The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has been dubbed by many in the tech circle as arriving a bit too late to the smartphone party. It launched just a few weeks before Samsung introduced the Galaxy S22 series. And while you might think that short release window might have stolen its thunder, it’s not quite that simple.
The Galaxy S21 FE might not be the latest, but it still has merits worth looking into. If you have been eyeing this Samsung device, you might consider getting it for these three reasons.
You require flexible cameras for content creation
Samsung opted to import the Galaxy S20 FE’s camera into the Galaxy S21 FE. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Based on my experience with the Galaxy S21 FE, I see how good the cameras are for snapping my favorite personal moments or recording content you’ve been seeing on LiTT‘s social media and my personal account.
A quick refresher of the camera specs, there are two 12-megapixel wide and ultra-wide lenses and an 8-megapixel telephoto shooter at the back. Plus, a 32-megapixel camera in front.
It’s not surprising that Samsung is marketing this phone as a good vlogging companion. Because it really does get that job done quite well. It really has been the camera I preferred to take out and record what I needed. Of course, your best results will be when you have sufficient lighting. But it has been fun to play around with it in different scenarios (like shooting at dusk or testing the zoom quality for videos). A behind-the-scenes note for you. All the Galaxy S22 series video content on our socials were shot with the Galaxy S21 FE!
Photo quality is excellent in many circumstances. Images are clear, show great detail and sharpness, and separate the subject from the background, even without shooting in Portrait mode. Samsung does tend to boost saturation and lean a bit on the warmer side, but some people prefer that over the true-to-life colors since there is less editing to do before publishing a photo on social media.
Picture quality is also decent in ultra-wide, with some software magic that helps correct distortion. Zooming in is also great, offering you more options with 30x space zoom support for photos. It’s something you can play around with and take interesting closeups of subjects. I usually use the main Photo option, but this device also offers Pro Photo and Video, Portrait Video, Dual Recording (another handy vlogging feature), Food, Single Take, etc.
Night mode is actually quite useful here, too. I don’t like the two- to four-second wait before photos are done shooting, but I know it’s necessary to get the image. But I like how it tries to balance out the highlights and shadows of the pictures to get you a useful shot. Of course, the photos won’t turn out quite as sharp as those shot in great lighting. But it does give you more usable pictures shot in low light. You can also play around with zoom in this mode, which is a plus.
Selfies come out natural-looking and come out pretty sharp. Samsung doesn’t have too many beauty filters to choose from, but I appreciate the simplicity. You can also widen the frame to fit more people into the shot, but the Galaxy S21 FE defaults to the narrower option, which I wish it would change. It defaults to 8-megapixel photos, but you can take 32-megapixel selfies.
LiTT Tip #1: Are you already dabbling with vlogging or video recording and want to take better quality videos? You can record HDR10+ videos on this device. As noted in the Settings, you’ll need a supported device or services like YouTube to play HDR10+ videos correctly. (The phone also offers an option to convert HDR10+ videos to standard dynamic range in the Gallery.) To shoot in HDR10+, open the Camera app > Settings (cogwheel on the top left) > Advanced recording options (under Videos) > HDR10+ videos.
LiTT Tip #2: If you want to take out unwanted objects in your photos, Samsung offers an Object Eraser feature on this phone. To access this feature, open Gallery, then tap on the image you want to edit. Select the Edit option (pencil) and then tap on the three dots in the upper right corner. After that, tap Labs and then enable Object eraser.
You need a powerful daily driver
As with last year’s Samsung flagships, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 processor. The unit I have comes with the Exynos chip and pairs that with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. While 128GB is a lot, there isn’t the storage expansion available, which seems like a lost opportunity for a fan edition (FE) device.
I don’t have any complaints about its performance. I’ve said this in previous hands-on stories, but I’m not that demanding on devices. I use it for social media, email, web browsing, casual gaming, and content creation and consumption. The most demanding thing I do is edit our videos for our TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube accounts. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE can handle all of that.
It’s a powerful handset to have in your arsenal, especially since it can seamlessly integrate with your other devices. Of course, that’s given to work well within the Galaxy ecosystem, but I’m also referring to it working beyond that. With Samsung DeX, you can get it to work even on your non-Samsung PC. You just need to download the app. But what I use more is a feature that comes from a collaboration with Microsoft.
The Galaxy S21 FE has the Link to Windows feature with support for showing the phone’s screen on a Windows laptop. With Windows’ Your Phone app and Link to Windows feature on the smartphone. I love that I don’t have to pick up the phone when I’m at my desk working. I can access all the apps and mirror what’s on my phone’s screen. It’s a great productivity tool to have.
A downside is the phone heats up while in this mode. It doesn’t seem to affect performance, but it will heat up. The apps open on the PC will stop casting when it detects the phone’s temperature rises too much. When I use the camera for an extended time, it will heat up a bit, too. But I don’t notice a performance dip. I don’t really game, so I can’t speak for any performance dips in that regard.
Aside from being a handy device to have around for making content, it’s also great for consuming content of your choice. Navigating around the 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X screen is a treat with support for a 120Hz refresh rate. I’m a fan of Samsung displays, and the Galaxy S21 FE has that with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus protection. I can easily see what I need to see even when outdoors.
If you watch any HDR10+ supported content, you can enjoy that here. It’s not the loudest smartphone I’ve used, but with dual speakers, you aren’t covering the sound when you’re holding the phone while watching. It doesn’t have a 3.5mm audio jack like its predecessor, so there’s no high-quality audio listening for you via wired earbuds.
The downside to all this power, though, is it easily burns through your battery. I average 7+ hours of screen-on time with this phone. I’m always charging it at the end of the day. It is one of the bigger trade-offs on this phone, but it supports 25W fast wired charging or 15W wireless charging. If you want to top up other devices, you can use the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE for that, too.
LiTT Tip #3: If you want to improve audio quality when watching or listening to content, head to Settings > Sounds and vibration > Sound quality and effects. You can toggle Dolby Atmos on and choose between Auto, Movie, Music, and Voice.
LiTT Tip #4: Now, if you want to extend battery life, open Settings > Battery and device care > Battery > Power saving mode. There are options you can toggle there to help improve a battery’s longevity.
You love the signature Samsung look
The contour-cut design Samsung introduced with the Galaxy S21 series is one of my favorite smartphone designs from the company. The monochromatic look that integrates the camera to the back of the phone makes it look clean and fresh. I have the lavender option with me, and it’s a very stylish color. If style is a priority for you, the Galaxy S21 FE makes for a stylish accessory.
The matte finish to its plastic back is pretty resistant to smudges. Some might argue that they need a glass back on a smartphone at its price point. It does make it seem a little less fragile or prone to breaks.
Even with its large display, the phone is comfortable to hold in one hand. Granted, when using it, the phone is still very much a two-handed device. The finish can make it feel a bit slippery. But, as I talked about earlier, there are ways to use this phone without even holding it.
At 7.9mm thin, I can slip the phone into a small purse, which is always good for us ladies or those who carry smaller bags. It’s still going to stick out of a jeans pocket. But I appreciate its slim profile nonetheless.
What’s lit and what’s not?
What’s lit about it:
- Versatile camera for vlogging
- Pretty impressed with its ability to focus when zooming in
- Stable, powerful performance
- Link to Windows feature as a great productivity tool
- Excellent display for content consumption
- Dual speaker for a more balanced sound
- Monochromatic, fresh contour-cut design
- Slim profile
What needs the extra spark:
- Night Mode takes a bit of time when shooting
- No memory expansion
- Heats up a bit when doing intensive tasks
- No audio jack
- Drains battery quickly
We often repeat this here, but not everyone needs the latest, most powerful devices. Yes, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE just came out last month, but it’s already considered a previous generation device given its weird launch timing. But it’s not a device to discount just because of that. Maybe you want to save a few thousand but still get a solid flagship-grade performance. That’s what the Galaxy S21 FE offers. You might even get a better deal given there are new Samsung flagship phones out. And sometimes, saving a bit more can be a deciding factor.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE costs PHP 38,990 (around USD 760 converted) for 128GB and PHP 41,990 (USD 819) for 256GB . It is now available on Samsung.com, Samsung Experience Stores, authorized Samsung stores, Lazada, Shopee, Abenson.com, and MemoXpress Online, with Olive, Graphite, Lavender, and White color palettes.
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