Don't start making plans for the Galaxy S22 FE. From the sound of things, the Galaxy S21 FE could be the last release from Samsung that dials back some of the features on the Galaxy S flagship in exchange for a lower price.
That's the word from Sammobile at any rate. The website claims in a new report on the status of the Galaxy S22 FE that multiple sources are saying the phone has been cancelled.
"Our own research has indicated that the SM-S900, which would have been the Galaxy S22 FE’s model number, doesn’t exist," Sammobile's report adds.
After this story was first published, Ross Young, CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants, subsequently weighed in on Twitter to confirm that the Galaxy S22 FE was cancelled because of "expectations of low demand."
This isn't the first time we've heard that the Galaxy S22 FE's future is far from certain. Back in April, a post on the Korean blogging site Naver also claimed that a lower cost variant on this year's Galaxy S22 flagships was dead on arrival.
Frankly, at this point, it would be more of a shock if the Galaxy S22 FE did debut at any point in the next year than if Samsung just wound up pulling the plug. There's little reason for the FE model to exist now that Samsung's done a good job at holding the line on flagship phone costs while also beefing up its Galaxy A series offerings.
A brief history of Samsung's FE phones
The first FE phone — the Galaxy S20 FE — was a big success for Samsung in 2020, by offering many of the top features in the Galaxy S20 lineup in a lower-cost device. You got a phone built out of cheaper materials and less powerful cameras when you opted for the Galaxy S20 FE over the regular S20 models, but other features remained the same — chiefly the fast refresh rate for the display and the top-of-the-line Qualcomm chipset powering the phone. Grabbing the lower cost S20 FE was a no-brainer for many consumers.
Of course, in those days, the price gap was much bigger between the FE and the standard Galaxy S models. The Galaxy S20 cost $999 when it debuted, so the $699 Galaxy S20 FE gave you a chance to save $300 without having to make too many sacrifices in the process.
Samsung has subsequently gotten a better handle on prices for its flagship phones. Both the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S22 debuted at $799, which is only $100 more than the $699 price Samsung has set for its FE models. That's made for a less compelling argument in favor of the FE option.
There's also the matter of the Galaxy S21 FE's launch window. Production delays likely brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic reportedly pushed back the launch of that model. Instead of debuting six months or so after the Galaxy S21 FE's early 2021 debut, the Galaxy S21 FE didn't arrive until 2022. And within a month, Samsung was already showing off newer and much more powerful Galaxy S22 flagships.
Galaxy A phones fill the gap
While the Galaxy S22's starting price and launch window created pressure on the FE models from above, Samsung's midrange Galaxy A phones were squeezing out the FE from below. Samsung's put noticeable effort into producing better midrange handsets in recent years, packing in a handful of premium features for reasonable prices.
The Galaxy A53 released this year is a prime example of that. It offers the 120Hz refresh rate and excellent software support you get from the Galaxy S lineup, while also offering unique features like expandable storage. That's in a device that costs $449 — $250 less than the Galaxy S21 FE. It's no wonder we consider the Galaxy A53 to be the best cheap phone you can buy right now, at least until we get a chance to test the upcoming Pixel 6a.
With the best Samsung phones including solid choices at both high and midrange prices, there's simply no room for an FE model to fit in — not unless Samsung were to dramatically reinvent what the purpose of an FE device is supposed to be. For the past two iterations, the FE has been a low-cost alternative to Samsung's pricier flagships, but that's a role now filled by some of the better Galaxy A models.
Perhaps the biggest argument against the Galaxy S22 FE is that few people would seem to miss it if it never sees the light of day. And that's reason enough for Samsung to turn its attention to other phones.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.