As hinted at by leaks in December 2021, Samsung unveiled its successor to the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE - the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE at CES 2022 earlier this month. But is it better than the base model Samsung Galaxy S21 5G? And is it worth buying? Let's take a look.
Before considering this year's FE, it's useful to remind ourselves why Samsung releases Fan Editions in the first place. Looking at past releases, it's clear that Samsung intends their Fan Edition smartphones to be standout value buys. As such, they're usually decked out with the high-end functionality of each successive Galaxy line-up, but take the form of lightweight handsets with shimmied down price tags.
To that end, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE continues in that vein. At just AU$999 (for the 128GB option), it's cheaper than the rest of the S21 5G range, but its feature set is right up there with the rest. It also has its own unique feature configuration, which in this case, looks ideal for gamers and social media users.
While the processor remains the same as in the S21 5G released back in January 2021, the display size has been bumped up from 6.2 inches to 6.4 inches in the FE.
The S21 FE 5G also retains the S21 base model's FHD AMOLED 2X display type with 120Hz refresh rate, but the newbie adds a 240Hz touch sampling rate - a feature that should make gaming a smoother experience on the Fan Edition.
The camera setup is also slightly different; more emphasis has been placed on the S21 FE 5G's front-facing camera as opposed to its back camera. It boasts an improved 32-megapixel selfie camera which should produce richer, more detailed images than the Samsung S21 5G's 10-megapixel equivalent, a fact that should be a boon for users wanting to capture head-turning Insta shots.
Three rear cameras sill adorn the phone's back, however. They consist of the same 12-megapixel ultra-wide and 12-megapixel wide-angle cameras we see in the S21 5G, but instead of a 64-megapixel telephoto lens, the S21 FE has an 8-megapixel telephoto lens.
Samsung is quick to point out a few welcome AI improvements for photography enthusiasts too. These enhancements include an improved Night Mode which it says will allow users to take sharper, clearer shots in low-light conditions.
A larger, 4500mAh battery takes the place of the base model's 4000mAh battery. Whether or not this will extend the phone's battery life is yet to be seen, but on paper at least, it looks promising. Regardless, keeping the device charged shouldn't be a problem, since it also features a 25W fast charging capability, that charges it to 50 percent capacity in just 30mins.
Considering all this, the S21 FE looks like an excellent phone. We wouldn't position it above the S21 5G, but its unique selling points are highly appealing. From a value perspective, though, when you consider the features on offer and the S21 FE's AU$999 price tag, it's undoubtedly the better value option, especially if you aren't fussed about the S21 5G's beefier telephoto lens.
The only question is whether or not you want to spend a little more on a Samsung Galaxy S21+ or S21 5G Ultra? Doing so will bag you a better phone, but at the expense of some of the exceptional value for money you'll get if you purchase the S21 FE 5G.
Another thing to consider, though, is the timing of the phone's release. Had we seen the FE back in September 2021, there'd be no doubting its feature set would stay at the top end of the smartphone tech-tree for at least six months. However, with the possibility that Samsung could release a new and improved Galaxy S22 5G line-up in the next few months, that seems less certain.
Either way, the new Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G provides buyers with a viable alternative to Google's new Pixel 6 handset, and at a similar price. It's available now in four colours: Olive, Lavender, White and Graphite from Samsung, or major carriers, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. See below for some post-paid plan offers: