Samsung is just a couple of weeks away from launching its next phones, with a Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event scheduled for February 9 and the new Galaxy S22 flagships expected to headline the event. And if the latest Galaxy S22 price rumors turn out to be true, a big winner could emerge from that phone’s launch: the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.
You may remember the FE from when it arrived this month with generally positive if not exactly enthusiastic reviews. The Galaxy S21 FE offers most of the features you’d expect from a Samsung flagship, but at a lower price point than the rest of the S21 lineup, making it a viable option for people who demand premium features but are stay away from sky-high prices.
The problem with the Galaxy S21 FE is that while it’s cheaper than the standard Galaxy S21’s debut price, it’s not that cheaper. At $699, the Galaxy S21 FE is only $100 less than the S21 when it arrived a year ago. That’s a far cry from the $300 price disparity between the Galaxy S20 FE and the Galaxy S20, though that was before Samsung slashed prices for the flagship with the launch of the S21.
If you were expecting to see a bigger gap between the FE and one of Samsung’s flagships, the phone maker may be ready to grant your wish, though probably not in the way you’d like. A rumor surrounding Samsung’s upcoming flagships suggests price increases across the board for the Galaxy S22 lineup. Under this scenario, the Galaxy S22 would start at $899, widening the gap to the cost of the Galaxy S21 FE.
That is undoubtedly just a rumor related to the price of the Galaxy S22. Other rumors we’ve heard in the build-up to Samsung’s February phone launch suggest no price changes, at least for entry-level models. In the end, the Galaxy S22 could end up debuting at the same $799 price point that the S21 did.
Still, let’s assume for a moment that Galaxy S22 prices will go up when those phones arrive in February. Suddenly, the Galaxy S21 FE looks like a much more compelling purchase.
Going for a cheaper phone always requires some trade-offs, and what you’d have to give up if you choose the Galaxy S21 FE over the Galaxy S22 won’t be entirely clear until Samsung officially reveals the new flagship. Still, there are enough rumors about where we can put together a fairly comprehensive comparison between the Galaxy S21 FE and the Galaxy S22 to get an idea of the main differences.
The Galaxy S22 appears to have a newer chipset than the S21 FE, either a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or Exynos 2200 compared to an older, albeit still powerful, Snapdragon 888. The Galaxy S22 also has a display with an adaptive refresh rate. that adjusts based on your on-screen activity. With the Galaxy S21 FE, you can enjoy a 120Hz refresh rate, but to go back to the slower 60Hz mode, you need to manually adjust the display settings.
The Galaxy S21 FE appears to have a larger screen and a larger battery than the Galaxy S22. (Not that the latter helped the Galaxy S21 FE perform well in our battery test.) And both phones will have Android 12 at launch.
But the cameras could be the deciding factor as to which Samsung phone is more attractive. The Galaxy S21 FE cameras already take a step back from what the Galaxy S21 offered, with a less powerful telephoto lens. According to rumours, the Galaxy S22 is in line to get a much sharper 50MP main camera and a telephoto lens with optical zoom. Both would be big improvements over what the Galaxy S21 FE offers.
None of this is to say that the Galaxy S21 FE is a flawed phone. It offers solid value for its price. However, the question is how much more the Galaxy S22 will have to offer and will the feature differences justify the price differences between the two Samsung phones? (Whatever the price difference ultimately).
There are some people who will always want to get the latest phone, under the theory that newer is usually better. For those people, the Galaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21 FE debate will be over before it starts. But for more price-sensitive buyers, a lot will depend on how much Samsung charges for its new phones. If that $100 price increase rumor comes to pass, the Galaxy S21 FE could win the debate over which Samsung phone to get, even if it’s default.