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Galaxy S21 FE vs S21 (2022): Is The Mid-Range Phone Worth The Hype?

With the announcement of the Galaxy S21 FE, Samsung’s lineup of mid-range phones continues to expand. The latest addition to the series includes several flagship specs shared with one of its predecessors โ€” the Galaxy S21. This might make things confusing, but while there are plenty of features in common, it’s easy to see where Samsung cut corners with the Galaxy S21 FE.

Is it worth getting the new mid-range Samsung Galaxy smartphone? Or, are you better off investing in the flagship S21 device? Read our article below to find out.ย 

Galaxy S21 FE vs S21 Smartphone Comparison Chart

ModelSamsung Galaxy S21 FE 5GSamsung Galaxy S21 5G
 Samsung Galaxy S21 5G | Factory Unlocked Android Cell Phone | US Version 5G Smartphone | Pro-Grade...
PriceCheck at Samsung.comCheck at Amazon
Display6.4 inches Dynamic AMOLED6.2 inches Dynamic AMOLED
Screen Refresh Rate120Hz120Hz
Resolution1080p x 2400p1080p x 2400p
BiometricsOptical fingerprint
Face recognition
Ultrasonic fingerprint
Face recognition
DurabilityCorning Gorilla Glass Victus, IP68Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, IP68
Front Camera32MP, f/2.210MP, f/2.2
Rear Camera12MP Ultrawide
12MP Wide-angle
8MP Telephoto
12MP Ultrawide
12MP Wide-angle
64MP Telephoto
AudioLoudspeaker, no 3.5mm jackLoudspeaker, no 3.5mm jack
Storage128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB
RAM6GB, 8GB8GB
Battery4,500 mAh4,000 mAh
Wireless ChargingYesYes
Fast ChargingYesYes
Includes ChargerNoNo
ConnectivityWiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, USB-CWiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, USB-C
ColorsOlive, Graphite, Lavender, WhitePhantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom White, Phantom Pink
Dimensions74.5 x 155.7 x 7.9mm71.2 x 151.7 x 7.9mm
Weight177g171g

Design and Display

The S21 FE model’s design makes it unmistakably part of the Galaxy S21 lineup.

Galaxy S21 FE vs S21 Design and Display
Here’s a look at the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE in Olive and the Galaxy S21 in Phantom Violet (right) image courtesy of GSMArena.

When Samsung released the Galaxy S20 FE back in 2020, it closely resembled the Galaxy S20 except for the curved screen. The Galaxy S21 FE, on the other hand, looks even more like the Galaxy S21 now that Samsung has ditched the edge-to-edge display. A curved screen is available only with the S21 Ultra.

Both the S21 FE and S21 feature a plastic back with a matte finish. Still, the mid-tier Samsung smartphone dazzles like its flagship counterpart, thanks to the Infinity-O AMOLED display and 120Hz screen refresh rate. The bezels are fairly minimal, too, lending the phone a sleek aesthetic. The S21 FE, however, sports a larger 6.4-inch display compared to the S21’s 6.2-inch panel.

Despite being bigger, the Galaxy S21 FE has the same thickness as the S21. Looking at the back, you’re getting the familiar camera bump that blends with the smartphone’s edge, too. The Galaxy S21 FE comes in four colors โ€” Olive, Graphite, Lavender, and White. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21 is available in Phantom White, Phantom Gray, Phantom Violet, and Phantom Pink.

Camera and Audio

The Galaxy S21 FE has the better selfie cam, while the Galaxy S21 has a higher resolution telephoto lens.

Galaxy S21 FE vs S21 Camera and Audio Comparison
Both the Galaxy S21 FE and S21 sport a triple-camera array on the back.

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 FE sports a triple-camera array. You get a 12MP ultra-wide camera and a 12MP f/1.8 wide-angle camera. The phone is also equipped with an 8MP telephoto lens. The Galaxy S21 comes with essentially the same setup, but with a higher-res 64MP telephoto camera with optical image stabilization. The S21 can also support 8K video recording, while the S21 FE maxes out at 4K UHD video recording at 60 fps. Both camera systems, however, are capable of 30x Space Zoom.

In front, the original S21 is equipped with a 10MP selfie camera. The Galaxy S21 FE, on the other hand, follows the Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy A52 with its 32MP selfie camera. Both modules support HDR, with the S21 doing the S21 FE better, thanks to the auto-HDR feature. When it comes to audio, you’re getting more or less the same setup with stereo loudspeakers. There’s no 3.5mm jack on either device as well. Samsung’s Galaxy S21, however, enjoys AKG-tuned 32-bit/384kHz audio.

Performance

While both phones come with the same processor, the extra RAM on the S21’s base model makes it speedier than the S21 FE.

Galaxy S21 FE vs S21 Performance
Samsung’s S21 smartphones feature a powerful processor for work and play.

Given their comparable design, camera, and audio features, what makes the S21 the flagship phone? Well, the main difference between Samsung’s midrange and premium phones is usually found inside. The 128GB model of the Galaxy S21 FE, for instance, comes with 6GB of RAM. For a similar storage configuration, the Galaxy S21 gives you 8GB instead. Expect the latter, then, to provide a speedier performance.

But that’s mostly about it. The S21 FE boasts the same 5nm Snapdragon 888 chipset as the S21. Both devices max out at 256GB of storage, too, with no option for expandable memory. In terms of durability, Samsung has made sure these handsets are IP68-certified. They also get Corning Gorilla Glass Victus for added protection.

Battery Life and Other Features

The Galaxy S21 FE gets the same connectivity features as the S21, but with bigger battery life.

Galaxy S21 FE vs S21 Battery Life and Other Features
Samsung has equipped the Galaxy S21 FE with a bigger battery compared to its predecessor.

With the Galaxy S21 FE comes a bigger battery. Samsung’s mid-tier device boasts a 4500 mAh battery that translates to about 79h hours of audio playback. In contrast, the Galaxy S21 has a much smaller 4000 mAh battery. Like many of today’s smartphones, the S21 FE offers fast, wireless, and reverse charging. Keep in mind, however, that like its flagship siblings, it doesn’t come with a charger in the box.

In terms of biometrics, you get the same features on the Galaxy S21 FE and S21. Both phones offer face recognition. They also get fingerprint authentication, although the S21 uses a faster ultrasonic fingerprint unlock compared to the S21 FE’s optical tech.

In keeping with Samsung’s expanding ecosystem, the S21 FE ships with Android 12 using the new One UI 4.0 skin. Meanwhile, its 5G options (Sub6 and mmWave) and dual-band WiFi are both carried from the S21 lineup.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is a full-featured alternative to the Galaxy S21.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Best for those on a budget

Samsung Galaxy S21

Best for upgraded performance

Releasing mid-range phones is not new to Samsung. Aside from the Galaxy A Series lineup, it’s also launched the Galaxy S20 FE before. The difference now with the Galaxy S21 FE is that the gap between mid-tier and flagship is no longer as vast. Yes, you miss out on some features with the more affordable phone. The compromises, however, aren’t as felt in terms of the performance. Of course, this translates to a smaller price difference between the Galaxy S21 FE and Galaxy S21. But if you’d rather save $100 on an almost-flagship phone, then the price point of the S21 FE should be worth it.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ What’s the difference between the Galaxy S21 FE and the Galaxy S21?

The Galaxy S21 FE is a mid-range but full-featured alternative to the Galaxy S21. It comes with a larger 6.4-inch screen compared to the S21’s 6.2-inch panel. The Galaxy S21 FE also comes with a higher-res selfie camera, while the S21 features a better telephoto lens.

๐Ÿ“Œ When is the Galaxy S21 FE release date?

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is available starting January 11, 2022.

๐Ÿ“Œ What is the Galaxy S21 FE price?

Samsung shares that the Galaxy S21 FE will be priced at $699.

๐Ÿ“Œ Does the Galaxy S21 have a curved screen?

No, the Galaxy S21 does not have a curved screen. Instead, it uses a flat Infinity-O display. The curved screen is only available on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.