Samsung could take the Galaxy S21 FE in many directions

Better late than never. Samsung announced its Galaxy S21 Fan Edition (FE) earlier this year, and although Samsung just announced its new Galaxy S22 devices, the Galaxy S21 FE game is still holding its own in 2022. Here is my review of the Galaxy S21 FE in the wake of the new Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphones.

The Galaxy S21 FE is an odd device if you don’t understand Samsung’s direction. It is not a device to replace the original Galaxy S21, nor the next generation Galaxy S21. It’s not a budget device like Samsung’s Galaxy A series, but it’s not Samsung’s high-end flagship. Although marketed to enterprises, it is not considered Samsung’s flagship product. The Galaxy S21 FE is the second generation of Samsung’s Fan Edition, with the Galaxy S20 FE being the first.

The Galaxy S21 FE is for fans. Samsung’s philosophy behind the device is to take the best of what Samsung has to offer, especially the features that fans love, and put it into an affordable device that will carry over into next year. I think it belongs in the Galaxy S lineup just before the next generation of devices rolls out.

I want to preface this blog by saying that I drive two smartphones daily, one being the iPhone 13 Mini and the other being the Galaxy S21 Ultra. While I use and experiment with other devices throughout the year, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the Android smartphone I’ve had the best experience with since its release in early 2021. I only really use the iPhone only for iMessage and Callin. Let’s take a look at what the Galaxy S21 FE has to offer and compare it to other Galaxy S21 iterations.

price point

Before I jump in, I want to start with the price. At launch, the Galaxy S21 FE starts at $699 for the 128GB and $769 for the 256GB model on Samsung’s website. The Galaxy S20 FE has a trade-in value of $250 for the Galaxy S21 and $375 for the Galaxy S21 FE. I consider the trade-in value of the Galaxy S20 FE to be significant, given that many people who enjoyed the Galaxy S20 FE will be considering its successor. The Galaxy S21 FE at Amazon starts at $699 with an Amazon Gift Card at Amazon. The Galaxy S21 FE costs $100 more than the $599 Google Pixel 6. With the Galaxy S21 FE price being so close to the Galaxy S21 and Pixel 6, why buy the Galaxy S21 FE? I’d say that while it doesn’t come with any new bells and whistles on the Galaxy S21, it will get an extra year of software support, has a bigger screen, and is lighter at 4.13oz, per compared to the Galaxy S21 at 6.03 ounces. Compared to the Pixel 6, I think the Pixel 6 still has some software issues to fix and lacks the performance of the Galaxy S21 FE.


The Galaxy S21 FE’s goal is to be a fan edition of the Galaxy S21 that transitions into next year. The design hasn’t changed much. The camera cutout on the back is iconic of the Galaxy S21 series, except it has a “cheaper” plastic back. The camera cutout, in my opinion, has a more seamless transition to the back as it is a single piece of plastic. I think since the “FE” is such a unique edition in its smartphone portfolio, it can go in many directions. For example, I think the most dedicated “OG” fans of the Galaxy S series would flock to the FE if the plastic back was removable.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 was one of Samsung’s last flagship devices with a removable back plate, which seems like an eternity. The Galaxy S6 launched the next generation of Galaxy devices, including the first year Samsung included a curved display in its smartphones. The difficulty with a detachable back is that it makes the device slightly thicker as the back would have to make accommodations for wireless charging, reverse wireless charging and NFC. It would also be necessary to make arrangements for the battery since the goal would be to want to be able to remove the battery or even have the possibility of supporting the SD card. The result would be a smaller battery and a thicker device.

While many may disagree with me on that removable back, I don’t see it outside of Samsung’s wheelhouse, and if anyone has to for a flagship device, it would be Samsung. Samsung has years of experience with S Pen support. I also think now is a great time to do so, given the many companies doing just that with Dell’s Project Athena, Framework’s modular laptops, and Fairphone’s disassembled smartphone. Two of them are examples of laptops, but all three are marketing for sustainability and the right to repair. An already plastic detachable back would make the Galaxy S21 FE even more of a device for fans.

Display and battery

It has the same shape and perforation design for display. The screen measures 6.4 inches diagonally, which falls between the Galaxy S21+ and the Galaxy S21 in terms of size. It’s a 2340 x 1080 Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120Hz refresh rate. High refreshes are a must on high-end devices. I’m glad Samsung included it in the Galaxy S21 FE, also assuming it has adaptive refresh rate. The Dynamic AMOLED 2X display is the same panel found in the original Galaxy S21 lineup and Galaxy Note 20.

The Galaxy S21 FE has a larger battery than the Galaxy S21, with the Galaxy S21 having a battery size of 4.00 mAh and the Fan Edition having a battery size of 4,500 mAh. The most draining part of my Galaxy S21 Ultra is the high refresh rate display. When I want to save battery or even when I enable battery saver mode, the refresh rate is the first to go. I like how Samsung hasn’t cut corners on the Galaxy S21 FE’s battery life. Suppose Samsung took the direction I mentioned earlier to include a removable backplate battery ad. In this case, I don’t think it would be able to reach the battery capacity of 4500mAh, or even 4000mAh. Still, I think it would be worth it, and I think the 25W super fast charging would be a good balance, especially when users might have a secondary battery for immediate juice.


The Galaxy S21 FE supports the same Snapdragon 888 with up to 12GB of memory and 256GB of storage, the standard amount for the Galaxy S21. At the time of release, the Galaxy S21 FE has about two Snapdragon generations behind it, if you count the Snapdragon 888+. The Snapdragon 8 Mobile Gen 1 is the newest of Qualcomm’s flagship SoCs, and I don’t expect the Galaxy S21 FE to carry it given Samsung’s target price range. The Snapdragon 888+ was probably doable on Samsung’s side for an additional 20% performance over the Snapdragon 888. I think the Snapdragon 888+ would give the Galaxy S21 FE more ground as a device in Samsung’s quiver being Given that the Galaxy S21FE moves into the next year, it doesn’t have the latest generation SoC. However, the Snapdragon 888 is most likely used for the same reason the Snapdragon 8 Mobile Gen 1 is not used, so Samsung can hit its target price range. I think Snapdragon 888+ would have benefited the Galaxy S21 FE at its price point and set it apart even more from the Galaxy S21.


The Galaxy S21 FE shares a similar triple camera system to the rest of the S21 series. It has a 12MP Wide, 12MP Ultrawide and an 8MP Telephoto. The Galaxy S21 FE has a larger 32MP front camera than the Galaxy S21 and S21+ 10MP front camera. I think Samsung upped the Galaxy S21 FE’s megapixel to emphasize its use for video calls. Video calls have become important for both professional and personal workflows. The Galaxy S21 FE does better than the Galaxy S20 FE with Night Mode with clearer and improved low-light shots.


In the areas where Samsung cut corners, I think it cut corners where users wouldn’t notice. If people are looking for a significant upgrade from the Galaxy S21, I think the Galaxy S22 is a bigger upgrade than the Galaxy S21 FE from the Galaxy S21. I would be hesitant to recommend those from the Galaxy S20 FE or even the Galaxy S20 if users expect to get as good a deal as the Galaxy S20 FE. The price of the Galaxy S21 FE is too close to the Galaxy S20 right now, and it’s more a matter of preference; the Galaxy S21 FE has a bigger screen and is lighter.

I think the Galaxy S series Fan Edition makes a lot of sense and has a place in the S series lineup. There are many directions Samsung could take with the Fan edition, and I think one of best directions is to have a durability/right to repair oriented device with the ability to remove the battery and upgrade the storage. Overall, I think the Galaxy S21 FE is a great device with a strategic launch date. You shouldn’t expect it to rival the upcoming Galaxy S series, or be a cheaper version of the vanilla Galaxy S21. This is the fan edition of the Galaxy S21 series.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.

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