Samsung GALAXY S21 FE review: A good phone at a price that doesn’t make sense

Deepak Gupta February 20, 2022
Updated 2022/02/20 at 4:07 PM

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE was launched and arrived in Brazilian stores in January 2022. The S21 is light, weighing only 177 grams, has a plastic finish on the back with aluminum sides and comes equipped with a 2x Dynamic AMOLED 6. 4 inches, with a resolution of 1080 x 2040 pixels and a screen refresh rate of up to 120Hz. In our tests, the screen of the S21 FE proved to be the device’s strong point. Good brightness, great contrast, vibrant colors, delivering a good experience even when used outdoors. The combination of screen and audio makes the S21 FE a great phone for consuming multimedia content, as it supports high volume color and high dynamic range for movies when watching movies on services like Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, in addition to HDR10+, that works with Prime Video. Stereo audio, with Dolby Atmos support, makes the experience even more complete.

The Galaxy S21 FE is available in Brazil only in the version equipped with the Exynos 2100 chip, 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, without expansion card support. There are three rear cameras: 12-megapixel wide, 8-megapixel telephoto and 12-megapixel ultrawide. Nominal battery capacity is 4,500 mAh, with 25W fast charging – charger not included but can be requested for free by this link. Overall, the S21 FE’s shots are slightly better than the S20 FE, despite both using the same set of cameras. It’s good photos and videos, which we explored extensively in our video review.

This is the first Samsung device to come from the factory with Android 12 and the company has included it in the 04 program flavors guaranteed, that is, in the commitment to deliver updates for the next 04 versions of the Android system, which guarantees that this device will receive updates for Androids 13, 14, 15 and 16 – great news. The user interface is OneUI 4.0, which despite bringing several bloatware (pre-installed apps totally unnecessary) and having two app stores, which only confuses people, is a great interface in my opinion, delivering a very fluid experience, with several interesting extras that replace Google services.

Remember that I mentioned that the Galaxy S21 FE arrives in Brazil with the Exynos 2100 processor? Well, that’s where the situation gets complicated. Outside (in some countries) it comes equipped with the Snapdragon 888. The option for Exynos here does not compromise on the CPU part, where the chip is doing its job well, delivering a very fluid system, with apps running well, opening fast, without stuttering in the navigation between apps. Anyway, everything is ok here. The problem is the GPU. The entire Galaxy S21 line equipped with Exynos 2100 always got very hot in games, which ended up generating Thermal Throttling after a few minutes of gameplay. In short, Thermal Throttling is when the chip frequency decreases so that it can continue working, which automatically decreases the performance of the device. In the S21 FE Samsung to avoid this exaggerated heating and avoid Thermal Throttling, Samsung seems to have decided to decrease the amount of energy that is delivered to the device’s chip. By decreasing the voltage that reaches the GPU, the peak performance will be limited, in theory preventing the device from heating up so much, not causing a drop in performance due to thermal problems. In short, you preemptively decrease performance to prevent the device from heating up and performance degrading as a result.

While this choice seems to make no sense, by taking this path, Samsung prevents users from feeling the effect of heating on their hands so much, leaving the S21 FE cooler than the other brothers in the S21 line, while that only those who play heavier games like Genshin Impact and Fortnite should notice the performance issue. A calculated risk on Samsung’s part. It is important to note that the performance in these games is terrible, especially in Genshin Impact, which led me to research a lot about it. I haven’t found a 100% reliable answer to this problem, so this is the most plausible theory as to why the 21 FE’s performance is so bad in the aforementioned games.

Another problem, at least for now, is the price. The phone arrived very expensive in Brazil, with the S20FE costing almost R$2,000.00 less. Launched for R$ 4,499, it is already possible to find it for up to R$ 3,500.00 in online retail, even so, more expensive than the Galaxy S21, which makes no sense. In summary, if you are not going to use this phone for heavier games and can wait a little longer to change phones, at least until it reaches R$ 2,800.00, the Galaxy S21 FE is a phone that makes a lot of sense. in a segment with few options in Brazil.

Do you want to know more about him? There’s a 35 minute video, super complete, right up there. Just click and watch.

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