Now, there’s increasing evidence that the release of a successor – in the form of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE – is edging ever closer, but may be on the rocks as Samsung struggles to source key components for the device.
When will the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE be released?
Samsung has not said anything about the Galaxy S21 FE directly, so there is no official release date at the time of writing. That said, last year’s S20 FE was announced in September ahead of a 2 October release, so similar timing would make sense this time around.
Evidence so far is mixed. SamMobile claims that sources have cited a Q4 release for the S21 FE this year, while Evleaks claims to have a detailed roadmap that places the S21 FE’s launch much earlier, with a date of 19 August.
– Light Green
– Light Violet
— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) May 3, 2021
Established industry veteran Ross Young also stated that S21 FE’s mass production would kick off in July, with the phone destined to hit the market in August; aligning with Evleaks’ claims.
A (now deleted) report from Korean publication ETNews, published in mid-June, suggested that Samsung’s supply of Qualcomm silicon – thought to be intended for the S21 FE – was dwindling and that the company was reallocating said semiconductors (i.e. processors) to a forthcoming foldable.
However, Samsung promptly responded by contacting Bloomberg to deny the specifics of the report’s allegations, stating, “while we cannot discuss details of the unreleased product, nothing has been determined regarding the alleged production suspension.”
Korea’s FN News then followed up with a separate report citing an official at one of Samsung’s partners, revealing that the phone was targeting an August date but has now slipped back to October after all.
Just as interestingly, thanks to the shortage the phone is allegedly being considered for a launch limited to the US and Europe, with no availability in Asia at all.
“I know that some time ago, production was considered to be stopped due to a chip shortage. However, considering market reliability, it was reconsidered to release some quantities in the United States and Europe,” the quoted official says (in Korean, through Google Translate).
In a comment a Samsung official seems to admit that the late, limited launch is being considered, but refuses to confirm final plans. Again, this quote is machine-translated, so take it with a pinch of salt:
“It is only one of several measures currently being considered. Nothing has been confirmed yet.”
How much will the Galaxy S21 FE cost?
In early June, Korean publication Herald Corp referenced potential pricing for the next entry in the Galaxy S21 line, citing a local price of between KRW₩700,000 and ₩800,000 (which directly converts to between £445 – £510/€520 – €590/US$630 – $720), a notable price reduction compared to its predecessor – the S20 FE – which in South Korea launched at ₩899,990 (roughly £570/€665/$810) locally.
Regional pricing for the Galaxy S20 FE actually worked out to be higher than that of direct conversion from the Korean pricing; with the 4G variant starting at £599/€659, while the 5G model started at £/€100 more, from £699/€759/$699.
In the US, the S20 FE arrived exclusively with 5G, with the same holding true for the Galaxy S20. Fast-forward and in something of a shift in strategy – in the UK at least – the newly-launched Galaxy A52, only arrived in Blighty in its 5G form, while other European markets still got their hands on a 4G version as well, which could imply that the same will be true of the S21 FE.
One other aspect that will help this particular possibility actually manifest is the falling cost of 5G, which is creeping closer to the pricing of 4G alternatives, based on the price reduction seen between last year’s 5G-capable S20 and A51 and this year’s Galaxy S21 5G and A52 5G.
What features will be included in the Samsung S21 FE?
WCCFTech first reported that the new model would be something of a downgrade in quality from the initial Galaxy S20 FE. The main area of compromise being cited as the display, which could take the form of a 60Hz AMOLED panel, rather than the 120Hz one that featured on its predecessor.
This shortcoming would, however, be countered by moving up to Exynos 2100 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipsets (varying by market), with small bumps to both the camera sensors and battery size.
Specifications Pro has other ideas, with the site suggesting that the new Galaxy S21 FE will feature a 6.7in AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate, Exynos 990 processor and four rear cameras; comprised of a 64Mp f/1.8 wide, 12Mp f/2.2 ultrawide, 5Mp f/2.4 macro and 5Mp f/2.2 depth (not unlike the A52 5G).
While the 990 isn’t out of the question, subsequent Geekbench 5 benchmarking leaks suggest that the Snapdragon 888 will feature in at least one variant, with model number ‘SM-G990B’ scoring 381 in single-core testing 1917 in multi-core testing. The listing also makes mention of Android 11 (which would likely be Android 12 come the device’s launch) and 6GB of RAM.
Not long after 91mobiles’ discovery, MySmartPrice unearthed another variant of the S21 FE on Geekbench, this time sporting 8GB of RAM (along with a Snapdragon 888 once again in-tow).
Battery-wise, Galaxy Club claims that it’s received word regarding the battery capacity inside the S21 FE and that it will match that of its predecessor; positing itself between the base Galaxy S21 (4000mAh) and the S21+ (4800mAh) in terms of capacity, at 4500mAh (technically 4370mAh).
The report makes mention of a battery bearing model number ‘EB-BG990ABY’ which aligns with the S21 FE’s expected model number mentioned above, so there’s a promising amount of legitimacy to this leak, even if we were hoping for a more capacious cell in this year’s model.
There’s also the matter of fast charging, which according to China’s 3C certification body (as spotted by MyFixGuide), will see the phone support 25W recharging.
According to a listing for Samsung’ EP-TA800 charger – destined for the regional model of the S21 FE (SM-G9900) – the phone will trounce the 15W fast charging available on last year’s Fan Edition. What isn’t clear yet is whether or not the S21 FE will come with this (or any) adapter in box.
The only thing that looks reasonably certain is that the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE will actually appear in 2021, as noted tech leaker Max Weinbach posted a tweet in November 2020, where he stated that the S21 FE, along with several other models, where part of Samsung’s plans for the new year.
Samsung flagships to expect this year:
Z Fold 3
Z Flip 3
Z Fold FE
— Max Weinbach (@MaxWinebach) November 15, 2020
As for what this year’s FE might look like, we start with a trip to famed tipster OnLeaks’ semi-regular column on Voice, where he shared some apparent renders of the device in question.
With Hemmerstoffer (OnLeaks) never revealing his sources, it’s uncertain whether the images shared are based on official imagery from a source within Samsung or simply fan-made based on current rumours, but taking them at face value, they reveal some of the subtle differences that this year’s FE will sport, compared to its predecessor and the current Galaxy S21 range.
Dimensions of 155.7mm x 74.5mm x 7.9mm (or 9.3mm thick with the rear camera bump included) render the S21 FE marginally taller and wider than the standard Galaxy S21, which OnLeaks states would suggest (contrary to Specifications Pro’s leak) a slightly larger 6.4in display.
The design, meanwhile, clearly follows in the footsteps of the existing S21 line but sees the contour cut camera bump rise out of the ‘glasstic’ back, rather than the metal frame – as on the other entries in the S21 series.
If you want to see what the S21 FE might look like in different colours, the Concept Creator (Jermain Smit) teamed up with LetsGoDigital to produce some fresh renders of the forthcoming FE, based on the latest rumours (as of April 2021) and they also appear to marry up nicely with OnLeaks’ previous tidbits.
Smit’s design shows, in greater detail, some of the curves and contours around the phone’s camera arrangement, as well as what a black, blue, green, pink and red finish on the phone might look like.
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) June 4, 2021
Evan Blass (aka Evleaks) has also supplied his own set of renders, shown in four different colours initially – including an unusual olive green; all of which are apparently based on a CAD model he’s also uploaded to Sketchfab for fans’ perusal.
Blass supplemented these renders a few days later with additional shots showing revised colours, thought to be closer to the hues the phone will actually launch in.
The five variants shown overlap with the expected colourways promised by Ross Young in his 3 May tweet, embedded further up this feature (with the exception of the blue model, which Young didn’t mention).
Galaxy S21 FE w/ updated/additional colors/angles (clockwise from top left: green, white, blue, violet, grey) pic.twitter.com/kui51pJ6ch
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) June 8, 2021
As with its predecessor, the absence of a black finish is unusual in a market where – despite plenty of phones coming in multiple colourways – there’s practically always a black option; as they’re proven to sell.