Flagship smartphones are ridiculously expensive in 2020, and frankly people have had enough. No one wants to spend more than $ 1,000 on a phone, but Samsung’s entire Galaxy S20 line required four digits. However, after these devices failed to gain traction, Samsung responded with the Galaxy S20 FE, a $ 699 smartphone that packs everything a buyer actually needs at a fraction of the cost.
This plastic is fantastic
So how does Samsung compress a $ 1,000 phone and most of its specs and features into a cheaper $ 300 phone? The first thing most people will notice is that the Galaxy S20 FE is constructed from plastic.
The side rails on this phone are still metal, but the entire back panel is plastic. But really, it’s not something worth complaining about. The sturdy plastic construction is comfortable to hold, keeps the phone lighter, and has a nice matte coating that is not very slippery. The regular S20 + made me rush to put on a case, but I don’t feel the same need on the S20 FE. The Cloud Navy model that Samsung sent me still collects a lot of oil from my fingers, but frankly I think all other colors are superior to this one anyway.
Speaking of colors, there are six of them. Cloud Navy is the darkest of the set, with Cloud White, Orange, Red, Lavender, and Mint also available. If I bought this phone I think Cloud Orange and Red are obvious, but really they all look great. In the end, I’m just glad Samsung didn’t make the same mistake as the rest of the S20 lineup where colors were boring or nonexistent.
In terms of the physical design of this phone, it is remarkably similar to the rest of the S20 line. The rear camera module is placed identically, the ports and buttons are in the same place, and the overall appearance is very similar. Perhaps the only “big” change is the size of the bezels around the screen, as they are just a bit thicker. Notably, the punch-hole selfie camera is also surrounded by a thin silver ring which makes it stand out more. Too bad, but not much. The screen is also a bit flatter here, which in my book is always a huge plus.
120Hz is the icing on the cake
Under the curved glass of the Galaxy S20 FE, you’ll find a 6.5-inch 1080p display. It’s a decent Super AMOLED panel. The brightness is excellent, the colors are vivid, and the viewing angles are essentially perfect. Samsung is really good for making screens, regardless of the price of the phone.
The resolution was also not a problem in my opinion. 1080p isn’t blazingly sharp, but it’s more than good enough for most people. Plus, it’s not like a higher resolution screen would have made a big difference anyway. The regular Galaxy S20 lineup hits 1440p, but out-of-the-box software limits it to 1080p if you’re using 120Hz.
That faster 120Hz refresh rate remains on the S20 FE as well, and it’s just as wonderful as it does on high-end devices. Scrolling, playing games, and doing everything on your phone feels better with a faster refresh rate. I noticed a few hiccups here and there that I don’t have on my S20 +, but it’s a plus no matter how you look at it. As I dig deeper, it also doesn’t reduce battery life.
The only big downside I have with the screen is the touch sensitivity. I had several issues throughout my use with the touchscreen acting. For example, it may not fully record a swipe or trigger “pocket” mode on the lock screen. It wasn’t often, but I’m not the only one to experience it. Many first-time buyers have also had similar issues. Fortunately, in my case, a replacement unit seemed to fix the problem, although I didn’t spend as much time with the second unit.
This problem, however, does not change my conclusion about the FE display. Samsung is just absurdly good at creating smartphone displays, and this scaled-down flagship is no exception.
Software and performance
For most businesses, cutting the price of a high-end device by $ 300 would mean removing a level of processor, but that’s not the case with the FE. Samsung managed to include the same Snapdragon 865 chip on the S20 FE with its powerful performance.
In practice, however, performance is not quite the same. Despite the same chip, I found the FE tends to stutter a bit more than my Galaxy S20 + or Galaxy Z Fold 2. Why? I think part of it comes down to reducing the RAM allocation from 12GB to 6GB. 12GB is absolutely overkill, but 6GB is a bit light these days, especially when you put Samsung’s OneUI to the Mountain peak. The performance isn’t bad, but it’s not on par with the flagships, and I would find it hard to call them “smooth”. Its good.
When it comes to software, nothing has really changed from the Galaxy S20 earlier this year. The FE runs on Android 10 with OneUI 2.5 out of the box. It’s still good software, but sometimes it’s a little frustrating. I went into more detail on this in my review earlier this year, but this paragraph sums up my feelings.
Samsung’s software experience is kind of a compromise. You have everything you could possibly want and that’s good! But having it all can be overwhelming and confusing too. It’s all about choice and that’s really the beauty of Android.
You’re not giving up any functionality to use this $ 699 smartphone, but I can’t wait for the day when Samsung polishes its software to the point that I can talk about it without any disappointment.
Endurance is one of the main reasons to buy
The battery life is another advantage of buying the Galaxy S20 FE over the more expensive models. In my experience, this phone’s 4,500mAh battery lasts longer than the Galaxy S20 +, which was good, but not all that impressive.
Overall, the S20 FE is a phone I can’t kill in a day. I’ve generally found that I can manage several hours of screen time per day while still keeping up to 40% at bedtime. Your results may vary, of course, but this phone has some stamina. Plus, it still has fast charging and wireless charging when it comes time to top up.
Not perfect, but a solid shooter
The Galaxy S20 FE’s camera surprised me. I was extremely disappointed with the S20 and S20 +, and despite the FE using the same primary sensor, it seems to pull off better overall shots. The details are crisp, the colors are good, and, gracefully, my pets no longer look like oil paintings as long as the lighting is correct. I still find movement to be a big deal for Samsung’s cameras, but the rest of the experience has been a big improvement.
The 12MP main camera is what I mainly used, but the ultra-wide shooter was no slouch either. The telephoto lens is limited to just 8 MP, but with real 3x optical zoom, the results weren’t bad! Anything beyond that optical zoom, however, starts to look pretty rough.
Press the “View full size” button in the gallery to view the image in its best quality
In the video department, the S20 FE loses the 8K support that other S20s are capable of, but that doesn’t really look like a loss. At this point, 8K isn’t really worth it, and 4K on the FE does the job.
Samsung is still in third place behind Google and Apple when it comes to camera chops, but the much more expensive Galaxy S20 FE and Note 20 Ultra have proven the business is improving. Really, I don’t have much to add beyond that. The cameras here are pretty good!
– Fingerprint detector
Like standard Galaxy S20 phones, the S20 FE uses an under-display fingerprint scanner, but this one is optical instead of ultrasound. This results in virtually the same level of security, but the optical sensor is considerably faster. It’s really weird that Samsung is technically using a better fingerprint sensor on its cheaper phone, but here we are.
– Headphones and speakers
The speaker quality of the Galaxy S20 FE is decent, but not exceptional. The single speaker at the bottom paired with the earpiece speaker lets in good sound, but there’s a glaring lack of bass. As for the headphones, again, there is no headphone jack. Shame? Sure. Deal-breaker? It shouldn’t be.
All the smartphone most people need
The “Galaxy S20 Fan Edition” is a misleading name. Sure, Samsung fans will definitely love this phone, but that’s not who Samsung should market this phone to. The S20 FE is the phone most people should buy.
If anything, Samsung should offer the Galaxy S20 FE as the Galaxy S20, and all of those other models should be “Pro” or “Ultra” models. It is the telephone which, I think, is addressed to the greatest number. It has all the features that everyone needs. It has all the performance. It has the whole screen. He has all the cameras. It has … everything and costs a lot less. This is the company’s best phone of 2020.
You can buy an S20 FE unlocked now, and from all major US carriers. At the time of publication, too, it’s $ 100 off at several retailers.
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