Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G first impressions: Riding the wave

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S20 FE 5G have been huge successes for the company, so far Samsung has reportedly sold over 10 million units globally. Naturally, Samsung wants to continue riding this wave, and what better way to do so than by following them up with a new version.

Samsung just recently launched the Galaxy S21 FE 5G in India, a hotly anticipated smartphone that follows the same formula as before – offering the same flagship-level specifications and features as the premium S21 series, but Long after their launch and without the premium price of . Samsung sent us a unit for review, and while it’s on, here’s a glimpse of what you can expect from Samsung’s latest value flagships.

The premium experience starts with the packaging, which, like this phone’s sibling, is a simple, slim box. Inside, you find the phone, a USB Type-C to Type-C cable and a SIM eject tool. In modern flagship fashion, there’s no power adapter in the box, as was the case with last year’s FE model.

Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G, the Galaxy S21 FE 5G doesn’t change the game in any major way, mostly because the previous phone was already packed to the gills with features. Instead, we get some evolutionary changes such as the design and SoC.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G features a contour-cut design for the camera module, just like the Galaxy S21 series, but this part is made from plastic rather than metal and is not an extension of the frame. The back panel is also plastic but the display gets Gorilla Glass Victus for better scratch protection. The metal frame feels sturdy, and you’ll find the power and volume buttons on the right, and the USB port and dual-SIM tray on the bottom. There is no headphone jack.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G has an in-display fingerprint sensor

The S21 FE 5G is noticeably thinner at 7.9mm and certainly lighter at 177g compared to the Galaxy S20 FE 5G’s 190g. The graphite color unit I have makes the design a little boring, but thankfully there are bright colors like olive, lavender, and white too. The phone is available in two storage variants 128GB and 256GB, both of which have the same 8GB of RAM. However, the SIM tray isn’t the hybrid type that we saw on the Galaxy S20 FE 5G, which means you can’t expand the internal storage.

On the front, we have a big and bright 6.4-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate. The display is flat on all sides and also has relatively thin bezels. The cutout houses a 32-megapixel selfie camera and an in-display optical fingerprint sensor. The display looks great, in the short time I’ve used it with decent colors and sharpness. The fingerprint sensor also works well and the high refresh rate makes use feel fast.

The next big change is the SoC. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G features the Exynos 2100, which is the same chip found in Samsung’s flagship S21 series. We were expecting to see the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC in this variant of the phone sold in India, as some global variants have it, and especially since the Galaxy S20 FE 5G was based on the Snapdragon 865 SoC. Even so, the Exynos 2100 is still a flagship SoC and we’ll put it through its speeds in a full review.

On the software side, Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G comes with OneUI 4 based on Android 12. The new version has minor changes to the entire interface and menu, but overall, it looks and feels familiar.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G First Impressions Bundle Gadgets360 WW

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G’s barebones bundle shows the modern-day flagship unboxing experience

Many of the features of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G have been carried over to the Galaxy S21 FE 5G. There’s an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, stereo speakers, Samsung Pay with NFC, and Wireless DeX Mode. It also has the same battery capacity of 4,500mAh with 25W fast wired charging, 15W wireless charging and reverse wireless charging.

There is a similar story with cameras. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G has three rear cameras with the same resolution as the Galaxy S20 FE 5G. These are 12-megapixel primary, 12-megapixel ultra-wide, and 8-megapixel telephoto with 3X optical zoom. There’s still a lot to be tested, but so far the cameras seem pretty capable.

At first, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G doesn’t feel like a big step up over its predecessor, and from what I can tell so far, the only major changes seem to be the design and SoC. The removal of microSD card support is also a bit disappointing. The official prices of Galaxy S21 FE 5G are Rs. 54,999 for the 128GB variant and Rs. 58,999 if you want 256GB of storage but Samsung has announced a limited time cashback offer that starts at Rs. 5,000 off those prices if you use an HDFC Bank card, which makes the phone a bit more attractive. But how does the Galaxy S21 FE 5G stack up to its competitors, the biggest being the Galaxy S20 FE 5G? We’ll answer that and many other questions in our full review, so stay tuned.

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