The 2021 flagship Samsung Galaxy S21 is available at a similar price to the freshly baked S21 FE. This begs the question that if it comes down to the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE vs S21 comparison, which one is a better buy?
Samsung recently released the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, right when the Galaxy S22 is around the corner. So it goes without saying that the FE will receive a price cut when the S22 launches.
However, you can also expect good price slashes for S21 as well when the Samsung Galaxy S22 hits the market. Now, if the two smartphones seem to be in a neck-to-neck battle, here’s our Samsung Galaxy S21 FE and S21 comparison.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Vs Galaxy S21
|Specifications||Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G||Samsung Galaxy S21 5G|
|Display||6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 48Hz to 120Hz display|
2400 x 1080 pixels
1200 nits peak brightness
|6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 60Hz to 120Hz display|
2400 x 1080 pixels
1400 nits brightness
|Cameras||12 MP Wide + 8MP Telephoto + 12MP Ultrawide rear cameras|
32 MP front camera
|12MP Wide + 64MP Telephoto + 12MP Ultrawide rear cameras|
10 MP front camera
|Processor||Exynos 2100 octa-core processor / Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip||Exynos 2100 octa-core processor / Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip|
|RAM and Storage||6GB/128GB (depends on region)|
8GB/128GB (depends on region)
|OS||Android 12, One UI 4.0||Android 11, One UI 3.1|
|Battery||4,500 mAh||4,000 mAh|
|Connectivity||USB-C, WiFi, Bluetooth, 5G, NFC||USB-C, WiFi, Bluetooth, 5G, NFC|
|Build||Plastic back with an aluminum frame with IP68 dust and water resistance||Plastic back with an aluminum frame with IP68 dust and water resistance|
|Colors||Olive, Graphite, Lavender, White||Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink, Phantom Violet, Phantom White|
Rs 49,999 (India)
Rs 53,999 (India)
I bet the above spec sheet has you as confused by now. Is the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE just the regular S21 in new clothes?
Technically yes, but it has its own caveats too. You can clearly see the similarities, but the differences are also visible for better or for worse.
Is The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Better Than S21?
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a slightly larger display, a slightly bigger battery, and runs the latest Android 12 out-of-the-box. It shares its processor, build materials, and even the RAM and storage configuration with the Galaxy S21.
Here are some things where the FE is a downgrade from the original S21.
|Feature||Samsung Galaxy S21 FE||Samsung Galaxy S21|
|Display refresh rate and peak brightness||60Hz or 120Hz refresh rate|
1200 nits peak brightness
|48-120Hz refresh rate|
1400 nits peak brightness
|Camera capabilities||8 MP telephoto lens||64 MP telephoto lens|
|Biometric authentication||Optical fingerprint scanner||Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner|
|Build||Boxier, slightly thicker looking||Slightly curved back|
|Video Recording||UHD 4K (3840 x 2160)@60fps||UHD 8K (7680 x 4320)@24fps|
All the above differences are where the S21 FE lags behind the S21. These are also the changes that differentiate a really good upper mid-range phone from a flagship.
Just in terms of the build only, the S21 FE misses out on the polished camera bump which looks amazing on the S21. In function too, the FE’s display is slightly dimmer, telephoto lens underpowered, and fingerprint scanner slower.
So in essence, all the advantages of a bigger display, or a lower price tag turn against the FE when you look closely.
One major area where the Galaxy S21 FE is better than the Galaxy S21 is the software and support. The Samsung Galaxy S21 came out in January last year, which means it runs Android 11 out-of-the-box (Android 12 now available). It also means the S21 has lived a year of its update cycle.
You get Android 12 with One UI 4.0 on the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. It means it’ll get updates and will be supported for a longer period.
Should You Buy The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE?
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE offers an impressive spec sheet at an impressive price. But to explain what’s going on here, let’s divide this comparison into three parts.
Battle Of Base Models
The S21 Fe is undoubtedly a good phone, but there’s a big asterisk. Upon closer look, you’ll find that the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE vs S21 comparison is best done at base models, where the FE is at a 2GB RAM disadvantage in the U.S. model.
This is so because Samsung is selling the S21 FE in India with 8GB RAM on the base model.
I also think the S21 is better designed and finished, but that’s subjective. However, in everyday use too, the S21 offers a better proposition than the S21 FE.
Form Over Function?
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is the newer model and will get updates for longer. However, if you don’t mind the Android updates, the S21 has a more premium package to offer.
There are also the upcoming price slashes that will give us the final idea of which is a better value proposition. So it’ll eventually come down to whether you want an additional year of Android updates (S21 FE) or a more premium feeling handset (S21).
Its About The Timing.
Given that the Samsung Galaxy S22 is just around the corner, expect price cuts on both the S21 and the S21 FE. After those price cuts, the FE would be an even better option at an even lesser price.
So unless you’re in a rush or need a phone immediately, I’d ask you to wait for the S22 to launch, and for both the S21 and S21 FE prices to break.
If you liked this article, do let us know in the comments. You can also check out our guide on how to buy used/refurbished gadgets. We’ve also curated a MacBook buying guide and a MacBook vs iPad comparison to help you make informed decisions.