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Should Samsung keep or ditch the Fan Edition?
Samsung’s Galaxy Fan Edition series has been a bit of a mixed bag. 2020’s Galaxy S20 FE (pictured) was a well-executed and competitively priced alternative to Samsung’s $999+ flagship lineup. However, Samsung couldn’t repeat that success with the Galaxy S21 FE, which launched and was priced a little too close to the already attractive Galaxy S22.
Rumors are circling that Samsung may be shelving the FE series, which would mean no Galaxy S22 FE or any future affordable flagship models. Although with only two attempts in the bag, canceling the Fan Edition so soon might be premature?
Is there room for the Fan Edition?
2021’s Galaxy S21 FE had a few small issues, perhaps the biggest being it was simply too expensive. No, we’re not calling $699 obscene, but you might as well pay the extra $100 for the superior Galaxy S22. Samsung’s internal decision to price the S22 series more competitively eroded the little gap in the market that the first Fan Edition model comfortably nestled into.
At the other end of the portfolio sits Samsung’s A-series. Mid-range gems like the Galaxy A53 5G retail for $449 and below, and do an exceptional job distilling Samsung’s formula down to a more mainstream price point. Samsung already has solid competition for the affordable Apple iPhone SE and the Google Pixel 6a, at least in the hardware sense.
Samsung nailed the S20 FE but completely messed up the S21 FE.
However, those two rival brands are, quite smartly, leveraging their flagship monikers for their budget-friendly handsets. Samsung’s A-series doesn’t command the same prestige as the Pixel or iPhone name. The Galaxy S FE does and can still serve as that important bridge between Samsung’s budget and flagship products.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review
The trick then is finding a price point where the Fan Edition doesn’t have to fight off internal competition from the S and A line-ups. There’s a small draught in the $600 window that would undercut anything Apple currently offers and give the Pixel 6 a run for its money as the steal of the year. Particularly as the FE benefits from Samsung’s best-in-class 5-year software update promise.
Timing is everything, and the time is now
A flagship-lite smartphone at around $600 could turn into a real winner in the current climate. With inflation on the march, buying shiny new technology is not at the forefront of as many minds these days. Even those who are considering a purchase in the near future are likely to view those $1,000 price tags with even more of a watery eye than in previous years. Around $600 is the sweet spot that’s better than budget while still being a bargain, as the Pixel 6 has shown. Providing the package is just right, of course.
Success at this price is knowing which flagship features to cut and which to keep. Samsung’s crisp 120Hz AMOLED panels and large batteries are a staple of the series so far, and features like an IP68 rating, NFC, and wireless charging keep phones on the flagship side of the mid-range divide. People love great cameras too, so sticking with an older flagship setup or dispensing with more powerful telephoto technology is preferable to severely skimping out on the camera setup.
With inflation biting and fierce competition, the time is right for a Galaxy S22 FE.
On the other hand, processing power has been more than good enough for a couple of years, and writing off any leftover 2021 inventory would be just fine at this price. We found Apple’s powerhouse A15 Bionic wasted in the cut-down iPhone SE (2022) form factor, for instance. And a Galaxy S22 FE wouldn’t need a ray-tracing capable GPU, 8K video recording, or the absolutely latest 5G tech. Similarly, a slightly cheaper glasstic body would be a fine compromise also.
As achievable as such a hardware package probably is, Samsung still needs to act sooner rather than later. The Galaxy S21 FE wasn’t a great pick because it arrived so close to the Galaxy S22 launch. Galaxy S21 flagships saw notable discounts in those 10 months as well. By comparison, the original Fan Edition had a much better sense of timing, appearing as it did mid-way through Samsung’s typical release cycle, giving customers a serious incentive to buy sooner rather than later.
Everyone loves a bargain, or so they say, and there’s still reason to cheer for the Fan Edition. Samsung just needs to get it right next time — both on the hardware and launch window fronts.