Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G – All The Right Things [Review]

The most fun non-foldable smartphone that Samsung makes.

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We can’t deny that the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G looks good. It impressed us with its design right out of the box. We think it looks better than the original S21.

However, the long setup and unwanted apps didn’t win it any points. 

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G – The Devil Is In The Details [Impressions]

Now, after using the S21 FE 5G for two weeks it’s time to once again share our thoughts about Samsung’s second try at the S21 and the last phone in the series. 

A Smooth Operator – Most Of The Time

Even after two weeks, we are still amazed at how good the 6.1in (rounded edge) display on the S21 FE 5G looks, especially with still images. 

In motion, the dynamic refresh rate combined with the latest eight-core processor, and Samsung’s own OneUI, promises a zippy and smooth interface. It is a pleasure to use. 

The facial recognition is also way better than what we saw on the A52s 5G.

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G – A Good Fit For Most People [Review]

However, we noticed that the interface stutters sometimes as if it dropped to a slower frame rate. The phone did not lag or crash, it was just not as smooth as it should be.

We first saw it after the initial setup. We assumed that is because the phone is furiously doing massive amounts of updates in the background. 

However, we have experienced the same stutters a few times since. It could be a fluke, caused by the apps we installed, background operations, or our testing. But in any case, it didn’t break the phone. 

Beautify By Default

One of the biggest differences between the S21 FE 5G and the S21 is the selfie camera. The Fan Edition got a 32MP shooter compared to a 10MP shooter on the standard model. 

READ MORE: Galaxy S21 Fan Edition 5G Announced. Starting Price RM2,899

The result is a selfie camera that’s better than average. It is not better than the main camera, but it does a good job. 

By default, the selfie camera beautification setting is set to 2. To turn it off, tap the wand icon on the top right in the camera app, tap face (top right), and tap the round filter setting on the bottom right. It will cycle between On, Auto, and Off. 

We prefer that the setting is off by default. 

Samsung’s Signature Pop

When we took the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G out to take photos with, we expected to see that signature Samsung pop. 

Typically, images captured using a Samsung Galaxy smartphone tend to have an oversaturation in certain colours like reds and greens. This is especially prevalent in bright natural light.

Outdoor shots would also see the sky processed so differently than the rest of the photos that it would look out of place. 

We were pleasantly surprised to see that the pop is reduced in the Galaxy S21FE 5G. The colours are much more natural here but could use a little more taming in our opinion. 

We also didn’t mind the lower resolution telephoto shooter. It’s an f2.0 64MP camera on the S21 and only an f2.4 8MP camera on the S21 FE 5G. 

The lower resolution is apparent, but the S21 FE 5G does have a longer 3X optical zoom and when you are zooming that much, resolution doesn’t really matter.

Of course, the main 12MP shooter still takes the best picture overall. 

Looks Good But…

The detail, colour, and overall quality of photos taken using the S21 FE 5G’s 4 cameras look excellent to us.

It performs at its best in a medium brightness environment, like a well lit indoor area or in the early morning and late afternoon.

That said, we also find that all three rear cameras take impressive shots in dimly lit indoor environments like a cafe as well. 

We also tested one of the most versatile and underused smartphone camera effects, the Portrait Mode. 

Despite the name, it is not only for taking headshots. It can be used on objects, bid and small as well. 

On the S21 FE 5G, the Portrait mode has room for improvement. 

By default, it applies a level two background blur. This can be increased up to level 7 or changed to other types of lens effects – which the phone calls background effects.

All of the effects look artificial but passable and the processor’s ability to separate the subject and the background still requires some fine-tuning. 

So Who Is The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G For?

On one hand, the Galaxy S21 series as a whole is Samsung’s best standard format smartphone offering. 

It has all the top of the line capabilities that the company has to offer until the next wave of devices comes out. 

On the other hand, it is tough to pin down where the Galaxy S21 FE 5G fits in. 

At least the price leap between the S21 FE 5G to the S21+ 25 and S21 Ultra 5G is substantial. 

But the difference between the S21 FE 5G and the standard S21 5G model is negligible. 

In the end, we feel that the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is for someone who is looking for the best Samsung has to offer, without stepping into the realm of larger screens and foldable phones. 

The S21 FE 5G is more fun than the standard S21 5G, but they are two peas in the same pod. 

If you are thinking of getting one, look at them both together before making your pick. You can’t go wrong. 

Else, if you want something different and you have a little more cash to spare, we highly recommend looking at the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G.

READ MORE: The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G: For Those Who Want To Live In The Now [Review]

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