New year, new phone...?
Samsung recently sent us the Galaxy S21 FE 5G, and we've had our hands on the sleek phone for a few days now
A little bit of context for the the 'FE' — aka 'Fan Edition' — phone, it is designed after its predecessor, the Galaxy S21 5G, and it has most of the same hardware as its 'master'.
However, it does not mean the 'Fan Edition' is inferior. Think of it this way: It is essentially a 'lite' version of the Galaxy S21 5G with several over-the-top features removed in order to make the phone more affordable, while also upgrading certain areas after listening to customers feedback.
The 'Fan Edition' moniker is like a love letter to the S series fans, and this is the second year that Samsung has produced this product range.
The world of flagship smartphones has seen tremendous improvements over the years, with many phone review experts saying that the sphere has hit an innovation hiatus
They (and I) are of the opinion that mid-range smartphones have taken the baton of continuous innovation.
As Marques Brownlee puts it best:
Tech giants are taking crucial components from their flagship smartphones and implementing them into more affordable models.
With that said, Samsung calls the Galaxy S21 FE 5G a "flagship", and honestly, we agree.
That is why it is an easy recommendation when its price starts at RM2,899 in Malaysia.
With the Galaxy S21 FE 5G being in our pocket for a couple of days now, here is our first impression of the phone.
Below are the four things that stood out to us when we unboxed it:
1. Aesthetic and minimalistic design
Flagship smartphones these days tend to accentuate their rear cameras with flashy camera bump designs. They are out to make a statement.
Personally, those designs have never caught onto me. For me, a good phone design should be elegant, seamless, and minimalistic.
That is why I love the Galaxy S21 FE 5G. Its camera bump and the back panel is a one-piece casing, unlike its predecessor which has a separate metallic cut-out for its three-camera system.
The plastic back has a matte finish, which gives a premium touch and is not a fingerprint magnet. The side of the phone is a metal frame with five antenna bands, empowering the phone with 5G connection capabilities.
The screen is 6.4", while the dimension is 155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9mm, which is 0.2" larger and 3.3mm wider than the Galaxy S21 5G.
It weighs 177g, only 8g heavier than the Galaxy S21 5G, but you get 500mAh more battery.
The model comes in four colour options: Olive, Lavender, White, and Graphite.
All and all, it is a candy-looking phone that has zero design fault to me.
2. Impressive specs that you cannot ignore
Looking at the spec sheet of the Galaxy S21 FE 5G and the Galaxy S21 5G side by side, you notice that other than the size differences we mentioned earlier, only the megapixel for the telephoto lens is different, while its front camera has gotten an upgrade.
Although it says there is a 6GB RAM variant, Samsung's press release for the Malaysia market mentions that only "8GB RAM with 256GB internal storage" and "8GB RAM with 128GB internal storage" are available in the country.
As for the processor you ask? Samsung is traditionally mum on the specifics of the chipset on its official pages, but it is reported that it will have the same chip — Snapdragon 888 — as the Galaxy S21 5G, with some models having an Exynos 2100 processor (which is also same as the Galaxy S21 5G models).
The model I have has Exynos 2100 installed.
3. Customisable UI that makes your phone truly yours
Prior to the Galaxy S21 FE 5G, I was using a phone from another manufacturer. The user interface (UI) was fine and I loved the simplicity of it.
But its looks started to bore me regardless of what wallpaper I changed to.
That is why when I use the Galaxy S21 FE 5G and know that it comes with OneUI 4 — Samsung's newest overlay software that allows users to customise their phones — I know I won't miss out on anything with the switch.
Below is how my home screen looks like. As a person who is always on his phone, having a 'Screen Time' widget on the front page of my home screen is crucial! I had the feature on my previous phone and I still have it on Samsung with Google's native Digital Wellbeing app.
Besides, some of the widgets are better designed on Samsung phones. Take Spotify's widget for example. I can play, pause, and skip songs right from the widget, something I cannot do on my previous phone.
On the third page of my home screen, I have the price charts of the cryptocurrencies that I hold thanks to Binance's widget.
I thought I would lose some of the features coming from another phone brand, but nope... In fact, I get more.
Samsung's One UI 4 is amazing thus far. And even if I don't like some of the stock widgets, I can easily download third-party apps to tweak the look of my home screen to my liking.
It is a customisation wet dream for me. I can't wait to explore and purchase more themes to further personalise my home screen.
4. Stunning photos with the pro-grade camera
Aren't you surprised that a phone under RM3,000 has almost the same camera system as a top-of-the-line flagship smartphone?
Sure, the Galaxy S21 FE 5G's telephoto lens is 22 megapixels lesser than the Galaxy S21 5G, but how often do we use telephoto lens to capture something miles away?
With that said, the telephoto lens still delivers when you need to take a photo of a subject far away or zoom in to see the details. Here are two examples of me having fun with the lens:
Over the past few days, I have also taken the phone to some locations to test its cameras. Let the pictures speak for themselves:
All I can say is the phone has no trouble capturing the toughest shot even when the setting is dark.
I am no pro photographer. These are literally point and shoot. The Galaxy S21 FE 5G's cameras make everyone a pro photographer.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is now available in Malaysia for RM2,899 (128GB) and RM3,099 (256GB)
If you purchase between now and 31 January, you will receive a RM350 e-voucher for your next purchase. You will also get SamsungCare+ 1 Year Accidental and Liquid Damage for your new phone.
Additionally, from now until 28 February, you get to enjoy up to 30% off on selected accessories, wearables, and hearables — such as Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Buds — with every purchase of the Galaxy S21 FE 5G.
Lastly, as Lunar New Year approaches, from 7 January to 27 February 2022, customers can enjoy a prosperous RM68 e-voucher for the Galaxy S21 FE 5G during this festive season.
For more information on the launch offers, you can visit here; as for more information about the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G, visit here.
This is our first impression of the phone. Stay tuned for the full review next week where we will explore more about the operating system, cameras, and unique features.
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