The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE has three of the S20’s winning traits: a fast screen refresh rate, great photography potential, and a powerful processor.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE remains one of the best deals among Android phones. Samsung offers a 120Hz display, 5G, and a triple camera with 30x space zoom. It is$100 less than the new Samsung Galaxy S21.
Galaxy S20 FE – Design and Colors
The Galaxy S20 FE will stand out from the crowd with its six color options. You can choose from navy, lavender, mint, red, white, and orange. We opted for navy, which has a sophisticated sheen to it. Note that color choices vary by carrier.
Samsung has made some design concessions in the name of afford ability, but this phone doesn’t look or feel cheap. Polycarbonate (plastic) is used on the back instead of glass, but Samsung has curved the polycarbonate well around the sides to make the handset feel integrated and robust.
If you put the Galaxy S20 FE and the regular Galaxy S20 side by side, you can clearly see that the former has thicker bezels. However, once you start using the S20 FE, the experience is much closer to full screen. It also helps that the S20 FE’s front camera has a smaller cut out than the regular S20.
The Galaxy S20 FE doesn’t skimp when it comes to water resistance either. The device complies with IP68 standards and can be submerged in water without any problems.
Measuring 6.29 x 2.93 x 0.33 inches and weighing 6.7 ounces, the Galaxy S20 FE is a bit thicker and heavier than the regular Galaxy S20 (5.9 x 3 x 0.31 inches, 5.7 ounces), which is not surprising given that the FE has a larger display than the S20 (6.5 inches versus 6.2 inches). This is not surprising considering that the FE has a larger display (6.5″ vs. 6.2″).
We have one complaint about the Galaxy S20 FE’s design. Unlike the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Note 20 series, the S20 FE uses an optical sensor embedded in the display rather than a more accurate ultrasonic sensor. As a result, I encountered more false negatives than I expected when trying to unlock the phone. We found that we had to be more careful when pressing down on this phone.
Galaxy S20 FE – Display
I am pleased that the Galaxy S20 FE has a120Hz display. I think this is better than the sharper Quad HD resolution as a feature carried over from the regular Galaxy S20; the S20FE is a 2400×1800 pixel Full HD+ screen.
The 120Hz setting provides smoother scrolling and better game play as more titles support 120Hz panels. While playing “Marvel Contest of Champions,” I enjoyed the fluid animations, such as using Iron Man to fire lasers at the Punisher.
Where Samsung’s OLED panel really shined was when I watched an episode of “Cobra Kai.” The scene where Sam La Russo crashes into the dessert table was an explosion of color with pops of green, blue, brown, and orange.
The Galaxy S20 FE’s display performed well in lab tests. With adaptive brightness turned on, brightness peaked at 679nits; anything above 600nits would be better, but the regular Galaxy S20 reached a maximum of 857nits.
The screen was also quite colorful, with the S20 FE registering133.3% of the DCI-P3 color space, not quite the162.5% of the regular S20.In terms of color accuracy, the Galaxy S20 FE did slightly better than the Galaxy S20, recording a score of 0.3. The regular S20 scored 0.37 and the iPhone 110.22.
Galaxy S20 FE – Camera
The Galaxy S20 FE is one of the most versatile camera phones at this price, with three rear lenses plus a front 32MP camera for selfies.
The rear camera consists of a 12MP ultra-wide shooter (f/2.2 aperture, 123-degree field of view). There is also a12MPmaincamera (f/1.8) and an 8MP telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom and 30x space zoom (digital).
We tested the space zoom on the Manasquan River in New Jersey. The Galaxy S20 FE was able to get close enough to see two passengers and the side of a boat. Admittedly, the grain is coarse up close, but still quite impressive for a cell phone.
The Galaxy S20 FE also captured a good close-up of a portulaca flower. The pink color is darker than it actually is, but the detail in the water droplets around the petals is commendable.
The Galaxy S20 FE also produced good results when I took a few shots in a nearby park. In a photo taken on a hiking trail, the S20 FE captured fairly sharp detail in the trees and leaves, and the sunny sky was not blown out.
Next, I used the Galaxy S20 FE to capture the shadows of the trees in the foreground, the waves in the river in the center, and the row of trees and puffy clouds in the background. Overall, the exposures appear to be fairly well balanced, and this is a photo I am happy to share.
The Galaxy S20 FE is powered by a Snapdragon 865 processor and has 6GB of RAM, half the 12GB of the regular Galaxy S20. It also has 128GB of storage, expandable up to 1TB via micro SD card.
In everyday use, the Galaxy S20 FE felt quite responsive, whether I was switching between dozens of open apps or driving around the track on the Asphalt 9. We did experience some lag when returning to the home screen, but overall the S20 FE has performed well so far.
In Geek bench 5, which measures overall performance, the Galaxy S20 FE scored 2,928 points in the multi-core test. This is lower than the Galaxy S20, which recorded 3,147.iPhone 11’s score was 3,251.
In the GFX Bench graphics test (off-screen Aztec Ruins Vulkan test), the Galaxy S20FE recorded 1,325 frames (21 frames per second).The regular Galaxy S20 recorded 1,319 and the iPhone 11 recorded 1,481.
To test the Galaxy S20 FE’s real-world performance, we trans coded the 4K video to 1080p after applying effects and transitions in Adobe Premiere Rush. The Galaxy S20 FE took 1 minute24 seconds, lagging behind the regular S20’s 1 minute 15 seconds. iPhone 11 took only 46 seconds.
Battery life and charging
The Galaxy S20 FE should last most of the day on a charge, but given the size of the battery, it didn’t last as long as expected; it has a 4,500mAh battery, which is larger than the 4,000mAh of the Galaxy S20 and the same size as the Galaxy S20 Plus The battery is the same size as the Galaxy S20 Plus.
After un plugging the power at 7am and using the Galaxy S20 FE regularly for several hours, there was still 55% remaining at 4:16pm.
However, in a web surfing battery test with continuous web surfing at a screen brightness of 150nits, the Galaxy S20 FE lasted only 8 hours and 58 minutes on AT&T’s 5G network and 9:03 on Verizon’s LTE network. (Verizon 5G is not available in New Jersey) All of the devices on our best smartphone battery life list are over11 hours.
By comparison, the regular Galaxy S20 lasted slightly longer, 9:31 on T-Mobile’s network, and the iPhone 11 lasteda whopping 11:16. Note that these tests were conducted with the Galaxy S20 FE’s display set to 60Hz; setting it to120Hz may reduce battery life by more than two hours.
The Galaxy S20 FE comes with a 15W charger, which is significantly slower than the 25W charger that comes with the regular Galaxy S20. In our tests, it took15minutes to complete16% of the charge and 30 minutes to complete 35% of the charge; a 25W charger can be purchased to charge faster on the FE, but it costs an additional $29.
As the competition for flagships under $700 heats up, the Galaxy S20 FE remains formidable. It offers solid performance with a large display with a smooth120Hzrefresh rate, a powerful camera, and a colorful design. I can deal with the plastic back and most of the other trade-offs.
In particular, the Galaxy S20 FE’s powerful zoom helps Samsung stand out against the Google Pixel 5,iPhone 12, etc. The Pixel 5hasbetter photo quality, but its performance is what sets the S20 FE apart. The iPhone 12 is also faster than the S20 and takes more beautiful photos, but does not charge as long and does not have a telephoto zoom. (We discuss these differences in more detail in our Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs. iPhone 12 showdown.)
Some may prefer the Samsung Galaxy S21, which costs $100 more than the Galaxy S20 FE; the Galaxy S21hasa faster Snapdragon 888 chip, better image processing in the camera, and a sleeker design. Samsung is reportedly working on a Galaxy S21 FE model with a faster processor and other upgrades, but it will likely not be available until later. Overall, the Galaxy S20 FE remains one of the best phones at this price.