The Galaxy S branding has always been reserved for some of the best Samsung phones around. Up until now, the S20 lineup started at $1,000 and went up from there, depending largely on how big a screen you wanted and what kind of camera experience you were after.
This month, however, Samsung shook up its selection a bit with the S20 Fan Edition, which packages the vast majority of S20 specs and features into a sub-$1,000 device with a plastic body and a flat display. So how does it hold up against the S20+, which we've repeatedly cited as the best of the three main S20 models?
Galaxy S20 FE vs. Galaxy S20+: One clear choice for most people
The S20 FE and S20+ are very similar in overall design. Both feature rounded backs with aluminum mid-frames and high-quality displays, but one of the more noticeable differences comes in the material used for the back panel. The S20+, released earlier in the year, features a glass backing with a high-gloss finish in a few different color options.
The newer Galaxy S20 FE, on the other hand, uses the same polycarbonate found on the Galaxy Note 20. While plastic may not be everyone's first material choice on an expensive phone, it feels solid in-hand, without any of the creaking or flimsiness typically associated with plastic. It also comes in various pastel matte finishes that do a much better job at hiding fingerprints and smudges than the S20+'s backing.
Don't let the word plastic scare you off; both phones feel fantastic to hold.
Another major difference between these two devices is around the front. While both phones have excellent 120Hz AMOLED displays, the Galaxy S20+ features curved edges along the glass that reduce the size of the bezels and make for a sleek, futuristic-looking device. The S20 FE instead opts for a completely flat glass panel — you'll get slightly thicker bezels lining the display, but the flat edges eliminate virtually any accidental touch input. While I wouldn't definitively call one better than the other, I'm partial to the flat display myself.
Elsewhere, these two phones have virtually identical hardware. There's no 3.5mm headphone jack on either phone. Still, you'll get the same stereo speaker setup (earpiece + bottom-firing grill), IP68 water and dust resistance, Snapdragon 865 processor, and 128GB of baseline storage — though, with the S20+, you'll get double the RAM at 12GB, along with the option for higher storage tiers.
|Category||Galaxy S20 FE||Galaxy S20+|
|Display||6.5 inches, 20:9 aspect ratio, 2400x1080 (407 ppi) resolution, Super AMOLED||6.7 inches, 20:9 aspect ratio, 3200x1440 (525 ppi) resolution, Dyamic AMOLED 2X|
|Processor||Snapdragon 865||Snapdragon 865|
|Rear Camera||12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8μm (wide)
12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.12μm (ultra-wide)
8MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.0μm (telephoto)
|12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8μm (wide)
12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4μm (ultra-wide)
64MP, ƒ/2.0, 0.8μm (telephoto)
0.3MP, ƒ/1.0 (depth)
|Front Camera||32MP, ƒ/2.2, 0.8μm||10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22μm|
|Dimensions||159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4mm||161.9 x 73.7 x 7.8mm|
You'll find extremely similar software experiences on each phone, as well. Both run Android 10 with Samsung's One UI 2.5, each with an impending update to Android 11 with One UI 3.0. Samsung has committed to updating many of its major releases (including these two phones) for three years following their initial release, though the seven-month gap between the two could land the S20 FE an additional Android platform update — we'll have to wait and see in 2023.
The only thing these phones don't have in common is price.
The biggest difference between the two phones is in the camera layouts, though funny enough, they share the same primary 12MP sensor. The S20+, however, features a 64MP telephoto sensor that relies on Samsung's 3X Hybrid Optic Zoom, along with the company's Space Zoom tech, to achieve up to 30X zoom. The S20 FE's lower resolution 8MP telephoto sensor may not seem as impressive on paper, but it reaches the same 30X Space Zoom using a native 3X perspective.
It's no surprise that these two phones are so similar. They both bear the S20 name, after all, but with that in mind, what might come as a shock is the massive difference in pricing. Despite a nearly identical spec sheet and design, the S20 FE comes with a suggested price of just $700 — and thanks to early price reductions, it's available at most retailers for just $600. That's half of Samsung's suggested price for the S20+ at $1,200 — though again, you can often find it for cheaper at various retailers.
If you don't mind the plastic back and flat display, the Galaxy S20 FE is a no-brainer option. For around half the price of the S20+, depending on discounts in either direction, you get a virtually indistinguishable experience with the same great camera, an incredible display, and three years of promised software updates — not to mention a far more fun selection of color options. The S20+ is still a fantastic phone in its own right, but there aren't many reasons to buy one over the S20 FE.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
90% of the features for 50% of the price
The Galaxy S20 FE packs nearly everything great about the S20+ into a far more affordable package, offering the same specs, software, and even the same main camera. It's a far better value, so long as you don't mind a plastic back.
Get it on sale
Samsung Galaxy S20+
A great phone that's increasingly hard to justify
The Galaxy S20+ is one of Samsung's best phones, with a stunning display and excellent cameras, but it's hard to justify its high cost against the S20 FE. If you like glass backs and curved displays, however, this is still the way to go.
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