Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition) Review: Great Value!

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition) Review

So today I have got the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition) with me in for review, which was launched like a month ago. Samsung says it’s the company’s flagship phone for the fans. From the top of the line hardware to flagship features like the IP rating and wireless charging, the S20 FE has it allalthough there are definitely some compromises to keep the price in check.

Regardless, when it was initially announced, I thought it would be more like a lite version of the S20 series, similar to last year’s S10 Lite. But, it’s not. As a matter of fact, Samsung says the main reason for the introduction of the S20 FE was to create a cheaper flagship for people not willing to spend over a thousand dollars amidst the current economic downturn because of Covid 19, which is something I really appreciate. Keeping the appreciation aside, does this cheaper Samsung flagship keep up with the “Fan Edition” tag? Let’s dig deeper to find out in this review of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition)!

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Specifications:

  • Body: 6.29 x 2.93 x 0.33-inches, 190gm
  • Display: 6.5-inches Super AMOLED panel, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, 120Hz Refresh Rate, 240Hz Touch Sampling Rate, 84.8% screen-to-body ratio, 407 PPI, Always-on Display (AoD), IP68 dust/water resistance
  • Resolution: FHD+ (2400 x 1080 pixels), 20:9 aspect ratio
  • Chipset: 5G: Snapdragon 865, 4G: Exynos 990 | 7nm+ mobile platform
  • CPU:
    • 5G: Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 585 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 585 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 585)
    • 4G: Octa-core (2×2.73 GHz Mongoose M5 & 2×2.50 GHz Cortex-A76 & 4×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • GPU: 5G: Adreno 650 | 4G: Mali-G77 MP11
  • RAM: 6/8GB LPDDR5 RAM
  • Storage: 128/256GB UFS 3.1 internal storage (expandable)
  • Software & UI: One UI 2.5 on top of Android 10
  • Rear Camera: Triple-camera;
    – 12MP, f/1.8 primary lens, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
    – 12MP, f/2.2 ultra-wide lens, 123° FOV
    – 8MP, f/2.4 telephoto lens, 3x optical zoom
    – LED flash
  • Front Camera: 32MP, f/2.2 lens (punch-hole)
  • Security: In-display Fingerprint Scanner (optical)
  • Audio: Stereo speakers, No headphone jack
  • Connectivity: Hybrid Dual-SIM (Nano), WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS / A-GPS / Glonass / BDS / Galileo, USB Type-C, 4G LTE/5G
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyro, Proximity, Compass, Barometer
  • Battery: 4500mAh with 25W wired, 15W wireless, 4.5W reverse-wireless charging
  • Colors: Cloud-Lavender, Mint, Navy, White, Red, Orange
  • Price in Nepal: Rs. 69,999 (4G, 8/128GB)
  • Buy Here (Daraz exclusive)

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Review:

Design & Build

  • Aluminum frame, plastic back
  • IP68 dust/water resistance

Alright, let’s address the elephant in the room first. Yes, plastic backs on flagship phones are a thing now, all thanks to Samsung. It started with the Galaxy Note 20 and then got handed over to the S20 FE. It might sound like I am complaining, but trust me I’m not! Certainly, when you hear plastic you assume the device to feel flimsy and cheap. But this one’s nothing of that sort. In fact, it has a very good feel and the right kind of heft.

Galaxy S20 FE - Design [1]

Vivo V20 SE Ad

Also, what makes me like this design, even more, is that it does not register scratches or fingerprint smudges as easily as glass backs do. I’ve used this phone for more than a month without a cover and it still looks good as new. But, I do encourage you to get a back cover or a skin since plastic might get scratched or washed out over time.

Similarly, the front of it only has the Gorilla Glass 3 protection, which isn’t as scratch and drop resistant as the latest Gorilla Glass Victus or the Gorilla Glass 6 we’ve seen on Samsung’s recent flagship phones. So, if you are one of the careless ones like me, you’d better get a good screen protector. The frames are, however, made of aluminum just like the S20+.

Plus, I think Samsung has finally got the color availability right. The phone is available in multiple color options, which isn’t something new for them. But this time, Samsung is making all these colors available in the majority of the markets.

Display

  • 6.5-inches FHD+ Super AMOLED panel (flat)
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection
  • 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate

Moving on to the display, it is a classic Samsung Super AMOLED panel, so no doubt it’s one of the best you smartphone screen you could lay your eyes on. Still, it doesn’t have a sharper QHD resolution like the S20+, but honestly, I’ve never practically turned that option on in any of the Samsung flagships I’ve ever used.

Galaxy S20 FE, S20+
Left: S20 FE | Right: S20+

The important thing about this display is it refreshes at 120Hz which makes for a super smooth experience. I think this feature alone has made the $1000 Galaxy Note 20 look pale and unjustifiably priced in comparison. The bezels on the other hand are slightly pronounced as opposed to what we usually see on flagship offerings from Samsung. Likewise, the gentle curves are gone too and you get this super flat display, which I am okay with actually!

The issue with S20 FE’s display

However, there are some underlying issues at times with the S20 FE’s display. For starters, scrolling would be jittery all of a sudden and I even experienced some ghost touches. I turned to the community to check if others were going through the same thing and turns out this was the issue faced by many others too.

Samsung, in its October update, did fix the issue to some extent but it is not completely gone. In my opinion, this looks more like a software issue rather than hardware and I hope Samsung fixes it ASAP.

Optical in-display fingerprint sensor

On a different note, this display houses an in-display fingerprint sensor—not the ultrasonic kind like in the company’s premium “S” and “Note” series of phones, but the standard optical one. Nonetheless, it works flawlessly. I was a little worried that it would be slower just like the ones in Samsung’s A-series phones, but it’s not like that at all.

Galaxy S20 FE - Display [1]

The brightness of this display is also very good, not as good as the Note 20 Ultra but will get you through even in a sunny environment. The tiny punch hole up top is non-obtrusive and its diameter is in fact smaller than the one on the Note 20 Ultra.

Performance

  • Two variants: 4G (Global, including Nepal), 5G (US, S. Korea)
  • 4G: Octa-core Samsung Exynos 990 SoC (7nm+)
  • 6/8GB LPDDR5 RAM with upto 256GB UFS 3.1 storage (expandable)

Anyway, let me talk about the most criticized feature of the S20 FE, which is the Exynos 990 chipset. Really makes me wonder: why did Samsung include the most criticized feature of the Galaxy S20 and the Note 20 Ultra on a device that is meant for the FANS?

Not that the Exynos 990 is a bad chipset or anything, it’s still a powerful chipset but it certainly is not in the same league with its direct Snapdragon counterpart. And since I am also using the OnePlus 8T right now, which retails at the same price, it’s not difficult to point which one’s better in terms of sheer performance. Moreover, the Exynos 990 is not only inferior to the Snapdragon 865 when it comes to performance, but it is more battery hungry and toastier too.

Anyways, all the negativity aside, Samsung’s upcoming Exynos 1080, 2100 are the real deal. If the early leaks are to be believed, these silicons can reportedly outperform the next-gen SoCs from Qualcomm, namely the Snapdragon 875. In terms of memory, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE has DDR5 RAM and UFS 3.0 storage. The RAM options are either 6 or 8GB, whereas storage is either 128 or 256GB.

Galaxy S20 FE - Design [2]

Moving on, with my real-life usage, the experience on this phone has been buttery smooth. There’s not a hint of lag, apps open fast, and multitasking is a breeze. But again, I am using the Oneplus 8T right now, and it definitely feels more optimized and faster than the FE.

Gaming

Similarly, gaming, especially those high demanding titles, are inferior to that of the OnePlus 8T. For instance, the max you can go to PUBG is smooth graphics and extreme frame rates with a little bit of choppiness here and there. With the Oneplus 8T, there’s an exclusive 90 fps mode as well, which is much smoother.

About the heating, I’ve noticed that the S20 FE does not heat up easily like the S20+ which is something I really appreciate because shooting 4K videos and heavy gaming on the S20+ would result in the phone getting considerably warm after a while. So, Samsung has improved the thermals on the FE, which is great.

Software

  • One UI 2.5 on top of Android 10

Galaxy S20 FE - Software

Talking about the software, the phone runs on Android 10 with One UI 2.5 out-of-the-box. It also includes the support for Samsung DeX, which I particularly don’t find that useful, but some of you might. However, a little sad news is that the S20 FE is not up for One UI 3.0 Beta testing as other S20 Flagships yet, although it is sure to receive Android 11 any day now.

Samsung has also promised to give 3 years of OS upgrade on the S20 FE. Its follow up on monthly security updates has also been really good until now. As of now, my phone runs on October’s security patch and I should be receiving the November patch anytime soon.

Cameras

  • Triple-cameras at the back
  • (12MP primary, 12MP ultrawide, 8MP telephoto)
  • 32MP front-facing camera inside the punch-hole cutout

S20 Fan Edition features the same 12MP primary and ultrawide angle lens as the S20+, followed by a new 8MP Telephoto lens capable of 3x optical zoom. As expected, this phone has stellar camera capabilities for photos, and even in regards to videos, you can go upto 4k 60fps with OISboth from the front and back cameras without any compromises on the quality as compared to the S20+.

Normal Images

In fact, in many cases, the S20+ overcompensates the colors while the FE tones it down and makes the image more natural.

Details, dynamic range, and everything else looks the same in both the phones, so I could not be happier with the cameras on the S20 FE.

Portrait Images

S20 FE does not shoot portraits with the Telephoto lens like the S20+ but rather uses the primary lens. The edge detection is slightly flawed as you can see in these pictures, but overall they are not bad.

Although, I would go for the portraits of the S20+ as the subjects look more pronounced in it and the depth looks more natural.

Telephoto Images

The 8MP Telephoto zoom lens, however, gives you slightly better results than the S20+ with its 3x Optical zoom capability as opposed to the 3X hybrid zoom on the S20+.

Ultrawide Images

The ultra-wide-angle images equally impress with outstanding colors and details.

As you can see from this comparison, both the S20+ and FE are nearly identical.

Nighttime Images

Even the night time shots from the FE are similar to the S20+ in both normal and night mode.

But, nighttime images in ultra-wide mode are riddled with grains although you can toggle to night mode to compensate for the noise and exposure management to some extent.

Also, while shooting in night mode, the camera takes over 5 sec to process the image, which I think Samsung needs to improve upon.

Videos

About the videos, as mentioned earlier, you can record upto 4k 60fps with full Optical image stabilization from the main lens. And since it doesn’t have a 64MP telephoto lens as the S20+, there is no 8k shooting with the FE.

You can shoot stabilized videos in the Ultra-wide angle mode too but, like the S20+, there’s no 60fps mode here. Likewise, the slow-mo and super slow-mo video modes are always fun to play around with.

Selfie Images

During my review, the selfie camera of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, unfortunately, didn’t meet my expectation. It’s a 32MP shooter as opposed to the 10MP one on the S20+.

But even with the higher resolution, it’s not as good as its flagship sibling which is clearly noticed in these pictures here. To make matters clearer, the S20 FE’s selfies are a kind of Galaxy A71-ish rather than a flagship level.

Overall, though, I am really satisfied with the cameras of the S20 FE. Samsung’s decision to not include a gimmicky macro or depth camera is spot on, unlike its closest competitors the Oneplus 8T—and frankly should be a lesson to all the smartphone manufacturers who purposefully sham their high-end devices with unworthy image sensors.

Battery

  • 4500mAh battery with 25W wired charging
  • Only a 15W charger provided inside the box
  • 15W wireless and 4.5W reverse wireless charging

In regards to the battery life, the S20 FE has sort of met my expectations. I used this phone with the 120Hz refresh rate and the always-on display turned ON, and with that, I strictly got a days’ battery life. Now, I am someone who is into watching Netflix and Amazon Prime Video at almost every chance I get. And with all the social media, texting, clicking pictures and videos that I do all day, I would have to charge the phone as I reach home at around 8 PM.

Galaxy S20 FE - Display [2]

Talking about charging, you don’t get a faster 25W charger inside the box like the S20+ although it does support it. Obviously, Samsung had to make some compromises to achieve the lower price, such as skimping on accessories like chargers and earphones inside the box.

But unlike Apple, Samsung has been generous enough to include a 15-watt fast charger inside the box, which takes around an hour and a half to get the phone completely juiced up. So, if slow charging frustrates you as it does to me, you’re gonna have to cash-in around $30 dollars and get a genuine 25-watt fast charger.

Extras

As for other things, the Galaxy S20 FE has 15W wireless charging support, IP68 rating, and stereo speakers to give you a more flagship experience. But hold on, mark that these speakers are not true stereo as the earpiece serves as a secondary channel, but they do an amazing job. It produces balanced and rich output and there is Dolby Atmos support like the S20+.

Conclusion

So, that was all about my experience with the Galaxy S20 FE. Do I recommend this phone? Definitely! It is one of the best value flagships at the moment and If you are in the market for a new smartphone right now, and don’t want to cash in top dollars, the S20 FE would be an ideal choice.

In fact, it sits above the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro and the OnePlus 8T in my rank for the best value flagship phone right now. Moreover, it’s not even a debate, or a contest if your region ships the Snapdragon variant for the phone.

And with Samsung’s brand recognition and unmatched distribution and availability, I think this phone will definitely take some of the market shares of the OnePlus 8T. Plus, Samsung has already confirmed that it’s going to be releasing the Fan Edition version of the S series every year. So, it’s going to be an interesting battle in the coming days too.

  • Watch our video review of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Review: Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Terrific value for moneyan easy recommendation
  • Impressively well-built for a phone with a plastic back
  • Flat Super AMOLED display is stunning
  • Flagship-grade performance
  • Excellent camera capabilities
  • Decent battery life

Cons:

  • Should’ve gone with the SD865 in all variants
  • The selfie camera isn’t that great
  • No 25W charger inside the box
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Build
9
Display
9.5
Performance
9
Back Cameras
9
Front Camera
8.5
Software & UI
9.5
Battery
8.5
Value for Money
10