Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review
For those looking for a handy, less expensive mobile, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is a fine mid-range phone with adequate features such as an attractive screen, powerful processor, and capable cameras.
However, the launch price is still far too high for what you get, not to mention issues like slow charging, sluggish software, and a poor battery life.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review : Price
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is available in two storage capacities. There's one with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage for £699 / $699 / AU$999, and another with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage for £749 / $769.99 / AU$1,099.
Many mid-range phones, such as the Realme GT, Moto G200, Pixel 5, and iPhone SE (2020), cost much less and have comparable specs, making them more appealing mobiles.
So it's difficult not to feel like the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE's price is exorbitant for what you get, especially when the S21 is available for less.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review : Design
You'd be forgiven for confusing the Galaxy S21 FE with its non-FE siblings, because aside from its size, it looks exactly like the vanilla and Plus members of its family.
The FE, like the aforementioned phones, has the same rear camera, Contour Cut bump, to house its three lenses. The FE's rear cameras are surrounded by plastic in the FE, whereas the S21's are surrounded by metal.
The FE's power button and volume rocker, like the S21's, are on the right edge of the phone, and we found both to be easy to reach when using the phone. There is a USB-C port but no 3.5mm headphone jack, so you'll need to use a USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor or Bluetooth headphones to listen to music.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review : Display
The Galaxy S21 FE, with a 6.4-inch screen, sits between the 6.1-inch S21 and 6.7-inch S21 Plus in the family lineup, and the display, like those phones, has a 1080 x 2400 resolution and a refresh rate of 120Hz.
The Galaxy S21 FE's screen is its strongest suit. Colors, contrast, and brightness are all excellent, and it makes watching TV shows or playing games on the phone a pleasure.
A cut-out for the front-facing camera along the top edge breaks up the display, but it's not too large, so not much real estate is lost.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review : Camera
Despite some differences in specifications, the camera performance of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is largely comparable to that of the S21 and S21 Plus. We would even argue that there are far more similarities than differences.
The main snapper is a 12MP main camera, which, like the 12MP ultrawide, is a carryover from the S21. However, while the S21 has a 64MP telephoto camera, the S21 FE only has an 8MP camera.
This telephoto lens is lower-resolution than the S21's, but it's paired with the same lens, which allows for 1.1x optical or 3x hybrid zoom; thus, the apparent downgrade won't make much of a difference for most people.
Pictures taken with the main camera are extremely colorful, which is fairly typical for shots taken on a Samsung phone - it's clear that the brand's scene optimization software has never heard of oversaturation. Nonetheless, the main camera's capabilities make shots look instantly social media-worthy, especially in well-lit situations.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review : Battery life
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a 4,500mAh battery, which is a fairly standard size for a smartphone, but we found the battery life to be disappointingly short.
With typical use - that is, some social media browsing, music streaming, and perhaps the odd game and photo capture here and there - we discovered that the battery limped to the finish line and barely lasted a day between charges. However, due to heavy use, we'd need to charge the phone in the early evening to keep it going until the next morning.