Highlights

  • S-series experience that doesn't break the bank
  • Large 6.4-inch 120Hz Samsung AMOLED display
  • Excellent 12MP triple rear camera system

Latest news

Sara Ali Khan shares pictures from her Istanbul trip

Sara Ali Khan shares pictures from her Istanbul trip

Nepal plane crash: '4 Indians were on a pilgrimage to Muktinath Temple'  

Nepal plane crash: '4 Indians were on a pilgrimage to Muktinath Temple'  

What is the nose-bleed fever that has Iraq in its grip?

What is the nose-bleed fever that has Iraq in its grip?

Cannes 2022: Shaunak Sen's documentary ‘All That Breathes’ wins L'OEil d'Or Award

Cannes 2022: Shaunak Sen's documentary ‘All That Breathes’ wins L'OEil d'Or Award

Free transport, no force to work night shift: UP govt's new rules for women workforce

Free transport, no force to work night shift: UP govt's new rules for women workforce

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Review: flagship experience on a budget!

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE may be a little late to the value flagship party, but with a killer camera, the S-series experience and much more, it promises to offer a great experience.

A new year, a new Samsung. Or not really. It is 2022, but this is still the S21 FE, and it’s also launched right as we’re expecting the new S22 series. So, is it any good or is it too little, too late? Read on to find out in our Samsung Galaxy S21 FE full review.

Design

To start things off, let’s talk about the design, because it’s going to be the first thing that gets old, with the S22 series just around the corner.

The S21 FE looks to be in line with the rest of the S21 series, with these rounded metal sides and a vertical triple camera array on a flat back that’s made of plastic.

Now there has been quite a bit of talk around the fact that this back is plastic, but it’s honestly not all that surprising.

In fact, the Note20 from two years ago and the regular S21 from last year, both have a plastic back instead of glass like the rest of their respective series. So, seeing it here on the S21 FE is not out of the ordinary, it’s a decision that makes sense.

That being said, we do wish Samsung had used slightly better-quality plastic, this seems like it’s been taken right off of the Galaxy A72 or A52. It feels rather inexpensive to the touch, and makes hollow sounds in the middle. Still, as far as smartphones go, this is probably as durable a combination of materials as you’re going to get.

Despite the plastic back, the S21 FE does weigh a fair bit at 175g, and it’s fairly thick at 7.9mm. Still, it does look quite attractive in this Lavender colour, and if you’re into minimal designs, the S21 FE will probably look quite good to you.

Display

The screen here is a 6.4-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel, which is a fancy way of saying it's one of the best displays Samsung makes for smartphones, and it shows.

Colours are rich and crisp, there's HDR10 on offer, contrast levels are quite high and there's more than enough detail. There's not a single content watching scenario in which this phone will give you reason to complain, and even when it comes to scrolling through apps and the interface, the 120Hz refresh rate keeps everything looking smooth.

Bezels all around are also really slim, even though the bottom chin is a bit asymmetrical. Samsung practically pioneered the centre hole-punch and we're not surprised the S21 FE has kept in line with that part of the design too.

It's also worth noting that in terms of size, the S21 FE sits in between the regular S21 with its 6.2-inch screen and the S21+, with its 6.7-inch screen.

Rear Cameras

On the back, the S21 FE sports a triple camera setup that looks similar to its non-FE siblings, but with one major difference.

Instead of a 64MP telephoto, it gets an 8MP telephoto sensor. Still, it's good to see that it inherits the flagship-grade 12MP ultrawide and 12MP wide sensors.

Now as you'd expect, this camera system performs really very well, with almost no complaints.

Pictures taken in well-lit conditions look as good as a Samsung flagship can get, with vibrant colour reproduction, boosted shadows and punchy contrast. If you want attractive, colourful pictures for Instagram, the S21 FE will do the job and then some, without the need for filters and editing. There's also a lot of natural depth of field in images with the primary sensor, and in fact when photographing things slightly close up, you'll notice that there's a very shallow range of focus.
Now this isn't ideal when trying to capture details at smaller distances, but it does make for creamier bokeh without having to use the portrait mode.
Speaking of which, we thoroughly enjoyed the portrait mode while using the S21+ during our review, and the S21 FE offered similar results, with really solid edge detection.
When it comes to ultra-wide shots, there’s a bit of distortion around the edges, but the colour profile looks very similar to images from the main sensor, which is good to see. Details are also mostly sharp, but in certain situations with mixed lighting, grain can be noticed in darker areas of the frame.
Now that third sensor is for telephoto shots, which can take images at 3X Hybrid Optic Zoom, and go up to 30X digitally. This is less zoom than the S21+ and the S21 Ultra, but it’s still much better than what most competitors offer, especially when it comes to quality. Telephoto images at 3X are really sharp with lots of detail and accurate colours, but if you push past, to 10X or 30X, you can see a dip in quality.

In terms of video, the S21 FE can shoot at up to 4K at 60fps, but it’s worth noting that if you want to shoot at 60fps, that’s only possible with the main camera. If you want to use either the ultra-wide or telephoto sensors, you’ll have to lower your frame rate to 30fps, which is a shame. However, thanks to OIS on the main sensor, footage is well stabilised and free of camera shake and wobble.

When it comes to low-light photography, the S21 FE keeps up with the very best of them offering mostly noise-free, sharp, colour-accurate night shots. Even in really dark situations, images come out really well, with correctly exposed highlights and shadows.

Overall, with the rear camera, the S21 FE shows its pedigree, performing better than nearly all of its competitors at this price point.

Also watch: Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G Review: the A+ Flagship!

Front Camera

On the front, the S21 FE sports a high-resolution 32MP sensor, which is quite surprising since the S21 and S21+ get lower-resolution sensors.

The advantage of the high-res sensor is immediately visible, with crisp details and good colours in selfies taken both indoors and outdoors. Images in portrait mode also come out nicely with strong edge detection.

It’s worth noting that videos with the front camera can also be shot at up to 4K 60fps.

Performance

When it comes to performance, the S21 FE is fitted with the Exynos 2100 and 8GB RAM as standard. Now this is a bit of an odd choice considering the S20 FE sported a Snapdragon chip, even though the rest of the S21 series got an Exynos processor.

Still, this is not a complaint, because the Exynos 2100 is a very capable unit, and steams ahead through all tasks. Whether its graphic intensive gaming on Call of Duty Mobile or multi-tasking, there’s nothing that puts a dent in the S21 FE’s performance. Sure, it would have been nice to see a Game Booster mode, but the phone still holds its own in terms of mobile gaming with no dropped frames or lag throughout my usage, and no heating issues either.

Software

Now one advantage S21 FE users will have over users of the regular S21 series is that this one comes with Android 12 out of the box, which means it’ll receive up to one extra major software update.

Moreover, Android 12 means One UI 4, which we have previously reviewed, and features some great things like a Privacy Dashboard, resizable picture-in-picture and a system colour picker. You also get support for Wireless DeX, which is another advantage of this being an S-series device.

One UI is one of our favourite Android skins out there and runs a pretty clean ship, even though there are a few pre-installed apps.

Also watch: One UI 4: best new features!

Utility

On the utility front, the S21 FE gets a USB-C port, and a dual SIM card tray, but no microSD card expansion, which means if you’re buying it, you may need to opt for the 256GB storage variant.

There’s also an in-display optical fingerprint scanner which works fairly well, along with stereo speakers that get quite loud.

It’s worth mentioning that the S21 FE is IP68 rated against the elements, which is always a welcome addition on any smartphone.

Also watch: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G Review: the flagship to beat!

Battery

In terms of battery, the S21 FE packs in a respectable 4,500mAh unit which should easily last you through a day’s usage and supports wireless charging.
In our testing, we got well over a day’s worth of battery life, even with the refresh rate set to its maximum 120Hz.
Samsung only offers up to 25W fast charging on the S21 FE, and even removed the charging adaptor from the box, just like it did with the S21 flagships and Z series this year for sustainability reasons. We still managed to get from flat to full in around 90 minutes, but with competitors offering much faster charging speeds at both lower and higher price points, we're hoping Samsung ups its game with the new S22 series.

Verdict

So, to round up, the S21 FE is offering Android 12, the flagship S-series experience, excellent cameras and much more, at a suitable price of ₹54,999. It may be a little late to the party, but it's certainly more than enough, and possibly the best choice for the money.

Up Next

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Review: flagship experience on a budget!

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Review: flagship experience on a budget!

Vivo X80 Pro Review: best phone for content creation?

Vivo X80 Pro Review: best phone for content creation?

Samsung Galaxy M53 5G review: best phone under ₹27,000?

Samsung Galaxy M53 5G review: best phone under ₹27,000?

Realme GT 2 vs Realme GT Neo 3: Battle of the Value Flagships!

Realme GT 2 vs Realme GT Neo 3: Battle of the Value Flagships!

OnePlus Nord CE2 Lite 5G Review: Cheapest OnePlus Phone - Worth Buying?

OnePlus Nord CE2 Lite 5G Review: Cheapest OnePlus Phone - Worth Buying?

OnePlus Nord Buds Review: good bang for your buck?

OnePlus Nord Buds Review: good bang for your buck?

More videos

Realme GT 2 Review: it doesn't get much better than this!

Realme GT 2 Review: it doesn't get much better than this!

Realme GT NEO 3 Review: Fast and furious!

Realme GT NEO 3 Review: Fast and furious!

OnePlus Nord CE2 Lite 5G First Look: Affordable All-Rounder?

OnePlus Nord CE2 Lite 5G First Look: Affordable All-Rounder?

Galaxy M53 5G First Look: the mid-range monster!

Galaxy M53 5G First Look: the mid-range monster!

OnePlus 10 Pro Review: The Likeable Flagship

OnePlus 10 Pro Review: The Likeable Flagship

Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 Review: the ultimate 2-in-1 combo?

Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 Review: the ultimate 2-in-1 combo?

Samsung Galaxy A73 5G Review: A-series excellence!

Samsung Galaxy A73 5G Review: A-series excellence!

Oppo Enco Air2 Pro Review: best new ANC TWS earbuds under ₹5,000?

Oppo Enco Air2 Pro Review: best new ANC TWS earbuds under ₹5,000?

Oppo F21 Pro Review: microscope camera on a budget!

Oppo F21 Pro Review: microscope camera on a budget!

Realme GT 2 Pro Review: the most premium flagship under ₹50,000?

Realme GT 2 Pro Review: the most premium flagship under ₹50,000?

Editorji Technologies Pvt. Ltd. © 2022 All Rights Reserved.