Samsung Galaxy S21 FE shows up in store branding, but can it still make a splash?

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE render
(Image credit: 4RMD)

It’s been a big week for Samsung Galaxy S21 FE sightings. First the phone cropped up in the Google Play Console with accompanying specs, before being directly mentioned on Samsung’s French websites as eligible for a YouTube Premium promotion

Now, Android Police’s Max Weinbach has spotted S21 FE branding as part of a demo stand at an unnamed phone store.

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All of this, plus an earlier accidental appearance on Samsung’s own Instagram account, points to a handset that you should be able to order very soon indeed.

Given the quality of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE when it emerged last year, that should be very good news for smartphone shoppers. Especially when the handset was, at one point, rumored to be cancelled due to the ongoing global chip shortage and Samsung’s need for limited Snapdragon 888 supply to be funneled to its foldables. 

But with the handset absent from the recent Galaxy Unpacked, it may struggle to make much of an impact if the company leaves the release too much longer. 

 Caught between Galaxies

The Galaxy S20 FE was a success because it absorbed the best parts of the excellent Galaxy S20 into a handset with cuts in all the right places for a $300 saving and a MSRP of $699. It had a lower resolution screen, less RAM and a plastic frame, but with the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor it felt as snappy as anything else on the market. By all accounts, Samsung will be doing the same with the S21 FE, only with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 powering things this time around.

The trouble is that this offering looks less appealing the longer that Samsung leaves it. Samsung Galaxy phones drop in price quickly, and you can get hold of a regular Galaxy S21 for less than $600 if you’re prepared to chance an Amazon Renewed model, and likely cheaper if you brave Ebay. Buying one will not ensure better specs than the upcoming S21 FE, it has the biggest advantage of all: it can be in your pocket tomorrow.  

As the Samsung Galaxy S22 begins to take shape, the price of the S21 is only going to drop further, and then there’s the company’s secret weapon: the surprise $450 price cut on the Galaxy Z Flip 3. Granted, that’s still an expensive handset at $999, but it’s cutting edge technology and again has the key advantage that you can be using it today.

There’s still time for the S21 FE to triumph. The S20 FE, after all, was only released on October 2 last year – though that was only 210 days on from the original S20 due to its March release date. The S21 came out in January, and rumor says we may have to wait a few months more for the S21 FE.

Indeed, that same 210-day milestone came and went for the S21 on Friday. For every extra day that passes, the FE will have a slightly harder time making an impact as the S22 looms larger.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.