The New Samsung Galaxy S21 Fan Edition or FE is available in the market with its all “Fan-Favorite” features and specs. Back in 2020, Samsung Galaxy S20 FE was a huge hit and both Samsung and consumers are expecting something similar with S21 FE too.
However, the initial pricing of the smartphone let some of the fans to part away from it. But it has been in the market for three months and the pricing is a little reasonable now. The smartphone has similar specs to S21 and S21+, just like a Fan edition supposed to have.
Galaxy S21 FE comes in two different SoC (System-on-a-Chip) versions: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100. Samsung launched the Snapdragon variant for the USA and Europe, and Exynos version for Asia and others. In this extensive Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review, I’ll shed light on each of the components and my experience with them while using the android smartphone.
- This phone comes with a premium Build Quality and design.
- The battery life is too good to pass up and ignore.
- You’ll find wireless charging capabilities in the phone with good performance.
- The phone has Android 12 installed as part of the OS.
- The display is one-of-a-kind, keeps everything lively, and fresh.
- You won’t find a MicroSD slot in the phone whatsoever.
- I’d say the phone arrived in the market a tad bit late.
How Good Are Design and Build Quality?
Galaxy S21 FE has a great design to impress anyone at the first glance. At the front, the phone is pretty much ALL screen along with a selfie shooter in the top middle. Samsung tried to merge two of its best selling designs (S21 and S20 FE) into the smartphone. A lot of “experts” already claimed the S21 FE’s design to be okay-but-not-great but I feel that Samsung did a decent job with this phone too.
Galaxy S21 FE Exynos packs a 6.4-inch AMOLED screen and I don’t know about you guys but this screen size is good enough for me. I get a little bit uncomfortable with 6.7+ screens. The screen is made of Gorilla Glass Victus technology. So, you’re okay to be a little carried away with the screen protection. The phone weighs 177g and believe me it feels great in one hand.
At the back, Samsung decided to put a matte finish. Although I prefer glass finish more than anything but in this budget, matte finish seems alright and premium. The camera hump lies vertically on the top-left containing its three cameras. The camera hump sticks out a bit from the phone but not too much.
The back of this android smartphone is all hi-grade plastic made, even the camera hump. However, there are metal rails all around the smartphone to provide shock protection. The left side of the phone contains a volume and power button whereas the right side is totally empty.
You can find the sim card tray, speaker set, and USB-C port on the bottom rail of the phone. There is no SD card slot for extra space which I would’ve preferred more.
Moving on, S21 FE is also IP68 certified, meaning it is water and dust resistant. This mid-range flagship smartphone comes in 4 different color finishes: Graphite, White, Olive, and Lavender. I personally like the Lavender one because it gives me a funky-fresh vibe.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G Android Smartphone Comes with Top-Notch 120Hz AMOLED Display
Samsung cracked the code to produce great displays into their flagships a long time ago. And they tend to follow their speciality into Galaxy S21 FE too. The smartphone packs a 6.4-inch 120Hz AMOLED display that can roll up to 240Hz while gaming.
The display panel is fully made of gorilla glass victus technology, ensuring scratch and shock resistance. There is an under display optical fingerprint scanner which is super-fast and almost accurate. I don’t like wonky fingerprint scanners and S21 FE did not disappoint me.
Speaking of Display Quality, just saying “top-notch” would be an understatement. Perfect color accuracy, enough contrast, and required brightness shapes the S21 FE display into a whole new level. I watched some of the 1080p videos on the phone and surprisingly it looked sharper than most other mid-range phones in the market. Samsung also added HDR10+ technology for better display performance.
The screen has a maximum brightness of 790-nits and you also get a built-in slider to manually control your brightness. There is also an “Auto Mode” brightness level who believes Samsung more than themselves (Like Me).
I played Asphalt 9 to test the touch sampling rate and it turned out really well and satisfying. Touch accuracy was on point, so was the gaming performance. 240Hz sampling rate made my gaming experience smooth and enjoyable.
To test screen brightness, I played the game directly under sunlight and there wasn’t an issue at all. The screen was bright enough to control my car and stuff. All in all, Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a powerful display that is comparable with other high-end Samsung phones.
All in all, Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a powerful display that is comparable with other high-end Samsung phones.
Exynos 2100 Processor as a SoC vs. Snapdragon 888: Analyzing the Performance
Which is better? Exynos 2100 or Snapdragon 888? A lot of people are fighting over it on the internet. I can hear people saying, Exynos is a waste of money and some saying Snapdragon is a voodoo (I don’t know, some people believe snapdragon captured a huge market by BLACK MAGIC :3).
Addressing the debate, I have a solution and this time around you’ll be the judge of which one is better. This solution comes in two phases. First, we will see facts and practical data to understand which is better “on paper”. Secondly, we will judge on the basis of personal usage. Let’s see a performance comparison between Exynos 2100 and the Snapdragon 888.
|Different Testing Metrics
|Geekbench 5 (single/multi core)
|AnTuTu 9(CPU, RAM, GPU Performance)
|3D Mark Wild Life Performance
Can you make out anything from the table above? It is hard to differentiate, isn’t it? Well, the Snapdragon 888 is a little ahead in AnTuTu 9 benchmark testing and core performance but Exynos 2100 is also ahead in 3D mark life performance. So, there is no huge performance gap between these two to call out one superior.
Now, anecdotally speaking… I used the Galaxy S21 FE with Exynos 2100 and it gave a decent experience. I must say that Exynos version of S21 FE is better than the Snapdragon version in terms of heating issues. Yes, the Exynos version is less warm than the other version. Apart from that, I am pretty much happy with the overall performance too. There was no particular moment where I was missing the Snapdragon 888.
So, in short, Exynos 2100 in Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is as good as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888.
How are the Camera Set and Picture Quality?
Galaxy S21 FE comes with the same number of cameras as the Galaxy S21 and S21+. Let’s look at the camera specs of Galaxy S21 FE and see where it is different from rival models.
- 12 MP Main (Wide-Angle) Camera with f/1.8 aperture.
- 12 MP Ultrawide Camera with f/2.2 aperture.
- 8 MP Telephoto Camera with f/2.4 aperture,
- 32 MP Front Facing Selfie Camera.
Okay, Let’s Focus on Camera Quality
Both Samsung Galaxy S21+ and S21 have a 64 MP Telephoto camera. So, you can easily expect S21+ and S21 to be better in picture quality than the S21 FE. But S21 FE has a 32 MP front camera and the other two have a 10 MP front camera. For this reason, S21 FE still hits a home run.
Despite having less firepower, S21 FE rear cameras are still capable enough to capture awesome and quality pictures. Daylight pictures from the main camera are superb. You can notice every freakin’ detail. Live details, required contrast, and accurate colors makes the picture prettier than ever. You can see in the above shot there is zero noise and perfect contrast for every snap.
Shots from the ultrawide cameras are shockingly great as well. Am I here to ruin my Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G Exynos Review myself? Well, no! I honestly thought the ultra-wide camera would be the weakest of all three but it did a praise-worthy job too. You can see there’s low noise, vibrant colors, and reasonable sharpness. The dynamic range in the ultrawide is appreciable as well.
The 8 MP telephoto lens of S21 FE is also a good competition for S21 plus’s 64 MP telephoto camera (NOT KIDDING). It can click up to 3x zoomed photos with minimal noise and distortion. The camera lens also can go up to 30x zoom and with the zoom lock feature by Samsung, you can still click identifiable pictures. Galaxy S21 FE put a solid show in daylight photos. Now, let’s look at the low light photos.
Yes, just as you’re seeing, low-light photos by S21 FE are as incredible as daylight photos. Plenty of details, correct saturation, minimal shadowing, pinpoint highlights are seen in every picture. The overall exposure and outlook remain real and vibrant too. Previously, Samsung promised that they will put an improved version of night mode camera in the S21 FE and I believe they kept their promise.
S21 FE features a 32 MP front facing selfie shooter which is a massive upgrade from S21+ and S21. However, like the expats say: MP DOESN’T DEFINE QUALITY, the front camera lacks quality in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good camera but I feel like the color saturation and whitening balance is definitely off in this phone. It made my face pale and pushed an unnecessary “mint” vibe in the background.
Still, if you like the extra white effect on your face, it won’t be a big problem. Want my honest take on the camera debate? Well, apart from the shaky-whitey front camera, I am impressed with the picture quality of Galaxy S21 FE.
How Good is the Video?
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE offers 4k video recording at 30 Frames Per Second. Feel free to use front or rear cameras. It is rare to see mid-range flagships offering 4k recording. The best thing about S21 FE’s video recording is that you can simultaneously use your both front and rear cameras in a recording. In this way, if you want use this thing for a symposium, you can easily deliver an engaging talk to your audience. Here’s a sample!
As you can see, the smartphone puts on a great show when odds are at stake. I’d say, the result is good enough with smooth coloring, correct saturation, and detailing. The only thing that will hold you to be a videographer with Galaxy S21 FE is it’s lack of sharpness in the videos. Other than that, everything is fine
How Good are One UI 4 and Android 12 with Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G Exinos?
At first, I was a little disappointed to see Samsung releasing the S21 FE this late. But when I saw the smartphone leaving the factory running on Android 12, I was happy and amazed. Samsung also promised, it will eventually upgrade to Android 15 over the years. It is always great to see smartphones with top level tech and support.
The User Interface is Samsung’s own One UI 4.0. The Android 12-based One UI 4.0 may not be revolutionary like we got to see in Google Pixel 6 and Google 6 Pro but it still features a lot of new technology. It has the classic Android 12 feature that enables the phone to auto-customize your icons and widgets according to your wallpaper. Samsung also adopted some Google’s privacy settings to ask permission before using the phone’s camera or microphone.
Other than that, you can easily customize your menus and icons, home screen, and many more. Furthermore, you can redesign and customize your widgets too. However, aside from the basic customization, there is not so much to talk about the FE version of Android 12.
Overall Performance and 5G
Exynos 900 was a big NO for technophiles. It used to have a lot of throttling and performance issues. However, Samsung managed to overcome its past mistakes and produced a better SoC in S21 FE called Exynos 2100. The chipset is just as reliable as the Snapdragon 888. As a result, you can use the smartphone with maximum fluidity and efficiency.
Galaxy S21 FE comes in two different chipset versions, Exynos 2100 and Snapdragon 888. I used both of them and like I said earlier, the Snapdragon variant is warmer than the Exynos Variant.
Judge me all you want but I play games on a handset before saying something on its overall performance. For this reason, I played PUBG Mobile on the device and it gave me a JAW-DROPPING PERFORMANCE. Surprisingly, there were no lagging and heating issues (expected) on pretty much maxed out settings (HDR). Even after playing for an hour, I got the same results. Don’t know about you but I am impressed!
Let’s look at the graphics benchmark to be sure.
|Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Exynos
|Google Pixel 6
|Samsung Galaxy S21 Exynos
|Xiaomi MI 11
|GeekBench 5 (single/Multi)
|3DMark Wild Life
|3DMark Wild Life Stress Test
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test
Look carefully at the table and you can see the benchmark comparison among different competitors of S21 FE.
In terms of single and multicore performance, our smartphone outshines others by a fair margin. Though it lags behind in 3dmark Life testing from Google Pixel 6, it still has impressive numbers. Samsung offers 5G connectivity in the phone.
Hence, you can expect superior experience while talking. Same goes for connectivity as well. Moreover, the device also packs in wifi calling through its wifi 6.0. Apart from that and 5G connectivity, it also comes with Bluetooth 5.0. As a result, pairing with headphones and other stuff will be fast, accurate, and hassle-free.
How Good is the Battery and Charging Experience?
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE packs a 4500 mAh battery. I’d say, it’s more than adequate. I saw some people on the internet bashing S21 FE’s battery for going on for only 24 hours(really, people?)! Well, how much more do these people want!?
Yes, it would definitely be awesome to see a phone with infinite power backup. But it is only possible in Utopia. I think 24 hours of battery life for a mid-range flagship phone is… alright. However, if those guys really want to bash something, they should bash its charging quality.
There is no go-to charger inside the S21 FE’s box. That means you have to buy a charger separately or charge through your previous charger by the go-to USB Type-C cable. The smartphone accepts 25 watts of wired and 15 watts of wireless “Fast” charging… Yes, “Fast” charging, in “25 watts”.
Like you, I took some time to completely register this when I first read this in a Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G Exynos Review. In 2022, charging your phone from 0% to 100% in two hours can be everything but not “Fast Charging”. The charging quality is really disappointing but the battery life, I would say, is above average.
I played games, surfed the internet, and did some daily chores. Still, I was able to use the phone for more than 9 hours. Yes, the number will drastically decrease if you just play games or be extreme with your usage. But for a standard day, these numbers are satisfying enough.
A Bit on Pricing and Availability
Basically, Samsung made the Galaxy S21 FE Snapdragon version for the USA and Europe and the Exynos version for others (mostly Asia). For this reason, if you live in the USA, it is possible that your version will differ from others. However, the S21 FE Exynos variant is also available in the USA.
The snapdragon variant is available in both 6GB and 8GB RAM variants. On the other hand, the Exynos variant is only available in 8GB RAM variant. Let’s look at the (possible) price distribution of Galaxy S21 FE.
The price range goes back and forth from time to time. As in, at first the smartphone was introduced between high $700-ish in the east and it was reduced after some time. It’s possible when you see this article the price range pops down a little bit. People can buy your Samsung S21 FE from Amazon, samsung.com or any other third-party vendor.
The Final Verdict: What Do I Have to Say at the End of Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G Exynos Review?
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is full of high-end technology like water and dust resistance, Android 12, 120Hz AMOLED display, great camera sets, and many more. Moreover, the aggressive Exynos 2100 flagship chipset puts a different edge onto the smartphone. It has all the quality to be comparable with all the above $1000 Samsung phones.
However, like all good products it has some flaws as well. Below average charging, late releasing could be the biggest two of all. Now, Samsung S22 phones are on the verge of going into the market with full flow.
So, most of the hype is going around the S22 phones. Especially the initial release value from a crack between the fans and the S21 FE. And that led us to see different competitors in the market with the same price range.
Here comes the question! Is it worth waiting for S21 FE to be released? The answer is both, “Yes” and “No.” Yes, because the phone is amazing and it has all the necessary qualities that I look for in a smartphone. And “No,” because the initial pricing was so high that it took all the legacy of Fan Edition.