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Samsung LapFit D190SU with DisplayLink Review

A few weeks ago, Samsung Korea launched a series of low profile external LCD monitors intended to serve as notebook or netbook companion displays.  Essentially, it’s a same LCD display as in Samsung’s current notebooks, but with adjustable height: when it stands, it’s as tall as your laptop to ensure everything lines up with no offset.  However there’s more technology gone into the LapFit than the design; it also comes equipped with Samsung’s UbiSync technology aka the DisplayLink USB graphic chip embedded into the display, enabling plug-n-play monitor expansion via a simple USB connection. Last week SlashGear was offered an exclusive preview of the new breed of Samsung SyncMaster, a 19-inch LapFit dubbed the D190SU, and we took the bait.

Our review unit was a demo product from the CES show, and little birdie told us Samsung didn’t pick the name “LapFit” until it gets launched later in Korea. Ours was also branded the D190S, not the D190SU, but apparently the SU will designate the DisplayLink version while the basic S gets VGA only.  Basically, it has been to places, used but not too badly abused; by the time it reached us it worked, but there’s quality concerns over the squeaky and squishy bezel.

Setting up the new SyncMaster is probably the easiest monitor hook-up I’ve ever done. With no base to assemble, it’s practically hassle free as the unit stands entirely on two tiny rubber feet and a flip-up wheel leg and weighs less than 9lb. As the unit is positioned for notebook height, there aren’t many offsets to the screen except tilting it backward. The leg is tensioned to hold the display with just enough pressure to allow smooth tilting of angles between 10 and 30 degrees. It held the unit steady and allowed effortless adjustment with your fingertip.

No cheap plastics here. Like most SyncMasters, the finish is piano black all around. The frame has curved edges at all corners with a pleasing clear coating, while the surface is smooth and beautifully shines, a good match-up with the glossy display. It’s visually attractive, stylish and looks quite a lot like an oversized contemporary photo frame.

The control buttons and power button are touch-sensitive, and completely buried beneath the glossy bezel.  One soft touch of it calls up the hidden OSD offering image size, MagicBright four preset picture modes from NotePC, Internet, Movie and Dynamic Contrast adjustment. No individual RGB settings, gamma adjustment or contrast controls are included with this basic SyncMaster, all you can tweak is brightness. The touch sensitive buttons respond well and we had no problems with false detections or with the need to apply extra pressure to make them work.

The rear panel supplies ventilation, power input and video connectivity from VGA to the built-in DisplayLink USB graphic chip. If you’ve been living in a cave for the last few years, here’s the basics about DisplayLink USB Graphics technology: it expands your visual workspace, by up to six monitors, via a single plug-n-plug USB connection, and is probably one of the fastest growing and most widely adopted technologies found on today’s notebook docking stations, projectors, video adapters or embedded directly into monitors like the LapFit. The company is now apparently gunning at the increasingly popular pico projector segment. 

Currently, the hardware supports up to 1600 x 1200 resolution, and according to Theo Goguely, the director of product marketing from DisplayLink, their next-gen chip (tentatively scheduled for launch in the second half of this year) will offer resolutions beyond 1920 x 1200, “2K x 1K” or 2048 x 1080. Additionally, the USB GPU geek-squad has been working closely with Intel, and newer hardware with Intel’s series four graphics chip will get optimized drivers supporting OpenGL, DirectX 9 and 10 3D graphics, gaming and HD video.

On the subject of drivers, a variety of OS support has been released for Windows XP (32-bit), Vista (32/64-bit, Aero 3D enabled) and Apple OS X. Also, there’s a preview driver for early adopters with the upcoming Windows 7 OS.

When asked about Linux, the USB 3.0 standard and HDMI connectivity, Theo informed us there’s no timeline for Linux support but it’s a possibility. Though they have manufactured an HDMI version for one of their clients, it’s not likely to be featured in the company’s product due to incompatibility with the HDCP copy-protection standard. However, the digital content protection will be supported when the next generation USB 3.0 DisplayLink system is made public.

As for the panel, it’s a typical affordable and fast response rated TN+Film matrix LCD, unfortunately somewhat infamous for its mediocre image quality and disappointing viewing angles. Against all preconceptions, though, the viewing angles proved to be acceptable, with credit due to the anti-glare technology, though as usual, viewing angles from below the screen were poor. Brightness across the display was measured in nine regions; evidently there is luminance inconsistency from the corners and we also saw gradient banding noticeable in test patterns.  Nevertheless, those were typical offsets from a TN + film panel but not enough to throw you off your work.

For image quality, NotePC picture mode offered a good balance of white and black luminance, and the most natural color presentation to the naked eyes. Brightness and contrast ratio at the center of the screen were measured at 136.1 nits and 1134:1 respectively; keep in mind that was with brightness at 70 percent, there was room to grow and in fact the SyncMaster exceeded its claim of a native 1000:1 contrast ratio.  We didn’t manage to get as far as the claimed dynamic value of 15,000:1, however.

On entertainment, the USB graphics displayed DVD movies with no lag or ghosting, but we can’t say the same for immersive gaming. As mentioned, the current DisplayLink chip doesn’t support that; it simply lacks the muscle to process 3D simulations or graphic-intense games, though simple titles work fine. As mentioned, new chips and optimized drivers are coming to provide headroom for extra pixels and monitors.

Overall, we have mixed feelings if the proposition is simply that the Samsung LapFit D190SU is a perfect fit for a laptop or ultraportable netbook. Not everybody wants a desk-height external monitor with little room for adjustability, and today’s software lets you tweak relative display positioning so getting things precisely lined-up is less of an issue. The clean contours and gorgeous black piano finish, however, means the LapFit could happily serve as a stylish tabletop digital photo frame. Another good use of the LapFit D190SU would be a projector-equipped home theater system with HTPC users looking for an external monitor for system integration without needing to power up the beamer.  It’s also an energy efficient display, demanding only 22 Watts of power.

Samsung are yet to confirm US pricing for the SyncMaster LapFit D190SU, but going by UK figures it should come in under $200.  That’s expensive for a 19-inch display, even one with straightforward USB connectivity, when a quick online search shows up larger screens non-DisplayLink monitors for less money.  We’re also relatively unimpressed with the TN+ panel and its lackluster performance.  The D190SU solves a problem, yes, but the cost and the limitations will keep it very much a niche product.

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Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Review

The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It literally has the same abilities and hardware across the board – until you get to the display and the physical size and shape of the smartphone.

With the Galaxy Note Edge you get the same display size as you do with the Note 4, but with the Note Edge you get an extra little section of display that’s curved down the edge – hence its name.

Because of this edge, you’re going to have to adjust the way you hold your phone. You can no longer wrap your fingers around both sides of your smartphone.

It’s not easy getting used to holding the Note Edge.

With the Galaxy Note 4 I tend to grip tighter to the device than I would with smaller handsets. With a smartphone that sits comfortably in my palm, I don’t worry so much about wrapping my fingers around the device’s edges.

Holding the Galaxy Note Edge means wrapping your fingers around one side and balancing the phone against whatever finger or fingers are left on the other side. If you carry the phone with one hand, that is to say.

It feels far more natural to use the Note Edge in landscape mode. Because of this, I wish Samsung would allow landscape mode in this machine’s homescreens, like a tablet. I’ve been settling with navigating through Samsung’s Android in portrait mode, then flipping to landscape mode whenever I open an app.

Like the Galaxy Note 4, this device is amongst Samsung’s first devices to use a full metal edge. The back is a soft plastic with a fine texture that, with the edge and the glass front, make this device feel like it’s worth as much as you’re going to pay for it.

The S Pen is longer than it’s been with previous Note handsets, and is now more comfortable to use than in previous releases. I can use the pen for extended periods of time without feeling the “you need a bigger writing stick” feeling I had with the first Note 3 years ago. It’s comfortable, and the software Samsung provides with the S Pen here is unmatched in the smart device stylus world today.

That said, I’ve still not figured out what the average Note user uses this pen for – three years since the first Galaxy Note was released and I’ve not found a natural use for the pen other than drawing fun pictures when I’ve got a down moment.

It’s certainly a fine device for drawing pictures.

But with a display like this, I’d much rather watch a movie.

Wherever I am that I’d be watching a movie on this handset I’ll using a pair of headphones – which is a good thing, since Samsung continues to insist on creating smartphones with backwards-facing speakers.

The Note Edge represents Samsung trying something new with a grand display of their power over hardware finesse. This device feels amazing. Whether or not the edge is necessary enough to pay for is another question entirely.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review

Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Note II, the Galaxy Note 3 works with a body that’s divergent from the model set by the hero smartphone Galaxy S. In this case, that means that though the Samsung Galaxy S 4 works with a set of edges that are rather similar to that of the Galaxy S III, and last year’s Galaxy Note looked like a large version of last year’s Galaxy S, the Galaxy S 4 and the Galaxy Note 3 at last look to be forging their own unique hardware paths.

The Galaxy Note 3 works with 1080 x 1920 pixels across its 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display face, coming in at a cool 386 pixels per inch in sharpness. This is the same amount of pixels as the Galaxy S 4, but spread over a larger face, therefor resulting in a slightly less sharp (though barely to the human eye) yet just as brilliant panel.

As this device works with a lightly textured back panel with faux-stitching and plastic rim with several thin ridges, you’ll find a slightly more hearty feel than the Galaxy S 4. While the Galaxy S 4 remains almost surprisingly plastic-y in practice, the Galaxy Note 3 makes up a lot of ground with what feels like a more unique approach around the rear and rims. The additional weight in the Note also makes the whole device seem more substantial – in other words: this is not a toy.

The S Pen too has found itself refurbished. This pen still fits in nicely under the back rim down below the smartphone, here able to do so facing front or back – no more fumbling to figure the right way to slot it back in to place with this third generation. In practice, on the other hand, you’ll find the Galaxy Note 3’s S Pen to be largely the same in size and feel to the unit in the Galaxy Note II – if you loved it then, you’ll love it now, and vice versa.

This machine doesn’t feel any more massive than the previous generation – in fact it feels a lot better filled-out due to the slightly larger display real-estate up front vs the amount of space not taken up by screen. Like previous generations, you’re really going to need to know what you’re getting into with this Galaxy Note – this is a massive device for a normal user’s pocket, no matter how you spin it.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear does a lot to rectify the oddity in checking your notifications, text messages, and even making phone calls with its wrist-based syncing with the Galaxy Note. While you’ll have to head to our full Samsung Galaxy Gear Review to see our in-depth judgement of this smartwatch, this much is true: not having to pull the Galaxy Note 3 from your pocket every time you get an email is a big improvement over past generations – especially if you’re the sort of person that can’t deny the draw of the beast but feel awkward having it make an appearance on the subway.

If you’ve used past generations of Galaxy Note, you’ll be glad to find the performance on this generation to be better than ever. This is due in a large way to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor (we’re reviewing the T-Mobile USA edition of the phone here, if you did not already notice) and the 3GB of RAM under the hood to more processing power than you’ll know what to do with.

While you’re inside you’ll also notice a 3200 mAh battery (removable) and a microSD card slot able to roll with up to 64GB of extra storage space. This is in addition to the already hefty 32 or 64GB of internal storage space the Galaxy Note 3 comes with.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Vs Samsung Galaxy S5 Comparison Review

Our Verdict

Arriving a good six months after the Samsung Galaxy S5, it’s no surprise that the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has significantly faster hardware. It’s important to note, however, that all flagship smartphones are now very fast, and the chances of the average user being able to tell the difference between them is minimal. However, what might sway you in the new Note’s favour is its larger, higher-resolution screen and potentially longer battery life. Whether it sways you enough to part with an extra £200 over the S5 will depend on your budget.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which launched today at IFA , and the Samsung Galaxy S5, which launched at February’s MWC, are Samsung’s two best ever smartphones. Here we compare the S5 and Note 4 spec for spec to see which is best suited to you.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Price and UK availability

We’re expecting the new Note 4 to command a price of around £550- to £600. It should go on sale in October. Also see: 41 best smartphones.  

The Samsung Galaxy S5 was unveiled at February’s Mobile World Congress, and its price has since dropped from its £599 RRP to as little as £413 SIM-free at Amazon at the time of writing. This means there will be a significant difference in price between the two smartphones when the Note 4 launches but, like the S5, we expect its price to drop considerably within a few months. Also see Samsung Galaxy S5 review. 

If you’ll be getting either handset free with a contract this is unlikely to bother you, but it’s worth pointing out that the cheapest way to buy any phone is SIM-free, and then pair it with one of the best SIM-only contracts.  

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Design and build

While the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini is very much a more compact version of the standard S5, the Galaxy Note 4 won’t simply be a larger version of that same flagship smartphone. Indeed, rather than adopting that cheap plastic dimpled rear, the new Note is expected to follow in the footsteps of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha with a metal chassis. 

Another key difference will be the sizing of these phones. With a 5.7in screen the Note 4 is what’s known as a ‘phablet’; it measures 153.5×78.6×8.5mm and weighs 176g. Samsung’s 5.1in-screen Galaxy S5 is much smaller, at 142×72.5×8.1mm, and it weighs just 145g. 

Also, like its predecessor the new Note 4 will come with Samsung’s S Pen – now improved to work more like a real pen. The S5 is not supplied with a stylus. 

The fingerprint scanner, heart-rate monitor and IP67-rated dust- and waterproof protection found in the S5 and S5 mini has also been added to the Galaxy Note 4.

New to the Note 4 is a UV scanner.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Screen

Forget what Apple says about the human eye not being able to see individual pixels once you get past a certain point. We’ve seen Quad HD before in the LG G3, and you really can’t appreciate how awesome is the difference until you see HD, full-HD and Quad HD side by side. 

Samsung will use Super AMOLED display technology for the Note 4, and like the S5 it will reveal vibrant colours and have decent viewing angles. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Processor, graphics and performance

The Note 3 blew the competition out the water when it launched last year, and we have complete faith in the Note 4 doing the same. It’ll run a 2.7GHz Snapdragon 805 processor with a huge 3GB of RAM and Adreno 420 graphics. Its performance will be blistering – check back soon to find out exactly how fast is the new Note 4. 

The Samsung Galaxy S5’s 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801, 2GB of RAM and Adreno 330 graphics are meagre by comparison, although the S5 revealed some stunning performance in our benchmarks.  

In Geekbench 3, for example, the S5 achieved 926 points in the single-core test, and 2869 in multi-core; in GFXBench 3.0’s T-Rex we saw 28fps; and in SunSpider the Galaxy S5 turned in 824ms. See how these scores compare in our article: What’s the fastest smartphone 2014. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Storage

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Connectivity

Connectivity-wise the S5 and Note 4 should see few – if any – differences. Both will feature 4G (also see: what is 4G), dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, NFC (also see:

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Cameras

The same rear camera will be fitted to the Note 4 as to the S5, and you can expect the Camera app to feature the same filters and modes. That’s a 16Mp snapper with a dual-LED flash and autofocus, also able to capture video – UHD at 30fps, full-HD at 60fps and HD at 120fps. 

The S5 is also fitted with a 2Mp front-facing camera for selfies and video chat. The Note 4 upstages this with a whopping 3.7Mp front camera with an f1.9 lens and special camera modes such as Wide Selfie. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Software

When the Note 4 launches it will, like the S5, be running Android KitKat. When Android L is released later this year both will be upgraded. 

Samsung overlays its own user interface, too. On the S5 you get the latest version of TouchWiz, which features a redesigned Settings menu that is easier to navigate and now features rounded colourful icons, as well as new quick access features and the ability to hide (if not uninstall) preinstalled apps.  

Meanwhile, on the Note 4 Samsung has made some tweaks to make widgets transparent and allow you to more easily customise the lock screen. 

Both will feature Samsung’s usual preinstalled apps, such as S Health, S Voice, Samsung Apps and more. 

We’ll be able to get a proper look at the Note 4’s software when we get it in our hands at IFA 2014. Look out for our Note 4 hands-on review toward the end of next week. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Battery life

One of the plus points of the Note 3 over the S4 is its larger-capacity battery, and this is a trend we expect to continue with the Note 4. The battery is removable (meaning you can swap it out for a spare, although we prefer to use a portable USB charger), and Samsung specifies a 3220mAh cell. Fast charging allows it to go from zero- to 50 percent in 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a smaller 2800mAh battery, but also a lower-resolution screen and slower hardware. It comes with a fantastic Ultra Power Saving Mode that can squeeze an extra 24 hours of life from the S5 once the battery capacity gets down to 10 percent by switching to a greyscale screen mode and turning off inessential apps. Samsung has already added this feature to the S5 mini, and we see no reason why it wouldn’t also add it to the Note 4. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Verdict

Arriving a good six months after the Samsung Galaxy S5, it’s no surprise that the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has significantly faster hardware. It’s important to note, however, that all flagship smartphones are now very fast, and the chances of the average user being able to tell the difference between them is minimal. However, what might sway you in the new Note’s favour is its larger, higher-resolution screen and potentially longer battery life. Whether it sways you enough to part with an extra £200 over the S5 will depend on your budget. 

Also see: 38 best Android smartphones.

Specs Samsung Galaxy S5: Specs

Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 1440 x 2560 pixels, 5.25 inches

32/64 GB storage, 3 GB RAM, microSD, up to 64 GB




Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band




microUSB v2.0

16Mp, 3.2Mp cameras, 1080p@30fps

Android OS, v4.4.2

Qualcomm Snapdragon 805, Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400

Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery

Samsung Galaxy S21 Fe Review: Questionable Value

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is here to serve as a more affordable option to Samsung’s full Galaxy S22 flagship series. Samsung says the phone offers “fan-favorite features” like top performance and a solid camera packed into a stylish piece of hardware that fits naturally into the greater Samsung ecosystem. It does those things, to some degree, but the timing of the phone’s arrival to market is off, as is the price point, and that leaves the Galaxy S21 FE standing in a strange spot. Can the “Fan Edition” phone overcome its odd positioning and win over the hearts of Samsung fans? Find out in the Android Authority Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review.

About this Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review: I tested the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review unit over a period of 10 days. It was running Samsung One UI 4, based on Android 12, on the November 21 security patch. The unit was provided by Samsung for this review.

Update, November 2023: We’ve updated this review by adding updated software information and listing a few new competitors that are available on the market.

What you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (6GB/128GB): $699 / €749 / £699

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (8GB/256GB): $769 / €819 / £749

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE purports to deliver much of the Galaxy S22‘s premium experience at a price point more befitting of an affordable flagship.

Samsung originally debuted the S21 FE right at the end of the Galaxy S21’s lifecycle and ahead of the Galaxy S22. Since then, the Galaxy S21 series has been discontinued, leaving the S21 FE to stand in as the low(er)-cost option against the better-equipped S22 series. The S21 FE is just $100 less than the vanilla Galaxy S22, which really complicates the value equation of the phone.

How is the hardware?

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Samsung took the one significant visual design characteristic of the Galaxy S21 — the raised corner camera module — and made sure the S21 FE featured it prominently. There is a bit of a change in the way it is presented, but the basics are there. Specifically, the over-large styling of the module and the way it cozies up to the side rail are similar to the Galaxy S21’s looks, but the Galaxy S21 FE doesn’t feature the two-tone shading of its flagship siblings. It’s exactly the type of downgrade you’d expect on a lesser phone.

The Galaxy S21 FE is a mixed slab. It boasts a flat Gorilla Glass Victus panel on the front, a rounded metal frame, and a plastic rear panel. The curved shape of the aluminum frame is particularly comfortable when holding the phone. The back is flat except where it bends just a bit along the edges where it meets the frame. It’s a fairly straightforward-looking phone. I’d call it a bit of a step up from the Galaxy S20 FE, which wasn’t as cohesive in its looks. I’m not necessarily a fan of the new Olive color, but the other shades are solid. Sadly, Samsung did away with the brighter shades that were available to the Galaxy S20 FE.

The Galaxy S21 FE’s screen doesn’t have quite the same visual impact as the Galaxy S21’s or S22’s, which are a tiny bit brighter and slightly more pixel rich, but it’s more than good enough for the price point.

Samsung took the Galaxy S20 FE’s 4,500mAh and carried it over to the Galaxy S21 FE. That’s a little bit larger than the vanilla Galaxy S22’s 3,700mAh cell and equal to the S22 Plus’s 4,500mAh cell. What you need to know is that it should get most people through a day without much worry.

Hopping to the ultrawide, which is at 0.5x zoom compared to the main camera, is fun when you want to squeeze more into the frame. Ultrawide shots are definitely softer than those taken from the main camera, but the color profile and exposure are about the same. HDR isn’t as effective with this camera and you’re more apt to get overexposed or underexposed spots in photos with overly bright or dark regions.

Things really soften up with the telephoto. It does alright, but not nearly as well as the Galaxy S21. The native 3x shots are exposed well enough and not too noisy, though clarity was sometimes on the soft side. I like that the camera’s controls make it easy to jump from 0.5x to 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x, 10x, 20x, and 30x with little buttons. You’ll find 20x and 30x Space Zoom to be mostly worthless in terms of real-world results. The shots are simply too noisy and lacking in focus and detail.

The Galaxy S21 FE includes a dedicated night mode for shooting in the dark. It’s the same night mode available on other Samsung phones, which means it takes a longer exposure and you have to hold still when shooting. Results vary widely depending on the light, what you’re shooting, and how still you hold the phone. I’ve seen better results from other phones.

Shooting selfies? The selfie camera does a fair job when it comes to color and exposure, but images are a bit soft in terms of focus. You’ll also spot a fair amount of grain, particularly in darker environments. Portraits, whether taken with the rear camera or the front camera, are pretty good. The separation between the subject and background is good and the amount of blur is nice without being too much. Edge detection is hit or miss when it comes to your hair.

The one significant new feature Samsung added to the camera is dual capture. This mode allows you to record video from the front and rear cameras at the same time. There are two views: split-screen (50-50) or picture-in-picture. I like that you can prioritize either the front or rear camera when in picture-in-picture mode. The results are about what you’d expect from such a feature. I do wish you could snap photos in this mode, but you cannot.

Anything else?

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Updates: Samsung has made firm commitments to software updates for its phones and is now promising four years of OS updates and five years of security upgrades. That’s better than any other phone maker at the moment, even Google, which means your S21 FE will remain up to date longer than most. So far, we’ve seen updates through the November 2023 security patch and Android 13 is just starting to roll out.

Biometrics: Basic biometrics are on board. Samsung added an optical fingerprint reader to the display. It’s positioned just a bit low on the phone’s face, but training and using it are no problem at all. It is generally the best/fastest way to unlock the phone. There’s also a basic face recognition feature, though it’s not the super-secure type that relies on dedicated hardware.

Stereo speakers: There’s no headphone jack, but you do get stereo speakers with the Galaxy S21 FE. The speakers actually sound pretty good. You’re not going to get the loudest, clearest sound in the world, but you’ll get enough volume to fill a small room and enough clarity to discern the highs from the lows, whether listening to music or watching videos.

5G: The Galaxy S21 FE supports both sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G. While the former gets you 5G access across the US and parts of Europe, mmWave is mostly used in the States. Samsung provided a T-Mobile SIM card with our review unit and we were able to put the phone’s 5G to the test. It really worked out well. Download/upload speeds were snappy. Obviously, your mileage will vary depending on where you live. You also get Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 to round out the connectivity suite, which isn’t quite up to par with the Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 found on today’s leading devices.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review: The verdict

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Samsung conjured up a solid smartphone in the Galaxy S21 FE. On the surface, there’s nothing objectionable about the phone at all. Samsung managed to get many of the tent poles firmly in place.

It’s attractive (if a touch simple), slim, and lightweight. I genuinely appreciate the quality of the materials and the tight assembly. The screen is very good, battery life is above average, and it delivers better performance than many phones in its price class. Samsung managed to ship the phone with the latest version of Android (at the time), and it comes with the very best OS and security update commitment.

While it’s not a bad phone overall, we think that the Galaxy S22 is a better buy than the Galaxy S21 FE despite costing a bit more. There are also a few non-Samsung alternatives out there that are better overall.

No, the Galaxy S21 FE does not feature a microSD card slot.

Yes, the Galaxy S21 FE is IP68 rated, meaning it will survive in up to 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes.

There are four Galaxy S21 FE colors to choose from: White, Graphite, Olive, Lavender.

Yes, the Galaxy S21 FE supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G.

The FE stands for “Fan Edition.”

Yes, you can wirelessly charge the Galaxy S21 FE at 15W. The phone also supports reverse wireless charging.

The back of the Galaxy S21 FE is plastic, but the frame is made of metal.

Samsung T7 Shield Review: A Tougher T7


Resistant to dust, rain and drops

Hardware encryption

Both USB cables included


No performance increase

Only 1- or 2TB

Our Verdict

Other than its ability to handle harsher treatment, there seem to be few obvious improvements over the original T7 design. That Samsung made it more robust but kept the same warrant period tells a story.

Best Prices Today: Samsung T7 Shield




View Deal

Back in 2023, Samsung launched the T7 Touch, a biometrically secure external SSD, and a few months later a cheaper no-frills T7 version that proved a very popular choice.

The Samsung T7 Touch offered a 10Gbit USB connection and could read and write files at close to 1,000MB/s, making it ideal for those looking to catch a plane, train or boat with critical files from the office secured on the drive.

Now, Samsung has revamped the T7 to bring us the T7 Shield. With the original T7 still selling, what makes the Shield the T7 that potential customers might want?

Design & Build

Samsung makes the new T7 Shield in three colours, and they sent me the one with the least aesthetically pleasing colour for review. The black and the blue aren’t exciting colours, but the beige one harks back to a bygone era when all computers came in variations on a theme of brown.

It also has a slightly odd, rubberised surface finish profiled like house-siding and not the hard metallic crisp edges of its predecessor.

One side has the Samsung logo stencilled onto the rubber, and on the other, in a tiny font, is the ‘T7 Shield’ branding. The capacity of the drive and all the other standards logos are on a narrow elliptical endplate.

The opposing end has a USB-C port and a tiny LED to show power and activity.

Along with the drive, Samsung includes in the box two USB cables that cover both USB-C and Type-A connections, though they don’t provide a fabric pouch for the drive or the cables – though you likely don’t need one anyway.

If the rubberised finish hasn’t provided a sufficient clue, the subtle change from the original T7 to the T7 Shield is that the enclosure has better protection for the SSD electronics inside, allowing the owner to exercise much less restraint when throwing it to his colleague on the other side of the office.

The T7 Shield is, like many smartphones, IP65 rated for dust and water resistance and designed to withstand a 3-meter drop. The original T7 had a 2m drop rating, so the T7 Shield is 50% better at resisting clumsy people.

For those confused by IP ratings, IP65 isn’t waterproof, but Samsung claims that the drive can handle some water, just not submersion. But, it comes with the same three-year warranty as the T7 does.

The only item of note on the review drive was that the USB-C cable came out rather too easily, leading to several head-scratching moments when I wondered why the system didn’t see the drive.

Specs & Features

USB has come to a strange point in its existence where it’s stuck in a state of limbo between what was USB 3.0 and the forthcoming USB 4.0 standard.

What doesn’t help is that the USB implementers Forum (USB-IF) likes to rebrand known USB standards into new ones that easily confuse the buying public. USB 3.0 was renamed USB 3.1 Gen 1, and then USB 3.2 Gen 1.

Until USB 4.0 truly arrives, the best USB connection technology is USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, a connection that offers the same 20Gbps bandwidth available through Thunderbolt 3 or 4 drives.

Sadly, the T7 Shield only offers USB 3.2 Gen 2, not Gen 2×2. That’s the same 10 Gbps as the T7 before it, and therefore the speeds on offer aren’t any faster. That’s unfortunate, but given how few computers have a USB port that is Gen 2×2 capable, it’s also understandable.

In one respect, the T7 Shield provides fewer options than the prior T7 in that this drive is only available in 1- and 2TB capacities. The 500GB model isn’t an option in this design, and no 4TB drive was added to balance its removal.

With the number of external SSDs offering 4TB and some 8TB drives on the horizon, why larger than 2TB isn’t an option is a mystery and for others, 500GB may be enough.


One other feature Samsung retained that I liked is that the T7 Shield, like the previous T7, has AES 256-bit hardware encryption, allowing the contents to be secured.

The only caveats to using this option are that it assumes the systems the drive will be connected to have the software needed to unlock the drive and that the password is never forgotten.

Once the contents are hardware encrypted there are no back-door means to access it should the password not be available, because if there was, it wouldn’t really be secure.

Samsung provides a software utility, the PSSD, or Samsung Portable SSD Setup, that can activate hardware encryption and maintain the drive with firmware updates.

A utility to sync the contents with PC folders isn’t included, so those wanting that beneficial functionality will need to source it elsewhere.


Given that the SSD technology at the heart of the T7 Shield appears unchanged from that in the T7, I wasn’t expecting anything special while running it through the usual collection of benchmark tests.

That prediction appeared justified, as the numbers I encountered with the 1TB review drive were in the performance envelope of most external SSDs that use USB 3.2 Gen 2 standard.

What’s interesting about the results is that while the default settings for many of the benchmarks presented numbers at the very upper limit of what a 10Gbps USB port can move, those with ‘real world’ options revealed a less impressive level of performance.

All tests that graph performance showed that while read speed was reasonably constant, write speed spiked repeatedly over a relatively short period. This activity indicates that the write cache is relatively small on the SSD, and when it is saturated, performance drops to around 600MB/s before jumping back up.

While the performance of the T7 Shield for a USB 3.2 Gen 2 drive is acceptable, it’s not any better than the 2023 released T7, and much slower than any USB  3.2 Gen 2×2 drives we’ve tested.


In the USA, direct from Samsung the 1TB and 2TB models costs $134.99 and $239.99 respectively. In comparison, the original T7 costs $114.99 and $229.99. for these capacities, and also offers a 500GB option for $79.99.

Sourcing the same hardware from Amazon US, the T7 Shield is the same price as Samsung quotes.

UK customers don’t have an option to buy directly from Samsung, and the 1TB and 2TB drives are typically priced at £134.99 and £247.99 from retailers such as Amazon, Box, Ebuyer and Laptops Direct.

Compared to the Crucial X6 and X8, the T7 Shield is expensive, and it’s closer in cost to the Kingston XS2000, one of the few drives that can use a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port to deliver closer to 2,000Mbps transfers.

Check our chart of the best portable hard drives and SSDs for more options.


To be blunt, after two years of development, I expected more.

Though I can’t entirely blame Samsung as it’s where USB technology currently resides, that’s a part of the issue here. If Samsung wanted to offer a premium-priced model adding Gen 2×2 connectivity and performance, this product might have made more sense.

Instead, what we’ve ended up with is a marginally more robust T7 that costs up to 17% more, depending on the capacity, with much the same performance and internal features.

Similar read and write performance can be experienced with the Crucial X8 for about 70% of the cost for the 1TB capacity, and the X6 is even cheaper. Adding insult to injury, the X6 has a 4TB capacity option for those that need more than the largest T7 Shield drives can hold.

The conclusion must be that if we do ever see a significant upgrade to the T7 series, we may be forced to wait for USB 4.0 to become commonplace, however long that transition might take.

Buying the T7 Shield has to be a purchase primarily on the added durability compared to the regular model.

Specs Samsung T7 Shield: Specs

Capacities: 1TB/2TB

Capacity tested: 1TB

Tested RND4KB Q1T1 performance: 33.25/67.37 MB/s Tested sequential performance: 1,085/1029 MB/s

Quoted sequential performance: 1,050MB/s read and 1,000MB/s write

Connection: USB 3.2 Gen 2

Encryption: AES 256-Bit

Dimensions: 88 x 59 x 13 mm (WxHxD)

Weight: 98g

Warranty: 3 years

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