“Designed for fans” with features that Samsung says fans want, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is almost a copy of the Galaxy S21.
We compared the specifications and it seems negligible.
Curious to see for ourselves what sets the Galaxy S21 FE 5G apart, we got our hands on one.
Fun Minimalist Packaging
At a glance, the box for the S21 FE 5G looks plain, like a white recolour of the one used for the S21. The foiled letter S and the phone name on the side hints at the colour of the device inside.
It is simple and recyclable. There’s no plastic wrap on the outside, just the one to protect the phone inside.
But take a closer look and you will see embossed icons peppered throughout the box as if to say that there is more to this phone than a reconfigured S21.
Included in the box is the S21 FE 5G, a USB-C to USB-C charging cable, a SIM card tray ejector, and some documentation.
Love The Colour
The S21 has a unique design where the metal frame of the phone overflows onto one corner creating a metallic camera bump.
The contrast in finishes – and in some variants, colours as well – give the S21 a high-end luxury look. The shine glints like jewellery.
However, the plastic-backed S21 FE comes in pastel colours and has a matte finish. It’s tasteful, fun, casual, and gorgeous.
What caught our eye is how there is a thin layer of clear plastic at the back of the phone, on top of the colour, that gives the Samsung badge a subtle shadow.
It’s a nice touch.
Like A Glove
The S21 FE is slightly bigger and heavier than the S21, but the difference is trivial.
It is not too big for one-handed operations, but it works best with two.
When held in the right hand, the thumb naturally rests on the volume rocker. In the left hand, the index finger rests on the power button. In both cases, the camera is not obstructed.
The best part is the back of the phone gives just the right amount of resistance to make it feel secure in the hand.
You have to see it in person. The display on the S21 FE stands out. It is bright, clear, crisp, and sharp.
The One UI just looks amazing. It looks less like a display and more like an extremely high-resolution print that is backlit.
The Initial Setup
It took approximately 8 minutes to get the S21 FE from factory fresh to user ready with Google and Samsung accounts activated.
The only optional app that was offered was the Samsung Smart Tutor. But, we’ll talk more about unwanted apps later.
Although the phone implies that it is ready to use after the initial setup, in the background it is frantically updating and downloading apps.
The First Update
There were almost 40 apps that required updates from the Google play store, and another 30, from the Galaxy Store, including the Galaxy Store itself.
17 apps from the Google Play Store were updated automatically. The Galaxy Store required manual activation.
The first round of updates took approximately 13 minutes using wifi.
The Second Update
We checked the Google Play Store and the Galaxy Store again for more updates and sure enough, there were 32 more.
There were 22 updates on the Google Play Store and 10 updates on the Galaxy Store. The update took another 20 minutes.
There was also a system update, but that was fast.
We plugged in the phone the whole time as well. It only had a 50% charge. The phone estimated that it would take an hour for the phone to be fully charged using the fast charger that we had.
Although we wished the process was shorter and more automated, it is standard for an android phone.
From the factory, the S21 FE is preinstalled with Samsung’s suite of apps, Google’s suite of apps, Microsoft suite of apps, Facebook, Spotify, Netflix, and YouTube Music.
That is a lot of apps we didn’t ask for. Some are compulsory and most of them can be removed manually, but the initial setup would be much speedier and more user friendly without all the detritus.
Now that we have the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G all set up, it is time to put it through its paces.
Look out for our full review coming up on 28 Jan.