Samsung Should Forget the Galaxy S22 FE. Here’s Why

What’s happening

Samsung has launched a cheaper “Fan Edition” version of its flagship Galaxy phones for the past two years. But a rumor suggests the Galaxy S22 FE may have been canceled.

Why it matters

Samsung’s smartphone lineup already has plenty of options, making the Galaxy S21 FE feel lost in the shuffle. It should focus on its flagship Galaxy S and midtier Galaxy A phones instead.

Samsung already has a dizzying selection of phones to choose from. There’s the super-sized Galaxy S22 Ultra, the pocketable Galaxy Z Flip 3 and the wallet-friendly Galaxy A series. But there’s one way Samsung could simplify things: Skip the Galaxy S22 FE.

Don’t get me wrong; the $700 Galaxy S21 FE (short for “fan edition”) has plenty going for it. When I reviewed the phone in January, I was impressed with its decent battery life and solid camera for the price. However, it risked feeling lost in Samsung’s lineup once the Galaxy S22 launched. And I was right. If Samsung does have a successor to the Galaxy S21 FE in the works, rebranding it as a more premium Galaxy A phone would be a wiser move. A rumor from the blog SamMobile suggests Samsung may have canceled the Galaxy S22 FE, and I can understand why. Between the $800 Galaxy S22 and $450 Galaxy A53 5G, it’s too hard for the Galaxy S21 FE to stand out. 

The Galaxy S21 FE lacks what made the Galaxy S20 FE so special

The 2020 Galaxy S20 FE had a major advantage that the Galaxy S21 FE lacks: a sizable gap in price compared to Samsung’s Galaxy S phone. The Galaxy S20 launched at $1,000, making the $700 Galaxy S20 FE feel like a significant bargain. It earned a CNET Editors’ Choice in 2020, with Andy Lanxon writing that its “great balance of performance and value” makes it a better value proposition than the S20 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra. 

There are a couple of reasons why the Galaxy S21 FE didn’t strike the same chord. Samsung’s lineup and the broader smartphone landscape were different in 2020. While 5G support, multiple camera lenses and screens with higher refresh rates were starting to trickle down to cheaper devices, these features were considered premium just one year earlier in 2019. Remember the Galaxy S10 5G? Samsung’s first 5G-ready phone commanded a high price of $1,300 when it launched through Verizon in spring 2019. 

Things changed the following year in 2020. Every device in the Galaxy S20 lineup supported 5G, but that also meant a higher starting price of $1,000. With that in mind the 5G-equipped S20 FE, which also has a triple-lens camera and speedy processor, was a great alternative for cost-conscious shoppers that didn’t want to make big sacrifices on quality. 

In other words, the Galaxy S20 FE came at just the right time and the right price. I can’t say the same for the Galaxy S21 FE. It launched roughly one month before Samsung introduced the Galaxy S22, which offers superior camera quality, a more refined design and a newer processor. The Galaxy S20, on the other hand, debuted in September 2020, which meant it had a longer runway before the Galaxy S21’s arrival in January 2021.

At the same time, the Galaxy S21 FE does have advantages over the S22, particularly for people who prefer larger phones. But the differences aren’t drastic enough to prevent it from being overshadowed by the S22 and competitors like Google’s cheaper Pixel 6. 

Pricing is another important factor. It’s great that Samsung dropped the price of the S21 compared to the S20, but the problem is that it didn’t lower the Galaxy S21 FE’s price to match. The Galaxy S20 FE was $300 cheaper than the Galaxy S20, while the S21 FE costs only $100 less than the Galaxy S21 did at launch. 

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