OPINION: After months of leaks, teases and even rumours of complete cancellation, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S21 FE this week at CES 2022.
I’ve been using the phone for a week or so now and I like it; I also think lots of other people who buy it will like it too. Samsung makes some of the best phones and the S21 FE fits that bill in a few areas. The screen is fast and sharp, the processor nippy and the cameras reliable.
Yet, it feels very much like a phone that should have come out last summer – a year on from the original S20 FE. The reported hefty delay that pushed the S21 FE into 2022 means that some features aren’t arriving with the buzz they would have done before.
The processor, for example, is the Snapdragon 888. If the S21 FE arrived last summer, this would have been a flagship chipset. Now though it’s been replaced by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see phones launch with that silicon very soon that are the same price, or even cheaper, than Samsung’s effort. These will likely come from Realme, Xiaomi and OnePlus.
Then there’s the camera. Around the back you’ve got the same main camera from the S21, plus an ultra wide and tele camera. The pictures taken with the main 12-megapixel camera are good: bright, detailed and typically vivid like all Samsung’s phones. Yet, they’re not anywhere near as good as the snaps from the Pixel 6 – a phone that was released in October 2021 and costs £100 less than the S21 FE.
Having used both of these phones, I think I would recommend Google’s effort over Samsung’s to everyone except possibly those who can’t live without a 120Hz display.
And then there’s the Galaxy S22
Launching the Galaxy S21 FE now means that it’s coming out just a month before leaks have suggested Samsung will announce its next flagship range – the Galaxy S22. This is odd timing, and it might give the impression to buyers that the S21 FE is now outdated.
For me, the best approach would have been to turn the Galaxy S21 FE into an S22 FE and position it as the more affordable entry in the S22 line up alongside the regular S22, S22 Plus and the high-end Ultra model. This would give the S22 range broader price appeal, and allow the S21 line to be fully replaced rather than keep it around in a slightly confusing manner.
There have been so far no rumours surrounding the Galaxy S22 FE and at this stage we don’t know if one is in the works. As such, we don’t know whether it’ll keep the January release window or revert to the summer launch of the first iteration.
As I said before, the Galaxy S21 FE is a good phone, but its bizarre release timing makes it a little bit confusing.