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Samsung S21 FE 5G smartphone review – the greatest hits in one device

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  • VERDICT

With the Galaxy S21 5G, Samsung has delivered an attractive device that ticks all the boxes and offers a superb experience across the board.

The Samsung has packed in all our favourite features into the Galaxy S21 FE 5G – an attractive smartphone that’s suited to a wide range of users.

The S21 FE 5G was announced during the Consumer Electronics Show in early January – a month before the launch of the Galaxy S22.

That says to us the Samsung is offering customers the best of last year’s tech in a single device for those who don’t want a more affordable smartphone but still a high-quality set of features.

Think of the Galaxy S21 FE 5G like Samsung Mobile’s greatest hits album. If you don’t want to wait for the next album – you can be happy with this one.

DESIGN

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a nice look and feel. It’s just 7.9mm thick so it’s easy to always have it in your pocket.

It has a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate which makes your videos, apps and games look smoother.

There’s also a hole-punch at the top centre of the screen to make way for the 32-megapixel selfie camera.

The rear panel has a smooth matte finish, so it won’t be littered with fingerprints and it’s available in four colours – graphite, white, lavender and olive. For our review we received the olive version.

On the back is the camera system that merges smoothly with the rear panel – certainly less pronounced than the more expensive Galaxy S21’s prominent bump.

Unlike previous Galaxy S smartphones, the S21 FE 5G has a flat screen – no curved edges here – and very thin bezels so it looks like the screen goes edge.

CAMERA

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G has a triple camera system which is made up of 12-megapixel ultra-wide, 12-megapixel wide and 8-megapixel telephoto with a 30x digital zoom.

The camera does produce some remarkable images and can shoot 4K video.

To be frank, there are several more affordable Android smartphones which offer more cameras and more megapixels.

Image taken with the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G

But more megapixels doesn’t always mean better image quality and we found the S21 FE 5G’s camera took sharp images with accurate and lifelike colour.

Image taken with the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G

And the fact that the device has a 32-megapixel front selfie camera should tell you who the S21 FE 5G is aimed at – young, savvy users who don’t mind take pictures of themselves and their friends.

Portrait selfie taken with the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G

And the selfies look amazing. You can also shoot in portrait mode through the front camera and choose a wider angle to fit more of your friends in the shot of more of landmark you’re standing in front of.

PERFORMANCE

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is powered by an octa-core processor with the Exynos 2100 chipset with 6GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage. There’s also a 256GB variant with 8GB RAM.

Unfortunately, there is no expandable memory slot, so you’ll have to lean on your cloud storage to access all your data, files, photos and videos.

It is also running the latest Android 12 operating system.

On the security side, the S21 FE 5G also has an in-screen fingerprint reader that works fast and unlocks the device in an instant.

And, of course, the S21 FE 5G is also 5G compatible so you can access any of the telco’s 5G networks which are growing week by week.

Having 5G gives users faster access to their content as they stream or download.

BATTERY

Onboard the S21 FE 5G is a 4,500mAh battery which got us to the end of the day quite easily when we were using the phone as our daily driver.

We’ve seen better performance, but it’s certainly still holds its own.

The fact it’s powering a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate is a factor especially if you’re watching a lot of videos with the display at full or high brightness.

Small adjustments here can pay off with more battery life at the end of the day.

PRICE

The Samsung S21 FE 5G is priced at $999 for the 128GB model and $1,099 for the 256GB variant.

If you have no loyalty to the Samsung brand, there are a few other cheaper Android options that have similarly sized displays and equally powerful camera systems.

But the Samsung S21 FE 5G is a great all-in-one package that has more consistently high-quality features across the board rather than one or two tentpole features and mediocre extras.

VERDICT

With the Galaxy S21 5G, Samsung has delivered an attractive device that ticks all the boxes and offers a superb experience across the board.