Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Review: Final Verdict

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The Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe ticks multiple boxes, offering practiced performance and a well-idea-out feature list. Information technology isn’t the most exciting phone I’ve reviewed recently, though, and I can’t aid but feel it’s been released a picayune likewise late.


  • A very complete package
  • Bright, colourful screen
  • An IP rating and Qi charging


  • Overpriced compared to the competition
  • Photographic camera not as good every bit Pixel 6
  • Average bombardment life and charging speeds


  • United kingdom of great britain and northern ireland
    RRP: £699
  • United states of america
    RRP: $699
  • Australia
    RRP: AU$999

Primal Features

  • Triple rear camera
    3 cameras on the back, including a 12MP wide with OIS

  • Cracking performance
    Snapdragon 888 chipset, with 5G and either half dozen or 8GB RAM

  • Android 12
    Comes with the latest version of Android and 1 UI


Samsung announced what is likely to be the last member of the Samsung Galaxy S21 family in January following close to a twelvemonth of leaks about its plans for the Atomic number 26 range.

Due to the sheer number of leaks associated with this particular handset, very few of the features here will exist a surprise. Yet, later on spending a few weeks with the Galaxy S21 FE, I tin confirm there’due south enough to like – fifty-fifty if it feels similar it’south arriving a few months after than it should accept.

Design and Screen

  • Nice and bright OLED display
  • Multiple tasteful color options
  • No headphone jack

Samsung showtime introduced the ‘Atomic number 26’ (or Fan Edition) branding a few years ago to signify a pared-downwards version of one of its flagship devices. I was a huge fan of the Galaxy S20 Fe, which was, in many means, an easier recommendation than the regular S20 as a issue of its slightly larger display and superior Snapdragon chipset. Not to mention the cheaper cost.

Notwithstanding, the S21 FE is a more difficult sell. For one, Samsung has made the regular Galaxy S21 device cheaper than its predecessor, bringing in some of the more than mid-range features from the FE range from the start. These include a plastic body, apartment-screen and lower-res display. The S21 has actually felt similar it was an Iron device right from the beginning, so information technology does raise the question of how necessary this release really is.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE back and cameras

As before long equally I took the S21 FE out of its slim box, the handset felt familiar. On the rear sits a camera module that’southward very like to the ane on the Milky way S21’south rear. The trunk is made from plastic with metallic sides, merely information technology yet feels tough and is super-calorie-free at only 177g. Coming from the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which is only slightly taller, the S21 Atomic number 26 feels extremely comfortable to concur for extended periods.

I’yard glad Samsung has seen fit to go along to include an IP68 rating – which remains far from a given in not-flagship devices. The aforementioned tin be said about Qi charging, which here lets you power upwardly the phone wirelessly at 15W. Wireless charging is super-handy, and such an easy way to charge multiple devices such as earbuds and smartwatches with a single pad.

One of the near obvious differences between this FE version and the standard S21 is the size. The Fe’s screen is vi.4 inches, slightly larger than the 6.2 inches of the S21. I similar half-dozen.4 inches as a screen size, and information technology’due south a practiced center-bespeak betwixt the S21 and the 6.vii-inch S21 Plus.

The OLED panel lacks some of the skills of the pricier S21 devices. For case, information technology has a rigid 120Hz refresh charge per unit, as opposed to an adaptive one that can ramp up (and downwardly), depending on specific tasks. The master benefit of an adaptive refresh charge per unit is that information technology uses less power for tasks that don’t see a notable do good from 120Hz, such every bit flipping through the Kindle book or watching a 30fps YouTube video. Phones such every bit the OnePlus 9 Pro would slow down the screen for these kinds of tasks to preserve battery life.

To my optics, at to the lowest degree, this panel isn’t equally colourful as the panel on the S21 either. I loaded up a number of photos rich with reds and greens; the representation wasn’t
equally strong equally that on the FE. Information technology’s a like story with HDR Netflix and YouTube – the results are good, but non top-class.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE front and screen
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE brandish

The screen’s 1080p resolution helps it evangelize sharp text and images, high levels of brightness and a 240Hz bear on response charge per unit for gaming. It’due south a flat panel, with a minor cutout at the meridian for the front camera. Unless you want absolute cutting-edge screen tech, this is a good panel.

There’southward a fingerprint sensor congenital into the screen, but information technology isn’t the ultrasonic version seen in the regular S21 series. Instead, it’s the far more common, and far junior, optical version found in most Android phones. It’southward a fast sensor, although information technology lacks the accurateness and speed I experienced using other S21 phones.


  • Three cameras on the back
  • 32MP selfie camera around the front
  • Photos take a saturated look that Samsung fans will capeesh

The Samsung Milky way S21 FE is priced at £699, which makes it £100 more than the Pixel 6. One of the all-time things about the Pixel 6 is its imaging skills and, simply put, yous should choice that phone if you’re after the best camera phone at this price. If the S21 Fe had been released last summertime (when all the rumours had suggested) then it would have performed much improve against the contest.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE cameras

On the back of the Milky way S21 Atomic number 26 sit three cameras in the usual wide, ultra-broad and telephoto layout. The main camera boasts 12 megapixels, an f/ane.8 lens, and optical paradigm stabilisation (OIS). This is the standout sensor, and since it’due south pretty much the aforementioned unit that features in the regular Galaxy S21, photos are reliable in all manner of atmospheric condition.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE daylight sample image
Pictures are suitably colourful, with brighter hues really popping
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE daylight sample image
There’southward lot of detail in snaps
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE daylight sample image
It does a expert of brightening upwardly shots taken in a darker room, even with a depression light mode in utilize

The ultra-wide has a 123-degree field of view, 12-megapixels and an f/ii.2 lens. Unlike the Pixel vi, at that place’s a defended eight-megapixel zoom camera here, too, which Samsung says tin can zoom upwards to 30x. Take that claim with a pinch of salt, withal, since it’due south notwithstanding best kept to a more than manageable range. Pictures are fine up to about 3x, afterwards which they go increasingly grainy.

Elsewhere, there’s a 32-megapixel front camera. Selfies are excellent here, every bit long as y’all select the ‘Natural’ mode. The other pick, ‘Bright’, ramps up the brightness a little too much and adds an odd sheen to everything.

This is very much a typical Samsung camera, whose pictures will be appreciated past those wanting that Samsung Look. By that I mean vivid colours (greens and reds, in item, are very saturated) and sharp details that can, at times, look a little overprocessed. You’ll observe this when shooting landscapes, where minor details can often stand out too much.

Nonetheless, the pictures and video remain pleasing – peculiarly when viewed on the phone’southward display, which amps everything up a footling fleck more than.


  • High-terminate Snapdragon 888 chipset
  • Back up for 5G
  • Android 12 out of the box

In terms of performance, Samsung hasn’t really sacrificed much here compared to its high-finish devices. Although when you consider the offerings from Chinese brands such as OnePlus, Oppo, Xiaomi and Realme, I’d expect whatsoever £700 phone to be packing superlative specs these days.

A Snapdragon 888 5G chipset powers the sample I tested. An Exynos model is available in certain regions. Information technology’due south swell that Samsung is using a ‘flagship’ processor here, but at present that the 888 has been superseded past the new Snapdragon 8 Gen ane, I don’t look it will be long earlier we begin to encounter phones with that latter, more efficient chipset included.

The Snapdragon processor is supported by 6GB or 8GB (reviewed) of RAM and 128GB or 256GB storage. At that place’south no space for a microSD card to aggrandize that storage farther, so continue that in mind when choosing your chapters.

Every bit anyone should await with those specs, the S21 Fe is a nippy phone for any task from gaming to productivity. A few years ago, I regularly criticised Samsung for sticking high-end specs in its phone and then seemingly making them slower with buggy software that would often become worse over fourth dimension. That couldn’t be further from the case now, with the S21 FE feeling smooth in navigation for the most part. Samsung has improved its power to speedily bring new versions of Android to its phones, as well.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE front and screen

The Galaxy S21 Fe is ane of the first new phones to ship with Android 12, aslope the latest One UI overlay. While this isn’t a redesign on a par with Android 12 on Pixel phones, some Material You elements have fabricated the jump across. You can inject some colours from wallpapers to customise icons, for instance, and at that place are a couple of new widgets, too.

This is a 5G device, and so if y’all have a 5G-capable SIM, and you’re in an area where the network is supported, y’all’ll benefit from improved download speeds. There’s WiFi 6 (no 6E, though) for those with a capable router, NFC for Android Pay and call quality is proficient. I was less impressed with the speakers, though, which were adequately poor – plus information technology’s far too piece of cake to block them unintentionally when gaming. There’due south no headphone port, then you’ll probably desire a pair of the all-time Bluetooth headphones to convalesce this issue.

Bombardment Life

  • No charger included, only a cablevision in the box
  • Support for wireless charging is welcome

Samsung has equipped the Galaxy S21 Iron with a 4500mAh bombardment. That sits bang in the centre of what I’d expect from an Android telephone of this size and price. Yous’ll find some handsets with larger cells and some, like the Galaxy S21, with smaller batteries.

Trying to gauge battery performance purely based on the size of the cell is becoming incommunicable, since at that place are so many factors that can impact endurance. I’ve been using the S21 FE for a couple of weeks at present, and it has managed to get me through a busy workday of emailing, Slacking and streaming – but only just. I wouldn’t experience confident hammering it all day so taking information technology out on the boondocks in the evening with the promise of having some juice left for an Uber.

An adaptive display might take helped stretch out the jail cell farther, but that’s no guarantee. You lot tin can always employ one of the battery-saving modes to eke out more life, or manually driblet the screen down to 60Hz. Ditching the 120Hz refresh rate resulted in roughly an actress hour of utilise.

In more measured tests, the S21 Atomic number 26 performs similarly to my real-world tests. An hr of Netflix, for case, consumed 10% of the battery – slightly more than much of the contest, simply far from atrocious. This is very much likely a side-effect of the 120Hz brandish.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE back

There’s no charger in the box, a move Samsung introduced with the S21 series. You can buy ane separately, use one you may have lying around (make sure it’s at least a 25W plug to get the best speeds), or go all-in on wireless.

A full charge with a 25W-capable plug took nigh 1hr 30mins, which is similar to the iPhone 13 Pro and Pixel half-dozen, just slow compared to some of the fastest Android phones. The OnePlus 9 Pro tin can get from 0-100% in less than 40 minutes.

Latest deals

Should you lot buy information technology?

You want a phone without whatever glaring feature omission:
The S21 FE comes with a good OLED screen, wireless charging, an IP-rated body and three reliable cameras. There’south nothing much missing here.

Y’all’re willing to shop around:
As good as the S21 FE is, it isn’t the best at the price. The Pixel 6 is cheaper, with a much better photographic camera and more than innovative software, while the regular Galaxy S21 offers a improve screen and can be had for a similar price.

Concluding Thoughts

The Samsung Milky way S21 FE is a little too pricey when yous consider what the Pixel six offers for less, but this is a device that will become the task done for a lot of people. It has a nice screen, speedy specs and a trio of cameras that will appeal to those who have shot with Samsung phones for years. Ticking all these boxes ways it’s a phone I tin can happily recommend.

The biggest issue I have is the price – not merely when compared to the best Android phones, only next to Samsung’s other phones, besides. A quick search shows that the standard S21 can be had for less than £699 – and, betwixt the ii, I’d go for the S21 over the FE due to its better screen and superior zoom camera. For a similar toll, you could selection up the OnePlus 9 Pro or the Xiaomi Mi xi.

Then at that place’s the upcoming launch of the Galaxy S22 to consider – it’south worth waiting to run across what the base of operations model in that lineup offers before taking the plunge here.

How we test

Nosotros test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. Nosotros utilise industry standard tests to compare features properly and we employ the telephone as our principal device over the review menstruation. We’ll e’er tell yous what nosotros find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Used every bit our main handset during test period

Camera tested in variety of situations with all modes

Tested with synthetic benchmarks and existent globe utilise

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Is there a microSD card slot?

At that place is no expandable storage, but like the other S22 models

Does the S21 Fe take the same screen as the S21?

The S21 has an adaptive refresh rate, a feature missing here

Does the UK version have a Snapdragon chipset?

Yes, the U.k. version runs on the Snapdragon 888 chipset

Trusted Reviews test data

We run every phone we review through a number of tests. Here are the results we lifted during the review process.

ane hour music straming (online)

Time from 0-50% accuse

Time from 0-100% accuse

1 hour music streaming (offline)

30 infinitesimal gaming (intensive)

1 hour video playback (Netflix, HDR)

xxx minute gaming (light)

Geekbench 5 multi core

Geekbench v single core

3D Mark – Wild Life

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

2 %

50 Min

90 min

1 %

12 %

10 %

12 %




Total specs





Screen Size

Storage Capacity

Rear Camera

Front Photographic camera

Video Recording

IP rating


Wirless charging

Fast Charging

Size (Dimensions)


Operating System

Release Appointment

First Reviewed Engagement



Refresh Rate





Samsung Milky way S21 Fe





half-dozen.4 inches

128GB, 256GB

12MP + 12MP + 8MP




4500 mAh



74.v 10 7.9 x MM

177 K

Android 12



1080 x 2400


120 Hz


Snapdragon 888

6GB, 8GB

Black, Green, Purple, White


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