In this article, we’ll compare the Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. The Galaxy S20 FE arrived in September 2020, while the Galaxy S21 launched in January 2021. Even though their launches are only a couple of months apart, we’re looking at two different generations of smartphones. Truth be said, the Galaxy S21 feels like a second-gen Galaxy S20 FE in some ways.
These two smartphones are not that far apart when it comes to price tags, though you can save up some cash by getting the Galaxy S20 FE. Is it worth it, though? Well, that’s something we’re here to find out. We’ll let you make the final call, of course, but we will lay out some info for you to check out. These two phones are similar in many ways, but there are some differences, of course. Let’s compare the Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, shall we, starting with the specs.
|Samsung Galaxy S21||Samsung Galaxy S20 FE|
|Screen size||6.2-inch FullHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display (120Hz adaptive refresh rate)||6.5-inch fullHD+ Super AMOLED display (120Hz)|
|Screen resolution||2400 x 1080||2400 x 1080|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865|
|RAM||8GB (LPDDR5)||6GB (LPDDR5)|
|Storage||128GB/256GB, non-expandable||128GB; Non-Expandable|
|Rear cameras||12MP (f/1.8 aperture, 1.8um pixel size, OIS, Dual Pixel PDAF)|
12MP (f/2.2 aperture, 1.4um pixel size, 120-degree FoV)
64MP (f/2.0 aperture, 0.8um pixel size, OIS, PDAF, Hybrid Optic 3X, 30X Space Zoom)
|12MP (f/1.8 aperture, 1.8um pixel size, Dual Pixel AF, OIS)|
12MP (f/2.2 aperture, 123-degree FoV, 1.12um pixel size, ultrawide)
8MP (f/2.4 aperture, 1.0um pixel size, telephoto, 3x optical zoom, OIS)
|Front cameras||10MP (f/2.2 aperture, 1.22um pixel size, 80-degree FoV, Dual Pixel AF)||32MP (f/2.2 aperture, 80-degree FoV, 0.8um pixel size)|
|Battery||4,000mAh, non-removable, fast battery charging, Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare||4,500mAh, non-removable, 25W wired charging, 15W wireless charging, Wireless PowerShare|
|Dimensions||151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm||159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4mm|
|Weight||171 grams||190 grams|
|Connectivity||5G, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C||5G, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C|
|Security||In-display fingerprint scanner (ultrasonic)||In-display fingerprint scanner (optical)|
One UI 3.0
One UI 2.5 (upgradable)
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: Design
When it comes to the design, these two phones are quite similar. Both come with a metal frame, and a plastic backplate. Both also include very thin bezels, and flat displays. On top of that, you’ll notice a display camera hole on each of these two phones. A single display camera hole which is centered in both cases. Even their physical keys are in the same spot, so the two devices are not that easy to differentiate, at least not from the front.
Things are a bit different on the back, though. The Galaxy S21 series has a uniquely-designed rear camera housing, which is an extension of the phone’s frame. The Galaxy S20 FE, on the other hand, has a more regular-looking camera housing on the back. It is also placed in the top-left corner of the phone’s back side, though. Samsung’s branding is implemented on the back, in both cases, and it’s also in the same spot.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE does include a larger display, its display is 0.3 inches larger. That’s the main reason why this phone is both taller, and wider than the Galaxy S21, while it’s also thicker. The Galaxy S20 FE is also noticeably heavier than its sibling, it weighs 190 grams, while the Galaxy S21 weighs 169 grams (Sub6) / 171 grams (mmWave). So, it’s only a matter of what you prefer in this regard, both phones both look and feel really good, premium.
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: Display
These two displays may look quite similar on the paper (other than their size), but they’re not exactly the same. The Galaxy S21’s display is more advanced, mainly thanks to the adaptive refresh rate, which also helps with battery life. The Samsung Galaxy S21 features a 6.2-inch fullHD+ (2400 x 1080) Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, with a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. That panel is protected by the Gorilla Glass Victus, and it supports HDR10+ content.
The Galaxy S20 FE, on the other hand, sports a 6.5-inch fullHD+ (2400 x 1080) Super AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. This display also supports HDR10+ content, by the way. Both displays are flat, while the Galaxy S21 offers a higher screen-to-body ratio, in case you were wondering. Both displays look quite great, they’re plenty sharp, offer vibrant colors, great viewing angles, and those blacks as deep as you’d expect.
The Galaxy S21’s panel does look a bit better when comparing the two, side-by-side. It’s simply a bit punchier, and prettier, in lack of a better word. On top of that, it does get brighter than the Galaxy S20 FE’s panel, and that is especially noticeable in direct sunlight. So, even though both displays are excellent, the Galaxy S21 does have the upper hand here.
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: Performance
Both of these devices offer top-notch performance. The Snapdragon 865 inside the Galaxy S20 FE is an inferior SoC, but it’s still one of the best SoCs in the market, and many would say overkill for a phone. The Snapdragon 888 inside the Galaxy S21 is even more powerful. Those two processors, combined with other, powerful internals, and well-optimized One UI in combination with the latest version of Android, make for a truly powerful combination.
These two phones will do everyday tasks with ease, you won’t even notice the difference. They can multitask, consume multimedia, browse the web… whatever you can think of, without skipping a beat. There’s plenty of power inside each of the two devices. When it comes to games, the situation is pretty much the same, they can handle anything you throw at them. The Snapdragon 888 will load games slightly faster, but when it comes to gameplay, both can play them without an issue, at the highest possible graphical settings (if available). Performance is really not something you should be worried about here, at all.
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: Battery
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE comes with a larger battery, and a larger display. It all evens out in the end, pretty much. The two devices offer similar battery longevity. The Samsung Galaxy S21 comes with a 4,000mAh battery pack. The Galaxy S20 FE, on the other hand, offers a 4,500mAh battery. Each of the two phones will provide you around 6 hours of screen-on-time, as long as you’re not a gamer, or don’t really push the SoC too hard with some other tasks.
That is, at least, the results we were able to get during our testing. Crossing over the 6-hour screen-on-time mark should be possible, but not much more than that. During our testing, the Galaxy S21 did do a bit better, though, but that may vary in your case. Each of us use our phones differently, so your mileage may vary. You may even be able to get much more than what was said here.
Both phones offer 25W fast wired charging. You’ll also get 15W wireless charging out of both devices. On top of that, reverse wireless charging is also available. They’re exactly the same in the charging department. One thing worth noting, though, is that the Galaxy S21 does not ship with a charging brick. You’ll get a charging cable, but not the actual brick / power adapter, so keep that in mind.
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: Cameras
Each of these two phones uses three rear cameras. On each of them, you’ll get a main camera, coupled with telephoto and ultra-wide units. The main camera is pretty much identical, but there are some differences when it comes to others. Images during the day are excellent on both phones, with plenty of detail. Both phones tend to oversharpen images a bit, but it’s nowhere as bad as it was a couple of years ago, and you may actually prefer such shots, as they look great.
HDR scenarios are handled really well by both phones. The Galaxy S21 did perform better in low light, but do note that we tested the Galaxy S20 FE with its original Android 10 software, not Android 11. The Galaxy S21 has an advantage when it comes to telephoto shots. Images do end up looking better overall, but not by much, both phones are quite capable. The ultra-wide cameras are also good on both devices, they can even do good in low light.
Neither of these two phones has a 3.5mm headphone jack, though that is to be expected. What they do have is a set of stereo speakers, which are pretty good. These speakers are tuned by AKG, and they provide plenty of loudness and sharpness. The distortion is something you won’t really notice here. There’s not a lot of bass here, but other than that, the speakers are excellent in every way.
When it comes to audio through a pair of headphones, well, it’s also quite good. Do note you need to have a good pair of headphones to really enjoy it though. You can hook them up via the Type-C USB port, or via Bluetooth. Either way, the audio is solid. It’s really well-balanced, the mids and highs are the best, but the lows are also quite good. There’s not much to complain about here, when it comes to audio.