Google-specific features that may make it more tempting to some.
The Galaxy S21 FE feels like a phone from the previous generation. This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing; after all, purchasing older phones might be a cost-effective method to save money. However, you shouldn’t anticipate anything fresh or unusual from the S21 FE.
From the front, the Galaxy S21 FE appears remarkably identical to the Galaxy S21. It’s slightly larger and heavier (177 grammes vs. 169 grammes) than the S21, but it’s just as thin at 7.9 millimetres. The 6.4-inch display and light build of the S21 FE strike the appropriate blend of screen space and ease of usage for me: It’s somewhat larger than Samsung’s previous-generation midrange phone, the 6.2-inch Galaxy S21, but just a hair smaller than the 6.5-inch Galaxy S20 FE.
The Galaxy S21 FE’s screen, like the Galaxy S21, is made of Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED technology and features an FHD Plus resolution. Because the S21 FE’s screen is larger, the pixel density, or number of pixels per inch, is lower than the Galaxy S21’s, although the difference isn’t visible. On the S21 FE’s screen, photos, games, and news articles all appear clear and bold. It has a flat-edge screen like the Galaxy 21 and Galaxy S1 Plus, which I prefer over the slightly curved sides of the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The back of the phone has the same camera bump as the Galaxy S21. Both phones have a matte texture that appears more elegant and resists fingerprints better than Samsung’s earlier phones (though it still becomes smudgy, so you’ll want to use a protection). The Galaxy S21, on the other hand, has several aesthetic features that make it feel more costly, such as a glossy metallic finish on the camera module and sides.
Though it’s a fantastic phone for $700, the true issue, in my opinion, is that Google has upped the bar for what a midtier phone should be capable of. The Google Pixel 6 costs $600 and boasts a striking two-tone glass design with sharper corners that reminds us of the Galaxy Note. Although design is subjective, the Pixel 6 appears to be more expensive than it is. The Galaxy S21 FE is sleeker and lighter than the Pixel 6, and it may be simpler to operate with one hand for some, but it lacks the same impact.
For unlocking the device, there’s also an in-screen fingerprint scanner and facial verification, both of which I found to be rather trustworthy. This model does not have expandable storage like the Galaxy S20 FE, but Samsung is selling a 256GB storage edition of its new phone (the base model has 128GB).
A big battery and solid performance
The Galaxy S20 FE’s battery life was a standout feature, and the Galaxy S21 FE appears to be following in similar footsteps so far. The Galaxy S21 FE, like the Galaxy S20 FE, has a 4,500mAh battery, which is larger than the 4,000mAh battery found in the normal Galaxy S21.
After a full day and a half of use, the Galaxy S21 FE still had 32 percent of its battery left. That’s not bad, especially considering I had the motion smoothness set to maximum, which increased the refresh rate to 120Hz. While this allows for speedier scrolling, it also means that the battery life is often reduced.
Samsung’s new phone uses the same chipset as the Galaxy S21, which means the Snapdragon 888 is used in the US edition. Other high-end phones with that chip include Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the OnePlus 9 Pro, so the S21 FE should be able to keep up with them.
With motion smoothness switched on, the Galaxy S21 FE seems snappy and fluid. The user interface is sleek, the games operate well, and the camera loads in seconds. The S21 FE, like the rest of the Galaxy S21 series, has a 240Hz response rate, which Samsung claims allows for even faster reaction times in gaming mode. However, when I played games like Asphalt 9 and Shadowgun: Legends on the S21 FE vs the Pixel 6, I didn’t see any difference.
On Geekbench 5, a benchmark test designed to assess a phone’s performance in general workloads, the Galaxy S21 FE scored similarly to the Galaxy S21 but higher than the Pixel 6. In a separate benchmark called 3DMark Slingshot Unlimited for assessing graphics performance, however, it scored marginally worse than both the standard S21 and the Pixel 6. Please see the table below for the findings.
A triple-lens camera similar to the Galaxy S20 FE’s and S21’s
Samsung’s new phone sports a triple-lens camera, which is comparable to that of the Galaxy S20 FE. There are three cameras: a 12-megapixel ultrawide, a 12-megapixel wide, and an 8-megapixel telephoto with a 30x digital zoom.
The Galaxy S21 FE appears to hold its own against the Pixel 6’s 50-megapixel camera and the ordinary Galaxy S21, at least in my experience. The S21 FE produces images that are rich in depth and colour, and it works well in a variety of lighting circumstances.
Whether you like the image quality of the Galaxy S21 FE or the Pixel 6 is a personal choice. Colors are exaggerated by Samsung’s phone cameras, and the S21 FE is no exception. While some may favour Samsung’s more vivid photographs, Google’s images appeared to be more accurate to their surroundings the majority of the time. (Note: Prior to testing, I made no changes to the camera settings on either phone except to tweak the Pixel’s 6 crop ratio.)
Overall, I believe the Pixel 6’s photos offered the finest blend of consistency and precision, but both phones are capable of producing stunning images. In some situations, photos taken on both phones appeared to be identical, but the photographs below of a green bush clearly show the differences between the Samsung and Google cameras. The image on the Galaxy S21 FE is more lush and bold, while the one on Google is more true to life. In the Pixel 6 photo below, for example, you can see red notes towards the tips of the leaves. They aren’t even visible in the photograph of the Galaxy S21 FE.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE camera testing: See how it compares to the Pixel 6 and Galaxy S21
The photography features offered by these phones are the most significant distinction between them. The Galaxy S21 FE includes an 8-megapixel telephoto lens in addition to 12-megapixel wide and ultrawide lenses, which is the most noticeable difference between the Pixel 6 and the Galaxy S21 FE. In comparison, the Pixel 6 just has two lenses: a 50-megapixel primary lens and a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens. As a result, the Galaxy S21 has a 30x digital zoom, whilst the Pixel 6 has a 7x zoom.
The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 FE both have three lenses, however the normal S21’s telephoto lens has a higher-resolution sensor (64 megapixels versus 8 megapixels). Unlike the S21 FE, which can only record 4K UHD video, the ordinary S21 can record 8K video. When comparing photographs taken on the Galaxy S21 FE and Galaxy S21, I didn’t detect much of a change in the quality of zoomed-in shots.
Aside from the hardware, each phone has its own set of photography modes and software. In this sense, the Galaxy S21 FE shares a lot of similarities with the normal Galaxy S21. Single Take, which allows you to shoot several photos and video clips with a single push of the shutter button, Super Slow-Mo video, and Night Mode are among the modes available.
On the Galaxy S21 FE, you may record video with both the front and rear cameras at the same time. However, this feature is more limited than Director’s View on the Galaxy S21; unlike the Galaxy S21, you can’t switch between the three back lenses when shooting in this mode.
Meanwhile, Google has a few software-based functions of its own that distinguish their gadget. Face Unblur, for example, is one of my favourites because it can capture sharp shots of people’s faces even while the scene is moving. To test how well it works, I shot a photo of my husband bobbing his head back and forth, and I was impressed with how effectively the Pixel 6 was able to lock his face in focus. On the other hand, when we tried it with the Galaxy S21 FE, we only got grainy shots.
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