Rumored and leaked for some time now, the Galaxy S21 FE 5G is the "Fan Edition" of the Galaxy S21. The S21 FE 5G takes the best of the S21 and gives it the upgrades that, err, fans are supposedly asking for like a larger screen, higher resolution selfie camera, and a larger battery — with a lower price starting at $699.99 ($100 less than the S21) when it launches on January 11.
"Fan features" — The S20 FE was a surprise hit last year thanks to its affordable price and robust set of features pulled from the S20. The S21 FE 5G looks to repeat the successful formula again.
Like the S21, the S21 FE 5G is made of plastic with an aluminum frame. The S21 FE 5G has a slightly larger 6.4-inch 120Hz AMOLED display compared to the S21's 6.2-inch screen; the resolution is the same on both phones (2,400 x 1,080).
The phone's got the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G chip and comes in the following RAM and storage configurations: 6GB RAM + 128GB storage or 8GB RAM + 128 / 256GB storage. Samsung didn't bring back the microSD card slot or the headphone jack — womp womp. An in-display fingerprint reader is embedded under the screen.
Sharper selfies — As far as I can tell, the S21 FE 5G's main wide lens is the same 12-megapixel shooter on the S21 with Dual Pixel PDAF and OIS. The 12-megapixel ultrawide lens should be pretty similar, too. The telephoto is the only lens that got a downgrade: 8 megapixels versus 64 megapixels on the S21. Not a big loss for most people to be honest. The S21 FE 5G's triple-lens camera system tops out at 4K / 60 fps for video instead of 8K / 24 fps, but again, not a major loss.
However, the front-facing selfie camera is 32 megapixels; the S21 only has a 10-megapixel selfie camera.
Bigger battery — On Android phones, a larger capacity battery equals longer battery life. Samsung crammed a 4,500 mAh battery into the S21 FE 5G, which puts it right in between the S21 (4,000 mAh) and S21+ (4,800 mAh).
The S21 FE 5G still fast charges at 25W; supports 15W fast wireless charging; and can reverse charge other devices at 4.5W.
New camera tricks — The S21 FE 5G ships with Samsung’s Android 12-based One UI 4. Solid hardware aside, the S21 FE 5G's appeal might come down to the new camera software features. There's an improved night mode that supposedly takes advantage of AI multi-frame processing (up to 14 shots) to improve low-light image quality, iPhone-like studio lighting effects for portrait mode, a dual-recording mode that lets you record with both the front and rear camera at the same time (with picture-in-picture or split view), new AI that supposedly uses a "deep-learning solution" to improve details like "eyebrow, hair, and lips" texture, a "zoom lock" feature that improves stabilization at a higher zoom, and object eraser tool that's similar to the magic eraser feature on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.