The smoke hasn't even cleared from the Galaxy S21 FE launch earlier this year, and we're already hearing about Samsung's plans for a successor. And I think I speak for a lot of people who've gotten a chance to use Samsung's slightly less expensive Galaxy S model and have been told that work continues on the Galaxy S22 FE when I say: Why?
I mean, why would you do that?
This is not to say the Galaxy S21 FE is a bad phone. It's really quite all right, and if you want many of the best features of Samsung's Galaxy S21 lineup without having to pay full price, the FE model is as good a choice as any.
The problem is that the S21 is a year-old smartphone, making the Galaxy S21 FE based on aging hardware. Even more significantly, the Galaxy S22 is now available. Not only is it a demonstrably better phone than the Galaxy S21 FE, with a dynamically adjusting refresh rate and better cameras, it only costs $100 more. If you can swing the higher cost, you get a much better value with the newer Galaxy S22.
There's no need for an FE model of the Galaxy S flagships
Let's face it: The FE versions of Samsung's Galaxy S lineup made perfect sense back when Samsung thought that flagship phones should start at $999. Back then, you'd could offer a handset with less impressive specs for a couple hundred dollars less and you'd find an audience for that discount device. But since the Galaxy S21 came out a year ago, the entry-level price for a Samsung flagship is now $799.
A $699 spinoff device like the Galaxy S21 FE doesn't offer enough on its own to get anyone excited about a $100 discount. There's just no reason to keep an FE version of the Galaxy S around anymore.
And that's especially true when you consider the stellar work Samsung does with its Galaxy A lineup of midrange phones. In recent years, Samsung has put a lot of effort into beefing up the feature set on the Galaxy A models so that you're getting more for your dollar. While you're giving up most of the premium features you'd find on a Galaxy S phone, you're getting a much lower price in return — and on occasion, some pretty high-end capabilities find their way onto Samsung's more affordable phones.
Samsung Galaxy A73 to the rescue
Consider the Galaxy A73, announced off-camera when Samsung was busy talking up the Galaxy A53 and Galaxy A33 during last week's virtual product launch. The Galaxy A73 features a 108MP camera — the kind of a feature you'd normally associate with the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Throw in a 6.7-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate, and you've got a device that belies its midrange roots.
Yes, the phone runs on a Snapdragon 778G — a step down from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 that's powering the current Galaxy S22 models (and would likely show up in the Galaxy S22 FE, assuming Samsung doesn't turn to a different chip, as rumored). But that's a trade-off I think many shoppers would be glad to make, depending on the Galaxy A73's price.
And that's one of the things we don't know about the Galaxy A73 just yet. Samsung hasn't announced a price and is unlikely to until we get closer to the phone's April 22 release date. Given that the Galaxy A53 costs $449, though, a price in the $600 range wouldn't seem outside the realm of possibility. And suddenly, we've got a much more attractively priced alternative to the Galaxy S22 than the the Galaxy S21 FE is likely to be.
Not that most of us are going to get the chance to choose the Galaxy A73. Samsung has said the phone is only coming to select markets. Considering that the Galaxy A72 never reached the U.S. — Samsung apparently thought it was too similar to the Galaxy S20 FE — you'd have to think the Galaxy A73 will suffer the same fate.
The question is, should it? All I know about the Galaxy A73 is what I've read about the new phone. But on paper it seems a lot more appealing to me than the Galaxy S21 FE does. And I tested the latter phone.
It's certainly a good thing that Samsung wants to give its customers more choice, particularly those who don't want to pay flagship prices for their next phone. But there's no need to create an FE off-shoot of the Galaxy S lineup just to satisfy people looking for a bargain. The Galaxy A lineup delivers the value the FE model is supposed to — the Galaxy A73 is proof of that.