Samsung's Long Rumored Galaxy S21 Fan Edition Steps Out For Real At CES
At long last, Samsung's Galaxy S21 Fan Edition (FE) smartphone is now official, even if devoid of any major surprises, given the numerous leaks and rumors leading up to today's launch. And like its predecessor, the focus is on offering a flagship experience at a more mainstream price point, with some upgrades and compromises along the way.
The main tradeoff is the construction. Samsung once again employs a combination of aluminum (frame) and polycarbonate plastic. It still looks like a premium device, though (from the renders we've seen), and if you're the type who squeezes your phone into a protective case anyway, it hardly matters if the chassis is glass and metal or plastic.
"At Samsung, we are focused on bringing the latest mobile innovations to even more people," said TM Roh, President and Head of Samsung Electronics’ MX (Mobile eXperience) Business. "We saw an incredible response to Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S21 lineup. So we applied the same approach with S21 FE 5G, equipping it with the premium features that matter most to our loyal Galaxy fans—because we’re focused on delivering a smartphone that meets their most important needs."
What does translate into? Let's have a look.
You can reference our Galaxy S21 review for a point of comparison (we also reviewed the Galaxy S20 FE), but there are some key upgrades with the latest FE model. One of them is the size of the display. The Galaxy S21 FE prances onto the smartphone scene with a bigger 6.4-inch screen AMOLED screen with a 2340x1080 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. The non-FE model checks in at 6.2 inches, also with an AMOLED display, albeit with a 2400x1080 resolution and the same 120Hz refresh rate.
Samsung mostly stuck with the same core hardware this time around. Namely, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor paired with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage. However, Samsung is also offering the Galaxy S21 FE with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage, at a lower price point.
The camera arrangement on the FE is better across the board. For selfies, Samsung swapped out the 10MP shooter for a 32MP one (f/2.2, 81-degrees). And around back, there's a main 12MP Dual Pixel camera with auto-focus and optical image stabilization (f/1.8, 79-degrees), a 12MP ultra-wide lens (f/2.2, 123-degrees), and an 8MP telephoto camera (f/2.4, FOV 32-degrees) with a 3x optical zoom and 30x Space Zoom.
Even though the Galaxy S21 FE's arrival feels a bit late to the game, the combination of high-end hardware, better cameras, and attractive pricing should make it an intriguing option for discerning buyers who want to maximize the amount of bang they get for their bucks.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G Headed To AT&T
Starting on January 11, AT&T customers will be able to pick up the Galaxy S21 FE. Both new and existing customers can nab the 128GB model for $699.99 or the 256GB for $769.99. In addition, AT&T says that for a limited time, customers can pick the phone up on an installment plan. If going that route, pricing works out to $15 per month for the 128GB model and $20 per month for the 256GB model, with no trade-in necessary. Additionally, enterprise business customers can get the phone for as low as $149.99 on a two-year agreement plan.
AT&T reiterated that the Galaxy S21 FE can be paired with one of its unlimited plans starting at $35 per month (when getting four lines). The phone also supports FirstNet.
"The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G comes FirstNet Ready, which means first responders can use it to tap into specialized capabilities designed to meet their needs on FirstNet—the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform. First responders maintain voice communications with always-on priority and preemption on LTE, while the intuitive FirstNet network determines the best route for data traffic, whether that’s 5G or LTE," AT&T says.
We imagine other carriers will have promos and special offers too, especially as time goes on.