Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely vs Galaxy S20 FE: Does actuality trump ambition?

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S21 Ultra

Credit score: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Opinion publish by

Robert Triggs

Within the final six months, Samsung has launched extra flagship smartphones to go well with a wider vary of shoppers than ever earlier than. For the extra budget-conscious shopper, there’s the Galaxy S20 FE that launched to essential acclaim in late September 2020. This extra value-oriented pricing technique seeped into Samsung’s 2021 flagship launch too. The usual Galaxy S21 mannequin prices $200 lower than 2020’s Galaxy S20. Samsung has made a few of its newest merchandise fairly reasonably priced, lastly tackling the attract of cheaper flagship telephones from Chinese language manufacturers.

Then there’s the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely. A colossal $1,199 technological behemoth that includes the very newest and biggest that Samsung has to supply — with an eye-watering value to match. Even right here although, Samsung has diminished the worth of its S21 Extremely right down to the identical value as final 12 months’s S20 Plus.

Learn extra: Samsung Galaxy S21 purchaser’s information — all the things that you must know

We don’t know whether or not Samsung’s flip to decrease pricing is a well-timed response to the financial fallout of COVID-19 or a extra concerted effort to rejuvenate falling flagship gross sales. In response to Statista, Samsung’s common quarterly market share crept down from 21.8% in 2017 to 20.6% in 2020. That very same timeframe has seen Oppo and Xiaomi develop into more and more highly effective market forces. To not point out Samsung’s ongoing rivalry with Apple. There’s by no means been a extra urgent time for Samsung to make its costs extra enticing.

Samsung is within the midst of weighing up its need to push the technological envelope with the truth that worth for cash is driving the majority of gross sales progress within the cell business. In consequence, it’s ended up with two totally different telephones for 2 very totally different shoppers. However will actuality actually trump ambition in 2021?

Our verdicts:

Two telephones for 2 very totally different prospects

Having spent some respectable hands-on time with the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S21 Extremely, in addition to the S21 Plus mannequin, there’s actually not an entire lot to select from between these telephones for day-to-day use. Sending messages, searching the online, checking e-mail, and snapping a fast image all work and really feel the identical, whether or not you spend $699 or $1,199.

Importantly, the S20 FE provides the identical integration with Samsung’s SmartThings and Dex assist (in case you’ve purchased into Samsung’s wider ecosystem), wi-fi charging, an IP68 score, and 5G networking assist. This matches its dearer siblings. It’s already working Android 11 too. Put merely, the S20 Fan Version could be very a lot a fully-fledged Galaxy S expertise, solely cheaper. There’s a cause it received our Editor’s Alternative award for 2020 smartphone of the 12 months.

The trade-off with decrease costs throughout the board is that not so much modified between the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S21. In reality, the newer fashions truly noticed a number of downgrades to be able to assist convey down the worth, such because the omission of a microSD card slot and, on the vanilla mannequin, a plastic rear construct. The Galaxy S21 Extremely is the one selection in case you’re after one thing from Samsung that feels actually new. That is yet one more signal of Samsung’s shift in technique. The core Galaxy S {hardware} providing is now nice sufficient to hit pause on. No less than for one era.

  Samsung Galaxy S20 Extremely Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely
Show 6.5-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat FHD+
2,400 x 1,080 at 407ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh price
HDR10+ licensed
6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Curved WQHD+
3,200 x 1,440 at 515ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh price
HDR10+ licensed
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (5G) or Samsung Exynos 990 (4G) Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100
RAM 6GB 12 or 16GB
Storage 128 or 256GB 128, 256, or 512GB
MicroSD Sure, as much as 1TB No
Battery 4,500mAh
Quick wired and wi-fi charging
Quick wired and wi-fi charging
Reverse wi-fi charging
Cameras Rear:
– Large-angle: 12MP, 1/1.76″, ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm
– Telephoto: 8MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.0µm
– Extremely-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.12µm

Hybrid optical/digital zoom at 3x
“House Zoom” at 30x

– 32MP sensor, ƒ/2.2, .8µm

– Large-angle: 108MP, ƒ/1.8, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
– Telephoto: 10MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 3x optical zoom
– Telephoto: 10MP, ƒ/4.9, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 10x optical zoom
– Extremely-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with dual-pixel AF and a 120-degree FoV
– Laser AF sensor

10x optical zoom
100x “House Zoom”

– 40MP, ƒ/2.2, 0.7µm, with phase-detection AF

Connectivity 4G-only choice
4G/5G assist (sub-6Ghz and mmWave)
4G/5G assist (sub-6Ghz and mmWave)
S Pen assist No Sure
Working System One UI 3.1
Android 11 (improve)
One UI 3.1
Android 11
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Safety Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock
Colour Cloud Navy, Cloud Purple, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud White, Cloud Orange 128 GB in Phantom Silver and Phantom Black
256 and 512GB in Phantom Black
Future colours: Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, and Phantom Brown
Dimensions and weight 74.5×159.8×8.4mm
75.6 x 165.1 x 8.9mm

Not so much has modified from the S20 to S21, aside from the S21 Extremely mannequin.

Bleeding-edge efficiency, time-of-flight cameras, and fancy curved shows are good luxuries, however they’re precisely the suitable kind of corners that may be lower with out shoppers noticing an excessive amount of. Whereas the “common shopper” would possibly not likely exist (all of us have our personal wants and desires from a cellphone in spite of everything), even essentially the most eagle-eyed of us battle to make out a 5fps increase to our video games or the refined pixel-sized variations in digital camera high quality with next-gen {hardware}. Flagships {hardware} is already glorious for many use circumstances, so value and aesthetic design have grow to be extra essential. It’s no coincidence that colorway alternatives are more and more numerous lately.

With the Galaxy S20 FE, Samsung distilled the quintessential Galaxy S expertise down to only $699. A powerful feat and one which makes it more and more tough to justify $500 extra the S21 Extremely’s diminishingly improved options. 80% of the expertise for nearly half the worth is a price proposition that speaks to most shopper’s widespread sense.

Learn extra: Galaxy S21 costs make this Samsung’s most inclusive line-up in years

Worth versus ambition, which comes out on high?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 2

Credit score: Adam Molina / Android Authority

This isn’t to say that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely isn’t a terrific smartphone. It actually has its followers, myself included, and there’s a small however wholesome market of ultra-enthusiast cellphone consumers on the market. Notably choosy photographers, S Pen fans, app energy customers, and essentially the most demanding players positively have one thing to achieve from the Galaxy S21 Extremely.

However the final couple of years have seen ultra-premium telephones, not simply from Samsung, take a backseat as technological showcases that almost all will take a look at from afar. They’re not a era’s must-have buy, and whereas they typically symbolize a heavy proportion of gross sales at launch from fans, the extra reasonably priced choices have tended to be the actual gross sales drivers.

So ought to Samsung abandon telephones just like the Galaxy S21 Extremely in favor of an solely reasonably priced strategy? Undoubtedly not, in my view.

Technological innovation is important on the subject of tech firm reputations. In spite of everything, pundits love to check the newest and biggest options from rival firms, equivalent to a digital camera shootout versus Apple’s iPhone 12 Professional Max. All of us need to see what’s attainable with a high-end price range. However cutting-edge handsets additionally plot the roadmap for extra reasonably priced fashions additional down the road. Beforehand costly wi-fi charging and 5G parts are far more reasonably priced immediately, and the identical will ultimately be true for periscope cameras and the like. Premium-tier innovation is what drives the business.

Worth may be extra interesting, however Samsung wants premium-tier innovation for its next-gen handsets.

Samsung’s present technique is a becoming one, notably given the occasions we’re residing in. As long as it stays financially viable, I positively need to see Samsung proceed to distill its newest expertise right down to the core necessities with a Samsung Galaxy S21 Fan Version mannequin. Decrease costs are nice, clearly. Though the already extra reasonably priced nature of the Galaxy S21 collection may even see an S21 FE battle to face out in comparison with final 12 months.

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That mentioned, the scenario might want to change once more come 2022. Samsung’s Galaxy S22 lineup would require a splash of high-end innovation to maintain shoppers . A single era the place not so much modifications is okay however two could be a worrying signal of stagnation on the firm. Thankfully, a balanced however evolving portfolio spanning an economical FE to bleeding-edge Extremely ought to maintain most shoppers glad.

The truth of a value-oriented market could come up trumps towards technological ambition in 2021, however I count on shoppers will yearn for a return to extra aggressive innovation subsequent 12 months.

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