Samsung's late Galaxy S21 FE launch could actually be a good thing

Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe Leak
Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe Leak (Image credit: Steve Hemmerstoffer / Voice)

What you need to know

  • The Galaxy S21 FE may run Android 12 out-of-the-box.
  • This would likely make it the first new Galaxy smartphone to do so, ahead of the Galaxy S22.
  • Samsung is expected to launch the S21 FE in January, with the S22 series likely coming in February.

Samsung has pushed the S21 FE back for so long, no one was quite sure that the device would actually arrive. However, evidence continues to point to a January release ahead of the Galaxy S22, and the late launch is now said to come with the added benefit of running Android 12 out-of-the-box.

SamMobile claims to have the firmware for the Galaxy S21 FE (SM-G990E), which indicates that it's already running Samsung's One UI 4 based on Android 12. Since Samsung is already rolling out its latest software on the Galaxy S21 and is set to bring it to plenty more devices in January, it's not too surprising.

However, that would put it ahead of Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S22 series, which isn't expected to arrive until February. That said, this would be an interesting move and would likely entice buyers knowing that their new phone is already on the latest version.

Another benefit to this would be future support. If the phone launched with Android 11, OS upgrades would likely be limited to just Android 14 as per Samsung's three-year upgrade promise. But with the bump to Android 12 out-of-the-box, the S21 FE could see support for Android 15, which would be more than the S21 series.

Of course, we'll have to wait until the official launch before we know exactly how Samsung is positioning the device, which arrives unusually close to its next flagship series. While I originally lamented about the much-delayed S21 FE, saying that the phone should just be canceled, this really isn't the worst outcome if Samsung's going ahead with the launch anyways. And as long as the price is right, this could likely end up being one of the best budget Android phones of 2022.

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Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.