The Galaxy S20 FE is one of those devices that comes along every few years and shakes up the entire segment. Samsung is clearly going after value flagships players like OnePlus and Xiaomi, and in doing so it has launched one of the best Android phones of 2020.
While the regular Galaxy S20 starts off at $1,000, the S20 FE is available for just $700, and it comes with most of the same features as Samsung's full-fledged flagship. I've used the Galaxy S20 FE for a few weeks alongside the OnePlus 8T, Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Galaxy S20, and Xiaomi's Mi 10 Pro, and here's why you should consider Samsung's value flagship over the Galaxy S20 and other high-end phones.
1. Galaxy S20 FE has the same 120Hz AMOLED screen as the S20
The best new addition to Samsung's 2020 flagship portfolio is the 120Hz refresh rate display. All models in the Galaxy S20 series and the Note 20 Ultra feature a high refresh rate screen, and the Galaxy S20 FE also gets the same panel.
The 120Hz AMOLED display on the Galaxy S20 FE is just as vibrant and fluid as the one on the regular S20, and you even get HDR10 content on Prime Video and YouTube (Netflix will add it soon). It's a delight to use the 120Hz panel on the S20 FE, and you'll immediately start seeing a difference in day-to-day use when switching over from a phone with a 60Hz screen.
The display quality itself is on par with what you get on the regular S20, with Samsung retaining the same customization options. The screen also gets sufficiently bright in outdoor use, and you get the same stereo speaker configuration as the S20 — making the S20 FE a great option for streaming content and playing games.
Unlike the regular Galaxy S20, the S20 FE has an FHD+ (2400 x 1080) resolution, but it's not too big a deal in day-to-day use. For one thing, you'll have to switch to FHD+ mode on the S20 as well if you want to use the 120Hz refresh rate, so you're not missing out too much by not having a QHD+ panel.
2. You're getting the same internal hardware — and 5G
Another standout feature on the Galaxy S20 FE is the internal hardware. The phone is powered by the Snapdragon 865 chipset — the same as the regular S20. The Snapdragon 865 is the best chipset you can get right now, and it will hold up just fine even after several years' worth of use.
The Galaxy S20 FE comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage on the base model, with the regular S20 offering 8GB/128GB as standard. You don't really need 8GB of RAM on a device right now, and for what it's worth I did not see any slowdowns or issues with multitasking in the two weeks I used the S20 FE.
You also get Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC with Samsung Pay, and USB-C 3.2 on the Galaxy S20 FE — the same as the regular S20. Honestly, it's astonishing that Samsung hasn't downgraded the hardware in any way from the regular S20, and that makes the S20 FE an even more enticing package.
3. The camera is just as good as the regular S20
With mid-range phones offering decent hardware and premium designs, the main reason for picking up a flagship is for the cameras. The Galaxy S20 series offers considerable upgrades on the camera front from last year's Galaxy S10 models, and the Galaxy S20 FE comes with the same 12MP primary camera as the regular S20.
The S20 FE takes the same caliber of shots as the flagship S20, delivering outstanding images in just about any lighting condition. The camera is one of the biggest reasons for picking up the S20 FE, and it holds its own against the Pixel 5 in this particular area. Google has the edge because of the sheer amount of work it has put into its software algorithms, but the S20 FE is a close second.
The 12MP ultra-wide lens on the S20 FE is also astonishingly good, but the phone misses out on the S20's 64MP zoom lens. There's still an 8MP telephoto lens that has 3x optical zoom, and the front 32MP camera can shoot 4K video. On the subject of video, the rear camera is limited to 4K video at 60fps, with the regular S20 able to shoot 8K video. Other than the zoom lens and 8K video, you're not really missing out on anything with the S20 FE.
4. You get wireless charging and all the extras
Samsung has traditionally limited extras like wireless charging and water resistance to its flagships, but the S20 FE comes with both features. The phone has 15W wireless charging and 5W reverse wireless charging and comes with an IP68 dust and water resistance — just like the regular S20.
The S20 FE shares the same 4500mAh battery as the regular S20, and has 25W wired charging. The only difference is that unlike the S20, the S20 FE does not work over the USB PD 3.0 protocol for wired charging — you'll have to use Samsung's bundled charger. The fact that you get an IP68 rating and 15W wireless charging makes the Galaxy S20 FE stand out in this category.
5. The Galaxy S20 FE will get three guaranteed Android updates
One of the biggest announcements that Samsung made this year has nothing to do with hardware at all. Samsung has committed to delivering three guaranteed Android version updates to its flagship and select mid-range phones and tablets, ensuring these devices get updates for longer.
That's a big deal, because with the hardware on offer with the S20 FE, there's no reason you can't use the phone for three or more years. The limiting factor with earlier Samsung flagships was the software; with just two platform updates, you had to upgrade your phone after two years if you want the latest version of Android.
That's thankfully not the case here. With three guaranteed updates, the Galaxy S20 FE will be updated to Android 13 in two years' time. You'll also get security updates for three years, and Samsung is doing a great job rolling out monthly patches and bug fixes.
Overall, the Galaxy S20 FE offers 90% of the features of the Galaxy S20 for 70% of the price. You're not really missing out on any of the core features that make the S20 a great flagship, and the value on offer makes the Galaxy S20 FE a truly incredible phone in 2020.
The new value leader
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
A fantastic value flagship
The Galaxy S20 FE distils the fundamentals of the Galaxy S20 into a more affordable package. You're still getting a 120Hz AMOLED panel, the latest internal hardware, outstanding cameras, IP68 water resistance, wireless charging, and three Android updates. It's no wonder, then, that the S20 FE is one of the best phones in the market today.
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