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    Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

    Maybe you are a fan of spending less money on larger screens. In that case, the Galaxy S21 FE may be your better option if you don’t want premium features such as 8K video recording and a fully variable refresh rate display.

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    Source: Samsung

    Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

    Due to the Galaxy S21 being over a year old now, it’s easy to find deals on the phone, making it the better choice for most people. Yes, the screen isn’t quite as large, but it doesn’t make compromises and is still a very capable flagship.


We all know the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to flagship Android phones; however, its price can turn a lot of people to slightly older devices to save some money. Enter the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 FE. Sure they may be yesterday’s news to a lot of people, but both phones are still very capable daily drivers.

If you are in the market for a new compact phone with flagship-like specs, but this year’s models don’t appeal to you, should you buy the Galaxy S21 or go for the Fan Edition? While both phones are very similar in some aspects — especially on the surface — they differ in key areas that may sway you. So, which one is worth your money? Find out in the comparison below.


Samsung Galaxy S21

Samsung Galaxy S21 Fan Edition


Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100

Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100





128, 256GB

128, 256GB


6.2” Flat FHD+ (2400×1080) 120Hz AMOLED, Always-on Display

6.4” Flat FHD+ (2400×1080) 120Hz AMOLED, Always-on Display


4,000mAh, 25W fast charging, up to 15W wireless charging

4,500mAh, 25W fast charging, up to 15W wireless charging

Rear Cameras

12MP wide (f/1.8, OIS, DPAF); 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2, 120° FoV, FF); 64MP telephoto (f.2.0, 3x hybrid, OIS, DPAF)

12MP wide (f/1.8, OIS, DPAF); 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2, 123° FoV, FF); 8MP telephoto (f/2.4, 3x optical zoom, 30x Space Zoom)

Front Camera

10MP (f/2.2, 80° FoV, DPAF)

32MP f/2.2 (81° FoV, fixed focus)


5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, NFC, USB Type-C

5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, NFC, USB Type-C


151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm, 169g, IP68 certified

74.5 x 155.7 x 7.9mm, 177g, IP68 certified

Fingerprint scanner

In-display ultrasonic

In-display optical


One UI 4.0 (Android 12)

One UI 4.0 (Android 12)


Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, Phantom Brown, Navy

White, graphite, olive, lavender


Starting at $799

Starting at $699

Galaxy S21 FE vs. Galaxy S21: Glass front, plastic back

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE vs S21 build comparison

The Galaxy S21 and S21 FE take a similar route to keep their price in check, pairing Gorilla Glass Victus along the phone’s front with a matte “glasstic” back that sandwiches an aluminum frame. Some users may frown at Samsung for using a plastic back on $700+ smartphones, but it won’t matter much with most people putting their phones in a case. On the bright side, plastic does not crack nearly as easily as glass, though it does pick up scratches. Also, both phones are IP68 certified, making them capable of being submerged in up to 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes without any issues.

Aside from differences in size and weight, the phones more or less share a design. The Galaxy S21 FE has a larger footprint, though, thanks to a larger display which is something certain shoppers may see as a selling point. This larger size comes from the camera hump on the S21 FE, made of plastic rather than the metal extension on the Galaxy S21.

Both phones are available in many colors, one of which you’re bound to like. And, while the S21’s camera bump comes in a different shade than the body, the Fan Edition has the same color throughout. Other minor differences include the missing AKG certification for the S21 FE’s stereo speakers and the use of an optical instead of the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner found on the mainline S21.

Galaxy S21 FE vs. Galaxy S21: 120Hz OLED displays

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE vs S21 display comparison

The Galaxy S21 and S21 FE feature flat 120Hz FHD+ resolution OLED displays covered by Gorilla Glass Victus. Samsung phones are known for their excellent screens, and you can’t go wrong with any of them here. They are all bright and have excellent viewing angles, contrast, and vividness.

The S21 FE has a larger 6.4-inch display than the regular S21’s 6.2-inch panel. However, there’s a catch: the Galaxy S21’s panel can dynamically adjust the refresh rate depending on the content you’re viewing to save battery power or deliver improved smoothness. On the other hand, the Fan Edition’s display can only work at 60Hz or 120Hz — it cannot dynamically adjust its refresh rate. That might lead to an impact on its battery life in real-world use.

Galaxy S21 FE vs. Galaxy S21: Flagship performance

Qualcomm’s 2021 flagship chipset — the Snapdragon 888 — powers both Galaxy S21 variants, with Samsung’s Exynos 2100 chip found in select markets outside the US. In either model, day-to-day performance will not be an issue, as you won’t find an app or game that can bring these phones to their knees. The Exynos chip gets a bit hot when under load, but the Korean company’s in-house silicon has always been an issue.

The Galaxy S21 has 8GB RAM as standard, while the base FE model ships with 6GB. To get 8GB of RAM with the FE, you’ll need to grab the 256GB model. There’s no microSD slot on either phone, so storage space is limited by the variant you buy. Both phones are also eligible to receive three years of OS updates and four years of security patches.

Galaxy S21 FE vs. Galaxy S21: Similar cameras

Galaxy S21 FE vs S21 camera comparison

The Galaxy S21 and S21 FE feature a triple-camera setup at the rear, with the same 12MP f/1.8 primary camera that’s optically stabilized. The ultra-wide camera is also the same, though the one on the FE has a slightly wider field of view: 120 degrees vs. 123 degrees. It is the telephoto shooter where both phones differ. While the Galaxy S21 features a 64MP telephoto sensor with 3x hybrid zoom and OIS, the Fan Edition uses an optically stabilized 8MP shooter with 3x optical zoom and a slower f/2.4 aperture.

The Galaxy S21 was praised for its consistent and impressive camera performance, and the S21 FE is no different in this regard. The FE’s zoomed-in photos are not as good as the S21 — and both fall short of the performance of the rival Pixel 6 — but most users are unlikely to notice this. Due to the missing 64MP sensor, though, the Galaxy S21 Fan Edition cannot record 8K videos like the regular S21; it tops out at 4k 60fps. The sensor also allows the S21 to offer 12x digital zoom while recording videos, while the S21 FE maxes out at 10x zoom. The FE is also limited to recording Super Steady videos at 1080p@30fps, while the S21 can record at 60fps in this mode.

The Galaxy S21 FE has a higher resolution front camera than the S21 at 32MP vs. 10MP. However, the S21 FE selfie camera misses out on autofocus, which means the S21 can take sharper photos despite the lower resolution sensor.

Galaxy S21 FE vs. Galaxy S21: Connectivity

On paper, the Galaxy S21 and its FE variant have the same specs: 5G with mmWave support, 4×4 MIMO, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0. However, looking closely, you’ll notice the S21 FE supports a maximum theoretical download speed of 1.6Gbps, while the S21 supports LTE Cat.20 for download speeds of up to 2Gbps. The S21 also supports Enhanced 4×4 MIMO with up to 7CA.

Basically, this means the Galaxy S21 should pull slightly higher download speeds on 4G and 5G networks. However, the difference should not be massive, so don’t consider this a deal breaker in any way.

Galaxy S21 FE vs. Galaxy S21: Battery life

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE vs S21 comparison

The larger dimensions of the Galaxy S21 FE have provided Samsung with more room for a larger battery. It packs a 4,500mAh battery, while the S21 comes in slightly smaller at 4,000mAh. The S21 offers average one-day battery life, which can drain quickly if you utilize mmWave 5G or are in an area with a poor network connection. The Fan Edition does feature a bigger battery, but it also has a larger and more power-hungry display. So overall, its battery life should be in the same ballpark as the regular S21.

Both phones deliver the same fast charging speed: 25W wired and 15W wireless. Samsung does not bundle a power adapter with either phone, so you’ll have to buy one separately.

Galaxy S21 FE vs. Galaxy S21: The right choice

On paper, the Galaxy S21 FE makes just the right set of compromises to achieve its $100 lower price tag than the S21. However, the latter is frequently discounted to around the same price as the Fan Edition, especially now that the phones are both one generation behind.

At almost the same price, buying the S21 FE over the S21 only makes sense if you want the larger 6.4-inch display. Otherwise, the regular Galaxy S21 makes for a better buy and can still hold its own up against some of the best Android phones today.


Source: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

Since the price difference ends up being pretty moot with the sales you can find on the S21 these days, we’d suggest going with this over the Fan Edition. It offers all those premium finishing touches that make it still a very capable flagship even today.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

If you don’t mind losing out on top-end features like 8K video recording, and you can put up with a few comprises, it may be worth saving a few bucks and picking up the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.

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