When Samsung launched the Galaxy S20 FE in 2020 for $699, we thought it was among the best Android smartphones you could buy in its segment. Fast-forward to 2022, and the outlook looks radically different for its much-delayed successor, the Galaxy S21 FE. Unlike the case 16 months ago, when there were no attractive “affordable flagships” to fight the S20 FE, customers looking to spend $500-$800 on a smartphone today have a wide variety of options to choose from.
At $699, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is inevitably going up against one of these options: the Google Pixel 6. With a starting price of $599, the Pixel 6 is not only $100 cheaper, it’s actually more expensive. compares well to the S21 FE. We were impressed with our Pixel 6 review and gave it a 4-star rating.
So if you have between $500 and $800 to spend on a new smartphone and are on the fence, confused between the Galaxy S21 FE and the Google Pixel 6, this article could be what you need to make an informed decision. Let’s dive in and find out which of these phones you should be spending your hard-earned money on!
|Samsung Galaxy S21 FE||Google Pixel 6|
|Size||155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9mm (6.12 x 2.93 x 0.31in)||158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9mm (6.29 x 2.93 x 0.41in)|
|Weight||177 grams (6.24 ounces)||207 grams (7.30 ounces)|
|Screen size||6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X capacitive touchscreen (120 Hz)||6.4-inch OLED capacitive touch screen (90 Hz)|
|screen resolution||2400 x 1080 pixels (411 pixels per inch)||2400 x 1080 pixels (411 pixels per inch)|
|Operating system||Android 12, a 4.0 user interface||android 12|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB||128GB, 256GB|
|MicroSD card slot||No||No|
|Tap to pay services||google pay||google pay|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888||Google Tensor, Titan M2 coprocessor|
|Camera||12 megapixels wide, 12 MP ultra wide, 8 MP rear telephoto, 32 MP front||50 megapixels wide, 12 MP ultra wide, 8 MP front|
|Video||4K at 60 frames per second||4K at 60 frames per second|
|bluetooth version||Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.2|
|ports||USB-C, 3.1||USB-C, 3.1|
|fingerprint sensor||yes, on screen||yes, on screen|
Fast charge (25W)
Fast wireless charging (15W)
Fast charge (30W)
Fast wireless charging (21W)
|app market||google play store||google play store|
|Colors||Olive, Lavender, White, Graphite||Stormy Black, Sorta Seaform, Kinda Coral|
|Review Score||News||4 out of 5 stars|
Design, visualization and durability.
The design of the Google Pixel 6 is a big difference from last year’s Pixel devices, especially when you get to the back panel. The design changes made here have (generally) been liked by people across the board. The central design element here is the large, raised camera strip that spans the full width of the phone. As well as providing visual relief to an uneventful back panel, this design is also somewhat functional in nature and allows you to keep the Pixel 6 on flat surfaces without wobbling.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 makes no attempt to hide its connection to the Galaxy S21 family. Again, this is evident in the rear camera module, which has the now-famous look from the Galaxy S21 series. But other than that, there’s nothing exciting going on here. Samsung gives you four very good color options, but that’s just exciting for a polycarbonate rear panel.
The Google Pixel 6 scores easy brownie points over the Galaxy S21 FE and definitely looks more premium of the two. And this is mainly due to its glass-lined metal body. And if that wasn’t all, the Pixel 6 matches the S21 FE (well, almost!) when it comes to offering interesting color options.
If you’re picky about the size of phones and were considering the Pixel 6 because it’s a compact device, that’s actually a point in favor of the Galaxy S21 FE. Yes, surprisingly enough, the Pixel 6 is slightly larger and, at 207 grams, is substantially heavier than the 179-gram Samsung. So if compact phones are your thing, the Galaxy S21 FE is the one here.
The Google Pixel 6’s 6.4-inch AMOLED panel is the same size as the Galaxy S21 FE. They share the same resolution numbers and have the enhanced durability and scratch resistance of Gorilla Glass Victus. But the Galaxy S21 pushes ahead with a higher 120Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sample rate, which is objectively better than the Pixel 6’s 90Hz and 144Hz sample rate display, especially if you’re gaming.
Additionally, the S21 FE also gets the supposedly superior 2X AMOLED panel compared to the Pixel 6’s standard OLED panel. Another display-related similarity between the two is the presence of an under-display fingerprint scanner on both phones. However, initial reviews indicate that the S21 FE’s fingerprint unlock mechanism works flawlessly, unlike the Pixel 6’s scanner which has been plagued with bugs since the phone’s launch.
Both smartphones are on par when it comes to ingress protection and durability, thanks to their IP68 rating. However, the Galaxy S21, due to its polycarbonate panel, is technically better equipped to withstand an occasional drop without needing to visit a service center for a cracked back panel.
Although the Galaxy S21 has several things going for it, we have to give this one to the Pixel 6, which feels better and is almost as good as the S21 FE in terms of other features, while also costing $100 less. Also, some of the Pixel 6 “issues” can be fixed with a simple software update.
Winner: Google Pixel 6
Performance, battery life and charging
The powerful Snapdragon 888 chip in the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE may not be the newest kid on the SoC block anymore, but it’s still a performance beast. In terms of raw performance and benchmark scores, it easily beats Google’s new Tensor chip.
But benchmark scores don’t matter that much in real life. Also, the so-called performance difference between the two will only manifest itself in intensive tasks like gaming and heavy multitasking. For day-to-day tasks, Google’s Tensor chip, which is also a flagship-level SoC, should be more than enough.
Google’s Tensor chip also features a powerful AI and ML-focused Tensor Processing Unit that should work well with Google’s current and future AI-focused initiatives, ranging from computational photography and automatic speech recognition to Improved Google Assistant experience.
The Google Pixel 6 is physically larger than the Galaxy S21 FE and also has a slightly larger battery. However, the difference in capacity is marginal, and Samsung’s 4,500mAh cell should hold its own against the Pixel 6’s 4,614mAh battery.
Google also supports faster 30W fast charging, which at Samsung is restricted to 25W. The Pixel 6 also gets faster wireless charging support (21W) compared to 15W on the S21 FE. So while the Galaxy S21 FE appears to be behind the Pixel 6 in terms of battery capacity and charging speeds, we’d expect real-life performance to be much closer, so there’s no clear winner here.
When it comes to battery life, this will depend on the type of use you put your phone through. However, recent improvements to OneUI and stock Android should give both phones good battery life. We will update this section with more battery-focused information once we review the Galaxy S21 FE.
This section would have been a draw, but the presence of the super-powerful Snapdragon 888 chip in the Galaxy S21 forces us to give this one to the Galaxy S21 FE, especially since the phones are evenly matched in most other departments.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
Google’s legendary photographic prowess makes the Pixel 6 the clear favorite here. And this time, Google has also upped the ante with better hardware. The Pixel 6’s 50MP main camera sensor manages to capture images that rival its more expensive sibling, the Pixel 6 Pro. While it loses a dedicated telephoto lens, it retains the 12MP ultra-wide camera, which also takes great photos.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE’s triple camera setup looks good in isolation, but given that the Pixel 6 has the specs to give even the mighty Galaxy S21 a run for its money, this will be an uphill battle for the S21 FE. . That said, we’ll reserve judgment until we can test the S21 FE’s camera.
Note that Samsung has a higher-resolution selfie camera (32-megapixel), which should, on paper, take better selfies than the Pixel 6’s 8MP unit. dual-recording, which you’ll miss on the Pixel 6.
Despite all this, in our opinion, the Google Pixel 6 will be the obvious choice for anyone looking for the best camera phone under $700.
Winner: Google Pixel 6
Software and updates
One thing all prospective Google Pixel buyers can be sure of is excellent software support and priority updates for the foreseeable future. Then there’s the stock Android experience that some people swear by. Google Camera software also has its own set of fans.
Samsung has also upped its software game, with both phones in this comparison running Android 12. The company is also promising three years of software updates and an additional year of security updates for most of its new devices, meaning the Galaxy S21 FE will be upgraded easily. it will last for the next 2-4 years and will continue to receive relevant updates for a long time. Then there are features you’ll only find in Samsung’s OneUI.
Honestly, both phones seem to be on par in this segment, and you’ll have to choose one from the other based on your individual preferences.
Even though stock Android has improved by leaps and bounds lately, it’s still no match for Samsung’s OneUI when it comes to sheer amount of additional features and customization options.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is the one to go for if you care about features like Dex Mode, Samsung Pay, and Bixby Routines. Stock Android from the Pixel almost seems lackluster by comparison. Samsung also offers many other camera-focused features that are nice to have and that we have talked about earlier in the cameras section.
While this is another section where personal preference matters a lot, we’ll have to hand this one over to Samsung just because it offers a set of additional features on top of what Android 12 already offers.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
Price and availability
Google Pixel 6 comes in two storage options; a base 128GB variant that costs $599. If you want to get the 256GB variant, it will set you back $699. The three color options include Coral, Seafoam, and Black.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE goes on sale from January 11, 2022 and will be sold in two variants: a $699 6GB and 128GB option and a more expensive ($769) 8GB and 256GB variant. The color options offered here are white, graphite, olive, and lavender.
Overall Winner: Google Pixel 6
Although it’s a bit early for us to give a clear verdict on this one, we find ourselves leaning more and more towards the Google Pixel 6 in this comparison. And why not? The Pixel 6 has arguably the best camera of any smartphone in its price range, runs the latest and greatest version of Android, and has some very good future-proof hardware. Plus, the Pixel 6 looks better overall and even feels more premium even after costing $100 less.
That’s not to say that the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE doesn’t have its strengths. But most of these strengths are important to Samsung’s most ardent fans. The average smartphone user who may not have used a Samsung phone before can easily survive 2022 without having to use the exclusive Samsung features that they can find in the Galaxy S21 FE. With that said, we intend to revisit this comparison once we thoroughly review the Galaxy S21 FE.