Samsung Galaxy S21 FE — 5 biggest upgrades we expect

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE renders
(Image credit: Snoreyn/LetsGoDigital)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is overdue, given that its predecessor, the Galaxy S20 FE, launched in October 2020. But that doesn’t mean that the new mid-range phone from Samsung won’t be worth the wait when it finally does appear.

We’ve heard that the Galaxy S21 FE will launch in January and bring boosted specs and Android 12 for the same $699 starting price as its predecessor, which would undercut the likes of the iPhone 13 by $100. Although, other rumors suggest a higher price than anticipated. Then again, the excellent Google Pixel 6 starts at just $599, so Samsung is going to have to bring its A-game if it wants to make our best phone list.

Based on a fairly large volume of leaks and rumors, here are the 5 biggest Galaxy S21 FE upgrades we expect. 

Galaxy S21 FE specs

The new Galaxy S21 FE should offer more performance, thanks to the Snapdragon 888 chip that it's rumored to feature. According to a leak from China’s TENAA Certification site, the Galaxy S21 FE will come with 8GB of RAM, which would be notable jump up from the S20 FE’s 6GB of RAM.

This same certification says that the Galaxy S21 FE will come with 128GB and 256GB storage options. The previous model had 128GB.

Galaxy S21 FE display

On the surface, the rumored 6.4-inch FHD display on the Galaxy S21 FE would seem like a downgrade, as the S20 FE sports a 6.5-inch OLED panel.

However, while we expect the new S21 FE to feature a 120Hz refresh rate just like its predecessor, we anticipate a dynamic panel that can automatically adjust the rate. This could significantly save on battery life. The regular Galaxy S21 could down clock from 120Hz to 48Hz, and that’s what we’re hoping for here.

Galaxy S21 FE cameras

The Chinese certification listing for the Galaxy S21 FE lists three rear cameras comprised of a 32MP main lens, a 12MP ultrawide and 8MP telephoto with 30x Space Zoom. The previous S20 FE had a 12MP, 12MP and 8MP setup. That said, a new specs leak instead claims the S21 FE will not get this camera upgrade.

The front camera is once again tipped to offer a sharp 32MP resolution. We’re hoping that Samsung steps up its computational photography game with better image quality and AI features to better match the likes of the Pixel 6. 

Galaxy S21 FE design and colors

Alleged leaked Samsung Galaxy S21 FE marketing materials

(Image credit: CoinBRS)

Befitting its younger demographic, the Galaxy S21 FE is tipped to come in four colors. You’ll reportedly be able to take your pick from black, white, lavender and green. 

In addition, the S21 FE will reportedly sport the same Contour cut design for the rear camera that the Galaxy S21 introduced. Thanks to the Contour cut, the camera array neatly blends into the side of the phone as it wraps around. 

Galaxy S21 FE battery and charging

The Galaxy S21 FE may offer a smaller battery than its predecessor, based on one leak, coming in at 4,370 mAh. That would be behind the Galaxy S20 FE’s 4,500 mAh pack, but we’ll have to see what the final specs are. 

However, an FCC listing (via SamMobile) points to possible 45-watt fast charging, which would be an upgrade over the 25W charging in the S20 FE. 

Galaxy S21 FE outlook

On paper, at least, the Galaxy S21 FE doesn’t look like a major upgrade from the Galaxy S20 FE. The biggest upgrades based on the rumors seem to be the processor, a more dynamic 120Hz display, and faster charging, as well as a sleeker design.

However, Samsung needs to fill in the gaps when the Galaxy S21 FE is launched, especially around the camera capabilities. We’ll bring you all the details as soon as we have them. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.