The Samsung Galaxy S21 range is here, but perhaps not every model, as it’s likely that Samsung will follow the initial trio up with a Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (or Galaxy S21 Fan Edition as it might be called) many months later.
This would be a cheaper, lower end alternative to the S21, much as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition is to the Samsung Galaxy S20.
However, the reduction in cost and specs are both likely to be minimal, with the S21 Fan Edition still likely to be fairly high-end – and priced accordingly.
It could also be a major launch for Samsung, potentially landing in what would normally be the Galaxy Note’s slot, as the company suggests the Samsung Galaxy Note 21 is canceled – though we might still see a new model in that range next year.
The news and rumors around this phone are just starting to drip in – we’ve covered all the best ones below, and come up with a list of things we want from the Samsung Galaxy S21 Fan Edition, along with our best educated guesses at the release date and price.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A cheaper take on the Samsung Galaxy S21
- When is it out? Possibly August
- How much will it cost? A lot – but less than most flagships
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE release date and price
The first thing to note is that even though there has only been one Fan Edition model so far, we can be confident that Samsung is planning a Galaxy S21 FE, as SamMobile reports that the company said it would launch a new one every year.
As for exactly when the Samsung Galaxy S21 Fan Edition will land, that’s slightly harder to predict, since we don’t have much history to work with. But the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition was announced on September 23 and hit stores on October 2, so given that there’s typically around a year’s gap between phone models, similar dates in 2021 are likely.
Yet leaker Evan Blass released a mini-roadmap alleging the Samsung S21 FE will launch on August 19, a much earlier date than expected. That’s when the year’s Samsung Note is typically unveiled, but given we’ve heard the Samsung Galaxy S21 won’t be coming out in 2021, the S21 FE could take its place.
August could make sense too, since the main Galaxy S21 range landed in mid-January, which was around a month earlier than new models in the range usually land. That could have a knock-on effect and mean that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Fan Edition launches in August rather than September, as the leaked roadmap suggests.
The price is something that we don’t have much idea of yet, but it may have a launch price in line with the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition, which cost $699 / £699 / AU$1,149 for a 5G model, or £599 / AU$999 for a 4G one (with this version not being available in the US).
If anything though the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE might be cheaper than its predecessor, as the Samsung Galaxy S21 has a lower launch price than the Galaxy S20 did.
News and leaks
It’s been fairly quiet so far in terms of Samsung Galaxy S21 FE news and rumors, but momentum is starting to pick up now. Via reputable tipster @OnLeaks we’ve got what could be our first look at the Galaxy S21 FE, and we’ve embedded one of the tweets below.
The upcoming phone will apparently be slightly taller and slightly wider than the main Galaxy S21, with a 6.4-inch display rather than a 6.2-inch one. The rear camera bump, meanwhile, will be connected to the rear casing rather than the metal frame.
The other main rumor about the Samsung Galaxy S21 Fan Edition is simply that it’s in the works. Max Weinbach (a leaker with a good track record) tweeted as much, saying that it will launch sometime in 2021.
Samsung flagships to expect this year:S21 FES21S21+S21 UltraZ Fold 3Z Flip 3Z Fold FENovember 15, 2020
That’s no surprise though, not least because Samsung itself has reportedly said to expect a new Fan Edition every year, as noted above.
Similarly, other sources claim that a phone with the model number SM-G990B is in development, and it’s believed that might be the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. At the very least the model number would seem to place it in the Galaxy S21 range.
We have heard a few things beyond that though, namely that the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE will reportedly have a 32MP front-facing camera, and come in light green, white, grey, purple, and pink shades.
Beyond that, we can predict that it will have a top-end Snapdragon or Exynos chipset. In the case of the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition, the 4G version got the Exynos 990 while the 5G one got the Snapdragon 865, so perhaps we’ll see a similar split again – but with the next generation of these chipsets, namely the Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100.
Both of those chipsets are very powerful, and are currently among the best you can get in a smartphone.
What we want to see
We were moderately impressed by the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition, but there are a few key improvements we’d like to see from the S21 FE.
1. A glass back
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition has a fairly premium price but its ‘Glasstic’ back (plastic that’s designed to feel like glass) is anything but.
This was one of our biggest disappointments with the phone, and we really want to see Samsung up the quality of materials for the Galaxy S21 Fan Edition. Either that or lower the price, or better yet both.
However, since we made this wish Samsung launched the Galaxy S21 with a Glasstic back, and it seems unlikely that the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE will get a more premium rear than that phone.
2. A lower price
As noted above, the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition is quite an expensive phone, and that’s despite being the baby of the Galaxy S20 range.
While the specs and features go some way towards justifying the price (plastic back notwithstanding), the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE could certainly stand out more if it were a bit more affordable.
This may way well come to pass, given that the rest of the Galaxy S21 range is cheaper than the Galaxy S20 range.
3. A brighter screen
We were generally quite impressed by the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition’s screen, but one aspect that could use some improvement is its brightness.
In our review we noted that it struggled in direct sunlight, and that the automatic brightness sometimes felt dimmer than it should. So for the Samsung Galaxy S21 Fan Edition we want both a higher maximum brightness and improvements to the auto brightness mode.
4. Better battery life
While the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition has a 4,500mAh battery, we found that it didn’t actually last very long, and often struggling to even reach a full day before it needed charging again.
That’s just not good enough, especially when you consider that over time the battery will begin to wear out and become even more problematic, so we want big improvements here for the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.
4,500mAh isn’t actually a bad size, so it’s likely poor optimization that’s at fault, but whether through a bigger battery or improvements elsewhere, we want to be able to comfortably get a day of life from the Samsung Galaxy S21 Fan Edition at an absolute minimum.
5. Faster charging
Another issue we have with the battery in the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition is its charging speed.
At 25W (or 15W for wireless charging) it’s not terrible, but when even the substantially cheaper OnePlus Nord can manage 30W charging, and some phones are up to 65W or higher, we really want increased charging power from the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.