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Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review: plenty on offer

A step below the flagship Galaxy S22 series in certain areas, but also significantly kinder to your bank account.

While the flagship Galaxy S22 phones might grab most of the headlines for Samsung in 2022, there’s plenty of value to be had from the company in terms of phones lower down on the price scale, and there’s no better example than the Galaxy S21 FE. It takes the best bits of the Galaxy S21 which was launched in 2021 and puts them in a more affordable package.

Even with its mid-range price, this is a phone that scores highly in whatever category you want to pick: performance, camera quality, design, screen, battery life, software, and more besides. You’re covered for 5G connectivity, you get full IP68 water and dust resistance, and there’s support for wired and wireless charging as well. It’s difficult to find any feature that this phone doesn’t have.

Design

That FE stands for Fan Edition, in case you were wondering. As with the Galaxy S20 FE before it, this is a handset that hits a less expensive price point without making too many compromises in terms of performance, style, or features – and that’s exactly what the best mid-range phones should do.

The phone is just 7.9 mm thick, and is light enough to be barely noticeable in a bag or a pocket. Samsung has managed to hit something of a sweet spot with the size of the Galaxy S21 FE, putting it midway between the gigantic flagships at one end and the compact, smaller phones like the iPhone SE at the other.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has curves and lines in all the right places, and is available in a choice of four fetching colours: white, grey, lavender and olive. We like the rounded bump that surrounds the rear camera, while on the front the display is only interrupted by a small punch hole cut out, up at the top in the centre of the screen.

Screens on Samsung phones always impress, as you would expect from a company that also makes monitors and television sets, and the vibrant 6.4-inch display on this phone is no different. It runs at a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels, and is always going to look fluid and crisp thanks to a 120Hz refresh rate.

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor like the Galaxy S21 before it, and that ensures all of your most important day-to-day smartphone tasks – like checking social media, playing games, and using maps to get from A to B – will be taken care of with aplomb.

Add in up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of internal storage, and this is a very well specced phone compared with many others in the mid-range category. While performance might not seem as important as it is when picking a laptop, you don’t want to have any lag when switching between apps and screens – and higher-end components also mean the Galaxy S21 FE is going to last you longer too.

Camera

For many of us, the quality of the photos and videos we can get our of our smartphones is a crucial consideration: whether you want to capture shots of the kids, the pets, or just the occasional landscape, it’s reassuring to know that the Galaxy S21 FE comes fitted with a triple-lens 12MP+12MP+8MP rear camera that has both ultrawide and 3x optical zoom capabilities for handling any scenario.

Samsung phone cameras have been getting better year after year, and that’s the case here too. Even in challenging conditions, including fast-moving subjects and low light scenes, the Galaxy S21 FE steps up to the mark and produces crisp, detailed, well-balanced shots. When it comes to selfies, they’re taken care of with a 32MP forward-facing camera.

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

A step below the flagship Galaxy S22 series in certain areas, but also significantly kinder to your bank account.

Good Stuff

Quality cameras

Plenty of power on offer

Bad Stuff

Dull colours

Only 25W charging

Tech specs

Screen6.4-inch 2400 x 1080 AMOLED
CPUSnapdragon 888
RAM6GB/8GB
Storage128GB/256GB
OSAndroid 12
Cameras12MP + 12MP + 8MP rear; 32MP front
Battery4500mAh
Dimensions155.7 mm x 74.5 mm x 7.9 mm – 177 grams