Samsung Galaxy S21 FE first impressions: The missing link

While the Galaxy S21 FE borrows some of the premium aspects from its older sibling- Galaxy S21, it has a bigger role to play, given its late arrival in the market. Here are our initial impressions of the new Galaxy S-series smartphone.

Published:Mon, January 10, 2022 7:00pm

By Meghna Dutta


Samsung Galaxy S20 FE grabbed eyeballs a year back for the premium features the phone offered at an affordable price. Banking on the factor, Samsung has brought its sequel Samsung Galaxy S21 FE to the Indian market at an effective price of Rs 49,999.

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The specs look promising, from a vibrant and crisp display, pro-grade camera, premium silicon, and a decent battery backup. Moreover, the device comes pre-loaded with the latest Google mobile software. While the Galaxy S21 FE borrows some of the premium aspects from its older sibling- Galaxy S21, it has a bigger role to play, given its late arrival on the store shelves. And as Samsung preps for its Galaxy S22 flagship series launch of the year, the question arises as to whether pick this premium and mid-range mix handset or wait for the fresh product. Here's our hands-on review of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE smartphone.


Samsung Galaxy S21 FE initial impressions

The new Galaxy S21 FE packs a set of premium features at a price slightly lesser than the flagship Galaxy S21 smartphone. The phone gets a bigger screen over the S21 offering extra screen real estate to consume content. If one is to compare with the previous iteration, the new Galaxy S-series phone gets a crisp, bright Dynamic AMOLED panel that delivers a pleasing viewing experience.


Samsung has integrated the same 5nm Exynos 2100 chipset which means faster overall performance without any lag or stutter. We tested a few casual and graphic-intensive games on the device, and it did manage to render satisfactory results without any hitch. But we would still reserve our verdict until we are done pushing its limits.

Talking about the looks, the phone inherits design cues from the premium Galaxy S21 with a tall form factor and camera blending into the side rails. The device is lightweight, and the matte finish ensures it doesn't attract unnecessary grease and fingerprints. The plastic rear panel shouts out the near mid-range pricing, although Samsung tried to keep a simplistic design, we would have preferred Galaxy S21's dual colour accent that had design flair. The left edge of the frame is left untouched, while the right side has the physical keys. Samsung has ditched the microSD slot for good and you only get the option to put two SIM cards on the device.

While the back panel doesn't offer a premium feel, the front-fascia covers up for the missing part. The flat panel resembles the Galaxy S21 with slim side bezels and a centered punch-hole cutout. The 1080p display is bright and beautiful, and the 240Hz touch sampling rate ensures fluid and smooth animation scrolling which takes us to the next bit- the interface. Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is one of the affordable handsets that offer Android 12 right out of the box. Although the presence of the custom One UI 4.0 could be felt in every corner, but for the good part, it didn't feel cluttered. However, we would like to bring one observation, the large icons on the home screen and app drawer, that leaves an imprint on the mind for a split second until you launch an app. Nonetheless, the interface is silky smooth and launches apps in just a few seconds.

Moving on, Samsung Galaxy S21 FE gets the same trio as its predecessor. Even the front camera has the same resolution. That's a tad-bit disappointing especially for one planning to upgrade. However, the phone yields a slightly better imaging performance, courtesy of the new chip and software. An array of camera modes is on the deck too- the notable addition being dual-mode recording. The camera performs well in varied lighting conditions, although if we are to compare it with an iPhone, the output tends to exaggerate colours rather than sticking to the natural profile (well! That's the signature of the Samsung phone camera).

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE camera samples

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The device gets a slightly big 4,500mAh battery with a wired charging speed of 25W. We haven't tested the battery life yet, but we will be putting the extensive report in our review.


Samsung Galaxy S21 FE doesn't have any surprising element to talk about. The same set of cameras, consistent design with a year's gap launch delay makes us question whether one should buy this phone or wait for a new batch to hit the market. On the positive side, the phone's vibrant and fluid display, premium silicon, new software, and a bigger battery make it a compelling package for the price. However, in the one-year gap dozens of high-end smartphones were introduced under similar prices, for instance, the OnePlus 9, Asus ROG Phone 5, etc. The phone's incremental upgrade over the previous iteration and a few flagship features at reasonable pricing can make it a good proposition for the one planning to get a Samsung handset with a sophisticated suite of features. But we would recommend readers wait for our full review before making the final purchase decision.

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