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Is the Galaxy S20 FE still worth it now that the S21 is here? Let's look at the specs

If you're considering upgrading to a relatively affordable Samsung flagship, chances are your comparison is the Galaxy S21 versus the Galaxy S20 FE. We compare the two devices spec by spec to help make the decision a little easier.

The Galaxy S21 and its slightly older sibling, the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition or FE, are Samsung's most affordable "new" flagship phones. Even though the South Korean company didn't introduce any groundbreaking changes to the S21 line, it received a ton of praise for slashing prices of its next-gen Galaxy S line by several hundred dollars during the pandemic, allowing the base S21 to start at $700. Still, the S20 FE is available for a far more affordable price of $350, raising an obvious question: Is the extra cash you'll need to pony up for the S21 worth the additional features? Ultimately that's for you to decide, but here are few salient differences between the two phones that you'll want to keep in mind.

S21 has a higher-end processor and more RAM

Samsung equipped the US version of the Galaxy S21 with Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 888 backed by 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage, making it a bona fide powerhouse. The S20 FE comes with last year's Snapdragon 865 chipset accompanied by 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage. 

S21 has a fancier rear camera module

The higher-end S21 has a 64-megapixel telephoto shooter headlining its triple rear camera setup, while the S20 FE has a 12-megapixel standard lens leading its pack. Samsung also redesigned the camera housing for the S21, which accentuates the camera lenses on the phones' backs while linking them with their metal frames.

Now playing: Watch this: Review: The Galaxy S21 5G surprised us with its changes

S21 loses microSD card slot for expandable storage

Although the S21 has faster processing power, it lost expandable local storage, joining last year's Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Z Flip foldables in ditching the microSD card slot because "usage has markedly decreased," according to the company. The S20 FE, however, gives you the option of expanding storage by up to 1TB.

No bundled charger in the S21

Unlike the S21 line, the S20 FE comes with a bundled 25-watt charging brick. Samsung took a page from Apple's book when it decided to ditch the in-box charger in the name of the environment, urging customers to reuse older accessories.

Juan Garzon/CNET

Samsung's Galaxy FE offers great specs, 5G connectivity and an incredibly affordable low price of $350. If you're on a budget and you don't need the additional features of the S21, of the two, this is the phone for you. Read our Galaxy S20 FE review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There are a lot of things we like about the Galaxy S21, including a striking design, 5G connectivity and the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip. While it offers a higher-end processor and more RAM than its older sibling, you'll need to decide if the higher price is worth it. Read our Samsung Galaxy S21 review.

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Now playing: Watch this: The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is the midrange phone to beat

For more information on the differences between the Galaxy S21 and the S20 FE, take a look at our specs chart.

Galaxy S21 vs. Galaxy S20 FE

Galaxy S21 Galaxy S20 FE
Display size, resolution 6.2-inch FHD+ resolution (2,400x1,080 pixels) 6.5-inch AMOLED; FHD+ resolution (2,400x1,080 pixels)
Pixel density 421 ppi 405 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 2.80x5.97x0.31 in 6.29x2.97x0.33 in
Dimensions (millimeters) 71.2x151.7x7.9mm 159.8x75.5x8.4mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 6.03 oz; 171g 6.70 oz; 190g
Mobile software Android 11 Android 10
Camera 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (standard), 12-megapixel (ultrawide) 12-megapixel (standard), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 8-megapixel (3x telephoto)
Front-facing camera 10-megapixel 32-megapixel
Video capture 8K 4K
Processor Snapdragon 888 or 64-bit octa-core processor 2.8GHz (Max 2.4GHz + 1.8GHz) Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (5G) or Samsung Exynos 990 (4G)
Storage 128GB/256GB 128GB
Expandable storage None 1TB
Battery 4,000 mAh 4,500 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen In-screen
Headphone jack No No
Special features IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 30x Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging 120Hz screen refresh rate, support for 30W fast charging and 15W fast wireless charging
Price off-contract (USD) $700 (128GB) $350 (128GB)
Price (GBP) £769 £599 (4G), £699 (5G)
Price (AUD) AU$1,249 AU$999