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Phones

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE vs Galaxy S20 FE

How much better is the newer Fan Edition?
By Aryan Suren January 5, 2022, 8:00 am
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE and Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has finally made its way to the market after spending nearly a year behind the curtains. As is custom for Fan Editions, for $699, the Galaxy S21 FE brings customers a device that features key hardware from the S21 Series, but how does it compare to its predecessor, the Galaxy S20 FE? Is this phone an improvement, or is it just an option to avoid? Read this article to find out.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

The latest fan edition from Samsung offers a robust package of hardware that includes a 120Hz display, Snapdragon 888, and a triple camera array capable of capturing great shots.

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Design and Display

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Display compared to S20 FE Display

The first and foremost difference to notice between Galaxy S21 FE and its predecessor is the change in design language. While the Galaxy S20 FE had an island-style camera array, the Galaxy S21 FE uses the new "Contour-Cut" style -- albeit its implementation is different than the one used in the flagship S21 lineup. Another change you'll notice is that not only is the footprint of the Galaxy S21 FE smaller -- owing to the smaller display and thinner chassis -- but it also has less boxy of a look.

Now, bringing your focus to the displays, the Galaxy S21 FE uses a 6.4-inch FHD+ panel whose bezels are a lot narrower and similar to the S21 Series, unlike the Galaxy S20 FE's 6.5-inch FHD+ display, which was a significant departure from the more expensive Galaxy S20. Samsung is also using a newer OLED panel on the Galaxy S21 FE, so you can expect to see better color reproduction. Another clear improvement is the inclusion of Gorilla Glass Victus on Galaxy S21 FE compared to Gorilla Glass 3 on the Galaxy S20 FE.

But regardless, both phones have a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz and can switch between 60 and 120. Also, if you're a gamer, Samsung touts a 240Hz touch sampling rate on Galaxy S21 FE that comes into play when the device is in Gaming Mode. As for the fingerprint scanner, both phones feature an optical unit under the display.

For colors, the Fan Edition Series is known for having various options. The Galaxy S20 FE was made available in six colors -- White, Red, Blue, Pink, Orange, and Mint Green -- while the Galaxy S21 FE is available in four -- White, Lavender, Olive, and Graphite (a grey shade).

What processor do these devices feature?

If you're buying a Galaxy S21 FE in North America, you will receive a unit with the Snapdragon 888. While international markets are likely to see models ship with the Exynos 2100. Similarly, the Galaxy S20 FE units sold in North America were shipping with the Snapdragon 865. Other regions received two versions, an LTE variant with Exynos 990 and 5G-enabled units with the Snapdragon 865 called Galaxy S20 FE 5G.

In terms of RAM and internal storage, the Galaxy S21 FE has three variants, two models with 128GB of internal storage and 6GB or 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB model with 8GB of RAM. The Galaxy S20 FE 5G only had a unit with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, though its international version did feature 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage in some regions. It also did have a MicroSD slot for expandable storage (up to 1TB), which we will miss on the Galaxy S21 FE.

How does the Galaxy S21 FE's camera compare to the Galaxy S20 FE?

S21 FE camera and S20 FE camera next to each other

On paper, the Galaxy S21 FE and Galaxy S20 FE feature identical sets of cameras. Both phones use 12MP sensors for their Wide and Ultrawide cameras, with apertures of 1.8 on the wide lens and 2.2 on the ultrawide.

The Korean OEM is once again using an 8MP sensor for the Telephoto camera. For the S21 FE, this is a downgrade from the 64MP found on Galaxy S21. The front camera on both phones also remains to be a similarly designed 32MP with an f-stop of 2.2.

While you're likely to see improved results from the S21 FE due to the focus on computational photography and newer processor, the remaining assortment of software features remains similar as both phones feature a highly capable night-mode and the 30x Space Zoom, to name a few.

How does the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE compare to Samsung Galaxy S20 FE in terms of battery life?

Both Fan Edition phones feature a reasonably sized 4500 mAh battery; this means all-day usage shouldn't be much of an ask from either phone.

Samsung claims the Galaxy S21 FE will last for 79 hours when used for audio playback, and while we couldn't find a similar metric for the Galaxy S20 FE, our review unit did show us that all-day battery life is not a task for this phone.

With Galaxy S21 FE, it wouldn't be wrong to presume that users can expect similar if not better battery life.

Hence, all in all, we feel the Galaxy S21 FE is a worthy successor to Galaxy S20 FE, although its launch strategy is questionable. Especially with devices like the Pixel 6 available in the market and a possible price reduction on the cards for the flagship S21 Series.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

The latest fan edition from Samsung offers a robust package of hardware that includes a 120Hz display, Snapdragon 888, and a triple camera array capable of capturing great shots.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE featured flagship-grade hardware in a package that was hard to ignore due to its pricing and was one of the best device available in 2020.

Specifications

SmartphoneSamsung Galaxy S21 FESamsung Galaxy S20 FE (North America)
Operating SystemOne UI 4.0 based on Android 12One UI 4.0 based on Android 12
Dimensions155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4 mm
Weight177g190g
Display6.4-inch, FHD+ resolution, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz6.5-inch, FHD+ resolution, Super AMOLED, 120Hz
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 888Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Memory6GB RAM with 128GB storage
8GB RAM with 128GB storage
8GB RAM with 256GB storage
6GB RAM with 128GB storage
Expandable StorageNoYes (up to 1TB)
Rear Cameras- 12MP, ƒ/1.8 aperture, Dual Pixel AF, OIS
- 12MP, ƒ/2.2 aperture, ultrawide with FOV 123-degrees
- 8MP, ƒ/2.4 aperture, 30x Space Zoom
- 12MP, ƒ/1.8 aperture, Dual Pixel AF, OIS
- 12MP, ƒ/2.2 aperture, ultrawide with FOV 123-degrees
- 8MP, ƒ/2.4 aperture, 30x Space Zoom
Front Camera32MP, ƒ/2.2 aperture32MP, ƒ/2.2 aperture
SecurityUnder-display Optical Fingerprint scannerUnder-display Optical Fingerprint scanner
ConnectivitySub6/ mmWave 5G, Samsung Pay with NFC, Bluetooth 5.0Sub6/ mmWave 5G, Samsung Pay with NFC, Bluetooth 5.0
PortsUSB-CUSB-C
Battery4,500 mAh
25W wired charge speed
15W wireless charge speed
Wireless PowerShare
4,500 mAh
25W wired charge speed
15W wireless charge speed
Wireless PowerShare
Water ResistanceIP68IP68
ColorsGraphite, Olive, Lavender, WhiteCloud White, Cloud Blue, Cloud Red, Cloud Orange, Cloud Pink, Cloud Mint
Price$699.99$699.99

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