This one’s for the fans! Or for the chemistry students with a penchant for iron alloys? It’s not ‘lite,’ that’s for sure. This is the Galaxy S20 FE 5G (or Fan Edition). The latest member of the S20 family comes with some spec changes to meet a lower price point, while still maintaining important bits to qualify for the S-series badge.
One of those is the high-end chipset, and that’s a good point to clarify that not all FEs are the same – there is a 5G-capable version and an LTE-capped one. The 4G-only model follows the usual regional differentiation with some parts of the world getting the Exynos 990 while others have their FEs equipped with the Snapdragon 865.
On the other hand, the 5G model is Snapdragon-only this time, regardless of locale. It’s this version that we’re reviewing, though we may be dropping the ‘5G’ when referring to the phone for the remainder of this review.
Placed in between the S20 and S20+ in terms of screen size, the Fan Edition packs a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display. This one’s not HDR10+ compliant and has a FullHD resolution next to its QHD brethren, but Samsung did keep the 120Hz refresh rate.
As part of the tri-set of cameras on the FE, it gets to keep the S20s main big-sensor 12MP shooter. The ultra wide-angle cam takes 12MP shots too, but from a smaller imager than on the non-fan editions. And the telephoto is different too – fans will be shooting with an 8MP almost-3x zoom unit, as opposed to the slightly odd 64MP non-tele tele setup on the S20 and S20+. Meanwhile, the selfie camera on the FE is a 32MP Tetracell unit, which may sound like an upgrade compared to the 10MP modules of the S20 and S20+, but there’s more to that as you go deeper. We’ll be doing all sorts of camera comparisons later on, of course.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G specs
- Body: 159.8×74.5×8.4mm, 190g; Glass front, plastic back, aluminum frame; Samsung Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified), IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins); Colors: Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud Navy, Cloud White, Cloud Red, Cloud Orange.
- Display: 6.5″ Super AMOLED, 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 407ppi; 120Hz refresh rate.
- Chipset: Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 (7 nm+): Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 585 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 585 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 585); Adreno 650.
- Memory: 128GB 6GB RAM, 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM; microSDXC (uses shared SIM slot).
- OS/Software: Android 10, One UI 2.5.
- Rear camera: Wide (main): 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm, 1/1.76″, 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS; Telephoto: 8 MP, f/2.4, 73mm, 1/4.5″, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 123˚, 13mm, 1/3.0″, 1.12µm; LED flash, auto-HDR, panorama.
- Front camera: 32 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/2.74″, 0.8µm; HDR.
- Video capture: Rear camera: 4K, 1080p, gyro-EIS; Front camera: 4K, 1080p.
- Battery: 4500mAh; Fast charging 25W, Fast wireless charging 15W, Reverse wireless charging 4.5W, USB Power Delivery 3.0.
- Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, optical), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer; NFC; stereo speakers.
Tere are some other less apparent downgrades here and there. Like the as-yet unspecified type of glass on the front instead of Gorilla Glass 6 and the plastic back where the non-fan S20s have more Gorilla Glass 6. The Fan Edition also tops out at 8GB of RAM (6GB in the base version), while the regular S20s start at 8GB and can be had even with 12GB.
Whether it’s an upgrade, a downgrade, or simply a side-step, the Fan Edition gets an optical fingerprint reader, not the controversial ultra-sonic reader of the other phones in the Galaxy S and Note roster.
Filed strictly under downgrades, however, is the retail bundle.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G unboxing
The S20 FE‘s box is Fan Edition too – it’s not the black packaging of the true flagships. It’s still the same thick cardboard, only white, and the S20 name is printed on the front, just like on the non-FEs. There are many emoji-looking imprints, something you don’t get on the regular S20 or Note20 boxes.
There’s special treatment on the inside too, but not the good kind. The accessories package is rather sparse, and besides the phone, you’re only getting an adapter and a cable to go with it. Even worse, it’s the plain old Adaptive Fast Charging unit that’s Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0 compliant – 15W max, USB-A out – lame. Non-fans are treated to a 25W adapter and earphones, but the budget cuts for this one didn’t allow for such frivolous expenses.
With the Galaxy S20 FE context is really important, more important than with most other phones. It’s got a flagship chipset inside and a 120Hz Super AMOLED display with battery life that’s spectacular for the combo, plus a hugely capable camera system, all in an IP68-rated body. Okay, that’s no big deal, there are a lot of phones that can squeeze into the above description. But the key bit is that they’re either a lot more expensive, or have regional appeal. The S20 FE? You can have that everywhere, for well under the price of a true flagship.
For example, in the US, the S20 FE is only available in 5G trim, and while its MSRP is $700, it’s been going for $600 since launch, unlocked. An S20 5G, meanwhile, is $1000 (by the way, so is the S20+ 5G, because US).
In Europe, a 4G-only Fan Edition starts at around €630, with a €100 premium if you want the 5G variant. For the S20+ those numbers are €700+ and €900+ – from reputable retailers, that is. And if you have your eyes set on getting a Snapdragon in a Galaxy S20 on this continent, for one reason or another, it’s really just the Fan Edition 5G.
In India, you can’t officially get the 5G version, but the LTE flavor has a list price of INR50K. Compare that to INR78K for an S20+ and INR70K for an S20.
Yes, we meant pricing when we said context.
The closest you can get to the S20 FE’s price (and get it globally) is the OnePlus 8 – that one goes for $600/€650/INR45K. The Galaxy’s display goes up to 120Hz (90Hz on the OP) and it has a telephoto camera plus a microSD slot. The 8 has longer battery life and faster charging capability, but it’s not like the Galaxy is lacking in this respect.
If you’re in Europe and exploring the possibility for an S20 FE 5G, that puts the Asus Zenfone 7 on the table and it’ll get you wider 5G band coverage. More importantly, it’ll come with a flip up mechanism that brings unmatched main camera versatility to selfies.
A case could be made for the brand new Mi 10T Pro 5G. With a 144Hz display, 108MP main camera and a 5,000mAh battery it’s looking really promising on paper, and early impressions from the ongoing review process indicate it can deliver. This one, with 5G capability, is more affordable than the Galaxy S20 FE with no 5G.
A very smart buy if you’re in India is the iqoo 3. Starting at INR35K for a 4G variant (since there’s no 5G Fan Edition in India anyway), the iqoo 3 matches the S20 FE’s 8GB/128GB and has spectacular battery life, a headphone jack and a decent camera. The Galaxy does counter with other niceties like a microSD slot, IP68 rating, 120Hz display, and… well, overall superior camera. Hm, but you could grab the iqoo 3 5G and have next-gen connectivity, 12 gigs of RAM and 256GB of storage for 10% less than a 4G Fan Edition.
OnePlus 8 • Asus Zenfone 7 ZS670KS • Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G • vivo iQOO 3 5G
Galaxy S20 FE money also buys you a Google Pixel 5, a flagship by name but a midranger at heart with an inferior chipset and a limiting camera system among other deficiencies. It does have wide 5G support, Google’s software and all that. We really wouldn’t, though. And we usually would or at least consider it.
This one is for the fans, isn’t it? But if you aren’t one already, the Galaxy S20 FE may very well convert you – a Samsung flagship at the core at a friendlier price.
A few concessions had to be made for the lighter price tag and it’s almost as if the least expensive one bugs us the most – the charger dates back to the Galaxy Note4 times. The plastic back isn’t as classy as the glass one on higher-end Galaxies, though this could be a con or pro, depending on where you stand. For whatever reason, we’re not finding the FE’s 4K recording up to the S20 standard. And lastly, the selfie camera isn’t the best Samsung can offer.
But that’s about it. The Fan Edition may not be a truly top-tier device by the book, but it’s got the key markings of one with just the right corners cut to meet a more appealing price point. It then represents amazing value – for a Galaxy in particular, but also against competing offerings. It’s got our recommendation.
- IP68 rating for dust and water protection, variety of color options.
- Smooth 120Hz Super AMOLED display.
- Top-class battery life.
- Getting the 5G version bags you a Snapdragon-powered Galaxy in Europe.
- The ultra wide and tele cameras aren’t the downgrades they appear to be compared to the other S20s, the triple camera as a whole is mostly great.
- Bundled with a slow 15W charger.
- Plastic back looks fine but is the opposite of ‘premium’.
- No AF for selfies, unreliable portrait mode on the front cam.
- 4K video recording is uninspiring.