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Samsung Galaxy S20 FE buyer's guide: Everything you need to know
In September of 2020, Samsung took the wraps off its final entry in the Galaxy S20 series — the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (the “FE” stands for Fan Edition). As the name implies, this phone offers what Samsung considers the most essential Galaxy S elements.
While fans will find most of their desired specs and features here, Samsung is also leaving out several premium aspects of the main Galaxy S20 series, resulting in a lower price. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition!
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: At a glance
The Galaxy S20 FE is like the greatest hits of the Galaxy S20 series. It offers the features that Samsung thinks its fans want the most while leaving out the features fans either don’t care about or would gladly do without if it lowered the price.
With that in mind, the usual Galaxy S features are all here: a flagship processor, expandable storage, an IP68 rating, a big AMOLED display, wireless charging, Wireless PowerShare, and a triple-lens rear camera. In addition to the usual specs and features, Samsung wants to entice a younger generation of users with a slew of new colors.
However, Samsung also reduced or removed several features and design elements. There’s less RAM, a glasstic back, a reduced display resolution, and a weaker overall camera system. There’s also no headphone jack, which is unfortunate.
Is the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE worth buying
Samsung’s marketing makes it clear that it is gunning for a younger audience with the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. The reduced price, colorways, and provided promotional images all scream hip, young Millennial.
That being said, you don’t need to be under 30 to enjoy this phone. It offers pretty much all the core Galaxy S line features at a much more affordable price. For some buyers, this phone might improve the primary line, such as offering a flat display panel, an optical fingerprint sensor instead of an ultrasonic one, and those new fun colorways.
It's clear that Samsung is gunning for Millennial buyers with this phone, but anyone can enjoy it.
In general, this phone is for anyone who wants a terrific smartphone in the Galaxy S line but doesn’t want to spend over $1,000 to get one.
What do the experts say about the Galaxy S20 FE
Android Authority’s own Eric Zeman reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and was a fan of the Fan Edition. He had a lot of good things to say about the phone, mainly when talking about the display with a 120Hz refresh rate, the solid performance, excellent battery life, and the six different colorways available.
Of course, it’s not perfect. The design and build material aren’t as refined as other flagships, and the cameras don’t do justice to Samsung’s usual prowess in that department. That said, Samsung certainly put a lot of thought behind what features to keep here and covers the right selection of must-haves.
Eric adds that with so many phones competing in this price range now, it’s hard to peg the Galaxy S20 FE as the best of the lot. For fans of the company, though, this phone is a great way to get a Samsung flagship without spending more than a thousand dollars.
Many consider the Galaxy S20 FE the “OnePlus killer,” and our own C. Scott Brown wanted to see whether this might be true. He says that when you compare the Fan Edition with the latest crop of OnePlus phones, you see that Samsung is offering a whole lot more for a comparably lower price.
There are still areas where the Galaxy S20 FE falls short compared to the similarly-priced competition. The cameras aren’t great outside of ideal shooting conditions. The software feels incredibly bloated for anyone used to stock or stock-like iterations of the Pixel or OnePlus’ Oxygen OS. However, he adds that the Galaxy S20 FE is proof that Samsung can create phones that one-up the competition while still being affordable.
Dhruv Bhutani adds to the praise, saying that the Galaxy S20 FE is Samsung’s most important phone of 2020. Removing unnecessary premium design flourishes like curved display edges and a glass build make the S20 FE better, in his opinion. He adds that the Galaxy S20 FE wins in the camera department by focusing more on image quality than gimmicks or megapixels.
Samsung also manages to tack on key differentiators like wireless charging, an IP68 rating, and expandable storage via microSD card, that you’d be hard-pressed to find at this price point. Even the battery life is excellent, making up for the lack of super-fast 30W or 65W charging that the competition offers.
He concludes by saying that the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE democratizes all the critical features of the Galaxy S20 at a highly competitive price point, which is quite an impressive feat.
What other reviewers from around the web are saying about the Galaxy S20 FE
To give you a clearer picture of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, we take a quick look at what other tech reviewers have to say about this phone.
- PC Mag’s Sascha Segan says that the Galaxy S20 FE offers the “perfect balance of power and price.” Samsung cherry-picked exactly what users were looking for and put it together in a relatively affordable package. The phone cameras aren’t great performers in low-light conditions, but that doesn’t stop the Galaxy S20 FE from being “the best Android phone you can buy for $699”.
- Cnet’s Andrew Hoyle calls the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE “the mid-range phone to beat.” The camera is one of the main areas with compromises to help keep the cost down, but it’s still capable of taking some great-looking shots. He says that the high-end specs, 5G connectivity, and affordable price tag make this phone a strong value proposition without sacrificing the features you’d expect from a flagship.
- Toms Guide’s Mark Spoonauer is a fan of the phone’s 120Hz display, excellent performance, solid cameras, and affordable price tag. He says that while Samsung has had to cut a few corners to keep the price down, that doesn’t stop the Galaxy S20 FE from being “one the best phones for the money.”
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: Specs
|Samsung Galaxy S20 FE|
6.5-inch flat Super AMOLED
Infinity-O cutout, centered
FHD+ (2,400 x 1,080) resolution
120Hz refresh rate
Gorilla Glass 3 cover
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Samsung Exynos 990
Arm Mali-G77 MP11
128GB or 256GB internal
microSD support up to 1TB
15W wired charging (in-box adapter)
25W wired charging (add'l adapter needed)
15W wireless charging
ƒ1.8, 1/1.76in, 1.8μm
ƒ2.2, 1/3.06in, 1.12μm
3x optical zoom, OIS
30x digital "Space Zoom"
ƒ2.4, 1/4.4in, 1.0μm
32MP (binned to 8MP)
ƒ2.2, 1/2.8in, 0.8μm
1.5m water depth for 30 min.
Optical in-display fingerprint
5G support (both sub-6GHz and mmWave)
USB-C with USB 3.2 speeds
NFC and MST
Samsung Dex support
Dolby Atmos support
No headphone jack
Dimensions and weight
74.5 x 159.8 x 8.4mm
Cloud Navy, Cloud Red, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud White, Cloud Orange
How are the Galaxy S20 FE cameras?
A triple-camera system is a minimum some users expect with a current smartphone, and the Galaxy S20 FE delivers. The setup includes standard, ultrawide, and telephoto lenses that many will consider a better set than available with some of the competition’s macro cameras and depth sensors.
The camera app is identical to what is available with the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Note 20 series. This brings Samsung’s signature Single Take feature, allowing you to capture nine different types of photos or videos with a single tap. It’s loaded with other features and modes as well, like panorama, food, night, live focus, super slow-mo, hyper-lapse, and a robust pro mode, to name a few. It’s quick and easy to switch between the three cameras, and additional tools let you adjust the shot resolution, the flash, aspect ratio, and more.
The Galaxy S20 FE is capable of taking excellent shots. Eric found that the color reproduction was a little over the top but looked good overall in his review. White balance was accurate, the focus was sharp, and the shots were noise-free in good lighting conditions. Low-light shots had more noise but were still good enough for social media.
The 32MP selfie shooter can take regular and wide-angle shots, as well as normal selfies and portraits. Eric found that selfies looked good in general but lacked pop.
Does the phone offer good battery life?
The Galaxy S20 FE slots into place alongside the S20 Plus with its 4,500mAh battery in terms of battery capacity. On the other hand, the S20 has a 4,000mAh battery, while the S20 Ultra comes with a 5,000mAh power cell.
Eric found the phone to last longer than a full day comfortably in his review. He got around seven hours of screen-on-time with above-average usage, with the battery still having 25% of charge left at the end of the day.
The Galaxy S20 FE supports 25W wired fast charging, but it ships with the 15W charger in the box. You’ll have to buy the Samsung 25W charger separately or get a third-party alternative. The 15W charge doesn’t power up the phone very quickly. The phone reached just 30% after 30 minutes, 55% after 60 minutes, and 88% after 90 minutes. It took just over two hours to charge fully.
Wireless charging is a nice feature to have at any price point, and you get 15W wireless charging with the S20 FE. The phone keeps another flagship feature with Wireless Power Share, allowing you to charge accessories like smartwatches and wireless earbuds, and even other phones, if needed.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: Performance
The Galaxy S20 FE retains a few high-end features from its flagship siblings. The most important spec it carries over is the Snapdragon 865 processor. 6GB is the least amount of RAM a modern Android phone should have, but meeting just the minimum RAM requirement didn’t hinder the S20 FE’s performance in any way.
The phone handles every task easily, with no signs of lag, stutters, or generally slow performance. Gaming is excellent on the phone, and media consumption is a joy on the beautiful display.
Benchmark apps showed the phone at its best. We saw top numbers from 3DMark and GeekBench, though in AnTuTu, the phone bested only 82% of competing phones. As Eric says in his review, the bottom line is that the Galaxy S20 FE performs like a flagship should and has the numbers to back it up.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: Software
Samsung’s software, One UI 2.5, based on Android 10, defines the basic user experience for the Galaxy S20 FE. The same software package is found with every Samsung flagship going back to the Note 10 series, so there’s nothing new here. You’ve got several home screens active out of the box, with the left-most home screen reserved for the Samsung Daily feed. You won’t be able to switch out the Daily Feed for Google Discover without third-party launchers, though. However, Samsung Daily is better than ever and more customizable than in the past, so you might not want to change anything.
Samsung allows for plenty of customization. Not only can you alter how many apps appear on the main screens and app drawer, but you can also change themes, fonts, and other aspects of the design to make it your own. People who are used to stock Android will still find this a slightly bloated experience. That said, One UI is leaps and bounds better than what Samsung offered a few years ago.
The Galaxy S20 FE will receive three major software updates, but it would have been nice to see the phone launch with Android 11 out of the box. The good news is that One UI 3.0, based on Android 11, has already rolled out to the S20 FE. Android 12 has also begun to land on select Galaxy S20 FE units, including those in the US, though it has not yet received a full global rollout. You can learn more about the Android 12 updates here.
Competition and alternatives
The most obvious alternatives to the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE are the phones in the main Galaxy S20 line. Those phones will offer most of the same features while adding in more or improving them. Of course, they will cost more — a lot more. The lowest-tier Galaxy S20 device has a list price of $300 higher than this one.
Now, Samsung has finally made a move to continue the FE series. The Galaxy S21 FE was recently launched, though it failed to make the same splash as the S20 FE. It costs the same — $699 — though it arrived far later than expected and is a tough sell over the Pixel 6.
However, Samsung changed things up with its latest high-end releases, with the regular Galaxy S22 proving to be a great alternative to the S20 FE and S21 FE. A great camera and a faster processing package in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is what you get with the new Samsung flagship.
Another alternative would be the vanilla OnePlus 9. You get 2021 hardware with the latest affordable flagship from OnePlus, at a price similar to the S20 FE. OnePlus also ups its camera game with a new partnership with Hasselblad and introduces features like wireless charging for the first time with the non-Pro models. You can also get dust and water resistance if you get the T-Mobile version of the OnePlus 9.
Joining the crowd in this price range is the Pixel 6. which offers a lot for the money. It comes with a better camera, unique design, and a cleaner software experience. It’s also newer and a better way to spend $599 in 2021.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 isn’t available in the US, but it’s a worthy competitor in the markets you can get the phone in. It hits all the Galaxy S20 FE highlights, like a solid camera setup, excellent battery life, and a 2021 flagship processor. You also get valuable extras like fast wireless charging and display with a 120Hz refresh rate but no water resistance.
There’s also the Xiaomi 11T series, which offers a bit less than the flagship Mi 11 lineup but comes in cheaper.
What about the Galaxy S21 FE?
After Samsung introduced the Galaxy S21 series in early 2021, anticipation for the S21 FE skyrocketed. After all, we loved the first Fan Edition, so why should the sequel be any different? Unfortunately, the global chip shortage hit, ultimately delaying the launch of Samsung’s Fan Edition sequel. In fact, it took until CES 2022 for the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE to make its debut.
The Galaxy S21 FE does follow much of the same formula — a slightly weaker camera, less premium construction, and less RAM in the base model. However, it still packs a bigger battery than the vanilla Samsung Galaxy S21, and it launches with Android 12 onboard for $699. If you’re interested, you can learn all about the Galaxy S21 FE in our buyer’s guide.
Where to buy the phone
In the United States, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE currently costs $599 and comes exclusively in a 5G model. You can get it unlocked from Samsung and other retailers or head to your carrier’s store to grab one. In the case of Verizon, it carries an exclusive variant of the phone called the Galaxy S20 FE 5G UW (seriously).
If you are keen to spend a bit more, you can now get a 256GB version of the phone for $670.
In the United Kingdom, there is a 5G variant and a 4G-only variant. The 5G model costs £699 (~$890) while the 4G-only model costs £599. Similarly, in Europe, the 4G-only Galaxy S20 FE starts at €659 (~$770), while the 5G version costs €759. Keep in mind that while the 5G model comes with the Snapdragon 865you’llll get the Exynos 990 chipset with the 4G-only version.
Samsung also launched the Galaxy S20 FE in India. While the Exynos 990 processor powers the Indian iteration of the phone, you get the added benefit of 8GB of RAM and a version with 256GB of storage. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is priced at 40,990 rupees (~$560).
Top Samsung Galaxy S20 FE questions and answers
The Galaxy S20 FE is a slightly more affordable way to get what Samsung considers to be its most important elements. It offers a powerful processor, an IP68 rating, an AMOLED display, and three rear cameras without the steep Galaxy S20 price tag.
The main differences you’ll notice lie in the build materials and camera options. For example, the Galaxy S20 offers a 64MP telephoto compared to the 8MP option on the Galaxy S20 FE. However, the FE device packs a sharper 32MP selfie camera to the flagship’s 10MP shooter. Both offer Gorilla Glass displays, though the Galaxy S20 FE combines it with a plastic back panel instead of the Gorilla Glass 6 of the Galaxy S20.
Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE offers an IP68 rating for water resistance. It should stand up to most daily requirements, though it’s not truly waterproof.
Yes, the back panel of the Galaxy S20 FE is made of plastic. However, the phone offers a Gorilla Glass 3 display and an aluminum frame to complete the construction.
Yes, and no. There are only 5G models in the US. They support both mmWave and sub-6GHz connections (except for the Verizon model, which only supports mmWave). There are 5G models and 4G-only models in the UK, so be sure you’re buying the correct version! Only the 4G iteration is available in India.
No. As with all the phones in the main Galaxy S20 line, there isn’t a 3.5mm port on the Fan Edition.
Yes. It will charge at a rate of 15W. It also supports reverse wireless charging, which allows you to charge your smartwatch or earbuds with your phone.
Yes, it can support a card with up to 1TB of storage.
Yes, and they are tuned by AKG and support Dolby Atmos.
There are a lot of colors. You can get the phone in Cloud Navy (blue), Cloud Red, Cloud Lavender (purple), Cloud Mint (green), Cloud White, and Cloud Orange.
You’ll find the Galaxy S20 FE, a 15W power supply, a USB-C cable, a SIM tool, and the usual paperwork. The Galaxy S20 FE will also support 25W wired chargingYou’llll need to buy an additional adapter to experience those speeds.
More Samsung Galaxy S20 FE coverage
Help other readers out
Will you buy the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE?
That’s everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. We’ll keep this post updated with any new info as soon as we have it.