In 2020, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (which stands for “Fan Edition”) surprised us all with how good it was. In fact, it was so good that it ended up walking away with our 2020 Best of Android Editor’s Choice award. With that kind of pedigree behind the phone, it’s no surprise that we are very excited about the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.
The problem Samsung faces this year is the existence of the regular Galaxy S21. It’s only $100 more than the Galaxy S20 FE and offers a lot of very similar specs. It’s possible Samsung painted itself into a corner and the Galaxy S21 FE could end up simply being a Galaxy S21 with only very subtle changes.
With all that in mind, below you’ll find everything we know so far about the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. Be sure to keep this page bookmarked as we will update it with new rumors and confirmed info as we get closer to the launch date! Also, scroll down a bit further to find a brief wishlist of things we hope to see in the new smartphone.
Name and release date
Samsung has not formally confirmed that it will launch a device this year called the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. However, there have been multiple bits of info that make it a sure bet.
First, in 2020, Samsung committed to releasing “Fan Editions” of its major flagships every year going forward. Obviously, the company could go back on that promise, but that heavily suggests we’ll see a Galaxy S21 FE. Next, Samsung’s website did briefly reference a phone by that name. Now, this could have been a simple typo, but it lends more weight to the idea that this phone is on the way.
Finally, we saw a leaked roadmap of Samsung’s plans for product launches in 2021, and the Galaxy S21 FE is on the list. The roadmap suggests the launch date could be August 19, 2021. That lines up rather well with when the company launched the Galaxy S20 FE (September 23, 2020). Keep in mind that Samsung launched the main Galaxy S21 series far earlier this year than it has in prior years, so the launch of the FE moving up by a month makes perfect sense.
For now, it’s a very safe bet that we’ll see a Samsung Galaxy S21 FE launch in August this year.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Design
Last year, the Galaxy S20 FE looked a whole lot like the Galaxy S20 lineup. This year, we expect to see Samsung do the same thing with the 2021 iteration.
Thanks to reliable leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer (aka @OnLeaks), we already have a solid idea of what the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE could look like. And, to no one’s surprise, it looks a lot like the vanilla Galaxy S21. See the images below for yourself:
Notably, it looks like the overall size of the phone will be slightly larger than the Galaxy S21. At 155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9mm, this phone should sit comfortably between the sizes of the Galaxy S21 (151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm) and the Galaxy S21 Plus (161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8mm).
Other than that, though, the Galaxy S21 FE looks pretty much exactly like the Galaxy S21 lineup (barring the Galaxy S21 Ultra, of course). Unfortunately, it does not appear that Samsung is bringing back the headphone jack, which is disappointing but not surprising.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Specs
So far, spec rumors related to the Galaxy S21 FE are hard to come by. Last year, we could look at the vanilla Galaxy S20 and point out some obvious ways Samsung could slash features to get the price down.
However, this year, the Galaxy S21 is already $200 cheaper than the Galaxy S20 — and only $100 more expensive than the Galaxy S20 FE. With that in mind, it’s tricky to imagine how Samsung will cut enough out to make the Fan Edition land at a much lower price.
One thing we did hear, though, is that the Galaxy S21 FE might not get the same battery as this year’s Plus model, which is what happened last year. Instead, it looks like it could have a 4,500mAh cell. That makes it 500mAh bigger than the Galaxy S21, but 300mAh smaller than the Galaxy S21 Plus.
Other specs are currently unknown, including whether or not the Snapdragon 888 processor would be included with the Galaxy S21 FE.
Pricing and availability
The price of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE will be one of its most important features. It needs to be cheaper than even the vanilla Galaxy S21. With the Galaxy S21 starting at $799 — and the Galaxy S20 FE starting at $699 — Samsung doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room this year.
So far, we have no reliable rumors related to pricing. However, we break down what we hope to see in the next section of this article.
As for availability, Samsung is usually really good about making its high-profile devices available globally, and we expect that to be the case with this phone. However, it’s not clear if the company would offer a 4G-only version of the device in some areas, which is what it did last year. Recently, the company has been phasing out the 4G-only variants of the Galaxy S20 FE and instead bringing in the normal 5G models. It’s possible we’ll see that from the get-go this year.
That’s it for the solid rumors we have! Continue reading for the things we hope to see and bookmark this page to stay on top of the latest updates!
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: What we want to see
With all the confirmed info and rumors out of the way, we thought we’d round up the things we want to see most in the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. Below, you’ll find our biggest wishes. Keep in mind that these are not based on any rumors or insider info — this is just a wishlist made by smartphone fans. Also, we are keeping this list realistic. Asking for the return of the headphone jack, for example, isn’t worthwhile, because it’s definitely not coming back.
Keep the camera trifecta
One of the biggest things that separate budget-oriented devices from flagships is what we call the camera trifecta. The trifecta is a high-quality primary lens, a wide-angle lens, and some sort of telephoto lens. Often, brands will drop the telephoto lens and cram in any number of others — macro, chromatic, monochrome, depth, etc.
The Galaxy S20 FE, though, kept the trifecta, and we hope to see the same in the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. The leaked design renders in the previous section show that the phone should have a triple-lens camera on the rear, so we are hopeful about this one.
Related: The best camera phones you can get
Granted, Samsung would likely need to drop the quality of the sensors. For example, it could offer an older/weaker version of the Galaxy S21’s wide-angle (Sony IMX563) to help keep costs down. The telephoto could get the same treatment. We’d be fine with that.
What we don’t want to see is the phone land with some gimmicky lens or, even worse, two gimmicky lenses to give it the air of quality, but not the substance. The camera trifecta, please — no more, no less.
Don’t skimp on the processor
The Galaxy S20 FE came with the same processor as its more expensive siblings: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. This was probably the most exciting spec feature of the Galaxy S20 FE, especially because the 5G model in all regions opted for the same Qualcomm silicon and not an inferior in-house Exynos chip.
This year, with the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, we’re not so certain it would come with the same processor as the Galaxy S21, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. Somehow, Samsung is going to need to make the Galaxy S21 FE weaker than the Galaxy S21 without sacrificing so much that it would belong to the budget-oriented Galaxy A family. An easy way to do that would be to get rid of the Snapdragon 888 and replace it with something else, such as the Snapdragon 870.
Honestly, we’d be fine with that. Obviously, we’d love to see this phone with a Snapdragon 888, but as long as Samsung doesn’t go lower than the Snapdragon 870 or shift to an Exynos equivalent, we’d be happy. Anything lower and you might as well just get the Galaxy S21, right?
Wide selection of color options
Last year, the Galaxy S20 FE came in six fun colors all around the world. It was nice to see Samsung offer them all at once to pretty much everyone (with a few excluded countries, unfortunately). Meanwhile, even with the Galaxy S21 lineup, certain colorways are only available in certain areas. This inevitably leaves too many buyers stuck with the usual choices: black, white, or gray.
We hope Samsung once again offers a wide selection of colorways with the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. We don’t even need six colorways again — four would be just fine! As long as black, white, and gray aren’t three of those colors. These phones are designed for fans, and die-hard Samsung fans have proven that splashes of color are highly desirable.
Same display as the Galaxy S21
One of the more surprising specs of last year’s Galaxy S20 FE was the display. It offered a 120Hz refresh rate on a 1080p OLED panel. Granted, this was a downgrade as compared to the vanilla Galaxy S20’s display, which was 1440p. It was still lovely to see such quality on a $700 phone, though.
As mentioned earlier, Samsung needs to cut down on the Galaxy S21 specs to make the Galaxy S21 FE cheaper. However, we hope the company does not sacrifice the display to make this happen. As it stands already, the display in the vanilla Galaxy S21 is basically the same as the one in the Galaxy S20 FE — 1080p, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, etc. To drop that any lower would put the whole value of the S21 FE into question.
Now, there are still ways Samsung could cut corners here. For example, it doesn’t need to cover the front of the S21 FE with Gorilla Glass Victus. We just hope it doesn’t cut too much or, once again, buyers might as well just get a Galaxy S21 or even the Galaxy S20 FE.
The same price as last year (or lower)
The thing we’ve said over and over again here is how tricky it will be for Samsung to make the Galaxy S21 FE weaker than the Galaxy S21 without dropping into Galaxy A territory. That holds true for the pricing as well.
At $799, the Galaxy S21 is only $100 more than the Galaxy S20 FE. To be blunt, a Galaxy S21 FE that costs any more than $700 would be DOA. After all, if it cost $749, why wouldn’t you just get the real deal? Samsung needs to keep pricing the same as last year — or go even lower, possibly to $649 or even $599.
We have no idea how Samsung would do that without removing the core features of the Galaxy S series. If it tries to remove wireless charging, for example, would that even count as a Galaxy S-level device? What about the IP rating or the previously mentioned camera trifecta? The company has really painted itself into a corner here, and we can only hope that it doesn’t mess up the goodwill it rightfully earned last year with the Galaxy S20 FE. Don’t let us down, Samsung!
That’s it for our Samsung Galaxy S21 FE wishlist! What would you like to see from Samsung’s next budget flagship? Take our poll below and let us know in the comments!