Samsung Galaxy S20 FE front display
David Imel / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Samsung is reportedly thinking about offering an Exynos version of the Galaxy S21 FE.
  • It’s believed the firm could take this route due to a shortage of Snapdragon 888 chipsets.

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 FE is expected to arrive later this year, but it seems like the phone’s release plans are being affected by the global chip shortage. Now, a new report suggests that Samsung might actually change a key S21 FE spec in order to bring the phone to market.

Korea’s Maeil Business outlet (h/t: Sleepy Kuma on Twitter) has claimed that Samsung could make up for a shortfall of Snapdragon 888 chipsets by using an Exynos chipset in some S21 FE models as well. 

“It is known that Samsung Electronics is strongly considering a plan to replace the shortfall in Qualcomm Mobile AP [application processor – ed] with Samsung Exynos AP and release it in the global market,” reads a machine-translated excerpt of the story. The outlet also claims that the phone will make its debut in the fourth quarter of the year, citing the chipset supply issues.

It therefore sounds like we could be seeing two versions of the smartphone, which would largely be in line with Samsung’s flagship strategy anyway. The manufacturer has traditionally used Snapdragon silicon for US and Chinese variants and Exynos chips for the likes of EMEA markets and India. 

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We’re guessing that the manufacturer will use the Exynos 2100 if it indeed opts to launch an Exynos version of the S21 FE. Samsung is expected to reveal an Exynos 2100 successor with AMD graphics later this year, but this is likely debuting inside 2022’s flagships.

In saying so, a phone believed to be the Galaxy S21 FE passed through the FCC earlier this week, and one notable detail in the filing was the mention of the Snapdragon 888 SoC (“SM8350”). So at the very least, it seems like Samsung is sticking to the Snapdragon chipset in some capacity. 

Still, launching a version of a phone with a different chipset isn’t a simple matter, even for a company with its own chip design capabilities like Samsung. Aside from the logistics and lead time involved, a manufacturer also has to spend time optimizing the new variant for battery life, performance, camera quality, and more (although it could likely lean on the Exynos S21 for some of this). 

This isn’t the only scuttlebutt we’ve heard regarding the upcoming smartphone. One report alleges that Samsung might only launch the phone in European and US markets. Either way, it definitely seems like we’ve got a fluid situation on our hands.