Galaxy S21 FE rumors: Samsung’s next affordable phone could launch on Jan. 4 – CNET

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The Galaxy S21 FE, shown in the render, could be Samsung’s next cheaper high-end phone.

Evan Blass

Samsung unwrapped the Galaxy S20 FE last year. The affordable phone offered a balanced combination of handy features for a reasonable $699 starting price. And its successor, the Galaxy S21 FE, could be on its way soon. Leaker and Front Page Tech founder Jon Prosser speculates the phone is set to debut at an Unpacked event in January.  

Samsung showed off the expensive foldable Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 at its August event and more options to customize those phones at its October event. Although upgrades to other phones in the Galaxy S21 lineup are also on their way in the near future — here’s what we know about the Galaxy S22 so far — Drew Blackard, Samsung Electronics America’s vice president of product management, previously said in an interview with CNET that they’re not a threat to the Galaxy FE or Note

There have been a few leaks and other tidbits floating around regarding the Galaxy S21 FE’s possible specs and availability, so let’s dive into what we know so far. We’ll keep updating this as the release date approaches and we learn more.

Read more: Galaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21: Every rumored difference

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Galaxy S21 FE specs

The Galaxy S21 FE’s specs list reportedly appeared on China’s TENAA Certification site (via MyFixGuide). According to the listing, the phone would have a 6.4-inch screen with 2,340×1,080-pixel resolution, a 4,370-mAh battery, three cameras (a 32-megapixel main lens, a 12-megapixel front-facing and an 8-megapixel), an in-display fingerprint sensor and support for 45-watt fast-charging. The phone would also include 8GB RAM as well as 128GB and 256GB storage options.

If true, a 6.4-inch screen would make the phone a bit taller than the 6.2-inch screen on the higher-end Galaxy S21, while being slightly smaller than the 6.5-inch screen on last year’s Galaxy S20 FE. However, this camera would be both a step up from the Galaxy S20 FE’s main 12-megapixel lens and a step down from the S21’s 64-megapixel camera.

More rumored specs were reportedly spotted on the Google Play Console analytics tool, according to MyFixGuide, including 6GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 888 chip.

The phone could also include four free months of YouTube Premium, as SamMobile reports that Samsung France’s website briefly listed that perk as coming with the purchase of a Galaxy S21 FE, Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus or Galaxy S21 Ultra.

A leaked user manual for the Galaxy S21 FE, obtained by SamMobile, supported some of the previously rumored features, including an in-display fingerprint sensor. It also showed the new phone could offer reverse wireless charging support, IP68 dust and water resistance and Dolby Atmos support. The manual didn’t mention a microSD slot, which appeared on last year’s Galaxy S20 FE. 

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A sequel to the Galaxy S20 FE is rumored to be coming soon.

Angela Lang/CNET

What will the S21 FE look like?

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Noted leaker Evan Blass posted images that may be the Galaxy S21 FE.

Screenshot of Twitter/@evleaks

Noted leaker Evan Blass tweeted out various purported Samsung renders in July, which included a possible look at the Galaxy S21 FE. Blass later revealed what he said were 3D renders of the upcoming smartphone on Twitter in August. 

According to the renders on his account, the phone could have a similar appearance to the Galaxy S21, including a punch-out for the front-facing camera and three cameras on the back.

The similarity to the S21 makes sense: The Galaxy S20 FE kept much of the S20’s design language while making cuts to the screen resolution and cameras that likely helped bring down the price. And according to a leak reported by SamMobile, the S21 FE will reportedly come in at least five colors.

The leaked user manual for the upcoming phone, also from SamMobile, showed that the Galaxy S21 FE would come in white, black, green and purple. 

We may have gotten a sneak peek at the Galaxy S21 FE in a back-to-school promo image briefly posted to Samsung’s official Instagram account in August. The phone is shown in a backpack beside a laptop and a pair of Galaxy Buds Pro. It looks similar to the Galaxy S21 from behind, but is shown in a lilac color that isn’t currently one of the color options for the Galaxy S21. The post has since been deleted from Samsung’s account.

Leaked photos of the Galaxy S21 FE’s back panel were posted to Twitter by Roland Quandt in November. Although none of the photos show the phone fully assembled, they do reveal the Galaxy S21 FE’s camera layout with room for three lenses and an LED flash. 

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One of the leaked photos of the Galaxy S21 FE, posted to Twitter by Roland Quandt, is shown above. 

Roland Quandt

What will the S21 FE cost?

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE’s price started at $699 in the US, which was a substantial discount from the Galaxy S20’s $999 starting price. That price also undercut rival OnePlus 8T’s $749 starting price.

However, the Galaxy S21’s starting price of $800 was notably lower than the Galaxy S20’s, and it seems unlikely that a Galaxy S21 FE would receive a similar $300 discount — as the Galaxy A series of phones occupies that sub-$500 price range.

While we don’t have any concrete information on price, a report from GizChina hypothesizes that the S21 FE line could launch with a starting price of $699, the same as the starting price at launch for the Galaxy S20 FE. That price would still put it about $100 lower than the Galaxy S21, positioning it as a higher-end value option.

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If the tweeted images are indeed the Galaxy S21 FE, the phone looks to be similar in design to the more expensive Galaxy S21.

Screenshot of Twitter/@evleaks

When will it be announced and released?

Although the Galaxy S21 FE was not unveiled at the August foldables event or Samsung’s October event, it’s possible that it will follow last year’s pattern of getting a stand-alone announcement — if it’s announced at all. 

The Galaxy S20 FE had its own Unpacked event in September 2020; the phone’s reveal was touted as “a tribute to its Galaxy fans.” That phone’s release, however, was very close to the release of the Z Fold 2, which also took place in September. Perhaps this year’s big phones will get a similar amount of space. 

A September report from Prosser suggested that the Galaxy S21 FE’s launch date will be in October, and preorders will start on Oct. 20. But, this has since been proven false. Now, the leaker speculates the Galaxy S21 FE will be revealed at an Unpacked event on Jan. 4, 2022, and the Galaxy S22 will be announced at a separate event on Feb. 8. 

LetsGoDigital also hypothesizes the Galaxy S21 FE will launch early next year on Jan. 11, while SamMobile reports the phone is set to debut at CES 2022.  

Prior to the latest rumor about the phone’s launch date, speculation from South Korean publication DDaily says the company has considered canceling the Galaxy S21 FE and had reportedly removed the support pages for the Galaxy S21 FE. The company previously added support pages for the smartphone under its model number, SM-G990B, that were removed following rumors of the phone’s cancelation, but the pages have now been reuploaded to Samsung’s websites.

Leaker @IceUniverse has said that it’s “reasonable” for Samsung to cancel the Galaxy S21 FE if the company releases the Galaxy S22 in December. 

For more, take a look at how the Galaxy S20 FE compares with other S20 phones. You can also check out CNET’s Galaxy S21 review and Galaxy S21 Ultra review

We will keep updating this roundup as we hear more about the rumored Galaxy 21 FE. Do you currently have the Galaxy 20 FE and have thoughts about what should come next? Or have heard other rumors about the phone we should check out? Add them to the comments.

Source: CNET

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