Samsung Galaxy S21 FE breaks cover at CES 2022 with "contour cut" design

Is Samsung's long-awaited affordable flagship the phone you've been waiting for?

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
(Image credit: Samsung)

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is one of the best cheap phones you can buy, but it feels like forever since it was released. But its successor is here, at last, in the form of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, which has been finally unveiled at CES 2022.

But, what does the Fan Edition version bring to the table over the standard Samsung Galaxy S21? Let's find out.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: design and display

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is a little bit thinner and lighter than its predecessor, coming in at 7.9mm and 177g. It's in a matte finish, and the "contour cut" design has a similar but less protruding camera bump to the rest of the S21 range.

There are four colours at launch: graphite, olive, lavender and white.

The display here is a 6.4-inch, 120Hz AMOLED delivering 2,340 x 1,080 pixels and a touch sampling rate of 240Hz.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: processor, storage and battery

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE processor is a Snapdragon 888 5G, the same processor we've seen in the Samsung Galaxy S21, and there's a big 4,500mAh battery with a promised life of up to two days between charges. The RAM is 6GB or 8GB and there's 128GB or 256GB of on-board storage.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: cameras

This is a four-camera setup. The selfie camera is a 32MP, f/2.2 fixed focus camera, and the main camera array features a 12MP f/2.2 ultra wide, a 12MP f/1.8 main camera and an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom. It's almost identical to the Samsung Galaxy S21, although its telephoto camera is 64MP.

A lot of the improvements here are in software. Night Mode uses 14 separate images to create a single one, and multi-camera recording enables you to use front and rear cameras simultaneously in a video. There's also good AI features for enhancing faces and erasing unwanted objects.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: early impressions

We weren't too excited about this one mainly because it's taken so long to arrive: would it be a 2021 phone in a 2022 world? But while the improvements here are modest – a faster processor, more powerful image processing – it's still a compelling package if you don't want to shell out for the more expensive Samsung Galaxy S21.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE will go on sale on 11 January for £699 and you can pre-order it now (opens in new tab).

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).