(9 days left!) Be the first with a 200MP camera! Visit Samsung to reserve and gain $100 in Samsung credit!

SamMobile has affiliate and sponsored partnerships. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Galaxy S21/S21+ vs Galaxy S20 FE: The fan edition stands its ground

Phone
By 

Last updated: January 14th, 2021 at 16:13 UTC+01:00

Unpacked 2021 is over and Samsung’s weeks away from unleashing the new Galaxy S21 series onto the market. Interestingly, Samsung has positioned the base Galaxy S21 model $100 off from the so-called flagship killer territory where the Galaxy S20 FE 5G resides.

The latter was introduced late last year for $699 and the Galaxy S21 will go on sale for $799. So, how does this gap in pricing translate into the real world? How much better are the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+, the latter of which goes on sale for $999 by the way, than the Galaxy S20 FE budget flagship?

Galaxy S21/S21+ vs Galaxy S20 FE: Camera

As surprising as it may sound, the Galaxy S20 FE could have the upper hand on the Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21+ in the camera department, or at least we can assess this by looking at how the Galaxy S20 FE compares to the Galaxy S20 and the Galaxy S20+.

This is because the Galaxy S21 and its larger sibling have the exact same camera setup as the 2020 flagship models. And as we explained in our Galaxy S20 FE review, the budget flagship beats the Galaxy S20 duo thanks to a real telephoto camera that doesn’t emulate zoom through cropping of a 64MP image.

The Galaxy S21 will offer a few extra features inside the Camera app thanks to One UI 3.1, but these are probably coming to the Galaxy S20 FE later this year.

We’ll talk more about the Galaxy S21 camera performance in our upcoming reviews, but preliminary specs suggest that the Galaxy S20 FE might be a better choice for mobile photographers. Selfie enthusiasts might get better mileage out of the Galaxy S21’s 10MP sensor though, as the 32MP unit that’s used by the Galaxy S20 FE is roughly of mid-range quality despite the higher resolution.

Galaxy S21/S21+ vs Galaxy S20 FE: Display

The Galaxy S20 FE has a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display with HDR10+ capabilities and a resolution of 2400 by 1080 pixels. The panel is capable of 120Hz but it is not an adaptive refresh rate.

The Galaxy S21 / S21+ feature Dynamic AMOLED 2X HDR10+ displays with the same resolution as the Galaxy S20 FE. They take advantage of an adaptive refresh rate of 48-120Hz, and this will lead not only to improved battery life but also smoother animations all around. The base Galaxy S21 model is the smallest at a 6.2-inch diagonal, and the Galaxy S21+ has a 6.7-inch panel.

Galaxy S21/S21+ vs Galaxy S20 FE: Hardware and features

Although the Exynos 990 / Snapdragon 865 chipsets are more than fitting for the Galaxy S20 FE and its 5G counterpart, the latest Exynos 2100 and Snapdragon 888 solutions employed by the Galaxy S21 series should be far superior. They’re built on a 5nm process and promise significant power and efficiency improvements over the last generation. That’s not to say the Galaxy S20 FE is slow, but the new flagship lineup offers the best-possible experience and are better proofed for the future.

You’ll get more RAM and the same 128GB / 256GB storage options out of the Galaxy S21 and S21+, but both these phones lack expandable storage. The Galaxy S20 FE has a second SIM slot that doubles as a microSD card slot.

All three phones have 25W fast charging. In terms of battery capacity, the base Galaxy S21 model has a 4,000mAh battery and it’s followed by the Galaxy S20 FE with a 4,500mAh unit. The Galaxy S21+ benefits from a 4,800mAh battery.

Last but not least, the Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21+ offer the most complete software experience to date via Android 11 and One UI 3.1, but the Galaxy S20 FE is bound to be updated to the latest version of One UI this year. And worth noting is that the Galaxy S21+ is the only model here that takes advantage of UWB.

Galaxy S21/S21+ vs Galaxy S20 FE: Design

We were pleasantly surprised by how premium and well-built the Galaxy S20 FE felt when we first experienced it and, evidently, we don’t expect any less from the Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21+.

The base Galaxy S21 model has more in common with the Galaxy S20 FE as they both have a plastic back panel, but the Galaxy S21 series has Gorilla Glass Victus display protection and the Galaxy S21+ has the back panel made of the same material. All phones come with an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance.

Durability and build quality aside, the Galaxy S21 duo boasts a modern design with a bold camera housing. It looks exquisite, and sadly, the same can no longer be said to describe the Galaxy S20 FE’s rear panel design. It’s not ugly but the more we get used to the Galaxy S21’s camera housing the more outdated the 2020 models seem, and this is valid for Samsung’s entire smartphone range released last year.

Galaxy S21/S21+ vs Galaxy S20 FE: The wrap-up

The Galaxy S21 and its Plus sibling offer a better display, better materials, a new modern look, a more powerful chipset and more RAM as standard. The duo also boasts an improved AMOLED display and newer firmware, however, it lacks expandable storage and the main camera setup — the zoom lens in particular — might underperform compared to the Galaxy S20 FE.

New buyers will get more mileage out of the Galaxy S21 or the Galaxy S21+, but existing Galaxy S20 FE owners can comfortably skip the new flagship duo and wait for a sequel if they so desire. Or they could consider the Galaxy S21 Ultra for an upgrade. Feel free to check our comparison widget below for a closer look at how these three phones compare side by side.

Samsung
Galaxy S21+

Buy Full specs

Samsung
Galaxy S20 FE

Buy Full specs

General Information

  • Model Name

    Galaxy S21

    Galaxy S21+

    Galaxy S20 FE

  • Model type

    Bar

    Bar

    Bar

  • Colors

    Violet (Violet)Pink (Pink)Gray (Gray)White (White)

    Silver (Silver)Black (Black)Violet (Violet)Red (Red)Gold (Gold)Pink (Pink)

    Navy (Navy)Red (Red)White (White)Lavender (Lavender)Mint (Mint)Orange (Orange)

  • Announced

    2021, January

    2021, January

    2020, September

  • Released

    2021, January

    2021, January

    2020, October

Physical specifications

  • Dimensions

    Bar: 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm

    Bar: 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm

    Bar: 159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4 mm

  • Weights

    171g

    202g

    190g

  • IP rating

    IP68

    IP68

    IP68

Operating system

  • Operating system

    Android 11

    Android 11

    Android 11

  • One UI version

    3.1

    3.1

    3.0

Networks

  • SIM

    Dual SIM model

    Dual SIM model

    Dual SIM model (Hybrid SIM slot)

  • SIM card sizes

    Nano-SIM (4FF)

    Nano-SIM (4FF)

    Nano-SIM (4FF)

  • Networks

    2G3G4G5G

    2G3G4G5G

    2G3G4G

  • eSIM support

    Yes

    Yes

    No

Display

  • Kind

    Main Display

  • Name

    Infinity-O Display

  • Technology

    Super AMOLED Display

  • Size

    6.5 inch / 165.1 mm

  • Resolution

    FHD+ / 2400x1080 pixels

  • Pixel density

    407 PPI

  • Screen to body ratio

    ~84.8%

  • Refresh rate

    120Hz

Phone Galaxy S20 Fan EditionGalaxy S20 FEGalaxy S21Galaxy S21 Plus
Load 3 comments

You might also like

Galaxy S20 FE gets January 2023 security update

The Android 13 (One UI 5.0) update for the Galaxy S20 FE was probably the phone’s last major OS upgrade. However, the device is still eligible to get monthly security updates. To that extent, the Snapdragon-powered LTE and 5G variants of the Galaxy S20 FE (SM-G780G and SM-G781B) are getting the January 2023 security patch. […]

  • By Asif Iqbal Shaik
  • 4 days ago

Samsung launches massive price cuts through The Grand Republic Sale in India

Samsung has launched The Grand Republic Sale in India, bringing offers and cashback on numerous products across different categories, including mobile devices, accessories, TVs, and home appliances. The mega sale is now live and ends on January 21. Prospective buyers can now save up to 61% on select smartphone models. The list includes the Galaxy […]

  • By Mihai Matei
  • 7 days ago

These phones will get One UI 5.1 update soon after Galaxy S23 launch

It is expected that Samsung will debut the Galaxy S23 series with Android 13-based One UI 5.1 software onboard. Going by the company’s track record, the new software will be rolled out to previous-generation high-end phones first, then to tablets and mid-range smartphones. Well, Samsung has now confirmed which phones will get the One UI […]

  • By Asif Iqbal Shaik
  • 1 week ago

Galaxy S21 is the next in line to get January 2023 security update

Yesterday, Samsung released the 2023’s first security update to the Galaxy Note 10 series. Now, the company has started rolling out the January 2023 security update to the Galaxy S21 series in some European countries. The latest software update for the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and Galaxy S21 Ultra bumps up the firmware version of […]

  • By Asif Iqbal Shaik
  • 3 weeks ago

Your Galaxy device may be stuck on the July 2022 Play system update

The Android OS and monthly security patches aren’t the only updates that your device gets. Play system updates are also rolled out every month for compatible Android devices directly by Google. It appears that the update hasn’t arrived on some of Samsung’s most popular devices. Multiple threads have emerged on Reddit and Samsung’s official support […]

  • By Adnan Farooqui
  • 3 weeks ago

What is the newest Samsung phone? – January 2023

It has often been difficult to keep track of the newest Samsung phone given that the company releases so many throughout the year. Samsung has dozens of models across different series which cater to all price ranges. This page will be updated on a monthly basis to ensure that you can always know what is […]

  • By Adnan Farooqui
  • 3 weeks ago