The options can feel endless when choosing a new smartphone. With so many brands and models to choose from, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each device before making the final decision. Android users love Samsung due to its brilliant displays and endless customization options. In this comparison, we’ll look closely at two popular smartphones from Samsung: the S21 and the S20 FE.
Both devices offer top-of-the-line features and performance. Furthermore, both are closely related by specs but separated by price. So who’s going to be the ultimate winner?
We’ll investigate their specs, design, and performance to determine the ultimate champion. Whether you’re an avid smartphone user or simply looking for an upgrade, this comparison will provide valuable insight into these two impressive devices. So, let’s get started!
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. S20 FE: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Galaxy S20 FE
|Starts at $799 for the base model
|Starts at $699 for the base model
|Supports 2G, 3G,4G
|Android 11, Upgradable to Android 13 (One UI 5)
|Android 10, Upgradable to Android 13(One UI 5)
|128 GB with 8 GB RAM
512 GB with 8 GB RAM
|Two x128 GB variants with 6 GB and 8 GB RAM
256 GB with 8 GB RAM
|Snapdragon 888 (5nm) (USA/China)Exynos 2100 (5nm) (Global Market)
|Snapdragon 865 (7nm+) (USA)Exynos 990 (7nm+) (Global Market)
|Size: 6.2 inches (87.2% screen-to-body ratio)
Type: Dynamic AMOLED 2x, HDR 10+
Resolution: 1080 x 2400 pixels
Protection: Gorilla Glass Victus
|Size: 6.5 inches (84.8% screen-to-body ratio)
Type: Super AMOLED, HDR 10+
Resolution: 1080 x 2400 pixels
Protection: Gorilla Glass 3
|Triple Back cameras: 12MP wide camera64 MP: Telephoto camera12MP: Ultrawide Camera
Single front-facing camera: 10MP primary camera
|Dual Back cameras: 12 MP wide camera8MP: Telephoto Camera12MP: Ultrawide Camera
Single front-facing camera: 32 MP primary camera
|4,000 mAh Li-ion battery
|4.500 mAh Li-ion battery
|USB Type C
No Headphone Jack
|USB Type C
No Headphone Jack
|Up to 8k @24fps
|Up to 4k @60fps
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. S20 FE: What’s the Difference?
The Samsung Galaxy S21 is a high-end smartphone released in 2021, while the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (which stands for “Fan Edition”) is a slightly lower-end smartphone released in 2020. The S20 FE is actually a sequel to the S20 series, which Samsung introduced earlier that year.
Both devices are part of Samsung’s Galaxy S series of smartphones, known for their high-end features and premium design. Overall, Samsung tries to appeal to different types of consumers with these two devices.
The S21 is aimed at power users and tech enthusiasts willing to pay a premium price for the latest and greatest technology. At the same time, the S20 FE is geared toward budget-conscious consumers who still want a high-quality smartphone but may not need all the bells and whistles of the S21.
Flagship smartphones need to offer an aesthetic and pleasing design that gives a premium feel to the hand. The S21 and the S20 FE offer a sleek design with marginally thin bezels. Samsung has kept up with its Infinity-O display in both smartphones, but the bezels on the S21 are slightly thinner and offer more screen-to-body ratio.
- Pro Grade Camera: Zoom In Close, Take Photos And Videos Like A Pro, And Capture Incredible Share-Ready Moments With Our Easy-To-Use, Multi-Lens Camera.Form_factor : Smartphone.Display resolution...
- Sharp 8K Video: Capture Your Life’S Best Moments In Head-Turning, Super-Smooth 8K Video That Gives Your Movies That Cinema-Style Quality
- Multiple Ways To Record: Create Share-Ready Videos And Gifs On The Spot With Multi-Cam Recording And Automatic Professional-Style Effects
- 30 Space Zoom: Get Amazing Power And Clarity, Zoom In From Afar Or Magnify Details Of Nearby Objects; Zoom Lock Keeps Focus And Stability
- Higher Resolution: 64 MP camera system captures and shares detailed portraits, stunning landscapes and crisp close-ups
Differences in design start to become more pronounced as we move to the back of both these smartphones. The S21 comes in two color tones, which are different colors for the back and camera module.
In contrast, the S20 FE keeps a constant color tone throughout the entire back, similar to the S20 and even to the A-series smartphones. Therefore, it might look a bit cheaper.
The quality of materials used for building the frame also set both these phones apart. The S21 is a flagship phone with a glass back, metal rails, and an aluminum frame. It offers a good grip in hand, thanks to the compact design and a premium feel due to the use of expensive materials.
The S20 FE, on the other hand, has a plastic back ad frame which might not feel as premium. But having a plastic frame means it is no longer a fingerprint magnet; a blessing in disguise!
Samsung offers both these phones in a variety of colors. The S21 comes in four phantom color options: Phantom Violet, Red, Gray, and Pink. The S20 FE comes in six cloud colors: Cloud Navy, Lavender, Mint Orange, and White.
The display is an essential aspect of any smartphone because it is how users interact with their devices. In this regard, the Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. S20 FE both offer high-quality displays with various features.
Starting with the display size, the S21 houses a 6.1” display in contrast to the 6.5” display for the S20 FE. Both are incredibly bright and colorful displays, and Samsung has yet again lived up to its name in this domain.
The S21 has a peak brightness of 1300 nits, making it easier to use the phone under direct sunlight. The S20 FE, on the other hand, lags far behind, with a peak brightness of around 700 nits. It might be suitable for indoor usage but not bright enough to be frequently used outdoors.
The S21 and the S20 FE have AMOLED displays, producing rich colors and deep blacks. However, the S21 has a higher resolution of 3200 x 1440 pixels than the S20 FE’s 2400 x 1080 pixels. This means that the S21 may offer a slightly sharper and more detailed image, although subtle for most users even to notice.
Another feature distinguishing both these smartphones is the Adaptive Refresh Rate. Both phones can clock up to 120 frames per second of refresh rate, but the S21 uses an intelligent mechanism to shuffle it between 10 to 120Hz, depending on usage patterns.
In comparison, the S20 FE offers a fixed refresh rate of either 60Hz or 120Hz and nothing in between. A 120Hz refresh rate on the S20 FE might be self-limiting due to fast battery drainage.
Both smartphones have a triple camera setup on the back, but the S21 offers a slightly higher resolution. The S21 has a 64MP Telephoto lens, a 12MP wide lens, and another 12 MP ultra-wide lens. In contrast, the S20 FE has an 8MP Telephoto lens, a 12MP wide lens, and another 12MP ultrawide lens.
Both phones offer a similar versatility in photos and videos, which they can capture effortlessly. But the S21 might win the battle due to sharp and colorful images thanks to that 64MP sensor.
- MORE FREEDOM: With unlocked by Samsung, you call the shots; Start with the Galaxy S20 FE 5G then choose your carrier, data plan, services, features, and apps, so you get the phone you want, set up...
- INFINITY-O DISPLAY: The 6.5” FHD Infinity-O Display has barely-there bezels surrounding the flat edges, and a super small punch hole for the camera*; Meaning a more immersive screen that makes your...
- PRO-GRADE CAMERA: The same pro-grade triple lens S20 camera, now available in FE; Three cameras on the rear let you snapshot moments in your own way
- 30X SPACE ZOOM: Zoom in close from afar or magnify details of something nearby with the power of 30X Space Zoom
- NIGHT MODE: With bigger pixels and enhanced camera AI, the rear camera adjusts to pull in light even when it’s dark so your shots come out detailed and colorful
There is a single front-facing camera on both smartphones, but the S20 FE takes the lead with a 32MP lens in contrast to the 10MP lens on the S21. The S20 FE might capture selfies with higher resolution, but the S21 performs better in low-light conditions thanks to better image processing and a more powerful chip.
Videography is better on the S21 as it offers 8k recording at 24 FPS, whereas the S20 FE can shoot only up to 4k resolution. Portrait photos are beautiful on both phones, but the S21 provides better edge detection, background blur, and enhanced background and foreground separation to give an overall natural look to the photo.
Samsung has also introduced several camera modes to enhance the user experience on the S21. It has a super slo-mo feature that allows extra slow video shooting at 960 frames per second. Director’s View allows users to switch between the front and rear cameras while recording. The Pro Video feature on the S21 gives a better grasp of shutter speed, aperture, exposure, and white balance control.
In terms of software, both the Samsung Galaxy S21 and the S20 FE are powered by the Android operating system. Still, there are some key differences between the two phones that users can experience daily.
One of the main differences is the version of Android that each phone is running. The S21 comes with Android 11 out of the box, while the S20 FE comes with Android 10. Consequently, the S21 may have a few more features and improvements over the S20 FE, although both phones should receive updates to newer versions of Android in the future.
Another difference is the user interface (UI) that each phone uses. The S21 uses Samsung’s One UI 3.0, a sleek and modern UI offering a greater variety of customization and accessibility options. The S20 FE uses One UI 2.5, a slightly older version of Samsung’s UI, but it is still a high-quality and customizable interface.
Users can easily personalize the look and feel of both phones. The options include changing the phone’s wallpaper, icons, and theme, as well as downloading and installing third-party launchers and themes from the Google Play Store.
In terms of unique features, the S21 has a few additional software features that set it apart from the S20 FE. These include a new “Quick Share” feature that Samsung has introduced to allow users to quickly and easily share files with other nearby Samsung devices, as well as a “Hold for Me” feature that allows them to put their phones on hold.
The S21 and the S20 FE are performance champions thanks to the high-powered Snapdragon chipsets in both devices. The Snapdragon 888 in the S21 is based on 5nm technology, with a complete balance between performance and efficiency cores. This allows the phone to handle all the tasks easily while maintaining efficient battery use.
The S20 FE, on the other hand, is powered by Snapdragon 865, the same chipset which Samsung used in the USA model of the S20 lineup. Expert tech reviewers saw some heating issues with the Exynos variant of the chipset, and the battery life was also slightly reduced.
The S21 shows 23% better AnTuTu and 21% better GeekBench scores. In simple words, this means that the S21 is powerful and more efficient in handling multiple tasks. The use of the latest mobile chip also bestows 5G support on the model and positively affects image processing.
Samsung has equipped the S20 FE with a 4,500 mAh battery, which has been possible thanks to the larger size of the smartphone. The S21 has a 4,000 mAh battery, a brighter display, a sharper resolution, and a more powerful chip. Even once all these components have taken a toll on the battery, the S21 stays head-to-head with the S20 FE in most battery drain tests.
This shows better optimization on the S21. Both phones can last a day, with only a few percent of the battery left. But, thanks to fast charging, users can get up to 50% battery in just half an hour. Also, both phones support 25W wired fast charging, 15W fast wireless charging, and 4.5W reverse wireless charging.
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. S20 FE: 5 Must-Know Facts
- Samsung unveiled the S21 in January 2021, three months after the release of the S20 FE in October 2020.
- Both phones have a triple camera setup on the back, but the S21 offers higher-resolution lenses.
- Both phones are available in two storage options, 128 GB and 256 GB. However, the S21 offers only a single 128 GB model with 8 GB RAM, as compared to two 128 GB Models for the S20 FE, with 6 and 8 GB RAM.
- The S21 is powered by a stronger Snapdragon 888 chipset, in contrast to the Snapdragon 865 for the S20 FE.
- Both phones have beautiful displays, but the S21 offers a compact design with a higher resolution.
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. S20 FE: Which One Is Better?
So, who wins the battle of S21 vs. S20 FE? Considering all the facts, the S21 is the clear winner in all the domains we discussed. For $100 extra, users can get a better and brighter display, an adaptive refresh rate, a phenomenal camera, a premium build, a unique color combination, and a compact build. The S21 Reigns supreme over the S20 FE due to all these advantages.
Both smartphones have been on the market for over a year, and Samsung has even introduced their successors. Online websites are selling these smartphones at discounted prices. If you are lucky enough, you might get an S21 for an even lower price!
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Lukmanazis/Shutterstock.com.