The Indian smartphone market is maturing as you read this line. Do not get me wrong, it is still the same price-sensitive market as earlier. What has changed is the sheer amount of competition and phones to choose from in a galaxy of phones. Samsung witnessed massive success with the S20 FE and riding that success, the S21 FE seems like a good package. Is the Samsung phone worth your attention?
Lightweight with a vibrant display
The S21 was questioned over their choice of materials at the rear. The S21 FE adds to the entire package by completely shifting to a high-quality polycarbonate (read – Plastic) structure wrapped in a thicker, well-rounded metal frame. The camera humps are also integrated into the plastic design. Overall, this phone tends to be lightweight at 177gms despite a 4500mAh battery, a welcome departure from regular glass sandwich dense and heavy phones. The rear does little to feel premium, but overall, the phone is built well.
There’s IP68 water and dust protection with wireless charging capabilities both for direct and reverse wireless charging on offer. This phone also comes in iPhone-ish colours for an added variety of choices. There’s no headphone jack, the earphone turns into a stereo setup with the downward-firing speaker, and overall, the phone exudes a premium yet lightweight design. Buttons are metal and clicky, while the overall bezel is aluminium adding to the sturdy feel. The 6.4-inch FHD+ display is excellent with vibrant colours, amazing visuals, HDR, deep blacks, and 120Hz enabled out of the box. Despite their display naming scheme, this display can only do 60 or 120Hz with always-on, extra-low dim settings, 240Hz touch sampling, excellent sunlight viewing legitimacy and much more.
Latest Android, great cameras but questionable performance
I use more than 150 apps on my main phone, and replicating the same with the Samsung S21 FE, things became a lot clearer. The S21 FE uses the same camera sensors (12MP primary sensor with OIS + 12MP ultra-wide) as the regular S21 except for an 8MP OIS telephoto camera against the 64MP used by the S21. The pictures and videos from all sensors are brilliant for social media standards and capture memories. Samsung vibrancy is seen throughout the shots and videos. The front 32MP camera is also an excellent addition to the overall setup, and there are 4k 60fps capabilities on both front and rear cameras. The camera setup is top-notch, even in low light conditions.
The phone also comes with Android 12 based One UI out of the box. As you read this line, Samsung has been pushing updates for the phone, refining their UI apps to optimise them for Android 12. Powered by a 5nm Exynos 2100 5G SOC with 8GB RAM, 128GB ROM, dual 5G sim capabilities, and optimised new UI make this phone feel snappy for most of your usage. But, launch a game or play around with the cameras for longer, and the Exynos starts showing its flaws. The phone can barely sustain peak performance in demanding situations for not more than 30mins, post which it throttles and slows down the UI and overall the phone in general.
These demanding tasks also drain the battery to dire conditions if that isn’t enough. If you are used to flagship processors, you are well versed with its general nuances. But, if you aren’t doing heavy tasks on your phone, then the S21 FE performance won’t be that big of a deal. Wifi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1 on this phone connect well, and the call quality is excellent too.
Overall, with an average battery life and performance figures coupled with an excellent display and great set of cameras, the S21 FE is an absolute winning package from the house of Samsung. Adding to the fact is that this phone is also lightweight and comes with all sorts of protection, from IP ratings to Gorilla Glass Victus upfront. Some things still leave us wanting more, like optimising their processor, no accessories in the box and 25W wired charging. But with the addition of wireless charging, wireless Samsung dex, the whole Samsung PC, amazing vibrant display, Android 12, 3-4 years of software updates and impressive cameras, the Samsung S21 FE with ample 5G bands is a vast galaxy worth exploring. The flagship suite is open to be explored in this relatively affordable galaxy.
Samsung Exynos 2100 Octacore SOC, 6/8 GB RAM, 128/256 GB ROM
6.4 inches 403 PPI, Dynamic AMOLED120 Hz Refresh Rate
12 MP + 12 MP + 8 MP Triple Primary Cameras, 32 MP Front Camera
4500 mAh, Android 12, 177gms, 4 colour options