[i2pc pros_icon=”icon icon-thumbs-up” cons_icon=”icon icon-thumbs-down” show_title=”false” title=”Pros & Cons” show_button=”false” pros_title=”Pros” cons_title=”Cons” heading_pros_icon=”icon icon-thumbs-down” ][i2pros]Grandiose AMOLED display
Extensive equipment & many software features
Very good photos and videos with all cameras
Good stereo speakers
NFC, QI charging IP68 protection class[/i2pros][i2cons]Mediocre battery life
Plastic & not premium on the outside
Slow charging times (25 watts)
No scope of the delivery
Slow fingerprint sensor[/i2cons][/i2pc]
Just like its predecessor, the so-called Fan Edition comes onto the market with a respectable difference in terms of time and technology compared to the Samsung Galaxy S21 series: In return, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE offers premium hardware with a few compromises at a lower price. In the practical test, the new smartphone has to prove whether it deserves the title “flagship killer.” I have been able to spend 15 days using this Samsung Galaxy S21 FE as my main mobile, and here I am going to tell you all my experiences so that you can discover the good and the bad about this terminal.
Before we start, I just want to give a quick review of its most outstanding basic features. On the one hand, there is the screen (spoiler: it is wonderful) with 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X technology and FullHD + resolution. Inside, Samsung bets on Qualcomm and the Snapdragon 888 chip, which not only gives a very good performance but also connects us to 5G networks. I will talk about the 12-megapixel cameras that it integrates, both for the main lens and for the ultra-wide angle. And towards the end of this review, you’ll get a lengthy commentary on its meager 4,500mAh battery and disappointing fast charging.
I already told you, by way of advance, that this Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is a mobile of contrasts. Something that has pleasantly surprised me in some situations and has ruined my experience in many others. I will tell you in detail below:
The new fan edition hardly changes on the outside. As with the S22 series, the camera unit now curves into the frame and is integrated more unobtrusively into the back. Otherwise, only the three buttons on the right are slightly different, and the SIM slot moves from the top to the bottom. The Galaxy S21 FE is only available in four colors. The classic dark version is in dark gray “graphite”, white with a silver frame, light purple “lavender” and our version in green “olive”. The frame and the back are always matte.
The dimensions of 155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9 millimeters and the weight of 177 grams are positive. Because the Galaxy S21 FE is not only light but also compact, The edges around the 6.4-inch display are also surprisingly narrow, which makes the S21 FE pleasant to use. The S21 FE is officially certified according to IP68 and is therefore dustproof and waterproof. The camera unit protrudes almost a millimeter from the back, but this is hardly noticeable thanks to the curve.
The individual sensors are protected again by protruding, shiny rings. The metal power button and volume rocker are on the right of the frame, and the SIM slot, main speaker, and a USB-C 3.1 port, which also supports Samsung’s DeX, are at the bottom. There is a microphone at the top and bottom of the smartphone.
In general, Samsung does not currently do any design experiments with the flagships and does without the angular frame. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is chic and I really like the color olive. In addition, it remains nicely inconspicuous with the matte plastic and the integrated camera unit. The case is a compromise of the Fan Edition, but it doesn’t necessarily do justice to the price range. The transitions from the metal frame to the plastic back and the 2.5D rounded display are not seamless, and the hollow noise when “knocking” does not work well.
It doesn’t matter, because you use the device in a protective cover anyway. At least that’s what I thought, and the first choice from the official range was unfortunately not a good choice. The Clear Standing Cover features a hinged metal stand at the back that allows the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE to be placed horizontally or vertically on the table. Unfortunately, the cover is so thick that the swipe-back gesture is hardly executable. Without a case, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE feels metallic in the hand, and the matte back is also pleasant to the touch. The S21 FE can also claim the attributes of being compact and light itself.
We can keep it short here because the scope of delivery is outrageous to the customer in this price range! In addition to the smartphone, the package only includes a USB-C cable, a SIM needle, and the usual slips of paper. No charger, no protective silicone case, and not even a screen protector. This is very disappointing for customers.
With Samsung, the built-in display is always one of the highlights of the device, and with the Galaxy S21 FE, you also get the usual perfectly happy package. Only the variable refresh rate (LTPO) and, depending on taste, a curved display are missing. Both are definitely forgivable at the current price, but definitely worth mentioning.
Almost the same display is used as in the predecessor: the AMOLED panel measures 6.4 inches. With a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels in 19.5:9 format, it is now a little less long. It is, of course, sufficiently sharp with a pixel density of 402 pixels per inch. The unnecessarily high Quad-HD resolution is reserved exclusively for the S21 Ultra this year.
With a refresh rate of 120 Hertz, the eye is presented with an excellently smooth image. In the settings, you can turn it down to 60 Hertz in battery emergencies. The capacitive touchscreen works with a sampling rate of 240 Hertz and accepts inputs excellently. The front is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus, on which the thumb glides super. The maximum brightness can be increased manually to up to 730 lux, and the AMOLED achieves up to 1400 lux in sunlight.
You will have no problems reading the display outdoors. The black frame around the panel is elegantly narrow and measures 2mm left and right, 1.5mm at the top, and the chin is 3mm thick. The central punch hole notch for the front camera measures 4mm in diameter.
Software: The One UI 4.1 offers all sorts of options and features for the display. Of course, this includes the terminable dark mode, an adjustable eye comfort mode, and an always-on display that lights up in five modes (always, as planned, on tap, or only for notifications) and is customizable. The fan edition of the Samsung Galaxy S21 is operated with the typical on-screen buttons or swipe gestures. The optional side panel offers space for quick access to apps and functions.
By default, the color is set to “Vivid”, with significantly richer colors. The white balance can be calibrated in five steps. The “natural” profile offers a less wide color space but a very accurate representation. The font size can be set at 8 levels and the display size (“screen zoom”) at 5 sizes. The AMOLED displays corresponding HDR content with the support of HLG, HDR10, and HDR10+ and of course, also streams media from well-known providers (Netflix and Amazon Prime tested) thanks to Widevine L1. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE can fully convince in the display category.
The predecessor was initially equipped with an unloved Exynos 990 processor in the 4G version, while only the 5G variant offered the Snapdragon 865. The new model in this country or in the USA gets the Snapdragon 888. A model with an Exynos 2100 is probably still available in some regions, but not here.
In our Samsung S21 FE, the Snapdragon 888 will still provide more than enough computing power in 2022. Although it is still based on the old ARM architecture and does not quite come close to the computing power and efficiency of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, you also save on the price. As of now, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE plays every 3D game on the highest settings and even supports titles with up to 120FPS.
In the benchmarks, the Samsung smartphone performs as expected from the Snapdragon 888. However, other manufacturers get even more out of the former top processor. The Octa Core is manufactured using the 5nm process. Everyday tasks are handled wonderfully and smoothly thanks to the fast Cortex X1 Prime Core, and the Adreno 660 GPU offers sufficient graphics performance.
The Fan Edition of the Samsung Galaxy S21 has either 6/128GB or 8/256GB of memory available. In the benchmark, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE only achieves a clock rate of 9 GB/s — that’s actually too slow, and in practice, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE will probably perform better. The system memory is connected via UFS 3.1 and reads data at 1670 MB/s and writes it at 750 MB/s. However, the internal memory cannot be expanded via a microSD card. That was still possible with the S20 FE.
The Snapdragon 888 is known to us as a “hothead,” and hardly any smartphone manages to keep the processor so cool that it can access maximum performance over a longer period of time. With the Galaxy S21 FE, I would even say that Samsung throttles the performance a bit (see the lower benchmark results), so that the performance reduction is not that severe.
When gaming with the smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE does not get warmer than 40 degrees on the outside after an hour (top right). The CPU unit reduces its performance to almost 85% after 10 minutes of the stress test. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE still maintains its level after 25 minutes. That’s totally fine. However, the Adreno GPU breaks down more clearly in the graphics benchmark and reduces the performance to 65% after 20 minutes.
The thermal throttling is annoying, but not a big issue in practice. During the test phase, I dedicated myself extensively to the new Diablo Immortal and was able to fight my way through the dungeons even after an hour on the highest graphics settings.
We reached a section that was really confronting in my experience of its use. Perhaps I am a bit fussy about cameras, but I especially notice if I like the camera and the results offered by mobile because I use it more often. And yes, I have taken this Samsung Galaxy S21 FE for a walk and I have portrayed many details and elements. Although it continues to drag Samsung’s scourge on the subject of image processing.
I mean that the main camera and even the ultra-wide angle of this phone, both with 12-megapixel sensors, do their job. And they perform generally well in almost any situation. Obviously, the more light and the more natural, the more surprisingly good the results are, with colors that are vivid and oversaturated, but that make any scene look more attractive. The problem appears when the light disappears.
Or when we use too much zoom and enlarge to see the result. For some reason, Samsung still uses photo processing that, in detail, looks like it has been painted with watercolors. with color stains. The result is a coarse photo that you can only use without zooming or cropping. As soon as you enlarge, that colorful, defined, and vibrant image is a photo with little detail that belies all the framing and color work.
Thus, in general, I have enjoyed the definition and colors of the photos with their different lenses on sunny days or with powerful artificial lights. Even at night, the general result is good, although with quite a few elements coming from light sources. But they save the day, even in portrait mode with a good crop. Whether you’re taking a photo of someone else, or even a dog, or yourself with the selfie camera, what I said: the frame and shoot well because as soon as you enlarge or cut, the definition will go out the window.
In terms of video, it is more than correct. It is noted that Samsung has done its homework so that content creators can use their mobile phones. Good definition with light and the possibility of recording 60 frames in 4K with good stabilization are the hallmarks of this mobile. But I was also surprised by the ability of the Portrait Video mode. Something similar to Apple’s cinematographic mode to apply bokeh to video, saving many differences. It is very correct in trimming with different elements. It also comes with four filters to create even more attractive content. Of course, you always need a face in the frame to apply this blur effect in real-time.
You no longer have the choice between a 4G and a 5G version with the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, but the new network standard is also a must in this price range. The SIM slot accepts two Nano SIM cards for dual SIM support at the same time. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is ideally positioned globally and transmits on the LTE, 4G, and 5G networks. It also supports all frequencies relevant in Bangladesh. The SAR values are 0.95 W/kg head and 1.48 W/kg body.
VoLTE and VoWiFi are available for telephoning. A second noise-canceling microphone does a good job on the go. With a decent ear speaker, it is easy to make calls with the fan edition of the Samsung S21. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE also offers stereo sound with the upper hybrid speaker. This is not visible under the display but is hardly quieter than the lower main speaker.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE sounds best at around half the volume. At 30%, which is pleasant for media use, the bass/volume is a bit flat. At high volume, however, the sound is somewhat distorted. Overall, you get a very decent stereo sound with the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.
The local WLAN network is accessed via WiFi 6. The connection to the router is stable and it didn’t switch to the slower 2.4 GHz networks even a few meters away from our apartment. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE connects to other devices via Bluetooth 5.0. LDAC and aptX are available for corresponding headphones. Samsung allows two output devices to be supplied with sound at the same time. Of course, you can also use NFC for mobile payments. Unfortunately, you get Samsung Pay again, but you can deactivate the quick selection.
For navigation, the satellites GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo, and QZSS are supported. An e-compass is also available. The exact location is determined with an accuracy of 3 meters in less than 10 seconds, even without dual-band GPS. When navigating via Android Auto, everything worked perfectly as usual.
An optical fingerprint sensor is used under the AMOLED panel, which is placed quite far down. The unlocking speed is absolutely satisfactory, but the accuracy isn’t. It either works for me right away or (too) badly. It also didn’t help me to save my thumb several times as a fingerprint. Alternatively, face unlocking can be set up using the front camera. However, to unlock the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, you have to wake it up with the power button or by double-tapping the display. As usual, Samsung lags behind the competition when it comes to unlocking options. Unfortunately,
The battery in the Samsung Galaxy S21 Fan Edition measures 4500mAh, and the capacity is therefore slightly below what the competition offers.
The battery life is slightly below that of other Snapdragon 888 smartphones. The OnePlus 9 Pro lasts just as long with a slightly larger display at 120Hz/1080p, and the Xiaomi 11T Pro, with a 5000mAh battery, manages over an hour longer. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE just cracks the 10-hour mark in the PC Mark battery benchmark (calibrated to 200 lux). At least 12.5 hours are possible if you screw down the refresh rate to 60 Hertz. In the streaming test via YouTube (200 lux, full HD videos, speakers approx. 30%), the device uses 12% of the battery per hour.
With normal use, you should achieve a good 6 hours of active usage time with the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. In my practical time with the smartphone, however, I couldn’t make ends meet for two days. The battery should be enough for most people for a day. But if the day is characterized by intensive smartphone use, you will have problems. Because charging takes a little longer…
Charging times With a maximum of 25 watts, you can’t really speak of “quick charging”. If you buy the charger additionally (or already have it at home), you can charge the fan edition of the Samsung S21 from 0% to 100% in just under an hour and a half. In between (20 to 80% battery), 30% migrates to the battery in 20 minutes.
With a Power Delivery power supply, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE reaches 18 watts and is fully charged in 1 hour and 35 minutes. In between, you charge from 10% to 50% in 40 minutes. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE can also be charged wirelessly at up to 15 watts via QI wireless charging. In between, you reload 25% every 40 minutes.
Even if the loading process takes a relatively long time, the One UI at least shows the remaining loading time in minutes until the cell phone is fully charged. The smartphone provides energy to other devices with reverse wireless charging, for example, the TWS in-ears.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has been on the market for a few months now and is usually available unofficially for under 56,000 Tk. At this price, the smartphone can definitely be recommended as a complete package because, as an “almost flagship,” it basically offers a flawless complete package.
If you are looking for the following properties, then the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is a price-performance alternative: you like Samsung’s System One UI; you like to use all the camera sensors/functions on the smartphone, and you appreciate the waterproof housing. But the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE offers little progress compared to the Galaxy S20 FE, and the “flagship with compromises” category in the 55,000 Tk range is more competitive than it was last year.
If we leave out the asking prices of the real flagships, then the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has to assert itself against the Xiaomi 12X, the Realme GT 2, and the Realme GT Neo 3. Here, each alternative has its individual benefits, but the price will be the deciding factor.