When it comes to the Galaxy S20 FE vs S20, there are enough differences that warrant taking a step back for potential buyers. The biggest difference is price, but the S20 FE provides such a great value that it feels like this is what the S20 should have been.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs. S20: What are the differences?
In a world with flagship devices priced at $999 or higher, there's a new market opening up for those who want to spend less than $1,000 but still want a flagship experience. We've seen other phone makers try to fill the void, but with the Galaxy S20 FE, Samsung has surprised everyone.
When the Galaxy S20 launched early in 2020, it marked the first major flagship release of the year and brought almost all of the specs one would expect, from the Super AMOLED curved display, equipped with 1440p resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, to the camera system that makes you want to leave that old point and shoot behind. There wasn't too much to really complain about when the S20 was released outside of the price tag. Then again, this is what we have come to expect from flagships in 2020 as the prices of devices with the best specifications continues to rise.
Part of the reasoning behind the price hikes can be associated with Qualcomm's newer 5G-only Snapdragon 865 processor. However, Samsung also makes some impressive upgrades to the Galaxy S20's hardware, including outfitting it with Gorilla Glass 6 on both sides, that add to the cost.
|Samsung Galaxy S20 FE||Samsung Galaxy S20|
|Display||6.5-inch Super AMOLED (flat)||6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED|
|Resolution||FHD+ (2400 x 1800)||QHD+ (3200 x 1440)|
|Refresh Rate||Up to 120Hz||Up to 120Hz|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865|
|MicroSD Card Support||Up to 1TB||Up to 1TB|
|Rear Camera 1||12MP Wide||12MP Wide|
|Rear Camera 2||8MP Telephoto||64MP Telephoto|
|Rear Camera 3||12MP Ultra-wide||12MP Ultra-wide|
|5G Connectivity||5G sub-6 and mmWave||Non Standalone (NSA) 5G Sub-6|
|Charging||25W wired charging, Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare||25W wired charging, Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare|
|Dimensions||74.5 x 159.8 x 8.4mm||69.1 x 151.7 x 7.9mm|
|Colors||Cloud Red, Cloud Navy, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Orange, Cloud White, Cloud Mint||Cloud Blue, Cosmic Grey, Cloud Pink|
The Galaxy S20 is supposed to be the flagship for the masses, as users flock to new Samsung products similarly to how Apple fans flock to the annual iPhone release. While many Samsung fans did go for the S20, its higher price forced people to reconsider their buying decision (especially during a pandemic).
Google is attempting to fill that void with the $700 Pixel 5, and we are expecting OnePlus to offer something similar with the OnePlus 8T. But instead of just waiting until the Galaxy S30, Samsung opted to hit the same price point as the others, beating everyone to the punch with the Galaxy S20 FE.
This phone offers a combination of specs and hardware "compromises" to hit a lower price point. You won't find up to 12GB of RAM or the best cameras on a smartphone, but you'll get a solid FHD+ Super AMOLED display that's actually flat, not curved, removing the annoyances of palm rejection that users have been dealing with for years.
Although the S20 brought some new colors to the scene, the S20 FE took things up a notch thanks to Samsung moving away from a glass sandwich and reintroducing a plastic build. This makes it easier for Samsung to provide more color options, even if they aren't all available in every market where the phone is sold.
Both the Galaxy S20 and S20 FE are capable of taking advantage of 5G once your carrier is ready.
Both the Galaxy S20 and S20 FE share the same network banding, meaning that the unlocked versions and the T-Mobile and AT&T models support Sub-6 5G while dedicated UW models support mmWave at Verizon. That's different from the Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra, which include mmWave antennas on all models, making them compatible with every U.S. carrier out of the box.
Another consideration when choosing between these phones is their physical size. The Galaxy S20 FE comes in with a 6.5-inch display and weighs around 190 grams, while the S20 sports a 6.2-inch display and weighs just 163g. On paper, a 0.3-inch difference may not seem like much, but in terms of pocketability, the Galaxy S20 takes the crown.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs. S20: The proof is in the cameras
As we've already mentioned, there are places where Samsung had to cut corners in order to reach the $700 price tag for the Galaxy S20 FE. Another area this was done was with the different camera modules despite both models featuring a wide-angle, telephoto, and ultrawide camera sensor.
When it comes to the selfie camera, the differences are just minor, but could mean quite a bit if you take a lot of selfies. The S20 FE features a 32MP sensor compared to the 8MP camera on the S20, but this is a lesser-quality sensor leaving you to deal with Samsung's software, which tends to smooth out your facial features much more on the former versus the flagship. Both the Galaxy S20 FE vs S20 feature the same primary 12MP wide-angle lens with an f/1.8 aperture and Optical Image Stabilization.
The selfie camera on the S20 FE isn't terrible, but Samsung's software tries to do too much.
The differences arrive when comparing the Galaxy S20's telephoto and ultrawide sensors. For the flagship, you'll find a 64MP telephoto lens, capable of 1.1x optical zoom and 3x hybrid zoom to go along with an f/2.0 aperture.
This provides a focal length of 29mm compared to the 76mm focal length found in the 8MP sensor from the S20 FE. While the telephoto sensor from the S20 FE does include Optical Image Stabilization and 3x optical zoom, it only features an f/2.4 aperture, which means that the standard Galaxy S20 will let more light in to get much better night-mode photos.
The final difference for the rear camera setup between the Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S20 is with the Ultrawide sensor. Both of these are 12MP, have a focal length of 13mm, and sport an f/2.2 aperture. However, the Galaxy S20 gets the upper hand with Super Steady Video functionality, so you no longer need to grab a tripod or gimbal to take an ultrawide video.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs. S20: Why the hype for the FE?
If you've pondered the question of Galaxy S20 FE vs. S20, then chances are you've been seeing a lot of coverage for the newer device. It's definitely one of the best Android phones on the market. Samsung and Android fans alike are excited for this new handset, as it could mark a shift in Samsung's future strategies, similar to what the Pixel 3a did for Google. Instead of only focusing on the flagship specs and extras, the S20 FE shows that Samsung is willing to pump the brakes and just release a good phone for everyone.
There's no $1,000 price tag to be concerned about, you'll get the same Snapdragon 865 chipset as its brethren, the cameras are good for most people, and it has a bigger battery. Battery life is another reason why the S20 FE could just end up being the best phone of 2020. When Samsung doesn't have to throw the kitchen sink into a device just to dominate headlines, you end up getting a pretty good experience and chances are that you'll never even use many of those features.
Another way to equate what the Galaxy S20 FE means to the market is to look at the gaming PC market. Instead of springing for one of the best graphics cards overall, along with the best processor for gaming, the price to performance on an AMD 3000 series processor paired with something like the 5700 XT GPU is just as good. No, you can't run every AAA game at max settings, but you can still run every game and the performance will still be great.
Price to performance is the name of the game. Samsung is providing users with enough of the flagship specs to entice the user while keeping the cost lower. Then, Samsung is throwing in extra goodies like more color options and a flat display (instead of the annoying curved one) while even keeping 120Hz as an option. At just $700, the S20 FE comes in at $300 less than the Galaxy S20 — think about everything you could do with that extra cash.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs. S20: Which one should you buy?
A lot of this comparison has been highlighting how the Galaxy S20 FE vs. S20 is more than just a phone-to-phone comparison. The S20 FE could help to shift the Android smartphone market as a whole by encouraging other smartphone makers to follow in a similar path. At the end of the day, there's no such thing as having too many choices, and Samsung is leading the way in that regard.
Why spend $1,000 on a phone when you get 90% of that device for much less?
None of this is to say that the Galaxy S20 is a bad phone. With up to 12GB of RAM, a glass sandwich design with some pretty sweet-looking colorways, along with a 120Hz refresh rate on a QHD+ Super AMOLED panel, it's a home run from every way you look at it. The camera system is top-notch and while the battery is a bit smaller, it should still get you through most of, if not all of, the day.
However, it's also $300 more expensive than the S20 FE, and why spend $1,000 on a phone when you get 90% of that device for just $600? That's why the Galaxy S20 FE is a better option, in our opinion, and why it will quickly join the ranks of the best Android phones in no time.
Get 90% of a phone at a fraction of the price
The Galaxy S20 FE is a fantastic value, providing many of the same specs as its flagship brethren, while cutting the cost in all the right areas.
A true flagship in a world filled with flagships
Samsung's Galaxy S20 is a flagship in every sense of the word, but is that really enough to win users over anymore?
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.