Suddenly. it appeared out of the blue: the Galaxy S21 FE. Samsung delivered the "Fan Edition" of the Galaxy S21 series almost a year after the release of the Galaxy S21. Not only that, the launch of this handset happened just a few weeks before the expected introduction of the Galaxy S22 series. Having revealed a brand new phone so close to the next flagship model's release would not make much sense for most consumers, and I will explain to you further below.
When I sat down, dog-tired in front of my laptop at 8 am on January 4th, I was astonished. After a lot of bouncing back and forth, Samsung presented the Fan Edition of the Galaxy S21 FE in the newsroom. Without revealing my personal opinion and thoughts on the matter, I briefly introduced you to the Galaxy S21 FE. Here are the most important facts:
- Sales start on January 11 from $699.95.
- Snapdragon 888, triple camera setup with a Galaxy S21 design.
- 4,500 mAh battery with the usual 25W (not so) Quick-Charging feature.
In and of itself, those aren't poor specifications at all with an asking price of $699.95. This is especially true as you bear in mind that Samsung normally goes the extra mile in terms of quality and workmanship. For example, I found the Galaxy S21 to be of higher quality than the Google Pixel 6 with its glass back, despite being made of
polycarbonate plastic. Still, the January release date is still a travesty (in my opinion) if you look past the punch-hole camera.
Note: This commentary is based on the smartphone's hardware specifications. Once we get our hands on the device itself, we'll revisit these impressions!
For comparison, the Galaxy S20 FE was released in October 2020, just 8 months after the S20 models. The S21 FE, however, has been delayed significantly, presumably due to the still-difficult availability of components. You'll be able to buy it from Samsung's online store from January 11 onward and place a pre-order in the meantime. But why am I getting so worked up about this "Fan Edition"? Isn't it great that Samsung is still launching the smartphone?
First issue: S21 series price has dropped
Since we at NextPit know how many readers want to buy Samsung's Galaxy S21 series, we've been maintaining a deal radar on the S21 series for quite some time. In there, we can observe just how far the Galaxy S21 devices have dropped in price. The previous lowest price on the net for the Galaxy S21 hovered around the $600 mark. Currently, the price for the "vanilla model" has shot back to a higher level, almost back to the original MSRP.
So the Galaxy S21 was priced cheaper than the S21 FE back when the "fan edition" was expected to be released. And despite costing more currently, it would suit those who prefer a more pocketable phone, with largely the same specifications.
For an extra $100, you can already get the Galaxy S21+ via online retailers. It offers a larger display, a battery with a 4,800 mAh battery, and a back made of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. Thus, only one argument remains as a real advantage for the S21 FE:
Right out of the box, Samsung equips the Galaxy S21 FE with Android 12. This is an advantage so far as major operating system updates matter, starting one version later than the Galaxy S21 series. In less complicated terms, if you buy the Galaxy S21 in January, you will receive updates up to Android 14. However, if you pick up the Galaxy S21 FE, you get receive updates up to Android 15.
Second excitement: Galaxy S22 series, Exynos 2200, and FOMO
Has my initial uproar failed to dissuade you from pre-ordering the Galaxy S21 FE? Then you might not know that the Galaxy S22 launch is imminent. According to rumors, Samsung will unveil the new flagship series sometime in February, possibly at MWC 2022 which happens at the end of the month. In January, however, we'll already get to see the new Exynos 2200, which is Samsung's new top processor.
The speculations about the Galaxy S22 are numerous: the Exynos 2200 is being co-developed with AMD and could offer particularly good graphics performance thanks to the RDNA2 architecture. The Galaxy S22 is also supposed to offer a "real" telephoto camera with optical magnification. Who knows what else Samsung has in store for its new flagships? Perhaps stylus support for all models?
This is exactly where the moniker "Fan Edition" becomes absurd. If I were a true Samsung fan, I wouldn't buy a previous year's model in 2022 after all, when the successor is set to be released shortly after. Here, every fan will suffer from the "FOMO", the "Fear-Of-Missing-Out" and think about an upgrade in February at the latest.
Samsung's argument: S21 FE as a lifestyle product
Maybe we can find a reason to buy the Galaxy S21 FE in the midst of Samsung's marketing. There is talk of "distinctive shapes" and your "lifestyle". So is the S21 FE the "Shiny Pokémon" among the S21 models? Not in my opinion, because visually, it is more reminiscent of a matte-foiled version of the standard model. The two-tone Galaxy S21 series is much more eye-catching without a cover and will attract more attention.
Launching smartphones with a certain "fan flair" with special editions is not as easy as it seems. OnePlus does this quite well, most recently with the Pac-Man edition of the OnePlus Nord 2, which was obviously designed with a lot of attention to detail and with the customer in mind. Thus, after thinking about it for a while, I can only arrive at one conclusion:
Ben's conclusion: Samsung didn't want to "make the Pixel 5a"
From a customer's point of view, there was very little reason for Samsung to launch a smartphone in January that will be superseded a short time later. And of course, the Galaxy S21 FE might still totally blow me away in a review. This is purely speculation based on the hardware specifications and release date.
But even before the release, the Galaxy S21 FE was always on the backburner. Perhaps Samsung with its good intentions decided to put forth a fourth version on the S21 range for their customers after all. There's nothing wrong with that, even if it's not entirely understandable. And it brings to mind another smartphone that I once got a little excited about.
That's because the Pixel 5a was plagued by problems for so long last fall that Google limited its release to just the US and Japan. As a Pixel fan, I was upset about this because the Pixel 5a offered major advantages in my eyes. I just don't see those yet with the S21 FE shortly after its release.
But that's just my opinion - what's yours? Are you excited about the Galaxy S21 FE or do you plan to buy it? I'm definitely excited to check out the smartphone in the editorial office and share my personal impressions later.
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