our handling of the high-end smartphone

We were able to take charge of the new Galaxy S21 FE that Samsung has just made official. Obviously, a full test will follow very quickly, but here’s what to get a first idea of ​​the qualities and faults of the most affordable smartphone in the Galaxy S range.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Rumored for months, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE finally points to the end of his screen. The cheapest smartphone in the current Galaxy S range has just been officially unveiled by the South Korean brand, and we were able to take it in hand during a one-hour session organized in the heart of Paris. Are the many speculations about it finally true? Will he meet all your expectations and, while waiting for a full test, did we fall for him on first contact? The answer lies in this complete grip of the S21 FE.

But before we start, let’s remember that the Galaxy S21 FE succeeds the S20 FE released in October 2020. More than a year and three months have passed since Samsung launched an FE model in the Galaxy S range (the S20 FE has therefore was the first to bear this denomination). While it should have been released in the fall of 2021, the S21 FE saw its launch delayed by more than 3 months. Why such a delay? Although Samsung has not officially spoken on the subject, there is no doubt that the current component shortage has something to do with it.

Therefore, the device takes advantage of an SoC dating from 2021, the 5G compatible Snapdragon 888. The smartphone comes out in a difficult context, not to mention that the S22 range should be announced in a few weeks. In short, it may be difficult for him to stand out.

Fiches techniques : Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S21 FE

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
Screen 6,5″Super AMOLED 120 Hz 6,4″Super AMOLED 120 Hz
SoC Exynos 990 or Snapdragon 865 Snapdragon 888
RAM 6 or 8 Go 6 or 8 Go
Storage 128/256 Go
+ microSDXC
128/256 Go
+ microSDXC
Rear photo sensors ―― 12 MP angle (f / 1.8)
– 12 MP ultra grand angle (f/2.2)
– 8 MP telephoto (f / 2.0)
―― 12 MP angle
– 12 MP ultra grand-angle
– optical zoom x3 8 MP
Secondary photo sensor 32 MP
Connectivity Bluetooth, WiFi, 4G, 5G Bluetooth, WiFi, 5G
Fingerprint sensor Under the screen Under the screen
Drums 4500 mAh 4500 mAh

The S21 FE inherits the S21 design, with a few details

When we discover the S21 FE, it is impossible not to compare the S21. We find there the same rear island intended to accommodate the 3 photo sensors, and the same punch on the front for taking selfies. The S21 FE inherited the unique back design of the S21, and that’s okay with us. This was one of the things we appreciated when we tested the smartphone almost a year ago. On the other hand, and unlike the S21, the device does not benefit from two tones at the rear, as was the case with the Phantom Violet model.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

In terms of color, the S21 FE is available in four editions: black, green, white or purple. Appreciable point of the back of the device: thanks to its matt coating, it does not take fingerprints. It is only on the all-black edition that we can observe from time to time the marks left by the fingerprints. On other colors, you no longer need to constantly pull out a cloth or clean your smartphone with your t-shirt (who doesn’t?).

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

On the front, we have a 6.4 ″ screen. The device therefore benefits from a larger screen than that of the S21 (which is 6.2 ″), but smaller than that of the S21 + (which is 6.7 ″). And if we had to compare it to the S20 FE released last year, it should be noted that its size has been reduced by 0.1 ″. Not enough to change the face of the world, but we appreciate the fact that Samsung is targeting more and more those who favor small formats.

Still regarding the panel of the device, the S21 FE benefits from a refresh rate of 60 or 120 Hz. However, note that it is not adaptive. As a consequence, sometimes one must be adjusted, sometimes the other to prolong the life of the battery. Finally, there is the fingerprint sensor in the screen, a proven technology that has been enjoyed since the Galaxy S10.

A Soc that we already know from every angle

The Galaxy S21 FE is available in the following two configurations:

  • 128 GB of storage and 6 GB of RAM = 759 €
  • 256 GB of storage and 8 GB of RAM = 829 €

On the computing power side, the device is equipped with a Snapdragon 888. Rather, this is excellent news, since the device is available this year in only one version. Samsung has therefore definitely abandoned the idea of ​​offering two editions, as was the case with the S20 FE, which sometimes benefited from a Snapdragon 865 with 5G, sometimes from an Exynos 990 in 4G only. Not easy for the dilettante buyer to navigate, even if the bill suffers. This year, we no longer benefit from a € 659 model.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

What about the performance of the device? We hardly had time to clean the device during our (short) handling session. On the other hand, as one would expect, the device seems to respond to the quarter turn. The Snapdragon 888 has already given all its secrets anyway, since it is the same SoC that we find on the Mi 11 from Xiaomi, the OnePlus 9 or the Find X3 Pro from Oppo. In short, even if the SoC will be beaten by the all new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, we can already expect high-level results. It remains just to be seen if it does not heat too much, a criticism that we have been able to make with many smartphones equipped with the Snapdragron 888.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Finally, a word about autonomy: the device is compatible with the charge rapide 25 W and the charge à induction 15 W. Like the S20 FE, it benefits from 4500 mAh battery. Even if the SoC has changed, it should not be more greedy than was the Snapdragon 865. We can therefore expect results equivalent to those we had obtained with the S20 FE, namely between one day and a day and a half depending on the settings used for the screen refresh rate.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

No real surprise for the photo part

In terms of shooting possibilities, the S21 FE does not stand out from the S20 FE released in October 2020. The rear has a configuration identical to that of its predecessor:

  • a 12 MP wide-angle sensor (dual pixel)
  • a 12 MP ultra-wide-angle sensor as well
  • 8 MP telephoto lens with x3 optical and x30 digital zoom
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Look no further: the photo possibilities are exactly the same as those of the S20 FE. Even the selfie sensor of the S21 FE is the same as the one offered on the old model since it has the following configuration:

In short, do not expect to purchase a photophone with the S21 FE. The device should do its job properly, without reaching the level of a Pixel 6, which is sold 100 euros cheaper.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Our first opinion on the S21 FE

When we got started, we quickly found the comfort and power of use of the Galaxy S range. A positive point is also to be noted: this is the first Samsung device marketed by default with Android 12 , as well as with the very latest in-house interface, One UI 4.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Lightweight and stylish, the device has it all on paper. It benefits from innovations that are almost essential today, such as impeccable firepower (thanks to the Snapdragon 888!), A 120 Hz Super AMOLED screen or a fingerprint sensor under the screen. On the other hand, we may regret that it comes out so late. For comparison, the S21 can be found at less than 650 euros on promotion. So certainly, the device pulsates with the help of an Exynos 2100, a little less powerful than the Snapdragon 888, but we gain a 64 MP telephoto lens (against 8 MP for the S21 FE). If fans of compact smartphones will also appreciate the smaller size of the S21, it is above all the price difference of 100 euros between the two devices that can make all the difference. Of course, we will wait until we have the smartphone for a long time to give us a full opinion on the matter.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
On the left the S21 and on the right the S21 FE.

Finally, note that during the launch period, which runs from 01/04/2022 to 02/08/2022, Samsung is offering a pair of headphones, the Galaxy Buds 2. Value of small accessories: 149 euros. A significant bonus, especially the headphones we really liked during our full test. What also significantly reduce the invoice if you do not want to keep them and resell them later.

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