The launch of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE may be delayed, but it has made the space of affordable flagship smartphones a little more interesting. Not only does it compete against affordable flagships like the Google Pixel 6 and OnePlus 9, but the S21 FE’s $699 launch price also essentially pits it against a number of phones placed above it – including its stablemate – the Samsung Galaxy S21 and no more Mention, Apple iPhone 13. Both of these handsets will definitely be on the list of those who intend to spend around $700 on a new phone.
Does Samsung’s affordable flagship really have a chance when pitted against Apple’s mid-tier iPhone model, the mighty iPhone 13? That is exactly what we will examine in this article.
|Samsung Galaxy S21 FE||iphone 13|
|Shape||155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm (6.12 x 2.93 x 0.31 in)||146.7 x 71.5 x 7.7 mm (5.78 x 2.81 x 0.30 in)|
|weight||177 grams (6.24 oz)||174 grams (6.14 oz)|
|screen size||6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Capacitive Touchscreen (120Hz)||6.1-inch Super Retina OLED|
|screen resolution||2400 x 1080 pixels (411 pixels per inch)||2532 x 1170 pixels (460 pixels per inch)|
|Operating System||Android 12, One UI 4.0||iOS 15|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB|
|microSD card slot||No||No|
|tap-to-pay services||google pay||hefty pay|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888||Apple A15 Bionic|
|to hit||6GB, 8GB||4GB|
|camera||12-megapixel wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 8MP telephoto rear, 32MP front||Dual-lens 12-megapixel wide and 12MP ultrawide rear, 12MP TrueDepth front|
|Video||4K at 60 frames per second||4K up to 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps|
|bluetooth version||bluetooth 5.0||bluetooth 5.0|
|ports||USB-C, 3.1||lightning connector|
|fingerprint sensor||yes in-display||No, FaceID Instead|
Fast Charging (25W)
Fast Wireless Charging (15W)
Fast Charging (20W charger sold separately)MagSafe Wireless Charging (15W)Qi Wireless Charging (7.5W)
|App Marketplace||google play store||apple app store|
|network support||AT&T, Verizon||all major carriers|
|colour’s||olive, lavender, white, graphite||Black, Blue, Green, White, and Red|
|review score||news||5. 4.5 out of stars|
Design, performance and durability
The design of the iPhone has remained mostly unchanged since the days of the iPhone 11 – except for the smaller notch and rear camera alignment on the iPhone 13. While this may not worry for anyone buying their first iPhone, for those of you upgrading from one. The old iPhone, same old design may feel a bit repetitive to look at.
Even though the Galaxy S21 FE looks quite different from its predecessor – the Galaxy S20 FE – the phone shares similar design traits to the Galaxy S21 series – perhaps best exemplified by the design of the camera module. The phone also gets a polycarbonate back panel – an obvious cost-cutting measure to keep prices under control.
The iPhone 13, on the other hand, gets a glass-clad rear panel and a metal body, which makes it look more premium than the Galaxy S21 FE. However, the main difference between the two phones should be their respective sizes, with the iPhone 13 being significantly smaller in size than the S21 FE. However, the difference between the weights isn’t much, with both phones just shy of the 180g mark.
The iPhone 13’s 1170 x 2530-pixel OLED display measures 6.1-inches and supports HDR10 content. Unfortunately, it misses out on the higher refresh rate option, which Apple has reserved only for the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max models.
In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE gets a 6.4-inch, 1080 x 2400-pixel AMOLED 2X panel which is arguably one of the best smartphone displays currently in existence. Furthermore, this panel is HDR10+ ready and supports 120Hz refresh rate. In addition, Samsung also offers Corning’s latest scratch resistance technology with Gorilla Glass Victus on the S21 FE, while also integrating an in-display fingerprint scanner.
Both handsets are IP68 rated for water and dust resistance, but Samsung’s plastic rear panel and improved Gorilla Glass protection help it score higher than the iPhone 13 in the durability department.
Even though the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE trails the iPhone 13 in terms of display quality and durability, the iPhone 13 scores points in the look and feel department. There’s no clear winner here, and chances are you’ll choose one of these devices based on what really matters to you. Fans who prefer panels with a higher refresh rate will choose the S21 FE over the iPhone – while someone looking for a good-looking, premium smartphone will go for the iPhone 13.
Performance, Battery Life and Charging
In the US, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is powered by Qualcomm’s 2021 flagship chip – the Snapdragon 888. Although superseded by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the SD888 is still a powerful performer and a flagship chip capable of handling almost any task. You ask to perform it. Also, with up to 8GB of RAM offered (there’s also a 6GB RAM option), multitasking on the Galaxy S21 FE should be the least concern for anyone.
With the mighty A15 Bionic chip at its core, the iPhone 13 is no slouch and exceeds the performance benchmarks set by the Snapdragon 888. Adding Apple’s customized software to the mix, and you have a phone that performs like a beast and is second to none as far as multitasking is concerned.
Even though the 4,500mAh battery on the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is significantly larger than the iPhone 13’s 3240mAH battery, the iPhone 13, which has a proven battery life of over a day and a half, should easily be matched compared to the S21 FE. can offer. While we’ll reserve a final verdict on this after we review the Galaxy S21 FE, no one here expects Apple to lose this battle without a fight.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 supports wired charging speeds of up to 25W using Samsung’s own fast charger, while wireless charging tops out at 21W. The iPhone 13, on the other hand, tops out at 20W for wired charging and 15W for wireless charging. With the iPhone’s slow charging speed, we expect it to charge faster than the Galaxy S21 FE due to its lower battery capacity. Unfortunately, both phones don’t ship with a charging adapter, and you’ll need to spend extra to buy one if you don’t already have one.
Overall, we think the iPhone matches the performance of the Galaxy S21 FE more, while also providing excellent battery life and good charging speeds. And that’s why we have to give this round to the Apple iPhone 13.
Winner: Apple iPhone 13
The dual-camera setup of the iPhone 13 has largely remained unchanged compared to its predecessor and includes a 12MP primary camera and a 12MP ultra-wide camera. The big change this time around is the addition of OIS – which was only available on the Pro and Pro Max models along with the iPhone 12 series. This essentially means better photos in difficult situations such as shots with fast-moving subjects and low-light. For selfies, the iPhone 12 gets another 12MP camera that also supports 4K video recording.
In our review, the iPhone 12 captured images like the Google Pixel 5 and the more expensive iPhone 13 Pro. Needless to say, this is one of the best cameras you will find on a smartphone in its price segment.
The Galaxy S21 FE gets a triple camera array that includes twin 12MP sensors for the primary and ultrawide cameras. The third camera – paired with a telephoto lens – gets an 8MP sensor. The S21 FE also supports OIS on the primary camera and telephoto lens. On the front, the phone gets a 32MP selfie camera which allows it to capture some really good self-portraits.
While we haven’t tested the Galaxy S21 FE yet, given that the Galaxy S21 also struggled to compete against the iPhone 13 over the years, we think it will be an uphill battle for the S2 FE —which is essentially a toned-down S21. Still, we’ll reserve final judgment once we’ve properly tested the S21 FE, but for now, it looks like the iPhone puts it to the side.
Winner: Apple iPhone 13
software and updates
The iPhone 13 runs iOS 15, the latest version of Apple’s smartphone OS that offers a slew of new features. Some of the new features on the iPhone 13 include enhanced notifications, a brand new ‘Focus’ feature, and improvements to FaceTime. Apart from these, iOS is known for its speed, ease of use and security.
The Galaxy S21 FE, due to its delayed launch, runs Android 12 under a layer of Samsung’s own OneUI 4.0. Being on the latest version of Android and Samsung’s promise of three years of Android updates means you can expect the phone to last comfortably for the next three years. If that wasn’t all, Samsung promises an additional year of security updates – giving the S21 FE a chance to remain relevant even into 2026.
However, compared to iOS, Samsung’s great 4-year update promise doesn’t sound quite good. That’s because Apple’s tight control over hardware and software inevitably means its smartphones last and remain relevant for a longer period of time than comparable Android smartphones. For example, iOS 15 is compatible with the iPhone 6S released about seven years ago. So for the Galaxy S21 FE to compete as well, Samsung will need to support the phone until 2029.
While it’s fine to prefer Android or iOS, to use one of these devices for a really long time, they’re better off with the iPhone 13. But Samsung’s four years of software support is excellent by Android standards, and for the same reason, we’d call it a tie.
Both the handsets in question here come with their own unique set of features. So choosing between them really boils down to what exactly you want out of each of these devices. For example, the iPhone 13 would be perfect for those who are already invested in Apple’s ecosystem and use iMessage a lot.
But Samsung clearly wins the battle of features here, thanks to its repertoire of special features. This includes support for Samsung DeX, which allows users to connect the phone to a monitor and use it in ‘desktop mode’ – almost turning it into a PC. Then there are the distinctive camera-focused features like Single Take and Dual Recording modes – the latter allows you to capture video simultaneously using the front and rear cameras.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
price and availability
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE comes in two options, starting with a 6GB and 128GB base variant that costs $699. Then, there’s the 8GB and 128GB variants that go for $769. The phone is available through Verizon and AT&T and comes in four color options: White, Graphite, Olive and Lavender. The sale of the phone started from January 11, 2021.
At $799, the base 128GB iPhone costs (slightly) more than the base variant of the S21 FE. If you want to go up the price further, you have the option of getting the 256GB variant for $899 and the top-end 512GB variant for $1099.
Overall Winner: iPhone 13
Even though the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is a very good phone, its delayed launch and hefty pricing have put it in an awkward position. Not only does the phone compete against really affordable flagships like the Google Pixel 6 and OnePlus 9 – the $699 price tag puts it close to flagship devices like the Galaxy S21 and iPhone 13. There is an option to choose between a proper flagship and one. Affordable flagships by paying a modest premium, most users almost always go for the more expensive flagships.
Perhaps, we’ll revisit this comparison once the Galaxy S21 FE settles down. But until then, as it happens now, we’ll have to give it up to the iPhone 13.