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We Tried Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G For A Week. Here's Our Full Review Of The Flagship Phone

The cameras *chef's kiss...

Cover image via SAYS/Yap Wan Xiang

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I am all for mid-range phones in 2022! Spending over RM5,000 on a phone sounds bonkers to me, especially when I am not going to use all the features in the 'ultra'... 'plus'... 'pro'... phones.

If you are like me who does not mind losing out on 8K video filming capabilities and the 100x telephoto lens, among other 'ultra' frills, in exchange for a cheaper phone, then the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is a great phone for you.

I have been using the phone for a week now, with all my data transferred and my SIM card migrated.

Do I miss my old phone? Coming from a different operating system, my 'yeses' are only limited to a few features.

The flagship-killer phone has met all my expectations and impressed me in some areas. But there are a few small disappointments, too.

Image via SAYS

You can read about my first impression of the phone here, where I detail what I like about its design and interface customisation.

Let's get into the four things that the Galaxy S21 FE 5G stood out to me, which you need to know before you consider buying the phone:

1. Making compromises on some of the specs

A bit of context here: the Galaxy S21 FE 5G is the 'Fan Edition' of Samsung's top-of-the-line flagship S series.

It is designed after the Galaxy S21 5G, and it has most of the same hardware as its 'master'. But it does not mean the 'Fan Edition' is inferior. It is essentially a 'lite' version of the Galaxy S21 5G with several over-the-top features removed to make the phone more affordable, while also upgrading certain areas after listening to customer feedback.

With that said, let's look at the side by side comparison of the phones:

Image via SAYS

Compared to the Galaxy S21 5G, the 'Fan Edition' has a better front-facing camera, and a bigger screen, dimensions, as well as battery capacity.

However, it loses out on a lower megapixel telephoto lens and a weaker fingerprint sensor.

Personally, I often run into trouble unlocking the phone with my fingers, as an optical fingerprint reader is not as accurate and as fast as an ultrasonic sensor. This could be a deal-breaker for some of you.

But I have set up the 'lift to wake' feature and face recognition to quicken my phone unlocking process.

2. Pro-grade cameras that create stunning photos with every shot you take

Image via SAYS
Image via SAYS

In terms of 'Instagrammability', the phone handles portraits very well. Even selfies in dark conditions look impeccable.

I turned my friend into an Instagram model for a day, while I... not so much. I shall focus on snapping photos.

Image via SAYS
Image via SAYS
Image via SAYS

As you can see from the photos, the phone turns everything you take into professional-grade 'stock' photos. Some of them can even be set as my phone's wallpaper.

Sure, Samsung phones are known for exaggerating the colours to bring out more warmth. The photos look less true to life.

But after seeing the photos I took, I do not care anymore. They look like they were taken by a pro — which I am not.

The Galaxy S21 FE 5G comes with native pro video mode, too, where you can control the ISO, white balance, shutter speed, and more. So, if you do not like how the colours look sometimes, the phone gives you the flexibility to change it up.

3. Multiple video modes to capture every memory

The Galaxy S21 FE 5G has portrait video mode, dual recording, super slow-mo, hyperlapse, and many more.

I love the dual recording mode as it adds another layer of content to my video recordings. As you can see below, I am chasing after a feathered friend in KL Bird Park and it shows both my reaction and the bird that I am chasing.

Rest assured, no birds were harmed in the process of testing the cameras, even for the peacock who flew away fright in front of me and I managed to capture it in super slow-mo (960fps ftw!).

The camera has incredible stabilisation, too! Look at the time-lapse of me walking around the bird park.

Even when it is played at rapid speed, the footage remains relatively stable. 

The footage I took at Kwai Chai Hong, Kuala Lumpur was captured with the wide-angle lens. Watch until the end to see how unstable the footage was while I was recording it.

The Galaxy S21 FE 5G's Super Steady feature was built to make all your travel and cafe videos look the best when you upload them to your TikTok or Instagram.

4. The not-so-good sides of the phone

The first thing here is hardly Samsung's fault. It is the bugs in the Google Play Store apps.

Take Instagram, for example, the social media app I use the most (and I believe you do, too) has a good 20% chance of not being able to play Reels on the news feed. I have to click on the profile and tap into their Reel page in order to watch the video.

Ugh! That is very frustrating. Conventional wisdom has it that Android apps are not as well coded and designed as other operating systems, so much so that the same can be said for Google apps, such as Gmail and Google Drive. I am at the mercy of app developers to push out updates so that I can live a bug-free life.

Another not-so-good side of the Galaxy S21 FE 5G is... Bixby. Out of all the different voice controls out there, Bixby falls far behind its competitors. But you already know that.

Next up is its QR scanner. In my previous phone, I always took pride in being able to scan a QR code with the MySejahtera app while standing behind someone as they struggle to get their phones to read the codes. Now, I am one of them.

I do not understand why this is a problem. Hopefully, a software update in the future can resolve this.

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.

Image via SAYS

For more information on the launch offers, you can visit here; as for more information about the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G, visit here.

Wanna know what's in store for you this year? Read your zodiac fortune for 2022 here!

Image via SAYS

Learn more about the Galaxy S21 FE 5G here:

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