Towards the end of 2020, Samsung released the Galaxy 20 FE 5G to provide budget quality smartphones amidst the pandemic. This model comes in two versions, the first is the 5G-capable version and the second is an LTE-capped one.
The only significant difference between the two is their price point as Samsung has recently enhanced their 4G version with the Snapdragon 865 chipset, an upgrade from the controversial Exynos 990 chipset.
List of Specifications
|Dimensions||159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4 mm|
|Display||Super AMOLED, 120Hz, HDR10+|
|6.5 inches, 101.0 cm2 (~84.8% screen-to-body ratio)|
|1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~407 ppi density)|
|Platform||Android 10, upgradable to Android 11, One UI 3.1|
|Chipset||Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 5G (7 nm+)|
|Internal||128GB 6GB RAM, 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM|
|Main Camera||Triple 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.76″, 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS|
|8 MP, f/2.4, 76mm (telephoto), 1/4.5″, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom|
|12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 123˚ (ultrawide), 1/3.0″, 1.12µm|
|Selfie Camera||32 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/2.74″, 0.8µm|
|Battery||Li-Ion 4500 mAh, non-removable|
|Charging||Fast charging 25W|
|Fast wireless charging 15W|
|Reverse wireless charging 4.5W|
|USB Power Delivery 3.0|
|MISC||Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud Navy, Cloud White, Cloud Red, Cloud Orange|
- Powerful triple-camera system
- Solid performance
- Affordable price
- Large 120Hz display
- Does not have an external headphone jack (3.5 mm)
- The front camera lacks a LED light flash
- Battery life expectancy is low
Design and Layout
When it came to the Galaxy S20 FE, Samsung took a risky route by making some changes to the design in the name of affordability. Instead of using glass, they used a polycarbonate material (plastic) for the rear, which contrary to its look, possesses its advantages.
For example, you don’t have to worry about shattering the back of your phone in case it decides to take a tumble. Furthermore, annoying fingerprints are a thing of the past with this new rear.
As for the Samsung Galaxy 20 FE’s looks, despite the plastic rear, the phone does not feel or look cheap. Instead, thanks to Samsung’s excellent workmanship, the curved edges provide a unified look which adds to its allure.
If you happen to be attracted to bodies of water and have your phone with you, the S20 FE is IP68 rated. This means it is water resistant and can afford a dunk or two.
Compared to the S20, the difference is rather apparent as the S20 FE is thicker when it comes to its bezels. Upon usage, however, it becomes unnoticeable, providing you with an almost full screen experience. If this bothers you, it is worthy to note that the cutout from the front camera is smaller than that of the S20.
Despite the flowery compliments S20 FE has received thus far, there is one complaint to take note of. The Galaxy 20 FE, unlike its relatives, the S20 and Galaxy Note 20 series, uses an optical sensor instead of an ultrasonic sensor for its fingerprint reader.
In other words, more false negatives are produced when one attempts to unlock the phone, which could potentially cause you to be locked out from your phone. Not fun.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE comes in a 6.5-inch, 2,400×1,080-pixel super AMOLED display. What this translates to is a bright, vibrant and sharp display. Compared to their sibling, the Note 20 Ultra, S20 FE lacks definition. However, the difference is barely noticeable.
It has a refresh rate of 120 Hz, which is twice as fast as the standard 60 Hz, making swiping around a whole lot smoother.
For those that game a lot, the higher refresh rate will allow for a better gaming experience as it improves the flow of motion.
As for the display performance, the S20 FE fared well, reaching a brightness of 679 nits with the Adaptive brightness turned on. For your information, 600 nits is the benchmark for what is considered to be good.
A good example of that would be the Galaxy 20, as it reaches a maximum of 857 nits. As a matter of fact, the S20 FE also scored higher than the S20 in colour accuracy, although still ranking lower than that of iPhone 11.
To maintain the affordability aspect of the phone, Samsung settled on a 4,500 mAh battery which sits in the middle of the S20 series in terms of the battery capacity. The phone can last a full day with extra hours to spare in one full charge.
After many hours of general usage, which includes watching videos, the phone was often left with 25% of battery to spare by the end of the day.
When it comes to fast wired charging, the S20 FE supports up to 25W using the US PowerDelivery with a PPS adapter. Unfortunately, the charger it comes with only supports up to 15W, leading to slow power ups.
Through some testing, it seemed like the S20 FE only took around 2 hours to charge fully. Fortunately, this model does support wireless charging using the Wireless PowerShare, better known as reverse wireless charging.
Software & Performance
The Samsung Galaxy 20 FE comes with Android 10 built in, but no worries, it is upgradable and by the time you’re reading this article, Android 11 would already be out and about ready for you to hit that download button.
In case you’re worried about future updates, Samsung has promised that future phones will get at least three years worth of updates. Basically, you’re good for Android 11, 12 and if you’re lucky, maybe even 13.
For those that suffer from digital eye strain, well, you’re in luck because Android 10 provides users with a system-wide Dark Mode, which you can enable in the settings function. Say goodbye to squinting and say hello to browsing with less pain.
Another thing to note is that the S20 FE operating system (OS) comes with OneUI, allowing you to customize your phone to suit your tastes perfectly.
Looking into the performance, the 5G version, as mentioned earlier, runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset. As compared to their 4G counterpart, which runs on the Exynos 990 chipset, the Snapdragon reigns supreme as it not only outperforms the Exynos but ensures your gaming experience is in tip top shape.
Similarly to the rest of the S20 series, this model comes with a maximum of 8GB RAM, 256 GB of storage and a microSD card slot to boot.
The S20 FE comes with three cameras on the back; a 12-megapixel, f/1.8 main camera, 12-megapixel, f/2.2 wide-angle camera, and an 8-megapixel, f/2.4 3x telephoto camera. As for the front camera, we were blessed with 32 megapixels.
Essentially, what this means is, the S21 FE can produce the same quality images as the rest of the S20 models.
Although, the FE does fall short compared to the rest as it does not come with the Space Zoom feature, which combines a high-resolution main camera and an optical zoom lens to create sharp 5x or 10x zoom images.
When it comes to shadow and highlights in high contrast scenes, the S20 FE loses out but is still considered acceptable in good to fair lighting. As for indoor shots, a little noise is visible and only becomes more apparent in low lighting situations.
Despite these setbacks, the overall colour of the images, especially skin tones, are captured quite well, making it suitable for portraits.
Regrettably, the S20 FE is not suitable for night shots as the loss of detail is very apparent. Even the flash performance is inadequate, leading to inconsistencies in shooting night portraits. This is due to the large imbalance in exposure and white balance.
If you are undeterred by these drawbacks and are an ultra-wide enthusiast, the S20 FE might be the one for you.
With the pandemic still ravaging our lands, Samsung is not the only brand to come up with value-for-money premium phone options. In the fight for the title of best premium budget phones of 2020, we have the iPhone 11, OnePlus 8 and the Pixel 4 versus the S20 FE.
For starters, what makes the S20 FE more desirable than the rest is the availability of storage expansion. That’s right, if you think 256GB of storage is not enough, you can expand up to 1TB.
That’s a lot. In fact, you save much more money if you choose to increase storage space.
For example, if you buy the 64GB variant of the S20 FE which costs $699, you only need to spend around $25 more for the 1TB microSD card. For example, if we were to compare it to iPhone 11, they charge around $649 for the 128GB variant, but if you were to purchase the 256 variant, the price increases by $100.
As for the RAM, the S20 FE has a cap of 8GB, whereas the OnePlus 8 has a cap of 12GB. 8GB of RAM is usually the optimum amount. Therefore it does not pose a problem. The other two brands fall short as they only have a maximum of 6GB RAM.
The S20 FE battery capacity wins as it has 4,500 mAh beating OnePlus 8 by 200mAh and the rest by over 1000mAh.
Additionally, while all four phones come equipped with 2 to 3 back camera lenses, only the S20 FE and the Pixel 4 have the telephoto lenses. To end this with a bang, the front camera of the S20 FE is 32 megapixels, allowing you to see your pores in clarity, while the others are stuck between 12 to 16 megapixels.
The Bottom Line
We definitely would recommend the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE for those on a budget but still want to retain the qualities of a premium phone. For its price point, you don’t miss out on screen quality and performance.
Instead, you get more with a 120Hz display paired with the Snapdragon 865 processor, speed and vibrancy will never be a problem.