Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S21 FE launch dates could put Samsung in a bind

The last 22 months have thrown the world and lives into chaos, and even big tech companies weren't immune to the effects of global events. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the global chip shortage, both of which are still ongoing, companies big and small have had to either adjust their schedules, cut down on products, or, worse, let people go. Like many of its peers and rivals, Samsung has been trying to project a strong image of "business as usual," but the next six to eight months could prove to be problematic as the company prepares to launch not only the Galaxy S22 flagship but the very late Galaxy S21 FE.

Galaxy S21 FE

Although 2021 seemed to have begun normally for Samsung, the first worrying signs started to appear near the middle of the year. There were expectations and clues that Samsung would repeat its strategy last year and launch a Fan Edition of its Galaxy S21 flagship. It was almost necessary, considering the Galaxy S21, despite expectations, recorded lower sales than its predecessor.

Unfortunately, the Galaxy S21 FE would be beset by numerous production issues, all of them just based on rumors, of course. Given how limited component supplies are, it's only natural that Samsung would prioritize its more premium Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3, which would have better ROI should they sell well. For a time, it seemed that the Galaxy S21 FE wouldn't happen at all. Now, it might just be dead on arrival instead.

The Fan Edition of Samsung's 2021 flagship is now believed to launch early next year, and the latest word is that it might even launch around CES 2022. That would actually be a rare and unprecedented move for Samsung, which also proves just how precarious the Galaxy S21 FE's launch could be. While it won't have much in the way of competition during that event, its biggest problem will be what Samsung might be launching just a month later.

Galaxy S22

With the Galaxy S21 FE presumably launching in January, it isn't surprising to hear that Samsung is delaying the Galaxy S22's debut to February. But rather than do it at MWC 2022, which is returning to an on-site, face-to-face experience, the company will reportedly announce its early 2022 champion much earlier, around the second week of February.

There are many rumors and leaks about the Galaxy S22 series by now, much of them leaning towards the more disappointing range of the spectrum. The Galaxy S22 Ultra at least sounds promising, but the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus (or Pro) sound almost too close to the Galaxy S21 this year, if not worse in some cases. Their sizes are reportedly smaller and with matching batteries, perhaps in an attempt to mirror Apple's iPhone strategy.

This would put the Galaxy S22, at least the base model, quite close to the Galaxy S21 FE, give or take a few of the usual upgrades, like with the processor and cameras. Consumers will have not three but four phones to choose from that are spaced so closely together that they could have been all launched at the same time. More choices don't always translate to better sales, especially if you're already tight on supplies.

Wrap-up: Windows of Opportunity

What all these boil down to is the rather fragile concept of a window of opportunity for companies to sell certain products. That is why smartphone makers stick to rather strict schedules with very small margins for delays, schedules that have been thrown into disarray due to global health and manufacturing conditions. For Samsung's next smartphones, those windows might end up colliding and creating a mess that Samsung can't really afford right now.

Although it remains the top smartphone manufacturer in the world, Samsung's past flagships haven't been doing great as far as meeting sales expectations go. The absence of the Galaxy Note this year was sharply felt, and the Galaxy S21 FE's delay only made it more poignant. With a lot of variables surrounding the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S21 FE, Samsung might be in for a messy fight as it tries to keep its position against all odds.