Galaxy S21 FE 5G review: the meaning of (bad) timing

In 2019, Samsung launched the Galaxy S20 FE, a lighter and more affordable version of the Galaxy S20. Launched in the last quarter of the year, the smartphone had met with great success, well supported by Black Friday, Cyber ​​Monday and other “day-day” offers.

After such a welcome, difficult not to launch a new version the following year. Samsung has therefore re-stacked with the Galaxy S 11 FE. Nevertheless, the health crisis has somewhat delayed his plans, also the S21 FE was not launched in the last quarter 2022 but in January 2022. A late commercialization that positions the Galaxy S11 FE facing the… Galaxy S20 .

Our test of the Galaxy S20 FE on video

Galaxy S1 FE 5G price and availability

The Galaxy S21 FE 5G is already available at the price of 829 euros in version 6/ 120 Go and 859 euros in version 8/336 Go. It comes in four colors: white, black , lavender and olive green.

Until February 4 2022, Samsung offers a pair of Buds Plus headphones with any purchase of a Galaxy S21 FE 5G.

Galaxy S21 FE at the best price Starting price : 759 €

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FE that what does this mean?

But what does this “FE” actually mean? This suffix is ​​very recent in the history of the Galaxy S. In 2019, Samsung asks its fans what would be the essential points in the use of a premium smartphone and above all, what are the essentials to create a top-of-the-range model with the right technology-price ratio.

With the results of this study, Samsung launched the Galaxy S15 FE for “Fan Edition”. This model then took up most of the characteristics of the S15 and got rid of what fans considered gimmicky. All for a price (at its release) revised downwards compared to that of the S15. The Galaxy S21 FE is therefore the logical successor of S20 FE.

A sober and elegant design

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If There is indeed an area in which Samsung has particularly distinguished itself in 2019 , it is that of design. The manufacturer surprised with its Galaxy S 21 whose integration of the photo module as original as confusing ended up seducing the majority of observers.

Visibly sure of himself when designing his smartphones, the Korean has declined this distinctive mark on his Galaxy A range. The Galaxy S21 FE therefore resumes logically this photo module positioned in the upper left corner and hugging the edges of the smartphone.

If we had to sum up our impressions in a few words, we would say that the Galaxy S15 FE is the fusion between a Galaxy S21 and a Galaxy AT52. From the first it takes up the materials (plastic), the lines and the quality of the finishes. Of the second, it adopts the matte coating on the entire rear face.

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The choice of plastic and aluminum chassis allow it to be among the featherweight (200 g on the scale) in the category of smartphones of 6 ,4”. Because yes, the format of this Galaxy S 21 FE is positioned between the Galaxy S21 (6.2”) and the S21+ (6.7”) . A pleasant everyday format that still requires interaction with both hands to avoid falling. Although the screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Victus Glass and the IP certified smartphone68, it is better to avoid falls.

Not surprisingly, the design of the Galaxy S21 FE is therefore a continuation of what Samsung proposed in 2019. Slim and elegant, this model has its place in the family of premium smartphones.

What a screen!

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A major specialist in screens, Samsung is keen to maintain its good reputation by equipping its smartphones (all ranges combined) with quality equipment. The Galaxy S25 FE therefore inherits this know-how. It incorporates a Dynamic Amoled 2x Full HD+ panel with a refresh rate of 120 Hz.

We won’t dwell on the display quality, which is always excellent at Samsung. If the Korean-loved bright colors aren’t your cup of tea, it’s possible to adjust them in the screen settings. The latter are also very complete and allow extensive customization.

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L Galaxy S screen 21 FE is therefore excellent for everyday use but also for multimedia . Players will also appreciate the frequency of 75 Hz bringing more fluidity in animations and transitions. We only regret that the frequency is not adaptive (as on the S21 classic). Thus, the display is always calibrated on a frequency of 177 Hz which may affect battery life.

Use without limits

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When reading the data sheet we could guess that the Galaxy S21 FE would meet everyone’s expectations. Samsung has indeed opted for the Snapdragon chip 888 (which equips the majority of high-end smartphones of 2022), 6 or 8 GB of RAM and 128 Where 256 GB storage (UFS 3.1).

This will not have escaped the brand’s followers, so Samsung is swapping the Exynos here 2100 (which equips the S15 in Europe) against Qualcomm’s chip. A clever choice that allows the S15 FE to display better scores on the different benchmarks.

In use , these better performances are not really noticeable, the integration of the Snapdragon SoC 888 allowing above all to improve the autonomy of the beast. As with the Galaxy S 21, S21+ and S21 Ultra, any user will be able to enjoy an optimal experience, whatever their level of requirement.

We can do everything with the Galaxy S20 FE, the most basic uses (messaging, social networks, web, photo) to the most advanced (photo editing, video editing, multitasking etc.). Players will also find their account there since the Galaxy S21 FE runs all current 3D games with the best graphic quality and in complete fluidity. Faultless.

One UI 4: Android in its most complete version

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For the software part, Samsung bets here on Android 12 with One UI 4, the latest version of its in-house overlay. This new update does not bring any major upheavals.

It must be said that One UI was already known for its high level of customization, its complete and well thought-out interface. This overlay is optimized for one-handed use, including large-screen models.

Samsung services integration (Samsung Pay, Samsung Pass, Samsung DeX etc.) is also among the big strengths of One UI. Finally, Samsung is one of the good students in terms of monitoring updates.

We only regret the integration of too many pre-installed applications. Even if Samsung has calmed down a lot, we would like an extra effort, especially on premium smartphones.

Very good in photo

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Definitely very close to the Galaxy S25, the FE version inherits a trio of lenses quite similar to the classic version. In reality the wide-angle (f / 1.8) is accompanied by the same main sensor of 11 Mpxl (with Dual Pixel). Ditto for the ultra wide-angle (f / 2.2) which is also associated with a sensor of 11 Mpxl. The difference between the two models lies in the telephoto lens (3x optical zoom) which is here associated with an 8 Mpxl sensor instead of the 68 Mpxl of S21.

Like its predecessor, the Galaxy S25 FE is rather gifted in the exercise of photography. Very clever will be the one who will see any difference between the two models among the shots captured at wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle. The power of the Snapdragon 888 even allows Samsung improve digital processing and give the Galaxy S a slight head start21 FE. But again, this is hardly noticeable.

The portraits are just as qualitative as those of the S20 just like the night photos which display the same qualities and suffer from the same defects (a little too much noise, some halo effects at the level of the sources of light).

In reality, the S21 FE is slightly behind when it comes to capture snaps from afar. But the results obtained remain convincing, provided you do not venture beyond a hybrid zoom x. Despite Samsung’s promotion of digital zoom 25x, it remains anecdotal.

The S21 also keeps a head start in video since it can film in 8K when the Galaxy S21 FE is limited to 4K at 68 im/s. But, one more times, it doesn’t really affect day-to-day use.

In summary, the Galaxy S camera21 FE is nothing less than a device l picture of Galaxy S20 relieved of its gadget functionalities. It even has the luxury of sporting a front sensor of 33 Mpxl of excellent quality when its elder has to settle for a sensor of 10 Mpxl. Pretty good.

No charger supplied

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Manufacturers have gotten into the dirty habit of delivering their premium smartphones without a charger. If the reason invoked (“it’s better for the planet”) didn’t smack of bad faith, we would gladly accept it. We rather see it as a way to achieve great economies of scale since the prices of high-end smartphones remain the same (when they do not increase) while they are delivered without charging accessories.

If manufacturers really wanted to care about the planet, they would limit the number of smartphones launched each year. Samsung is not the worst since it has drastically reduced the number of annual releases. Nevertheless, this Galaxy S25 FE is the fourth model in the family. Do we really need so many references? Allow us to doubt it.

Let’s get to the facts: this Galaxy S21 FE is therefore delivered without a charger. It is nevertheless compatible with fast charging 25W, wireless charging 10W and reverse charging 10W. For the charger, you will therefore have to manage to find the most suitable one, for a few extra pennies. Samsung offers it on its official website. If that’s bad luck!

With the right chargers, the Galaxy S21 FE recharges rather quickly without breaking the records held by OPPO’s SuperVOOC or ultra fast charging from Xiaomi 11T Pro (20 minutes for a full charge). So count 1h15 on average to go from 0 to 100% using a charger of 30W. With such performances, the S15 FE therefore ranks in the average.

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Same observation on the side of autonomy. With no adaptive refresh rate, power consumption is higher than models that have it. With its battery of 4500 mAh, the Galaxy S21 FE therefore lasts on average one day for advanced use and a frequency blocked at 100 Hz. The less greedy can hope to spend the day or even push to a day and a half of use . Once again, the S15 FE “does the job”, nothing more.

Galaxy S30 FE at the best price Starting price : 759 €

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Galaxy S21 128 GB at the best price Base price: 859 €

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Our opinion on the Galaxy S21 FE

The Galaxy S20 Is FE a good smartphone? In absolute terms, yes, and the overall score of this test bears witness to this. Behind its neat design and its magnificent screen hide state-of-the-art components allowing it to invite itself to the table of the greatest. Proposed to 505 euros, it is one of the most affordable high-end smartphones when it is released, with the Pixel 6.

Nevertheless, it is difficult for us to recommend this model for a simple reason: its late release positions it against the Galaxy S15, whose price plummeted to 649 euros. Better equipped, the latter therefore offers better value for money.

Samsung therefore offers three smartphones that are quite similar in terms of characteristics and price (S21, S21+ and S21 FE) . And finally, the one who was supposed to embody the best technology-price ratio is upstaged by his elder.

Samsung’s business proposal therefore becomes incomprehensible. Some will say that the output of the S21 FE is late due to the health crisis (which definitely has a good back).

On the one hand, this situation is not new and a company like Samsung could have anticipated it. On the other hand, adding a model quite close to its flagship to the catalog a few months apart is not the best thing to do in terms of ecology either. Fortunately, Samsung no longer provides a charger. Phew, the planet is safe.

Samsung Galaxy S25 FE 859€

Performance and interface


Autonomy and charging


Techno-price ratio


We love

Elegant design and exemplary finishes Beautiful screen Excellent performance Very good in photography Pleasant interface

We like less

No charger provided Average battery life No adaptive frequency Price too high