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Samsung launches Galaxy S21 FE a month before the Galaxy S22 release

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE on a table

The Galaxy S21 FE rumors rollercoaster ride is finally over, and it’s a happy end for those Samsung fans who want to buy the phone. We expected the Galaxy S21 FE to hit stores this summer, alongside the 2021 foldables, but that didn’t happen. Reports that followed said Samsung might cancel the S21 FE due to the components shortage and logistics issues that impacted manufacturing last year. As we got closer to 2022, rumors said the Galaxy S21 FE will get a very late launch. Some pointed to January 4th as the potential launch date, and Samsung has just delivered it. The problem with the Galaxy S21 FE right now is that it’s coming out too close to the Galaxy S22 series, which is due next month.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: Price and release date

Unveiled at CES 2022, the Galaxy S21 FE is supposed to be the more affordable Galaxy S21 version that some buyers might be waiting for. But the regular Galaxy S21 is already a great deal at $799. That’s the phone’s original price, from about a year ago. You can easily find much better price discounts for the Galaxy S21 right now.

Put differently, the Galaxy S21 FE is practically a 2021 phone launching in 2022 for $699.

It’s very likely the cheaper Galaxy S22 option will cost around $799. Samsung faces immense pressure from the iPhone 13, which has the same price as the iPhone 12. Not to mention the Pixel 6, which offers tremendous value for an even lower price.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE color options
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE color options. Image source: Samsung

That’s to say the Galaxy S22 might be a much better deal than the Galaxy S21 FE at this point in the game. If you’ve waited this long for a cheap flagship, you might wait one more month before you decide. New Galaxy S phone preorders do come with all sorts of perks, after all.

Separately, the $499 Galaxy A52 might be a better mid-range option if you’re looking to save more money on your next Samsung Galaxy phone. The Galaxy S20 FE might also be a better choice than the Galaxy S21 FE when it comes to savings.

Finally, you should know that the $699 Galaxy S21 FE only features 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You’ll have to pay $769 for 8GB of RAM and double the storage.

Samsung will start selling the Galaxy S21 FE on January 11th, or the release date that we’ve been expecting all along.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE in black
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE in black. Image source: Samsung

The design and specs

All of that doesn’t mean the Galaxy S21 will disappoint. We’re looking at a variation of the Galaxy S21 here, which means you’re getting the same overall build quality and high-end performance.

Yes, the Galaxy S21 FE is made of plastic, just like the Galaxy S21. But both phones run on the Snapdragon 888 processor, Qualcomm’s 2021 flagship chip. They also ship with high-resolution displays that support 120Hz refresh rates.

The Galaxy S21 FE actually has a slightly bigger screen, at 6.4-inch vs. 6.2-inch for the Galaxy S21. That gives the new FE a larger footprint, so you’re getting a slightly larger battery pack. The 4,500 mAh battery supports 25W charging speeds — you’ll reach more than 50% capacity in just 30 minutes.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE camera in action
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE camera in action. Image source: Samsung

The Galaxy S21 FE rocks the same signature design as the Galaxy S21. You get three cameras encased in a metal enclosure. We’re looking at 12-megapixel wide camera with OIS, 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera with 30x Space Zoom lens. A 32-megapixel front camera pierces through the screen.

Like the Galaxy S21, the FE supports 5G connectivity (sub-6GHz and mmWave), an in-display fingerprint sensor, and IP68 dust and water-resistance certification.

The Galaxy S22 series should be unveiled in mid-February and hit stores by the end of the month.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.