If Samsung launches a Galaxy S22 FE, it should do it sooner rather than later
It's unlikely that Samsung might get rid of the FE lineup.
Some experts say whether or not the rumors that Samsung might cancel the Galaxy S22 FE model are accurate, if it were to release a model, it might be too late now because it would be overshadowed by older phones that are just as good. However, even if it didn’t release an FE phone this year, they agree it wouldn’t make sense for Samsung to eliminate the line altogether.
Last month, rumors swirled that Samsung had decided to cancel the S22 FE phone, suggesting that the company isn’t working on it anymore. The company has rebranded its Galaxy Lite phones in the last two years and has released two Fan Edition phones. In a statement at the time, Samsung said it had “nothing to share” about the rumors.
Earlier this year, the Galaxy S21 FE impressed many and ended up being a solid alternative to the tiny Galaxy S22 and the pricey S22+. In fact, the S21 FE faced rumors that it too was going to get canceled due to chip shortages late last year, but Samsung decided to delay and sell the phone merely a month before the S22 series.
Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s worldwide device tracker, says he wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung did end up cancelling the S22 FE and points to Samsung’s recent decision to cut phone production estimates for 2022 by 30 million.
“Samsung is currently facing an issue with inventory building up across its portfolio of phones, and the FE series is not very differentiated from the rest of the bunch,” he says.
He also doesn’t necessarily think chip shortages are a reason why Samsung would want to cancel the FE line.
“The chip shortages for mobile phones tend to affect the lower end of the spectrum and holds the FE is far from that,” he says.
Samsung’s pricing problem could affect the S22 FE release
Ubrani notes that Samsung likely made the mistake of taking too long to release the most recent FE "because by the time the FE launched, the regular S series had already been discounted enough to be comparable to the FE, but it offered better specs."
"Samsung shouldn't make the same mistake again, and if they were to launch a new FE, it would be wise to launch it soon after the S series," he says.
Anshel Sag, a senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, agrees, adding that the S21 FE did well because of the value it delivered and that he could "see the same happening again this year, only if Samsung doesn't find a way to make the S22 more affordable in general."
Sag doesn't necessarily think that Samsung will decide to cancel the FE line, and if they did, "it would only be because they were worried about it overselling the S22 [line] whenever it would potentially launch."
Avi Greengart, president and lead analyst at Techsponentialk, says that the S20 FE was Samsung's response to the pandemic and that "Samsung's high starting price point on the S20 launched in the spring of 2020."
"In the fall of 2020, the Galaxy S20 FE perfectly fit the high-value spot in Samsung's premium lineup and sold extraordinarily well. With subsequent Galaxy S21 and S22 phones, Samsung lowered the entry point back to $800, giving less room for the Galaxy S21 FE. In many markets, last year's model is still available for a lower price, and Samsung could simply make that official going forward, replacing the FE's purpose and price point: great value by combining last year's technology at a reduced cost," he says.
To add to this, Greengart also doesn't think chip shortages are a viable reason to cancel a line.
"Chip shortages and supply chain management is a good reason for anyone to simplify their product line right now, but if there's a strong need for a product, you do what you can to meet demand," he says.
No, Samsung isn’t taking a page from OnePlus in a strategic change to its lineup
One might assume that if Samsung is canceling its S22 FE, that could mean it’s getting rid of its FE lineup altogether. This move could be compared to the change in OnePlus’s strategy on its phone lineups.
For a bit of perspective, last November, Android Central viewed OnePlus internal documents that showed the new breakdown of that company's smartphone portfolio by series and region. For higher-end phones, the company will plan on launching a new flagship tier of phones globally, with the new R series. Android Central initially reported that OnePlus would forgo a T-series phone in late 2021, releasing instead a phone called the OnePlus 9 RT in select regions.
Regionally-launched mid-range phones will include the Nord and Nord CE series. The Nord N series, which are some of the best budget Android phones, will remain the only budget series sold in North America.
Sag says that while it's possible that Samsung was stealing a page from OnePlus with the FE series, it might not want to just get rid of it just yet based on the success of the S21 FE.
Ubrani, on the other hand, doesn’t think it’s fair to say that Samsung is taking a page from OnePlus.
“The North American market, in general, doesn’t support an extremely broad variety of models and price tiers. From a pricing and feature perspective, there are many options from Samsung itself that are similar to the FE, so the FE really only appeals to those to must have an S series but don’t want to pay the price for the flagship versions,” he says.
Samsung needs to be strategic about launching the FE if it plans to
Whatever the case, if Samsung were to launch this phone, Sag believes it should do so when it’s the holiday season, in order to get optimal sales.
“I think an FE usually makes the most sense before the holidays when people are looking for gifts for friends and family and are a bit more price conscious,” he says.
Sujeong Lim, a research analyst at Counterpoint Research, agrees and says the “optimal timing for the release of the S22 FE is the middle of October, a month after the new iPhone is released in September.”
“In this case, it could be in demand during the holiday season in major markets and attract premium Android users before the S23 series launch,” she says.
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Shruti Shekar is Android Central's managing editor. She was born in India, brought up in Singapore, but now lives in Toronto and couldn't be happier. She started her journalism career as a political reporter in Ottawa, Canada's capital, and then made her foray into tech journalism at MobileSyrup and most recently at Yahoo Finance Canada. When work isn't on her mind, she loves working out, reading thrillers, watching the Raptors, and planning what she's going to eat the next day.