Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is here! Is it the better S21?

Samsung has presented the Fan Edition of the Galaxy S21. Actually, the new smartphone should have been released months ago. But due to various circumstances, its launch has been postponed more and more. What can buyers expect from the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE?

Fan Edition of its big flagships was first introduced by Samsung in September 2020 for the Galaxy S20. About half a year after the flagships, the South Korean manufacturer thus launched a version customized according to customer wishes, which was even a bit cheaper. Now the model for the Galaxy S21 follows. But can the Galaxy S21 FE still convince just under a year after its launch and only a few weeks before the presentation of the Galaxy S22?

According to Samsung, the Galaxy S21 FE is supposed to be more than just a knock-off of the Galaxy S21, which has been on the market since February 2021 after all. Instead, the manufacturer describes the new smartphone as a “consistent further development based on the positive response to the Galaxy S20 FE and the Galaxy S21 lineup.” And indeed, there are some concise differences between the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE and the Galaxy S21.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE in comparison with S21

Visually, the Galaxy S21 FE and the S21 are very similar. Both have a triple camera that is very much on the side, whereas the one of the S21 FE is in the same color as the rest of the casing and thus does not stand out in terms of color. The Fan Edition’s display is bigger, though. It measures 6.4 inches instead of only 6.2 inches. Samsung has also made some major changes to the other specs.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Samsung Galaxy S21
Display 6.4 in., Infinity-O,
Dynamic AMOLED,
up to 120 Hz
6.2 inch, Infinity-O,
Dynamic AMOLED 2x,
up to 120 Hz, max. 1300 Nits
Resolution FHD+ (2400 x 1080 pixels) FHD+ (2400 x 1080 pixels) , 421 ppi
Processor Snapdragon 888,
5 nm, octa-core (1x 2.84 + 3x 2.42 + 4x 1.8 GHz)
Samsung Exynos 2100,
5 nm, Octa-Core (1x 2.9 + 3x 2.8 + 4x 2.2 GHz)
Memory 6 GB + 128 GB
8 GB + 256 GB
8 GB + 128 GB
8 GB + 256 GB
Main camera Triple camera:
12 megapixels (ultra-wide-angle), f/2.2
12 megapixels (wide-angle), f/1.8
8 Megapixel (Tele), f/2.4

30x space zoom
8K video (16:9 format, 24 fps)

Triple camera:
12 megapixels (ultra-wide), 1/2.55″, f/2.2
12 megapixels (wide-angle), 1/1.76″, f/1.8
64 megapixels (telephoto), 1/1.72″, f/2.0

30x space zoom
8K video (16:9 format, 24 fps)

Front camera 32 megapixel (wide-angle), f/2.2 10 Megapixel (wide angle), 1/3.24″, f/2.2
Battery 4500 mAh,
Quick Charge 3.0 with 25 watts, 15 watts wireless charging, Wireless Power Share
4000 mAh,
Quick Charge 3.0 with 25 watts, wireless charging, wireless power share
Software Android 12,
Samsung One UI 4.0
Android 11,
Samsung One UI 3.1
Security face recognition, fingerprint sensor Face recognition, ultrasonic fingerprint sensor
Connections Bluetooth 5.0, NFC Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
Internet WLAN a/b/g/n/ac/ax, LTE, 5G WLAN a/b/g/n/ac/ax, HE80, LTE, 5G
Other IP68, UWB, stereo speakers: Sound by AKG, Dual-SIM IP68, stereo speakers: Sound by AKG, Dual-SIM
Dimensions and weight 155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm,
approx. 177 g
151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm,
approx. 169 g
Colors Olive, Lavender, White, Graphite Phantom Gray, Phantom White, Phantom Pink, Phantom Violet
MSRP 128 GB: 749 Euros
256 GB: 819 euros
128 GB: 849 euro
256 GB: 899 euros

Besonders erwähnenswert ist der Unterschied beim Processor. Während Samsung das Galaxy S21 mit dem hauseigenen Chip Exynos 2100 ausgestattet hat, wird das S21 FE von einem Qualcomm-Chip angetrieben. Genauer gesagt handelt es sich um den Snapdragon 888, also ebenfalls um einen Oberklasse-Chip. In vielen Fällen schneiden die Samsung-Smartphones mit Qualcomm-Chip sogar besser ab, weshalb die zumeist in Europa verkauften Exynos-Versionen immer mal wieder für Verärgerung gesorgt haben.

Read more about it in: Samsung sells Galaxy smartphones with less power in Europe

Both smartphones have a Dynamic AMOLED with a refresh rate of 120 Hz and radio on LTE and 5G as well as WLAN ax. On the positive side, Samsung has increased the battery capacity of the Galaxy S21 FE by 500 mAh to 4500 mAh. Thus, the device should last a bit longer than last year’s S21. In addition, the current smartphone already ships with Android 12 and thus runs the latest Google software. The S21 has also received this via update, but this has already consumed one of the promised three major Android updates. Part of the new software are, among other things, redesigned widgets, a new privacy dashboard, and adjustments in notifications.

Display of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
The display of the Fan Edition is slightly larger than that of the S21 at 6.4 inches Photo: Samsung

Minor adjustments to the camera

At first glance, the triple cameras of both devices appear very similar. However, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE lacks the telephoto lens with 64 megapixels. Instead, the manufacturer has installed a telephoto lens with 8 megapixels. However, the wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle with 12 megapixels each seems to be identical in both smartphones. The selfie cam is different, as it has a much higher resolution in the fan edition. Instead of 10 megapixels, users will find 32 megapixels including an AI optimization for faces. The AI-based reconstruction of facial features is supposed to ensure that virtually everyone looks good in the picture. Those who cannot decide whether they find the scenery in front or behind them more exciting can take pictures of both at the same time with the dual-shot feature of Samsung’s Galaxy S21 FE. Compared to the predecessor Galaxy S20 FE, Samsung says that it has also improved the night mode in the S21 FE.

Prices and availability

Samsung offers the S21 FE in two memory versions. The model with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage costs 749 Euros, and 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage are available for 819 Euros. Furthermore, Olive is a new color to choose from besides the already known white, black and purple. All versions will be available in stores from January 11.

The Galaxy S21 FE in the new Olive color.
The Galaxy S21 FE in the new Olive color. Photo: Samsung

However, prospective buyers should keep in mind that the S21 has dropped in price in the meantime and is already available for about 650 Euros in the 128 GB version. Samsung is thus competing with itself here. We will have to decide for ourselves whether we like the newer S21 FE with a Snapdragon chip instead of an Exynos, a larger screen and battery, and Android 12 ex-factory better than the S21 with a better telephoto lens, a more compact form factor, and more working memory. Undecided users can also wait until around mid-February, because the presentation of the new flagship Samsung Galaxy S22 is expected here.

Samsung Galaxy S21 – which of the 3 new models do I need?

Would you like to know which of the three S21 models suits you best? Then take a look at our comparison.