[ PROMO ] Get a RM400 discount for the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE by using the promo code SCS21FE on Samsung’s Online Store.
In 2020, you could make the argument that the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G was the only Galaxy S20 worth buying. I sure did. And I think I still stand by it. But the hard thing about making a really good phone is usually in the follow up. After all, the sequel has big shoes to fill, and Samsung sure took their sweet time with it because it isn’t until January of 2022 that we finally see the brand new Galaxy S21 FE.
Let’s start with the headline specifications. The device has a 6.4” Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a refresh rate of 120Hz and a touch sampling rate of 240Hz. It is, unfortunately, still a Full HD+ panel, but I think for the size that’s going to be fine. It’s also a flat screen, so there are no curves to worry your palms about, and the bezels are really slim, as is the cutout for the 32MP selfie shooter at the top. In typical Samsung fashion, the screen looks great—it’s sharp, it’s vibrant, and very immersive.
At the back, you’ll find a triple camera setup with a 12MP wide camera with OIS, a 12MP ultra-wide camera as well as an 8MP telephoto camera with OIS that can give you 3X optical zoom. Combined, the phone will be able to zoom up to 30x.
You will also find a 4,500 mAh battery at the back with support for 25W fast wired charging and 15W fast wireless charging. Unfortunately, the back is also where you’ll find Samsung’s first design deviation from this phone’s stellar predecessor.
While it’s really easy to see 2020’s S20 pedigree in the look of the S20 FE, this year’s S21 FE doesn’t carry that same philosophy. Instead, the phone looks a lot more like a Galaxy A52 or A72 mid-range device, and the worst part is that it also feels like one of those phones too. Samsung was able to design around the S20 FE’s polycarbonate back and make it convincingly feel like more expensive frosted glass, but this time, I think they’ve dropped the ball. It definitely doesn’t feel like an expensive device.
And that’s a shame because I quite like the new olive green colourway, and I also think it has one of the least obtrusive camera bumps we’ve had in a while. Thankfully, the smartphone still retains its IP68 dust and water resistance, as well as all the awesome Samsung ecosystem features like Samsung Pay. The camera also comes with features like Single Take and a Dual Recording feature that lets you shoot with both the front and rear cameras at the same time.
You can switch between a split screen mode and a PIP mode, but I honestly don’t know how long a feature like this will keep people entertained. What I would have liked to see more would be the Snapdragon 888 processor at this phone’s core. But, it looks like we Malaysians will only be able to buy the S21 FE with an Exynos 2100 processor instead.
Personally, this one hurts the most because we already have a whole lineup of Exynos 2100 Samsung flagships to choose from here in Malaysia. What I think helped 2020’s S20 FE 5G stand out was the fact that it was the only S20 you could get with a Snapdragon 865.
But it looks like this time we’re not even getting that option. That said, there is…sort of a silver lining here.
One of the reasons why 2020’s Galaxy S20 FE was so popular was its more accessible price of RM3,399. The good news with the S21 FE is that spec-for-spec the device is launching at a more affordable price point. The base model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage retails for RM2,899 while the variant 256GB of storage is priced at RM3,099.
But, here’s the thing, it isn’t 2020 anymore. It’s not even 2021, and right now with the Galaxy S22 just around the corner, I’m not sure the S21 FE has quite the same value proposition.
For starters, it’s only RM100 off the Galaxy S21 5G, and you can probably make up the difference if you get the S21 on sale. Then, if you really wanted to save money on a flagship Samsung experience, I’d honestly go for the S20 FE instead. The S20 FE 5G is now retailing for RM2,499 while you can pick up the LTE model for less than RM2,000. And you won’t even be missing out on much—in fact, you’re gaining microSD expansion with the S20 FE. The biggest on-paper difference is the Snapdragon 865 over the Exynos 2100, but honestly that processor is still very capable. My colleague Najib has been daily driving the S20 FE for over a year now and he says that it’s still smooth as ever.
It’s clear that the Galaxy S21 FE had its work cut out for it, but honestly looking at the end result, I’m not quite sure the fans would be super pleased with this Fan Edition. But, I’d love to hear from you, what do you think of this brand new device?