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Samsung announced a less expensive version of its Galaxy S21 flagship phone during CES 2022 called the Galaxy S21 FE.
The Galaxy S21 FE's release date is January 11 and it'll be available to buy from Samsung, your carrier, and certain retailers. Starting at $699, it's $100 less expensive than the flagship Galaxy S21 series.
The Galaxy S21 FE's early January launch is awkward, as we expect Samsung's next generation of phones, the unannounced Galaxy S22, to be announced very soon. The new Galaxy S21 FE will likely remain available throughout 2022 while the flagship Galaxy S21 phones will be discontinued when the Galaxy S22 phones are announced.
Either way, the Galaxy S21 FE's launch timing shouldn't impact this phone's caliber. It runs on the same powerful Snapdragon 888 processor as the flagship Galaxy S21 series, and every app or game you run will look amazing on Samsung's typically excellent displays. Based on the camera specs, there shouldn't be much compromise with photo quality, either.
We'll have to test the Galaxy S21 FE before passing any judgment. If Samsung used the same recipe from 2020's Galaxy S20 FE, this year's FE phone will likely impress. However, being just $100 less expensive than the Galaxy S21's $799 launch price, we're wondering whether Samsung should have bothered with an FE version this year, and simply reduced the price of the flagship Galaxy S21.
Galaxy S21 FE specifications
|Samsung Galaxy S21 FE||Specifications|
|Display||6.4-inch FHD+ AMOLED (2,340 x 1,080 resolution), 120Hz refresh rate|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888|
|Memory and storage|
6GB RAM + 128GB
8GB RAM + 256GB
|Biometric Authentication||Under-display optical fingerprint sensor|
|Network Support||5G (sub-6GHz and mmWave)|
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE price and release date
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE will be released on January 11 for $699 to start. That's $100 less than the Galaxy S21's $799 launch price back in March 2020. That's not as good a deal as the $699 Galaxy S20 FE was back in 2020, which was $300 cheaper than the $999 flagship Galaxy S20's launch price.
Samsung will likely discontinue the flagship Galaxy S21 when it releases the Galaxy S22 sometime this year (we expect an announcement very soon). That means the Galaxy S21 FE will likely become the cheaper premium Samsung phone to buy in 2022. However, it feels like Samsung should simply keep the flagship Galaxy S21 for 2022 with a $100 reduced price, rather than releasing a whole new phone.
Either way, whether you get a Galaxy S21 now or wait for the Galaxy S21 FE, or even the Galaxy S22, Samsung and carriers typically have trade-in offers for your old phone that can drastically reduce the price of a new phone.
For example, Samsung will give you $250 credit for a Galaxy S20 if you want to buy the Galaxy S21, reducing the price to $550. The company also typically has big trade-in deals when a new phone is announced, like the S21 FE.
What is "FE" and what does it stand for?
The "FE" stands for "fan edition." Samsung's FE phones first launched in 2020 with the Galaxy S20 FE, which offered the best value and balance of features and performance for an Android phone in 2020.
Why we loved last year's Galaxy S20 FE
You can check out our Galaxy S20 FE review here, but in summary, we love that the FE phones run on the same processors as the more expensive flagships they're based on. And other important features like screen quality, build quality, and battery life were also excellent. To top it off, the S20 FE also had a triple-camera system that offered the same versatility and nearly the same quality as the original S20.
At $699, it was also great value compared to the flagship Galaxy S20 that started at $999.