Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: the Galaxy S20 for less


The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is a Fan Edition of the S20. Nice for the fans, but especially if you want the S20 but find it too expensive. The Fan Edition is cheaper. What do you hand in? You can read it in this Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

MSRP € 749, –
OS Android 10 (One UI)
Screen 6.5 inches (2400 x 1080)
Processor Snapdragon 865
RAM 6 GB
Storage 128 GB (with micro-sd)
Battery 4,500 mAh
Cameras 12, 12 and 12 megapixels (rear), 32 megapixels (front)
Connectivity WiFi 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, NFC, 5G
Format 15.9 x 7.5 x 0.84 cm
Weight 190 grams
Other Water and dust proof, wireless charging
8.5 Score 85 Score: 85

  • Pros
  • Price to quality ratio
  • Beautiful screen
  • Complete hardware
  • Negatives
  • Emphatically present Samsung shell
  • No 3.5mm headphone port
  • Design choices betray a lower price

Good to know: Samsung sells the Galaxy S20 FE in two versions. They are quite different from each other. There is a model with the Exynos 990 processor and 4G support, available for a suggested retail price of 649 euros. Samsung also offers a 5G variant, which is equipped with a Snapdragon 865 processor and costs 749 euros. I tested the 5G version and it is almost as expensive as the regular Galaxy S20 5G (from 779 euros).

Plastic has advantages and disadvantages

The Galaxy S20 FE is made of plastic, while the regular S20 has a glass design. The plastic has the advantage that the housing is relatively light and attracts less fingerprints. There are also disadvantages. You can press the back a bit and the on and off button and volume buttons feel a bit simple. A cover reduces these points of attention. Something that bothers me more is the silver ring around the selfie camera, which is in the screen. Once you get it, you can hardly ignore it. I have not spotted this ring on the S20 models. It gives me the impression that the camera module has been incorporated into the screen in an easier way. It’s also a shame that the S20 FE lacks a 3.5mm headphone port. This design choice is inherited from the S20 series. Fortunately, the S20 FE is waterproof and dustproof and has an excellent fingerprint scanner behind the screen. However, competing smartphones from Oppo, OnePlus and Sony use better fingerprint scanners.

Nice 120 Hz screen

The screen of the S20 FE measures a hefty 6.5 inch and looks sharp due to the full HD resolution. The screen edges are flat, where they are a bit more curved on the S20 series. A flat screen is a bit cheaper but works fine. The colors of the display splash through the OLED panel and the 120 Hz refresh rate means that the screen refreshes itself 120 times per second. This produces a smooth and noticeably more pleasant image, especially if you used a smartphone with a 60 Hz screen. It is nice that Samsung also puts the 120 Hz panel of the S20 series in the S20 FE, especially because the (more expensive!) Note 20 has a 60 Hz screen. I find the screen of the S20 FE hardly inferior to the S20.

Powerful hardware

Not only the screen quality impresses. Samsung has also put excellent hardware in the S20 FE. The device runs on a super-fast Snapdragon 865 processor, is suitable for 5G internet and has 128 GB of storage memory with a micro-SD slot. At 6 GB, the RAM is much smaller than the S20 (12 GB), but in practice I notice little of this. The Fan Edition is very smooth, plays heavy games properly and switches smoothly between recently used programs.

The battery life is also fine. A 4500 mAh battery supplies enough power for a long day of intensive use up to one and a half to two days lighter. Charging via the included USB-C charger is 15 Watt. That is not as fast and also slower than the S20 (25 Watt). Many competing smartphones also charge with a minimum of 25 watts. It therefore takes a little longer for the S20 FE to be full, but I don’t find it disturbing. It’s nice that the phone can also charge wirelessly, a function that you will also find in the S20.

Cameras with points of interest

Three cameras are placed on the back of the S20 FE, all with a resolution of 12 megapixels. The cameras are intended for normal photos, wide-angle images and a few times zoom. The S20 models have cameras that can do the same, but use different sensors and therefore have to zoom further and take better pictures. Samsung is cutting back on this in the S20 FE, but you won’t notice it if you don’t have an S20 now. The Fan Edition just shoots great photos, both during the day and in the dark. The images are sharp, high in contrast and with bright, vivid colors. Not quite true to life like an iPhone or Google Pixel, but there is a good chance that you will find the photos of the S20 FE more beautiful. If you value very realistic photos, you better not buy a Samsung smartphone anyway. This also applies to the selfie camera. The 32 megapixel camera is set to pimp your face with a softer layer, even after I have turned off all effects. I also find this comment in other reviews. Hopefully, Samsung can and wants to change this via a software update.

Normal photo
Wide angle
3x zoom

Software

The Galaxy S20 FE runs on the same Android version with Samsung’s OneUI shell as the regular S20 series. There is a lot to be said about positively. The software works smoothly, is user-friendly and has nice options for personalizing the smartphone. From themes and one-handed mode to using two WhatsApp accounts at the same time and linking the S20 FE to your Windows computer to work efficiently. Samsung’s update policy is also perfectly fine. The manufacturer guarantees three years of system updates (Android 11, 12 and 13) and four years of regular security updates.

As far as I’m concerned, Samsung can improve its OneUI shell to make it more in line with the high price tag of the S20 FE. The software dispute advertises Samsung services and products and contains a number of apps that you cannot remove, only turn off. This includes Netflix and apps from Microsoft. Samsung’s digital assistant Bixby can also be tamed. This appears on the screen, among other things, if you want to switch off the phone via the on and off button. That feels intrusive and unnecessary, especially because Bixby does not speak Dutch and is therefore very useful. They are small points that bother me every day and in my opinion do not belong on an expensive smartphone.

Conclusion: buy Samsung Galaxy S20 FE?

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is a cheaper version of the S20 and that is reflected in the plastic design, the less good cameras and slightly stripped down hardware. I can live well with the cuts. The S20 FE is a great smartphone that you can use for years to come. Still, I can hardly recommend it at the time of publication, which is due to the price of 749 euros. The S20 with 4G costs less than 700 euros and the S20 with 5G is available from 779 euros. Flagships with or without 5G, without aesthetic and technical compromises like the Fan Edition. So I would say: add a few tens more for the S20 5G or save by choosing the S20 4G. Would you rather make – fine – concessions because you want an S20 model for the lowest price? Then I think the Galaxy S20 FE with 4G for 649 euros is a better deal. The 5G model only becomes worth considering when it drops in price.

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