Saturday, November 26

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE vs. Galaxy S20 FE: should you upgrade? | Digital Trends Spanish


Does the progress made on the latest device warrant an upgrade? Do you want to buy a new one and are you hesitating between these two phones? We compare the Galaxy S21 FE vs. Galaxy S20 FE to determine if the newest is always the best.

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When Samsung announced the affordable Galaxy S20 FE in September 2020, there were fears about the viability of this phone, which was somewhere between the mid-range A-series and the high-end S-series. In addition to being a new product line, its naming scheme was also new to most users of the brand.

But, apparently none of these details mattered to the people who eventually ended up buying the Galaxy S20 FE en masse. More than 10 million unitswas among Samsung’s best-selling phones between 2020 and 2021.

Specifications

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Dimensions 155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9mm (6.12 x 2.93 x 0.31 inches) 159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4mm (6.29 x 2.93 x 0.33 inches)
Weight 177 grams (6.24 ounces) 190 grams (6.70 ounces)
Screen size 6.4-inch capacitive Dynamic AMOLED 2X (120Hz) 6.5-inch capacitive Super AMOLED (120Hz)
Screen resolution 2,400 x 1,080 pixels (411 ppi) 2,400 x 1,080 pixels (407 ppi)
Operating system Android 12, OneUI 4.0 Android 11, OneUI 3.0
Storage 128GB, 256GB 12 8GB, 256GB
Micro SD slot No Yes
Tap-to-pay services GooglePay Samsung Pay, Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Exynos 990 (5G version: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865)
RAM 6GB, 8GB 6GB, 8GB
Camera rear: Wide 12 MP, Ultra Wide 12 MP, Telephoto 8 MP.

Frontal: 32MP

rear: Wide 12 MP, Ultra Wide 12 MP, Telephoto 8 MP.

Frontal: 32MP

Video 4K at 60FPS 4K at 60FPS
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
ports USB-C, 3.1 USB-C, 3.1
Digital fingerprint reader yes, on screen yes, on screen
Waterproof IP68 IP68
Battery 4,500mAh

Fast charge (25W)

Wireless fast charging (15W)

4,500mAh

Fast charge (25W)

Wireless fast charging (15W)

app store Google Play Store Google Play Store
network support AT&T,Verizon AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon
Colors olive, lavender, white, graphite Lavender, Mint, Navy, White, Red, Orange
Price From $699 dollars From $699 dollars

Design, screen and durability

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is noticeably smaller and lighter than its predecessor. It weighs 177g, compared to 190g on the S20 FE. The newest phone also shares the same design language as the rest of the Galaxy S21 lineup.

This becomes apparent when you look at the camera bump, which resembles a Galaxy S21 bump, albeit with slight modifications. The S20 FE’s camera array looks a bit more conventional by comparison.

Except for the size difference, both phones look the same when viewed from the front. The Galaxy S21 FE’s display is a 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel which, on paper, claims to have better color accuracy compared to the older 6.5-inch Super AMOLED on the S20 FE. Both devices have a hole punch for the selfie camera.

The phones share the same screen resolution numbers (2,400 x 1,920 pixels) and support a 120Hz refresh rate. Samsung also decided not to meddle with the under-display optical fingerprint scanner arrangement we saw on the S20 FE, so the S21 FE uses the same technology.

Both phones are IP68-rated for dust and water resistance, making them almost identical, even in durability. It’s hard to decide which is better, as there are few real differences. Until we’ve had more hands-on time, we’ll leave this as a draw.

Winner: Tie

Performance, battery life and charging

The rear panel of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.
Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE comes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chip which, even after the arrival of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, is still among the most powerful mobile SoCs out there.

The Galaxy S20 uses the old Snapdragon 865 processor which, while old, can still handle most things you need to run. This arrangement changes if you live in other markets outside of the US where the S20 FE was released with the Exynos 990 chip.

While Samsung has yet to confirm this, the European and Asian variants of the Galaxy S21 FE will likely use the Exynos 2100 chip. The S21 FE will be the fastest, in any case, but the difference is quite small.

Storage and RAM options on the Galaxy S21 FE and its predecessor remain the same, coming in 6 and 8GB RAM and 128 and 256GB variants. Significant changes this time around include the Galaxy S21 FE not coming with a travel adapter and losing a microSD card slot.

Battery capacity and charging speeds also remain the same, with both phones boasting a 4,500mAh battery with support for 25W wired charging and 15W wireless charging.

Once again, this is a difficult category to rate, as both have fairly similar power. However, while the S21 FE doesn’t have a microSD card slot, the more powerful processor earns it.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

cameras

A photo showing the camera UI of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.
Samsung.

While the camera module on the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE may look radically different from the Galaxy S20 FE, the camera settings and resolution remain identical.

This means the 12MP main lens (with optical image stabilization), 12MP ultra-wide lens, and 8MP telephoto lens from the S20 FE are all replicated in the Galaxy S21 FE. Even the selfie camera, which uses a 32 MP sensor, has been kept on the Galaxy S21 FE.

Needless to say, we expect both phones to produce almost identical results in a camera comparison. The differences, if any, must come from the different software versions the devices are on.

Winner: Tie

Operating system and updates

The screen of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, being the newer device, has an inherent advantage here as thanks to its launch it runs Android 12 and OneUI 4.0. The S20 FE, on the other hand, is currently on Android 11 and One UI 3.0, but originally launched with Android 10 and OneUI 2.5.

The S20 FE is scheduled to receive two more major Android updates, versions 12 and 13, making the phone good enough for the next couple of years. The newer S21 FE is likely to receive regular updates until Android 15 arrives in a few years.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Special features

DeX trackpad mode on the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

As the affordable flagship phones of their respective eras, both devices are evenly matched (well, almost!) when it comes to extras like Samsung’s Dex mode, Knox security, Single Take, and 30x Space zoom.

A feature of the Galaxy S21 FE that is missing from the S20 FE is the dual recording mode that allows users to record videos simultaneously with the front and rear cameras. Since the two are so similar, that is enough to define the best in this category.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE starts at $699 for the base 6 and 128GB variant, going up to $769 for the 8 and 256GB option. The price of the base model is identical to the price of the Galaxy S20 FE in 2020.

In the US, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is available through Verizon and AT&T. The phone comes in four color options; white, graphite, olive and lavender, and goes on sale from January 11, 2022.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

If you already own the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and are thinking of upgrading to the S21 FE, the short answer is no. That’s because your S20 FE is good enough to last another year comfortably, and unless you’ve absolutely beaten your phone to a near-unusable state, there’s no compelling reason to upgrade.

If you still insist on an upgrade and can spend around $700 on a new phone, there are plenty of other attractive options for the same price. These include Google Pixel 6 ($599), OnePlus 9 ($729), iPhone 13 ($799), iPhone 13 Mini ($699).

Of course, there’s also internal competition from Samsung’s own Galaxy S21 (which is an objectively superior phone to the S21 FE) and it retails for between $699 and $799. The above arguments are valid even if you didn’t own the Galaxy S20 FE before, but were considering buying the S21 FE as a new purchase.

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