by: Kirk Yuhnke
What happens if you take a high-end smartphone and redesign it, pulling out a few specs to cut the price? Samsung calls it the fan edition. They introduced this idea with the S20 FE and are now following up with the new Galaxy S21 FE 5G. I took it for a test.
The one word that came to my mind when I first picked up the S21 FE… “SOLID!” It feels very solid. Sure, the back of the S21 FE is plastic but it doesn’t feel cheap by any stretch. It feels good. The glass screen on the front look really good. It doesn’t wrap around the edges but it has a nice slim visual bezel that is even around the entire screen. The screen looks great and Samsung kept the 120hz refresh rate which makes for a super smooth experience. Personally, in terms of size, I think the S21 FE is the goldilocks of S21! It’s not too small and not to big. In fact it’s right between the size of the S21 and the S21+. It makes sense to call this the “Fan Edition” because I think this is the size most people would prefer.
The highlight of the S21 FE is that Samsung cut the price but did not cut the processor. This is huge. You’re getting a more affordable phone but still getting one of the best mobile processors your money can buy, the Snapdragon 888. This means the phone is fast, snappy and runs any app you can throw at it.
Since launching the fan edition series Samsung has always said cameras are super important to most users. No surprise here. Our phones are our cameras. The S21 FE has a 12MP wide camera, a 12MP ultra-wide camera and an 8MP telephoto camera on the back. The highest resolution camera on the S21 FE is the selfie camera at 32MP. These resolutions may leave a lot to be desired compared to the super high-spec’ed out S21 Ultra which has an 108MP camera on the back but honestly, that’s probably overkill for most people. Which, again, is why Samsung calls this the “fan edition.” It’s designed to include the most popular features, excluding the high-end things that not everyone needs and bringing down the price.
Too little too late?
I really like the S21 FE 5G. It’s a great phone. It might be a little late. The S21 launched in January of last year… and I really wish this was launched in August but now, it’s a harder sell. With competitors like the Pixel 6 and the almost certain announcement of a new Galaxy phone on February 9th it might make sense to wait to see what Samsung reveals next before you pull the trigger on the S21 FE. Although it will likely be more expensive. If you’re looking for a budget phone under $800, this is a great option.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is available directly from Samsung for $700.
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