What does Samsung’s new smartphone have in common with an R&B single from the Seventies? Like The O’Jays, Samsung knows you have to give the people what they want. And that’s exactly what it’s trying to do with the Galaxy S21 FE.
After the success of last year’s Galaxy S20 FE – or ‘Fan Edition’ – the follow-up model treads a finer line between affordable flagship and mid-range wingman to the full-fat Samsung Galaxy S21. It packs the same 5nm processor tech, the same 120Hz refresh rates and the same 12MP main camera as the headline handset, but at £699 ($699) it costs £70 ($100) less for the 128GB version.
And the similarities don’t stop there. Like the S21, the Fan Edition ships with 5G connectivity, 25W wired charging and a 1080p AMOLED display. The FE’s styling stays true to the S21, too: available in four familiar shades – lavender, white, olive and graphite – the S21 FE uses the same low-profile approach to the camera bump. Plus at 7.9mm, it’s identically slim.
To muddy the waters more, the S21 FE actually tops the S21 on several specs. It has a larger screen (6.4in versus 6.2in), a bigger battery (4500mAh versus 4000mAh) and a sharper selfie camera (32MP versus 8MP). And though the S21 offers 2GB extra RAM by default, the S21 FE can be configured with 8GB for £50 ($70) more. Which leaves the S21 with just a single trump card: its 64MP telephoto lens.
So while that £70 ($100) price saving should be a crowd-pleaser, it only makes the choice between the S21 and S21 FE trickier. The S20 FE was £200 ($300) cheaper than the equivalent S20, making it a clear-cut steal. But with such a narrow margin between the S21 and S21 FE, Samsung might not be doing a favour for indecisive fans.