The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE costs about the same as the original S21 flagship phone; it certainly ain’t cheap, but it does actually try to upgrade a couple of key areas of the original S21, including boosting the battery life and adding an optical zoom to that telephoto lens. In this article reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE and sharing my thoughts on its Design, Display, Audio, Battery life, performance, and Camera test to know if it is worth the price or not.
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Design and Build Quality
Now, I’m still not entirely sold on Samsung’s choice of colors for the S21 FE fan edition model, especially compared with the gorgeous offerings of the older S21. I mean, white and black are just a bit basic and boring, and olive green and this lavender model are really rather niche. I’m still getting some serious nun vibes from this thing, to the point where I could basically taste the fisherman’s friends. Now, as far as the size goes, Well, thank goodness Samsung’s usual one-handed mode is built-in because the Galaxy S21FE has grown a little from the original, although at 6.4 inches, it is still actually one of the most compact phones you can buy in 2023.
I liked the Galaxy S21 before the fan edition had a gorilla glass Victory display with no screen protector to speak of, so I was expecting it to be coated in nicks and scuffs by now. It’s not too bad at all, although there are a couple of light scratches on there after just a week, so I would highly recommend installing your own screen protector before you actually use it, and that glass is as rugged as you would like; it’s still pristine even though I’ve not exactly been gentle with this thing all week long, and you’ve got full IP68 water and dust resistance as well on the S21 FE, so basically, once you slap that screen protector on the S21 FE, it should be nice and hardy.
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OneUI 4.0 And Features
So far, Android 12 and the OneUI 4 launcher have been behaving themselves, and it is quite a potent combination on the S21 FE. Most of the great Android features from those Pixel 6 smartphones have made it across to this Samsung blower, with the exception of a couple of Pixel exclusives like the call screening feature, so you’ve got the same great privacy setup as well as Samsung’s excellent security measures. The in-display fingerprint sensor works perfectly even when your hands are a bit moist; it’s definitely one of the best out there that I’ve tested, and as usual, you’ve got face recognition as a backup, and you can make that facial recognition as secure as you like, so you’re going to have the S21 FE. It really takes time to identify you to make sure fraudsters are less likely to trick it; otherwise, you can have it speeded right up if you prefer, but even if you do opt for the time saver option, the fan edition still won’t recognize you if you’re wearing even quite a skimpy face mask.
The Galaxy S21 FE also allows you to customize almost every bit of it, from the always-on display to the side key, which can sum it up: Samsung Pay, Great Mate Bixby, or even the camera if you prefer. Speaking of Bixby and Samsung Pay, those are just two of many Samsung apps slapped onto the S21 FE that basically do the same exact job as many of Google’s own efforts. We’ve also got Smart Things, which is basically just another Google Home plus a health tracker, a web browser, and all that other app stuff.
And personally, I still find it quite annoying that you’ve got two web browsers, two photo galleries, two of absolutely everything; it’s like Noah’s southern arc up in here, but of course, if you do happen to prefer Samsung services to Google services because you’ve used lots of Galaxy smartphones in the past and that’s what you’ve stuck with, then great, you’ll be a happy camper. But thankfully, you can uninstall most of Sami’s apps if you like, which is just as well because when I first got the S21FE, around 30 gigs of the 128 gigs of internal storage space were used up with system maps and files and all that kind of shenanigans, and there’s no microSD support to expand that storage.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Display Quality
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has 6.4-inch a bit bigger dynamic AMOLED display as the original Galaxy S21. It has bright, crisp, bold visuals at full HD+ resolution, with only a tiny chunk missing courtesy of that selfie pinhole jobby up at the top end there. I kept the display settings on the default vivid mode because I really like the punchy, poppy output, and I rarely have to manually fiddle about with the screen brightness on that board. It also keeps things comfortably soft at night. when you’re tucked up with Teddy tweaking about on Twitter and if you stroll outside it’s super sunny, well that screen brightness we boosted up to the maximum so you can clearly see everything you’re up to.
And the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE’s stereo speakers may not have quite the same kick as the original S21’s built-in speakers, despite the size growth of this phone, but they are better quality, offering a greater depth of sound, and there are no complaints when it comes to the Bluetooth smarts here. There were either absolutely no issues at all with the connectivity or the range during the entire week of testing, and there was lots of testing of the Bluetooth connection because it also has a headphone jack.
Performance and Gaming
Now running the show is Samsung’s own Exynos 2100, at least here in my review sample, and despite a decidedly judging first few hours, the Samsung S21 FE soon sorted itself out, and almost everything from that point on has been quite responsive. Although the S21FE can be surprisingly juddery at times, for instance, the camera app is particularly unresponsive, especially when you’re skipping between different mods. It’s probably not helped by the fact that my review model supports just 6 gigs of RAM, which certainly seems to be one of the main reasons why the Fan Edition struggles to maintain a smooth frame rate with a great deal of impact when it’s boosted to higher detail settings.
Even with the priority mode and other gaming mode bits active, eventually I just dropped it down to the medium settings, which worked a charm while less demanding titles like Call of Duty Mobile play absolutely perfectly even when you do boost those graphics all the way up to proper lush levels and One of the advantages of having the Exodus model of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is that it stays reassuringly cool even if you’re gaming for a good hour or two. Even with plenty of gange and impact action, I’d rarely say it rolls above the level of tepid, although while you’re gaming that battery life drops pretty rapidly, so I certainly wouldn’t stray too far from the nearest available plug socket.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Battery Life
Battery life of the Galaxy S21 FE slash dung heap of the original S21 handset: I do like Samsung’s original S21 flagship phone, but it really struggles to last a full day, usually falling asleep sometime around the early evening. So I gotta say I was somewhat relieved when I heard that Samsung had boosted the battery size for the Fun Edition from 4000 milliamps to 4500, but unfortunately, as far as solutions go, this has turned out to be about as effective as fixing a leaky tap by screaming obscenities at it.
If all you want to do is message friends and thoroughly surf yourself by glancing at social media occasionally, then the S21 Fan Edition will last you the full day, but if you want to push it just that little bit further by, for instance, using the camera a fair bit, skyping your family for an hour or so in a day, doing a bit of gaming, and streaming a fair bit of Netflix, Well, good luck getting this thing to last until you are all tucked up. Most of the days I’ve been testing it out, it has needed a bit of an extra charge before I finally stumbled into bed, and even on the days where I did survive, I still ended up with around five to ten percent battery life. As for the charging, well, you’ve still got support for 15 watt wireless charging or a 25 watt wired charger, which is not exactly super nippy, and of course you will have to provide your own plug because Samsung does not include an adapter in the box.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Cameras Test
And last up is the camera, which has been partly spruced up for the Galaxy S21 fan edition. Although once again you’ve got a 12-megapixel primary sensor, this low megapixel count compared to many rivals means there’s no pixel bin, but I still got good returns in most conditions when snapping on full auto color accuracy. Skin tones aren’t quite as authentic as those captured by the Pixel 6, but if you’re not too bothered about realism, then chances are you will enjoy the rich tones of the more vivid subjects pumped out here. Kids and pets occasionally come out as a blurry cluster in more ambient light, a situation definitely not helped by the occasionally lethargic focus, while Samsung’s usual night mode is on hand to brighten up low-light photos of static subjects, providing you’ve got a steady hand as well as that primary shooter.
The Galaxy S21 FE also packs in a 12-megapixel ultrawide-angle lens, which again struggles to capture accurate colors but is immensely helpful when you want to shoot something absolutely massive, unlike a cathedral, for instance. However, the big change for the fan edition is the 8-megapixel telephoto shooter, which packs a proper three-times optical zoom. You can actually pinch in all the way up to 30 times zoom, but I wouldn’t recommend boosting it past the 10 times level as your photo will start to look properly grainy. It is definitely good enough for getting a close-up without intruding on a scene, though I’m going to say that I haven’t noticed a huge improvement in the quality of my zoomed-in picks here on the fan edition compared with the original galaxy s21.
The S21 didn’t have an optical zoom, but it did have a much higher megapixel console that basically just cropped into an image instead. But as usual, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE does serve up an absolute bugger lord of bonus camera features, some of which are proper guns, including good old single-take. Of course, this is a good one if you’ve got kids or pets because you can basically capture up to 20 seconds of footage of them, and then it will not only save a video but also do lots of little stylish photos and stuff as well, so lots of different ways of preserving the moment.
And speaking of video, while you no longer have the option to shoot AK footage here on the fun edition, Honestly, it’s no big loss. The Galaxy S21FE does a sterling job with 4K action; every frame is packed with detail unless the lighting conditions are particularly ropey, and even if you’re moving and shooting, Samsung’s image stabilization keeps the results pleasantly smooth. Sound is picked up cleanly from all directions with only a little bit of interference from the wind when you’re shooting outdoors, and if you like to share photos of your facial region on the internet, a good way to take said photos is with the Galaxy’s 32-megapixel selfie camera. This can switch to a pulled-out view if you want to fit in a couple of heads or some background action, and even in low light, it ain’t too bad.
My Final Thought
So the Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe 5G if you want to add the little 5G bit at the end, which frankly is just superfluous these days, so why bother, and I gotta say I quite enjoyed using it as my full-time smartphone, but at this sort of price point, I’d say go for the Pixel 6 instead because the battery life is the main issue with this thing once again, unfortunately. You know, you get to the early evening, and you’ll be constantly glancing at that battery percentage, wondering.
if you’re gonna make it through the full day especially not good if you have to be heading out in the evening or anything you know the camera is solid but not quite as good for stills as the pixel 6 though admittedly i think the the video captured chops and certainly the selfie camera are better here on the Galaxy S21 FE and you know the android 12 OneUI 4.0 experience is very good indeed as well but if you find a good deal on the fan edition I’d say maybe go for it otherwise you know especially if you’re a power user you know you’re really demanding you want to be doing gaming lots of camera player all of that stuff then i’d say probably look elsewhere, but anyway I’m just waffling on now what do you guys recommend The Galaxy S21 will definitely be great, especially if you’ve actually been using it as your full-time phone as well.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G offers a satisfying full-time smartphone experience. While 5G feels unnecessary and battery life is a drawback, its camera, Android 12 OneUI 4.0, and overall performance are strong. Consider it on a deal, but power users might explore other options.
Software and Features8
Performance and Gaming8