Update 14/05/24 02:10 pm (IST): If you still use Google Assistant, instead of Gemini, on your Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, then you can use the assistant as a replacement for Circle to Search, as suggested by a user.

Just activate Google assistant from left bottom corner and click on search screen. Easy peasy. Don’t know why you need all this. (Source)

Of course, this is not as good as actually having the feature, but if you’re in a pinch, then it’s helpful nonetheless.

The original article published on May 14, 2024 follows:

Samsung’s One UI 6.1 update has been rolling out to a growing number of devices, and the Galaxy S21 family is the latest in line for a taste of the latest software. But for Galaxy S21 FE owners, the update has brought an unexpected sour note – the missing Circle to Search feature.

Circle to Search allows users to long-press the home button and then draw a circle around something on their screen to instantly search for it online. Imagine seeing a fancy new gadget in a YouTube video and wanting to know more – Circle to Search lets you do that without leaving the app. It’s a handy tool, and its absence on the S21 FE has left some users feeling frustrated. Here’s a video confirming there’s no Circle to Search for the Galaxy S21 FE after the One UI 6.1 update.

Here’s the kicker: the Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra – all rocking the same processor as the FE model – received Circle to Search with One UI 6.1. This inconsistency has some S21 FE users feeling targeted by Samsung, believing the company is deliberately withholding features to push upgrades. Social media is abuzz with complaints, with users calling the move “exploitative.” Below are screenshots of the One UI 6.1 changelogs for the Galaxy S21 (left) and S21 FE (right) on T-Mobile:

Samsung hasn’t officially commented on the missing feature, but the difference in changelogs between the S21 and S21 FE’s One UI 6.1 updates speaks volumes. It’s important to remember, however, that Google itself introduced circle to search gradually across its devices. There’s a chance Samsung might follow suit, adding the feature to the S21 FE in a later update, especially considering circle to search is expected to reach even more affordable phones.

But why the inconsistency now? Processing power is a valid concern. Some of the flashier AI features introduced with the Galaxy S24 series might be too demanding for the S21’s chipset. However, Circle to Search doesn’t seem like a processing powerhouse. It’s a simple, convenient tool, and its absence feels more strategic than technical.

This situation highlights a growing trend: the fear of missing out (FOMO) used as a marketing tactic. By offering features on newer models but not older ones with seemingly capable hardware, companies can create a sense of urgency to upgrade. It’s a clever strategy, but it can leave loyal users feeling undervalued.

So, what can S21 FE owners do? Patience might be the key. Keep an eye out for future updates that might bring Circle to Search. Alternatively, you might want to explore getting a newer, supported device, although this would be an extreme move just to get such a basic function.

While the ultimate choice lies with the user, this episode reminds us that the “latest and greatest” doesn’t always translate to a better user experience, especially when older devices are seemingly capable of handling the missing features.

Featured image: Google

Himanshu Arora
217 Posts

I have been writing tech-focused articles since 2010. In my around 15 years of experience so far, I have written for many leading publications, including Computerworld, GSMArena, TechSpot, HowtoForge, LinuxJournal, and MakeTechEasier to name a few. I also co-founded PiunikaWeb, which went on to become a huge success within 5 years of its inception. Here at TechIssuesToday, I aim to offer you helpful information in a way that you won't find anywhere else easily.

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