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Samsung may kill the Galaxy S22 FE, but it absolutely shouldn’t

It appears that Samsung is done with the “FE” (aka Fan Edition) lineup of budget flagships. According to a report from SamMobile that cites multiple sources, Samsung has shelved plans for a watered-down version of the Galaxy S22 that would have hit store shelves as the Galaxy S22 FE in the coming months.

Samsung got the ball rolling for budget flagships with the Galaxy S10 Lite and the Galaxy Note 10 Lite in early 2020. Later that year, Samsung officially adopted the “FE” branding for watered-down versions of its flagship Galaxy S-series phones — starting with the Galaxy S20 FE. It offered a top-tier processor, reliable cameras, and a lower price tag after making a few sacrifices (such as wireless charging).

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Samsung Galaxy S21 FE colors
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is still a compelling budget flagship in 2022.

More importantly, Samsung promised that it would launch Fan Editions for Galaxy S flagships in the years to come. Making good on its promise, the company launched a second iteration with the Galaxy S21 FE just a few weeks before the Galaxy S22 line’s debut. Again, a few corners were cut, but the Galaxy S21 FE proved to be a fairly compelling package without any serious compromises.

For folks who were hoping to get a Galaxy S22 FE because the standard Galaxy S22 flagships are out of their budget range, Samsung might disappoint them. SamMobile’s report claims that the Galaxy S22 FE project has been shelved, and so far, a tentative model number for the phone hasn’t been spotted in any Samsung database or code inventory.

The route here is to process the report with a fair bit of skepticism, but it also makes some sense. Samsung has been porting over flagship features to its Galaxy A-series phones in the A7 and A5 series with full steam in the past couple of years. The most recent outings — the Galaxy A73 and Galaxy A53 — actually left a good impression thanks to capable specs and competitive pricing.

Pushing the Galaxy S22 FE in the middle would only serve to cannibalize the sales of premium Galaxy A-series phones, and might also steal some thunder away from the entry-level Galaxy-S phones. But those are concerns for Samsung and its business team. For the average customer, it’s disappointing that they have one less choice, especially when other brands are going in the opposite direction.

An appealing formula

Samsung’s formula of putting a flagship chip, powerful camera, and clean software — all neatly packed up in premium design without nuking buyer’s wallets — was quite appealing. Apple has been doing the same with its SE line of iPhones, albeit at a much lower price and with more glaring compromises.

Samsung Galaxy S22
A Fan Edition of the Galaxy S22 sounds quite promising. But alas, it may not come to pass.

Google is finally emulating that formula with its Pixel 6a, a phone that borrows the Tensor chip, design elements, clean software, and the trusty camera hardware from Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro flagships. Even though the Pixel 6a is yet to start shipping, it has already caught the attention of many potential buyers and looks like a fantastic budget flagship from Google’s warehouse.

The apparent cancellation of the Galaxy S22 FE not only robs smartphone buyers of a solid option and makes the market less competitive, but it also takes away some critical benefits. The biggest loss? Samsung’s terrific software update policy. The company is now promising four Android OS upgrades and five years of security updates for even the Galaxy A-series phones. It’s likely that the courtesy would’ve been extended to the Galaxy S22 FE as well.

Plus, the attractive exchange and store credits that Samsung aggressively pushes in the U.S. market will also be gone with a no-show by the Fan Edition phone. Samsung’s smartphone chops are on full display on the vanilla Galaxy S22, a phone that would have also served as the natural template for its FE edition. With the rumored cancellation, it appears that you won’t be able to experience the Galaxy S22’s might, or a portion of it, on a smaller budget this year.

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