Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G – Fastest Smartphone in the market.

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I tested the new Galaxy S21 FE and I can honestly admit that it is one of the fastest phones on the market. In this respect, I definitely rank it among the best flagship phones. The most important thing, however, is that it is a complete smartphone – it does not lack anything essential. Not only is it fast, it’s also nice, modern, takes very good photos, has an excellent display, works long enough on the battery, is not afraid of water.

This is one of the coolest premium models and I am sure that the vast majority of people will be very pleased with this purchase. Sure it’s not cheap, but… such times. Real impressions compensate for this expense – in terms of the quality of operation, the Galaxy S21 FE 5G is a top-shelf smartphone. A jewel in the crown of the Samsung ecosystem.

I test the Galaxy S21 FE in combination with the good Galaxy Watch4 LTE smartwatch and the TWS Galaxy Buds2 headphones. Let me tell you – this is how you can live! I sit in my armchair, browse social media and listen to Spotify music on my smartphone. When I want to go out for a bike, walk or train, I leave my phone at home, switch my headphones and Spotify to a smartwatch and listen to the playlist on.

There is absolutely no problem with that. It takes just a few taps and the music files from the watch to the Bluetooth headphones, with the same high quality. Even an active internet is not needed, because I can save the music in Spotify to the Galaxy Watch4’s memory. Samsung has also recently changed the Tizen system to Android, so I can also pay with my watch via Google Pay, use Google Maps navigation, Keep notes and of course download additional applications from the Play Store. 

In a word: both in my smartphone and smartwatch I have what I need every day. In addition, in the SmartThings application, I can quickly locate a lost watch, headphones or SmartTag on my phone.

Bright 120Hz AMOLED display and convenient operation

  • technology: Dynamic AMOLED 2X 120 Hz
  • diagonal: 6.4 inches, flat with a 2.5D effect at the edges
  • resolution: 1080 x 2400 px (FHD +)
  • brightness: 1,200 cd / m2 (maximum when set to Auto)

The Galaxy S21 FE has a slightly smaller display than the Galaxy S20 FE (6.4 vs 6.5 inches). It has no negative impact on the use of multimedia. On the contrary, a slightly smaller diagonal, thinner frames around the display, and very gently rounded glass at the edges (the so-called 2.5D) translate into a more comfortable one-handed operation. Feel the improvement over the predecessor. In addition, a good Gorilla Glass 7 Victus glass was used here.

The display itself is also characterized by a very high brightness of up to 1200 cd / m2 in peak (in Auto mode). The Dynamic AMOLED 2X technology translates into good color quality, high contrast, and very deep blacks. This can be appreciated especially in the evening when the difference between AMOLED and LCD can be described as a gap.

Good for movies and games

Galaxy S21 FE has support for VP9 and AVC-High codecs and HDR10 + HEVC technology, which is useful when watching videos, also from streaming platforms (it improves the image effects in some movies). It also has two stereo speakers, so when you watch horizontally, you can enjoy a better audio experience. The speaker quality itself is just OK – neither outstanding nor poor. It is simple enough for multimedia and games. More important is that they play quite loud and reasonably clean. The FHD + resolution (1080 x 2400 px) gives a detail of 401 ppi, which is very good for movies, photos and internet browsing. Even small inscriptions and graphics are sharp and legible.

The 120 Hz refresh rate combined with very high efficiency ensures excellent image fluidity. Even 120 fps in games (more and more games already support such refreshing), as well as better readability of content, e.g. when scrolling websites. The Snapdragon 888 5G processor can handle displaying over 100 fps, even in new, advanced games. It couldn’t be otherwise, after all, this is the best processor currently found in Android phones.

There will also be a weaker side. The point is, the 120Hz refresh is not adaptive. We can set a constant 120 or 60 Hz and that’s it. This has some impact on the battery life, because the phone does not automatically reduce the refresh rate when displaying static images (eg to 48, 30, 24 Hz), but keeps 120 Hz all the time. This causes additional, unnecessary energy consumption. Well, well … Samsung offers more expensive, even better smartphones that have adaptive refresh, so in the cheaper S21 FE it could not pull all the aces out of its sleeve.

Fingerprint reader

The reader is placed quite low above the bottom bezel and at first I thought it would be inconvenient to use. I was wrong. The reader is easy to use. It is worth emphasizing, however, that the speed of finger recognition is average. Usually, I had to hold my finger for a second to get the phone unlocked the first time. A shorter hold may cause a reading error and the need to put your finger down again. It is not the fastest of the readers, but it will do.

Display always on

A well-known and liked function that replaces a simple notification LED and works well in AMOLED displays because they do not require backlighting with LEDs. In the Galaxy S21 FE, you can change the time layout and colors or download the AOD theme from the store (they are free and paid). In addition to the time, it also displays the date, day, battery percentage, notification icons, and music information, along with playback controls.

Waterproof and well made

  • dimensions: 155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm
  • weight: 177 g
  • materials: GG7 glass (front), aluminum (sides), polycarbonate (back)
  • waterproof: IP68

Thinner bezels around a slightly smaller display and a thinner housing make the Galaxy S21 FE also lighter than the Galaxy S20 FE. Although both phones have batteries with the same capacity and the same IP68 water resistance (1.5 meters under water, for a maximum of 30 minutes). It should survive falling into a bathtub, fountain, or shallow lake water.

The front is GG7 glass, the side frames are metal (aluminum) and the back is made of plastic. It can be assumed that the plastic on the back is a defect in the phone for PLN 3500 to start and it is partially true. I wish there was glass here too, but …

Polycarbonate has better resistance to falls and impacts (it will not get cobwebs on it), and the matte surface makes it impossible to see light hair scratches on it. In other words, in some respects such material makes sense.

Charger, microSD and mini jack – no

The phone has a dual SIM tray, but no space for a microSD memory card. There is also no classic 3.5mm headphone output, or even a USB-C to mini jack adapter included. In this respect, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, which has a mini jack and a microSD slot, made a better impression.

The package includes a USB-C to USB-C cable for charging and data transmission, but the charger is no longer there. Pro-ecological action, or maybe simple savings with the effect of scale? What is your opinion on this?

What else?

There is NFC on board for contactless payments in stores, very fast Wi-Fi 6 (ax), modern 5G Sub6 / NSA / SA cellular connectivity, Bluetooth 5.0.

Battery life

The Galaxy S21 FE 5G works for less than 1.5 days on the battery. This time can be slightly extended by using a refreshing of 60 Hz and not using GPS navigation and taking few photos and videos. With the 120 Hz refresh enabled and with quite intensive use of the phone with a paired smartwatch, the battery lasts from morning to evening. In a word: the minimum plan is fulfilled, but there is a lack of full satisfaction.

The charging time obviously depends on the connected charger. The phone supports 25 W wired charging (with Power Delivery 3.0), as well as 15 W induction charging and 4.5 W reverse charging (i.e. we can charge our Galaxy Buds 2 headphones with the Galaxy S21 FE phone. over 60 W, of which Samsung accepted “only” the 25 W.

Battery charging time

  • up to 30% – 36 minutes
  • up to 50% – 1 hour and 3 minutes
  • up to 75% – 1 hour and 40 minutes
  • up to 100% – 2 hours and 18 minutes

In a word: if someone like me uses a non-Samsung charger (even with high power), the charging time can be long.

Speed ​​of operation and efficiency

This is where the Galaxy S21 FE 5G has a chance to shine. In my opinion, it is one of the fastest smartphones on the market. It is equipped with the best mobile processor used in Android phones, i.e. Snapdragon 888 5G with the Adreno 660 graphics chip. Such a duo can handle virtually any application, game and movie.

The only element that some people will have reservations about is the RAM memory capacity. The Galaxy S21 FE is available in two versions: 6/128 GB and 8/256 GB – I definitely recommend the latter. 8 GB RAM gives the smartphone more respite when using several applications or multiple tabs in the web browser. A phone with 8 GB RAM is more “future-proof”. It will cope better with subsequent system updates. It will surely ensure more efficient operation for a long time.

System and functions

The system is the latest Android 12 with One UI 4.0 graphic overlay. The design and functionality are at a very good level, and good optimization with the Qualcomm processor means smooth, pleasant operation. In One UI 4.0, Samsung also introduced newer versions of some widgets, improved animations and added automatic color matching of system elements to the currently set wallpaper.

There is also an improved Privacy menu. We have a quick preview of how many applications use the camera, microphone, and location, and we can easily revoke the access of a given program to private information. In Android 12, you can also share an exact or approximate location.

In the system, you can display a side panel with shortcuts to useful tools, applications, contacts and shortcuts to functions.

The Galaxy S21 FE allows you to enable Dolby Atmos sound effects (including automatic adjustment to the content being played), as well as set a preset or manual equalizer.

Of course, you can connect the so-called SmartTags with this smartphone. These are small “tags” that allow you to find an item, without GPS or SIM. Simply put, such a SmartTag connects to newer Galaxy devices that will automatically send their location to the Samsung server. In this way, we can, for example, locate not only our keys, backpack or suitcase, but also the car (the tag can be hidden, for example, under the upholstery).

In addition, you can manage your own devices in the Samsung ecosystem in the Smart Things app.

Does the Galaxy S21 FE have a good camera?

  • basic: 12 Mpx, f / 1.8, 79 degrees, Dual Pixel AF, optical stabilization (OIS)
  • ultra wide angle: 12 Mpx, f / 2.2, 123 degrees
  • telephoto lens: 8 Mpx, f / 2.4, 32 degrees, 3x optical zoom, optical stabilization (OIS)
  • front: 32 Mpx, f / 2.2, 81 degrees, fixed focus
  • rear video: 4K UHD 60 fps, HDR10 +
  • video front: 4K UHD 60 fps

I rate the front camera very positively. Quality, in my opinion, is at the level of flagship smartphones. Both in normal and portrait modes. The second one, apart from a blurred background, also gives you access to color effects.

The video quality also deserves recognition. We can easily record 4K 60 fps from the front and back and switch between these cameras while recording in 4K60. The other two rear cameras provide 4K 30 fps recording (then switching between rear cameras is also activated).

Is it worth buying a Galaxy S21 FE 5G? Opinion

When asked if the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is a good smartphone, I will answer: yes! Even very good! It is used fantastically. It works fast, it is modern, comfortable, waterproof, it has an excellent display and good cameras. But…

In addition, if someone does not need the highest possible performance, but still wants a modern, good and necessarily Samsung phone, the Galaxy A52 5G for PLN 1950 is much more profitable. It’s a lot of fun, works great, and 1500 PLN stays in your pocket.

There are also gestures in the system – e.g. raise to wake up, tap twice to wake up the display, cover the screen with your hand to mute (or flip the phone) or swipe the edge of your hand vertically from left to right to save a screenshot.