Best daily deals

Links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE rear profile 1
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
aa2020 recommended

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review: A solid budget buy

Samsung looks to entice budget-minded fans with high-end specs at a mid-range price.
By
July 5, 2022
aa2020 recommended

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Don't dismiss the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE as an also-ran. This solid value delivers on the all-important basics such as screen quality and performance. With a 120Hz display and the Snapdragon 865 processor on board, you have all the beauty and speed you need. Weighing the rest of the features against the reduced $600 price point leaves things in good balance. However, we have to consider the fact that the phone is almost two years old at this point and that there are a number of great alternatives available at around $600.

What we like

Affordable
Excellent screen
Zippy performance
Solid battery life

What we don't like

"Glasstic" casing
Cameras only average

Our scores

Battery
Display
Camera
Performance
Software
Design
Audio
Value
aa2020 recommended

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Don't dismiss the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE as an also-ran. This solid value delivers on the all-important basics such as screen quality and performance. With a 120Hz display and the Snapdragon 865 processor on board, you have all the beauty and speed you need. Weighing the rest of the features against the reduced $600 price point leaves things in good balance. However, we have to consider the fact that the phone is almost two years old at this point and that there are a number of great alternatives available at around $600.
A newer version of this device is now available. Samsung launched the Galaxy S21 FE back in January, which features an upgraded design and newer processor, as well as the latest software from Samsung and Google. Read our full Galaxy S21 FE review for more.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is the lite edition of the Samsung Galaxy S20 series. It targets those who know the value of a dollar. With a solid spec sheet and an appealing price point that’s been dropped by $100 since launch, is the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE the right phone for you? Find out in the Android Authority Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
About this Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review: We spent five days evaluating the S20 FE. The device shipped with Android 10 and Samsung's One UI 2.5. It did not receive any updates while we used it. It has since been updated to Android 12 and One UI 4. Samsung supplied the Galaxy S20 FE review unit to Android Authority.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE was crowned as the winner of Android Authority‘s Editor's Pick award for 2020 smartphone of the year. To learn more about the awards and how we decide them, visit the announcement page. Congrats to Samsung on the win.

Update, July 2022: We’ve updated this review by adding additional alternatives you should check out, an FAQ section that answers the most asked questions about the device, and much more.


Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review: Who is it for?

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE front with pipes
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Many of today’s flagship smartphones are overpriced. The high-end version of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, for example, will set you back $1,600. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 is even more expensive, currently retailing for $1,700.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, which was originally launched in September 2020, is for people who want solid performance at a reasonable price point. The S20 FE offers very good processing power, but comes in at hundreds of dollars less than flagship phones. It delivers much of the flagship experience at an attractive mid-range price and is still worth a look despite already being on the market for close to two years.


Design and display

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE rear and center
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
  • 6.5-inch flat Super AMOLED Infinity-O
  • FHD+ (2,400 x 1,080), 407ppi
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • HDR 10+
  • Gorilla Glass 3 cover
  • 74.5 x 159.8 x 8.4mm
  • 190g
  • Cloud Navy, Cloud Red, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud White, Cloud Orange

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE carries over the basic design elements of the S20 range, but it is obviously and decidedly less premium than its pricier brethren. It offers the same squared-off corners, the same camera bump, and the same buttons and ports arrangement. The big departure as far as the design is concerned is the rear panel, which switches from glass to plastic.

There’s no mistaking the “Glasstic” (as Samsung calls it) for anything other than what it is: a cheaper substitute for glass. That’s not to say it’s terrible. The plastic rear panel has a frosted coat of paint that gives the FE a premium appearance. From a distance, you’d never know it’s plastic.

Related: The best Samsung Galaxy S20 FE cases you can buy

The one thing that really bugs me is the fit and finish. Upon close inspection, you’ll note a fine ledge along the metal frame where it meets the plastic. It’s enough that you can feel it. The glass of the pricier S20 line has a finer finish and a more flush joint with the aluminum frame. Samsung had to save money somewhere, however, and the rear panel helped it meet its cost goals. On the plus side, the FE is far more durable than its glass-clad peers. Moreover, it’s offered in six different appealing colors.

The metal chassis comes across as rigid and strong. There are no functional elements built into the left edge of the phone; everything is focused on the right side. That’s where you’ll find the screen lock/power button and volume toggle. The buttons are a bit thin and plasticky in feel but offer good travel and feedback. You’ll find the combined SIM/memory card tray tucked into the top edge, while the USB-C port and speaker are on the bottom. There’s no headphone jack.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE bottom edge
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

I found the size to be quite manageable. It’s thin, light, and easy to carry around and use. The phone is smaller than both the S20 Plus and S20 Ultra thanks to its 6.5-inch display.

Speaking of the display, Samsung opted for a flat piece of Gorilla Glass 3. Gone is the curved, high-end glass of the main S20 line. Some people prefer flat display glass, but I’m not one of them. The Infinity-O panel means the selfie camera is a small punch hole centered near the top. It’s small enough that it’s not overly noticeable. This design allowed Samsung to keep the bezels in check, though they are not the thinnest we’ve seen.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE front and center
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The screen is totally fine. I found it to be bright and usable under direct sunlight. Colors are pushed a little, as per the norm for Samsung, but the display is sharp and clean-looking. Additionally, the screen carries over the best feature from its peers: the 120Hz refresh rate. It’s a variable refresh rate, which means it changes depending on the task at hand. Most of the time it simply looks luscious and smooth. I don’t have any complaints about the FE’s screen. It’s a winner.

For those comparing the Galax S20 FE to the newer model, it’s true that Samsung made a handful of hardware improvements with the Galaxy S21 FE. The newer phone has a slightly better design that falls in line with the S21 range. Samsung improved the display to Gorilla Glass Victus and gave it a 240Hz touch sampling rate (in gaming mode.). The S21 FE loses support for microSD cards but adds support for a second SIM card. The fit and finish is a little bit better than the S20 FE’s overall.


Performance

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
  • Adreno 650
  • 6GB LPDDR5
  • 128GB UFS 3.0
  • microSD support up to 1TB
  • 4,500mAh battery
  • 15W wired charging (in-box)
  • 25W wired charging (optional)
  • 15W wireless charging
  • Wireless PowerShare

Processor

If there’s one important spec that the FE carries over from the S20 series, it’s the Snapdragon 865 processor. The 865, along with the Adreno 650 GPU and 6GB of RAM, allow the FE to deliver outstanding performance. The phone blasts through tasks with ease. It never slowed down, lagged, or otherwise felt mucky during my time with it. The FE offered stellar gaming, social networking, and media consumption power. Though we believe 6GB is the least amount of RAM modern Android phones should have, you’d never know it’s not the 8GB or 12GB that are available to the S20.

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. The bottom line is that the Galaxy S20 FE performs like a flagship should and has the numbers to back it up.

In certain regions, the non-5G-enabled Galaxy S20 FE is instead powered by the Exynos 990 SoC. While this can’t match Qualcomm’s best, our own Dhruv Bhutani has extensively tested the 4G-only Exynos model and found it to be more than capable as an everyday performer. You can read more about the Exynos variant here.

The Galaxy S20 FE blasts through tasks with ease.

We will point out that the Galaxy S21 series runs the Snapdragon 888, which is a generation newer than the S20 FE’s 865. That means you get blistering performance that’s noticeably quicker than what’s available in the 865-equipped FE. Likewise, the S21 FE runs the Snapdragon 888 in the US, UK, and Europe, but other global variants ship with an Exynos 2100 SoC.

The Snapdragon 888 isn’t Qualcomm’s latest high-end chipset, though. That title goes to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, the former of which powers the Galaxy S22 series in the US. So the S20 FE definitely doesn’t have the fastest SoC out there, but the phone still has more than enough power for most people.

Battery

Samsung aimed for the middle of the pack as far as the battery is concerned. Where the S20 had a 4,000mAh battery, the S20 Plus and S20 Ultra have 4,500mAh and 5,000mAh power cells, respectively. Therefore, the S20 FE’s 4,500mAh capacity splits the difference and covers its bases.

In our testing, we found the phone to last a full day and then some. Even after watching YouTube for hours, social networking, shooting pictures, and checking email, the phone still often had 25% of a charge left in the tank at the end of the day. It easily goes from 8AM one day to 8AM the next day with enough of a charge to get you to the office or to school. Screen-on time hovered around seven hours.

Wireless charging is a nice feature to have at any price point.

It’s nice that the phone supports 25W wired charging, but it would be nicer if a 25W brick shipped with the phone. Instead, you’re stuck with a 15W charger. It doesn’t power up the phone very quickly. The Galaxy S20 FE 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 we’re pleased with the 15W speed here, which matches that of the wired charger. Toss in Wireless Power Share to top up your accessories and you have a well-rounded phone when it comes to battery features.

Related: Here are the best Samsung Galaxy chargers — wired and wireless options


Software

  • Android 12
  • Samsung One UI 4

The S20 FE originally shipped with Android 10 and One UI 2.5. It was later updated to Android 11 and One UI 3, and has since been updated to Android 12 and One UI 4. This is the same software that ships on the Galaxy S21 FE, meaning the phones offer about the same software experience — as long as you take the steps to update the S20 FE.

Read next: Galaxy S20 FE update tracker

The screenshots here show the phone running One UI 2.5. The main tweaks in One UI 3.0 impact the notifications bar, widgets, and the lock screen. There are also new feature additions such as message bubbles. You can read all about these changes in our One UI 3.0 features rundown. The main tweaks on One UI 4 tackle the refreshed design elements of Android 12, which include color-matched palettes, brand-new widget designs, and improved privacy controls.

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.

Since the S20 FE first launched, Samsung has upgraded its device support policies. Samsung is now offering three years of OS upgrades and four years of security updates to the bulk of S20- and S21-branded phones. That means the S20 FE will be supported with at least one more year of major upgrades — Android 13 — and another two years of security improvements.


Camera

  • Rear:
    • Main: 12MP Dual-Pixel, OIS, ƒ1.8, 1/1.76in
    • Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ2.2, 1/3.06in
    • Telephoto: 8MP, OIS, 3x optical zoom, 30x Space Zoom, ƒ2.4, 1/4.4in
  • Front:
    • 32MP (binned to 8MP), ƒ2.2, 1/2.8in
  • Video:
    • 4K at 60fps

A triple-camera system is expected on today’s top phones, and the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE was sure to include one. With standard, ultrawide, and telephoto lenses on offer, users have plenty of flexibility to grab the shot they want.

Let’s start with the camera app. The app is a direct carryover from the S20/Note 20 series. That means it has Samsung’s signature feature, Single Take. This mode allows you to capture up to nine different types of photos/videos with a single press of the button. Beyond Single Take, you’ve got pro mode, panorama, food, night, live focus, live focus video, pro video, super slow-mo, slow-mo, and hyperlapse. That covers the basics and then some. A zoom picker makes it simple to jump between the three lenses. Tools that float along the left edge of the viewfinder allow you to quickly adjust resolution, the flash, aspect ratio, and more. It’s a fine app.

Photography terms explained: ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and more

The S20 FE takes solid shots with the main camera. I thought color, which is pushed just a hair, looked good overall. White balance was accurate and the phone didn’t have the yellowing issue we saw with the S20. The focus was sharp, producing clean shots with little or no noise in daylight. Shots taken in low light had more noise and sharpening but were still good enough for sharing.

See also: The best budget camera phones you can buy

The phone supports plenty of zoom options. You’ve got 0.5x with the wide-angle lens, 1x with the main lens, 3x optical zoom with the telephoto lens, and blended hybrid zoom up to 30x. The results up to 3x were excellent, while hybrid zoom past 10x began to suffer from noise and pixelization. The wide-angle lens does produce some optical distortion too.

The selfie camera can take regular and wide-angle shots, as well as normal selfies and bokeh’d portraits. The selfies I captured looked decent but didn’t bowl me over. Focus, color, and white balance were mostly good, but I saw little pop in the pictures. The portrait mode managed to offer up clean edge detection.

Video is limited to 4K at 60fps, but the results look really good. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is more than adequate for your everyday video needs.

Full-resolution samples of the photos are available here.


Samsung Galaxy S20 FE specs

Samsung Galaxy S20 FESamsung Galaxy S20
Display
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
6.5-inch flat Super AMOLED
Infinity-O cutout, centered
FHD+ (2,400 x 1,080) resolution
407ppi
120Hz refresh rate
HDR 10+
Gorilla Glass 3 cover
Samsung Galaxy S20
6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED
3,200 x 1,440
20:9 ratio
120Hz refresh rate at 1080p
60Hz refresh rate at 1440p
HDR10+ certified
CPU
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
5G models:
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865

4G models:
Samsung Exynos 990
Samsung Galaxy S20
US models:
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865

Global models:
Samsung Exynos 990
GPU
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
5G models:
Adreno 650

4G models:
Arm Mali-G77 MP11
Samsung Galaxy S20
US models:
Adreno 650

Global models:
Arm Mali-G77 MP11
RAM
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
6GB LPDDR5
Samsung Galaxy S20
12GB LPDDR5
Storage
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
128GB internal
UFS 3.0
microSD support up to 1TB
Samsung Galaxy S20
128GB internal
UFS 3.0
microSD support up to 1TB
Power
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
4,500mAh battery
15W wired charging (in-box adapter)
25W wired charging (add'l adapter needed)
15W wireless charging
Wireless PowerShare
Samsung Galaxy S20
4,000mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
Cameras
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Rear:

12MP wide-angle
Dual-Pixel, OIS
ƒ1.8, 1/1.76in, 1.8μm

12MP ultra-wide
ƒ2.2, 1/3.06in, 1.12μm

8MP telephoto
3x optical zoom, OIS
30x digital "Space Zoom"
ƒ2.4, 1/4.4in, 1.0μm

Front:

32MP (binned to 8MP)
ƒ2.2, 1/2.8in, 0.8μm
Samsung Galaxy S20
Rear:
- Wide-angle: 12MP, 1/1.76", ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm
- Telephoto: 64MP, ƒ/2.0, .8µm
- Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom, Super Resolution Zoom up to 30x

Front:
- 10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22µm, AF
Durability
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
IP68 rated
1.5m water depth for 30 min.
Samsung Galaxy S20
IP68 rated
1.5m water depth for 30 min.
Security
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Optical in-display fingerprint
Samsung Galaxy S20
Optical in-display fingerprint
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
5G support (both sub-6GHz and mmWave)
802.11ax/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 5.0
USB-C with USB 3.2 speeds
NFC and MST
Samsung Dex support
Samsung Galaxy S20
4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, DSS, TDD/FDD, SA and NSA, no mmWave)
Audio
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos support
No headphone jack
Samsung Galaxy S20
Stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos support
No headphone jack
OS
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Android 10
Samsung Galaxy S20
One UI 2.0
Android 10
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
74.5 x 159.8 x 8.4mm
190g
Samsung Galaxy S20
69.1x151.7x7.9mm
163g
Colors
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Cloud Navy, Cloud Red, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud White, Cloud Orange
Samsung Galaxy S20
Cosmic Grey, Cloud Blue, Cloud Pink

Value and competition

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE rear profile 2
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (6GB/128GB): $599 / £599 / €599

Initially priced at $699 at launch, the S20 FE is now permanently priced at $599, although Amazon is offering even better deals on select color options of the device. Samsung also regularly puts the phone on sale through official channels.

The phone may have a plastic rear panel, but you’re getting a 120Hz display and the Snapdragon 865 for excellent performance. Samsung chose the FE’s features with care. It covers just the right selection of must-haves. The screen looks great, and there’s no questioning how fast the phone is. Toss in the decent cameras, solid software, and extras such as wireless charging and 5G, and you have a compelling value in hand.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Back side
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
All the best features of the Galaxy S20 series at a lower price
If you don't mind cutting a few corners, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (which stands for "Fan Edition") might be the phone you are looking for. It offers most of the flagship specs and features of the Galaxy S20 family but trims things down to keep the price low.

The Galaxy S21 FE ($699) is a slightly better device overall. The design is a touch more cohesive, the screen is better protected and offers faster touch sampling, the processor sees a generational improvement, and the cameras are a smidgen better. Moreover, the newer Galaxy S21 FE will see software support for at least two more years after the S20 FE loses support from Samsung.

There is also so much competition in the $600 space. Perhaps consider the affordable Galaxy A53 5G ($449) or the vanilla Samsung Galaxy S22 ($799), which isn’t all that far off the Galaxy S20 FE in pricing, particularly when on sale.

There's hot competition in the ~$600 space.

Beyond Samsung’s offerings, the Google Pixel 6 ($599) is an extremely compelling alternative for Android enthusiasts who want the Pixel software experience, a great camera, and all the flagship bells and whistles from Google. There’s also still the OnePlus 9 ($579) to consider if you’re looking for something a little bit different.

Of course, there’s also the iPhone 13 series. If you can stomach iOS, the iPhone 13 Mini ($699) and iPhone 13 ($799) are both amazing phones with blazing-fast processors and sublime cameras.


Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review: The verdict

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE in the hand with fence
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is a fine phone. The design and materials are a bit less refined than I was hoping, but the Glasstic rear is more durable than even Gorilla Glass would be. The flat display glass may turn off some, but the 120Hz refresh rate turned me on. I really liked the overall size and usability of the phone, and the six different colors mean you’ll likely find a version to suit your personal style. Other pros include solid performance, excellent battery life, and straightforward software.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review second opinion

However, we have to consider the fact that the phone is almost two years old at this point. And while it is $100 cheaper than at launch, there are newer and better options available at around $600, with the Pixel 6 being the main one.

If you’re a Samsung fan, the Galaxy S21 FE may be a better option, even though it costs more. Although it’s not miles better in terms of specs and features, it is guaranteed to get updated all the way up to Android 15, while OS support for the S20 FE will end after Android 13.

We think this alone justifies the extra $100 the S21 FE will set you back, although not everyone will agree. If you don’t want to spend more than $600 on a Samsung phone and don’t care as much about software updates, the Galaxy S20 FE is still a great option for you.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE top questions and answers

Yes, the Galaxy S20 FE features an SD card slot.

Yes, the Galaxy S20 FE is IP68 rated, meaning it will survive in up to 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes.

Yes, Samsung announced the 2022 edition of the Galaxy S20 FE back in April. It’s more or less identical to the original version of the phone, with the biggest exception being that it runs Android 12 out of the box. Unfortunately, the phone is only available in South Korea and likely won’t make it to the US or Europe.

There are six colors to choose from: Cloud Navy, Cloud Red, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud White, and Cloud Orange

Yes, and no. In the US, there are only 5G models available. They support both mmWave and sub-6GHz connections, with the exception of 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.

The FE in Samsung Galaxy S20 FE stands for “Fan Edition.”

Yes, you can wirelessly charge the S20 FE at 15W. The phone also supports reverse wireless charging.

The back of the phone is plastic, but the frame is made of aluminum.