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The Galaxy S21 FE is the new affordable flagship from Samsung

Remember, the release of the S22 is only a month away…

samsung galaxy s21 fe in purple
Image: Samsung

Samsung decided to wait until CES 2022 to release its latest affordable flagship, the $699 Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. With the launch of the Galaxy S22 around the corner in February, this seems an odd time to release a new flagship.

The previous SE device, the Galaxy S20 FE, sold like crazy, with multiple color options and a huge advertising campaign featuring K-pop darlings, BTS. Samsung is likely hoping the strong performance of the previous device will carry over to the latest version.

That might not have the same impact this time around, as it’s been almost a year since the Galaxy S21 was released. That handset is currently $799 on Amazon, but we’ve seen it down to $600 during sales.

Is the Galaxy S21 SE enough of a value proposition, even after all the delays?

Here’s the skinny on the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE:

  • Snapdragon 888 chip
  • 6GB of RAM with 128GB of storage, or 8GB of RAM and 255GB of storage (for an increased price of $769)
  • 6.4-inch 120Hz FHD+ OLED display
  • Support for 6GHz and mmWave 5G
  • IP68 water and dust resistance
  • 25W fast-charging, 15W wireless charging, support for reverse wireless charging
  • 4,500 mAh battery
  • 12MP main lens, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP telephoto, 32MP selfie camera (the same camera array is also found in the Galaxy S20 FE)
  • Under-screen optical fingerprint sensor (the S21 has ultrasonic tech)

Normally, there would be a big market for a cut-down Galaxy device in the FE range. The downgrades (camera, fingerprint sensor, RAM/Storage) aren’t a huge step-down from the $799 price tag of the base Galaxy S21.

Pricing

The big issue here is that the Samsung Galaxy S22 base model is likely to also start at $799. The competition has also heated up this year, with the Pixel 6 being a ridiculously good value at $599, and the iPhone 13 also costing $799.

Carrier deals might swing things, with AT&T offering up to $160 off the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE with a qualifying installment plan. That shakes out at $15 a month, or $540 total, without needing a trade-in.

Verizon is offering up to $700 off the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, but you’ll have to either add a new line to an Unlimited plan or trade-in a qualifying device. With Verizon offering up to $1,000 for a new phone to new customers when they switch, we’re not sure why anyone wouldn’t pick the full Galaxy S21, or any of the other flagship devices.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is available from January 11th, starting at $699 for the 6GB/128GB option and $769 for the 8GB/256GB version.

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