We went hands-on with Samsung’s new, affordable Galaxy S21 FE

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CNN Underscored is bringing you the champion of CES 2022 each week – beryllium definite to cheque retired our sum for the biggest tech products worthy getting excited about.

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 household of smartphones — the S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra — is expanding with a caller introduction point: the Galaxy S21 FE.

As it did with the Galaxy S20 FE successful precocious 2020, Samsung plucks immoderate of the champion features from the S21 enactment and places them into this smaller, much affordable device. Samsung is launching the S21 FE astatine CES 2022, a amusement wherever they typically absorption connected TVs and monitors.

The Galaxy S21 FE volition beryllium disposable connected Jan. 11 astatine $699.99 for the 128GB exemplary and $769.99 for 256GB of storage. We were capable to walk a play with the S21 FE, and aft that clip we are naming it a finalist for the Best Mobile Phone from CES 2022.

The Galaxy S21 FE looks familiar, though it is somewhat larger than the S21 without flashy plan elements similar a metallic border. It is besides highlighted with a camera bump that comes retired of the phone’s edge.

Samsung calls this a Contour-Cut framework and the subtle plan provides uniformity to the backmost sheet of the phone. The framework of the S21 FE is aluminum, though arsenic mightiness beryllium expected with this much affordable option, the phone’s rear sheet is simply a creaseless polycarbonate. It isn’t glossy but does amusement immoderate fingerprints. Weighing successful astatine 177 grams, the S21 FE feels important successful our hand, and it comes successful Olive, Lavender, White oregon Graphite colour options.

The device’s beforehand is astir each surface with a 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED panel, and it’s bully to spot minimal bezels all-around astatine this terms point. We besides admit however good it handles colors, and supports a 120Hz refresh complaint for smoother visuals than you’ll spot connected galore phones astatine this price. Samsung’s besides tucked a 32-megapixel selfie camera into the apical which is large for video calls and speedy shots. They’ve besides included a fingerprint sensor built into the bottommost fractional of the display.

Powering each of this is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, the aforesaid 1 that resides successful the remainder of the Galaxy S21 family. That means that photos are speedy to process, games tin beryllium played locally oregon from the cloud, and multitasking is made casual by fluidly moving betwixt apps. However, the RAM is little than different S21s and this could pb to slowdowns with much aggravated tasks oregon conscionable leaving a bevy of apps open. The $699 S21 FE features 6GB of RAM (what we’ve been testing) and the $769 variant ships with 8GB. The S21 FE comes preloaded with Android 12 and Samsung’s One UX 4.0.

Battery beingness has besides been beardown passim the weekend, apt acknowledgment to the 4,500mAh artillery inside. We’ve easy gotten done a afloat time connected a charge, adjacent making it done 2 with lighter usage. When it comes clip to charge, you’ll request to plug successful the included USB-C cablegram oregon spot it connected a Qi-enabled wireless charging pad. Samsung doesn’t see a partition plug successful the box, but we’d urge an Anker Nano II.

While Samsung’s S21 FE comes with a bigger artillery and a faster processor inside, the aforesaid attraction was not fixed to the main camera array connected the back. Here’s what the Galaxy S21 FE is packing.

12-megapixel ultrawide lens: The ultrawide lens offers a 123-degree tract of presumption and is large for capturing a ample country successful a shot. In our aboriginal tests, we captured a ton successful the framework without seeing overmuch blur oregon fisheye effect astir the edges.
12-megapixel wide-angle lens: The main shooter connected the S21 FE performs admirably. It’s champion for portraits and much accepted shots.
8-megapixel telephoto lens: This is the aforesaid zoom lens arsenic connected the S20 FE and we are amazed it wasn’t improved on. It’s an 8-megapixel lens with 3x optical zoom functionality. 30x Space Zoom is supported here, but without the carnal periscoping lens connected the S21 Ultra. It’s simply a operation of carnal and integer zoom on with upscaling, which tin pb to immoderate superior distortion astatine a afloat 30x. We recovered the 10x zoom functionality to beryllium the astir practical.

Samsung’s assorted modes are besides included present — Night Mode, Single Take, Portrait, Pro, Food, Portrait Video, Dual Recording and Slow Motion, among others, and they each tally good (samples below). Single instrumentality is inactive 1 of our favorites, letting you deed the shutter fastener and determination the telephone around, past the S21 FE uses AI to fig retired which shots to capture, and if it needs to use effects.

Camera show present volition beryllium critical, since the Pixel 6 costs conscionable $599 and offers fantabulous photography. You suffer the carnal telephoto lens there, but Google’s processing is second-to-none successful the Android space.

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 FE is shaping up to beryllium an fantabulous caller introduction constituent into the Galaxy S21 family. However, it’s launching astatine an absorbing clip arsenic we’re conscionable a fewer weeks distant from the rumored successors to the Galaxy S21 family, aka the Galaxy S22. Still, for those who privation a much affordable Samsung device, the $699 S21 FE volition apt acceptable the bill. As agelong arsenic you’re chill with a cheaper plan and not the astir awesome telephoto lens.

The Galaxy S21 FE is besides making a splash astatine CES arsenic 1 of the fewer mobile phones to motorboat astatine the show. For it’s feature-set and affordable positioning, it’s a finalist for Best Mobile Phone of CES 2022. We’ll beryllium sharing our afloat finalists aboriginal this week, up of the apical picks successful each category.

Orders unfastened connected Jan. 11 for the Galaxy S21 FE astatine $699.99 for 128GB of retention and 6GB of RAM oregon $769.99 for 256GB of retention and 8GB of RAM. Either way, you’ll find enactment for 5G mmWave and Sub-6 arsenic well, which is terrific quality — particularly if either web exists adjacent you. Those seeking ultra-fast speeds which tin rival location networks volition privation to find mmWave connectivity, though it’s not rolled retired nationally. Sub-6 is much common, but doesn’t present a brainsick summation successful speeds.

We’d besides urge looking astatine the standard Galaxy S21 or, if you’re alright without a telephoto lens, the cheaper Pixel 6.

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