Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review
Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
We can’t kick off our Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review with the unboxing. For our review unit, there was just the smartphone and nothing more. However, we are aware that the inside of the box, which is clad in white, will not contain a charger. Other than that, you can at least expect to find:
- USB-C cable
- Warranty card
- The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE smartphone itself
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE basically resembles the base model of the Galaxy S21. It comes with a 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a punch-hole selfie camera. Unlike the S20 FE, the bezels are slimmer, making it look more in line with the original variants.
Moving up you have two microphone holes. At the bottom, you have the SIM tray slot, another microphone hole, a USB-C port, and a speaker grill. There is nothing on the left side but on the right side you have the power button and the volume rocker.
Moving on to the back, you can see we have the Graphite color variant, which is basically black with a matte finish throughout. You still get that triple camera setup cut out in the upper left corner which is slightly raised, but it lacks that two-tone metallic finish. Other than that, the flash is positioned next to the cameras and you can see the Samsung logo towards the bottom.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE looks like what would happen if you took the base model Galaxy S21 and turned it into an A-series smartphone. It still looks good, but clearly the three original Galaxy S21 devices look better. Not a problem, especially given the more affordable prices, because what’s important is what’s underneath.
|Processor||Exynos 2100, 5nm
1 x Cortex-X1 @ 2.9 GHz + 3 x Cortex-A78 @ 2.8 GHz + 4 x Cortex-A55 @ 2.2 GHz
|Storage||128 GB UFS 3.1|
|Display||6.4″ FHD+ (2400 x 1080) Dynamic AMOLED 2X display
Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
120Hz refresh rate
Eye Comfort Shield with AI-based blue light control
|Rear camera||12MP f/1.8 wide-angle camera, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
8MP f/2.4 telephoto, 30x Space Zoom, PDAF, OIS
12MP f/2.2 123˚ ultra-wide
LED flash, auto HDR, panorama
[email protected], [email protected]/60fps, [email protected]/60/240fps, [email protected], HDR10+, stereo sound recording, gyro-EIS
|Camera for selfies||32MP f/2.2 wide-angle selfie camera, Dual Pixel PDAF|
USB-PD 3.0 fast charging
15W fast wireless charging
4.5W reverse wireless charging
|Protection against ingress||IP68|
|Colors||Lavender, Olive, Graphite, White|
Starting from our benchmark suite with Antutu v9, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a very good performance as it is one of the best performing devices in our benchmark devices list. It’s also interesting how it managed to beat the Galaxy Z Fold3 and the Xiaomi 11T Pro, both of which run the Snapdragon 888.
In Geekbench 5 however, the score seems to be generally lower than the Snapdragon 888 devices, but not by much. The single-core score is certainly admirable, although multi-core performance is a bit lacking. Nevertheless, it still packs a lot of punch with the Exynos 2100.
Passing on the 3DMark, it’s quite interesting to see it score very high in Wild Life Unlimited considering the intensity of the test, but it’s shorter compared to other devices in Sling Shot Unlimited considering its lightness . Either way, it shows that the device has strong GPU capabilities with the Exynos 2100.
On PCMark’s Work 3.0 benchmark which tests for real-world use, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE performed very well. It easily passed the 10,000 mark and it’s one of the best performers on our list of benchmark devices.
With the battery endurance test, we had to run it twice because it doesn’t have an adaptive refresh rate. This means we have to run it at 60Hz and 120Hz. With the former the battery life is pretty good as it lasts 9 hours and 42 minutes (582 mins) while at 120Hz it drops to 6 hours and 47 minutes (407 minutes). Standby time is excellent, so you should be able to enjoy a full day with ease.
If you want to compare it with the base model of the Samsung Galaxy S21, click here.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE uses a 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display at Full HD+ resolution. You can get great colors with good contrast. The screen can get quite bright and it’s also very good when viewed in direct sunlight which is great. The screen size makes it a middle ground between the Base and Plus models, which are 6.2-inches and 6.7-inches respectively.
As mentioned in the battery endurance test, it has a high refresh rate option, but it’s not of the adaptive type. So you can have it in constant 60Hz or 120Hz. That’s a bit of a shame as the adaptive refresh rate will let you enjoy a much smoother display while saving on battery life. One good thing it retains is Gorilla Glass Victus, and it has Eye Comfort Shield to reduce strain and fatigue on your eyes.
Although the colors are not as striking as the three original models, they have a matte finish. This is very good because it will be much less susceptible to fingerprints and, in my opinion, will make it look better on its own. Plus, it’s easier to hold, which is a plus if you’re not going to use a protective case.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 is one of the first to use One UI 4 based on Android 12. It looks pretty much like other recent Galaxy smartphones, with a few changes from older ones, including how notifications are grouped together for a look. cleaner. It’s pretty user-friendly, so I doubt anyone has any issues with it.
Although the device comes with Samsung Free, I find it interesting that the leftmost section of the home screen now displays Google News instead. Personally I prefer this more but if you want the usual Samsung experience you can always opt for Samsung Free if you want.
Just like the main Galaxy S21 series, the under-screen fingerprint scanner works great on the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. It works very quickly and reliably, only failing when I forget to dry my hands thoroughly after washing them. If I had to give a rough estimate, it takes 1/3 of a second to unlock with just my fingers.
One downside I can point out to this smartphone is the lack of a microSD card slot. This means that whatever storage option you choose is the one you will be stuck with. Although 128 GB is enough in my opinion, you can go for the 256 GB variant if you plan to use it for a few years. Otherwise, your only other option for expanding storage is through a cloud-based solution.
When using the smartphone, I only got it warm during initial setup and when playing mobile games on it. For the most part it works pretty well and even when it heats up it’s lukewarm at best.
The camera UI on the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE basically resembles what we saw on Samsung devices last year. It’s user-friendly, so most consumers won’t have a problem with it, and it’s more viable for mobile photographers and videographers who want more control over what they capture.
As usual, the Single Take function is still there. For those of you who don’t know, all you have to do is move the device around and it will take photos, record a short video and even edit the images for you, up to 15 seconds. It’s useful but the results can vary a bit, so a bit of experimentation is needed if you want to get the full benefit of it.
As you can see above here, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE can take very good photos at night and with light. I’m sure many have underestimated it considering it’s the most affordable of the new flagship series, but it’s been excellent so far with good detail, vibrant colors and auto HDR being pretty reliable. The other two cameras may not be as good, but they can still produce great results.
With the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, you have 30x Space Zoom. To my surprise, it became easier to capture images when fully zoomed in and that’s not bad either. However, there’s still some work to be done to make it truly usable at this range, but it’s still something if you really need it.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE may have arrived late to the party, but if you’re looking for a flagship device without splurging too much, it’s definitely a great choice. just RM2,899, it is worth it and I only suggest avoiding it if you are planning to acquire the Galaxy S22 series.
At the end of our Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review, I award this smartphone our coveted Gold Pokdeward.
Many thanks to Samsung Malaysia for sending us this smartphone for this review.