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Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G review: Feature-rich without the flagship price

If you’re looking for a feature-packed smartphone that’s easy on the wallet, then look at the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G.

Techaeris Rated 9.4/10

When the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G was announced, I have to admit I was confused. I wasn’t sure what this device was all about and where it fits into the already crowded Samsung mobile space.

It wasn’t until I finally got my hands on the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G that I finally understood what Samsung was trying to do. Read on for the full review of this feature-rich yet reasonably priced Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Specifications

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G has the following features and specifications:

  • Display
    • 6.5″ Super AMOLED
    • 84.8% screen-to-body ratio
    • 2400 x 1080 resolution
    • 407ppi
    • HDR 10+
    • 120Hz refresh rate
    • Always-on display
  • OS: Android 10
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 (7 nm+)
  • CPU: Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 585 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 585 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 585)
  • GPU: Adreno 650
  • Memory
    • Internal – 128GB or 256GB
    •  RAM –6GB or 8GB UFS 3.1
  • Cameras
    • Front
      • HDR 32 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/2.74″, 0.8µm8 MP, f/2.2, 22mm (wide), 1.12µm, depth sensor
      • Video: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60fps (gyro-EIS)
    • Triple Rear
      • 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.76″, 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
      • 8 MP, f/2.4, 76mm (telephoto), 1/4.5″, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom
      • 12 MP, f/2.2, 123˚, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/3.0″, 1.12µm
      • Video: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60fps, gyro-EIS
  • Audio
    • No headphone jack
    • Dual-speakers
    • 32-bit/384kHz audio
    • AKG sound
  • Connectivity
    • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
    • Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE
    • NFC
    • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
    • USB Type-C 3.2, USB On-The-Go
  • Sensors
    • Bixby natural language commands and dictation
    • In-display fingerprint scanner
    • Accelerometer
    • Gyro
    • Proximity
    • Compass
    • Barometer
  • Battery
    • Reverse wireless charging 4.5W
    • Fast charging 25W
    • Fast wireless charging 15W
    • Li-Po 4,500 mAh, non-removable
  • IP68 certified: Dust and water-resistant over 1.5 meters and 30 minutes
  • Dimensions: 159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4 mm (6.29 x 2.93 x 0.33 in)
  • Weight: 190 g (6.70 oz)

What’s In The Box

  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
  • USB Type-C data/charging cable
  • Charging adapter
  • Sim card ejection pin
  • Manuals and documentation
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
There’s not much in the box, wall adapter, cable, SIM pin, and manuals.

Design

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G exhibits two distinct departures in design over its Galaxy siblings. No curvy display and no glass construction. Now, that’s not a bad thing, not at all.

The display has a thin bezel all the way around the front with a punch hole for the front camera. Samsung is well known for its edge-to-edge and waterfall displays that have become very popular. While those displays are amazing and beautiful, some users find the functionality less than useful, and Samsung took a different approach. We’ll go over the display more closely in the next section.

Around the back, you’ll find that the body is not made of glass, as many Galaxy phones are, but it is made of “glastic.” Glastic is Samsung’s term for this frosted plastic body, which, at first glance, looks very much like frosted glass. It is, honestly, not nearly as bad as I assumed it would be. The glastic makes the phone lighter, and it actually feels really nice to hold.

The triple camera is also located on the back with a significant camera bump, which mimics Samsung phones’ more expensive line.

On the bottom edge of the phone, you’ll find the USB-C port for charging, a microphone, and one of the stereo speakers tuned by AKG. AKG is an audio company that is owned by Samsung and is known for its quality audio products.

On the top edge of the phone, you’ll find the SIM card tray and another microphone. Multiple microphones help with call quality and noise-canceling to give you better call clarity.

There is nothing located along the phone’s left edge, and the right edge houses the volume rocker and power button. The second stereo speaker is located on the front and doubles as the earpiece for phone calls.

Despite the glastic material, the build quality is very nice, and the phone does not feel like a cheap budget Android phone. The glastic does make it lighter than other glass and aluminum phones, but it’s actually a nice change.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G goes in a slightly different direction than most of its other phones but in a good way. I love that there’s a small bezel here, and the glastic material really isn’t bad at all.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
Great display, works well in sunlight too.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G display is not the same resolution as most flagship phones. This display is a modest FHD+ 2400 x 1080, the same resolution many mid-range phones tend to use. Of course, this is a Samsung display tuned by Samsung and that makes a huge difference.

You’re still getting Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology with a 20:9 aspect ratio and 407ppi. But the biggest feature of the display is its 120Hz refresh rate. That’s significant as usually it’s only flagship phones that see this upgrade.

The colors are what you’d expect from a Samsung AMOLED screen, bright, punchy colors, good blacks, clean whites, and crisp text. The 6.5″ size is ample and plenty big, but it doesn’t feel massive. It’s actually slightly smaller than an iPhone 11 Pro Max, which also has a 6.5″ display.

The biggest surprise, as I mentioned already, is the 120Hz refresh rate. This is a feature found on a lot of Android flagships but not normally on a phone that’s US$699.99. That being said, 120Hz isn’t necessary, and many people would be hard-pressed to notice a difference if they never used a refresh rate like this.

The higher refresh rate helps in keeping things such as scrolling, video, and gaming much smoother. Once you start using a display with this refresh rate, you notice. So it’s really amazing that a display like this was dropped into the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G.

As for brightness, I’m not sure of the nit count but this display did a fantastic job outside even under bright sunlight. It struggled just a bit in direct sunlight but overall it performed really well in bright conditions.

Overall, Samsung makes great displays in general. This display has those same punchy colors and deep blacks that we’ve come to love about Samsung displays. The big surprise is the refresh rate, and it’s a good surprise.

Software

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is running Android 10, which isn’t a surprise as most of Samsung’s newest phones do run the latest Android OS.

Of course, Samsung’s own One UI is running over the top of Android 10. In years gone by I would have scoffed at that but Samsung’s improvements in their UI are great.

One UI replaced the old TouchWiz UI that most of us really hated. One UI took a few iterations to smooth out but it’s really come a long way.

I don’t mind One UI on the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G as it feels like more integrated and seamless with Android. The old TouchWiz just felt bloaty and in the way, One UI just feels natural and looks good to.

Overall, the combination of Android and Samsung’s One UI give this phone a pleasurable user experience. If you find you don’t like One UI, then you can always use a custom launcher.

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is running the Snapdragon 865 CPU and Adreno 650 GPU. This combo is strong and gives it excellent performance, especially considering the price point of this phone.

Another nice touch of this phone is the base 6GB of RAM, with an optional 8GB available. The 6GB of RAM should be more than enough for most, but if you plan to use this phone to do a lot of gaming, you have that 8GB option.

I’ve already talked about the 120Hz refresh rate and that comes in handy for gaming, giving a smoother gaming performance.

I had no issues with day-to-day tasks on this phone. Browsing, email, social media, all of the basics work smoothly on the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. Gaming also held up well on this device. While it isn’t a game-centric smartphone, it holds up just fine. I didn’t test intensive games like Fortnite or Call of Duty, but most games you’ll play will perform perfectly fine on this device.

As much as I would have liked to test 5G performance, I am not in an area where 5G is available. At least the 5G that makes a difference. When I lived in Des Moines, I could get 5G in minimal areas. My tests there impressed me, but the availability of 5G isn’t widespread, no matter what the telecoms tell you.

Overall, the performance of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is way above average for its price point.

Speakers/Sound

The AKG tuned dual stereo speakers push out some decent sound. Not super awesome, but for the most part, the sound is clear and loud. The speakers lack some depth and tone but not unexpected for this price point, and for this being a smartphone.

The speakers are great for spoken word YouTube videos and especially good for video and speaker calls. If you want depth and body in your music, then a good pair of headphones is recommended.

Overall, the speakers are fine, they’re nothing special but they’re also not complete crap.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
The triple camera system

Camera

I keep saying that the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is feature-rich but easy on the pocketbook. I’ve given plenty of examples of these awesome features, and another is the rear camera array. These are the same cameras Samsung has on its Samsung Galaxy S20 5G, a more expensive smartphone.

You get a wide-angle, ultra-wide, and telephoto lens on the back, and the photos are pretty awesome. As with most of Samsung’s cameras, they seem to make colors very punchy with some obvious HDR software working.

In optimal light, these cameras are spectacular. In basic lighting, they still hold their own. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G also has a night mode, and it works fairly well; night mode on any phone is a hit and miss deal.

Samsung also outfitted this camera with a “Space Zoom” feature, which gives you a 30x digital zoom. Honestly, I don’t know why you’d want to zoom in 30x, but I wasn’t a huge fan. Photos do not come out all that good at that zoom level, and I found the feature to be mostly useless.

Samsung’s camera app is chocked full of options including:

  • Pro Mode
  • Panorama
  • Food
  • Night Mode
  • Live Focus
  • Live Focus Video
  • Pro Video
  • Super Slow-Mo
  • Slow Motion
  • Hyperlapse
  • Single Take

Like most smartphones, there are a ton of camera options that most people never really use. Most everything anyone will use is easily accesible on the main interface of the camera app.

The selfie camera on the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is excellent, especially in well lit environments.

Overall, the cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G are spot on and one of the reasons why this device is so value packed.

Samsung FE
Outdoors with full sunlight

Reception/Call Quality

There is very little to say about reception and call quality. These both functioned as they should on the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. As I mentioned before, I couldn’t test 5G functionality so we can’t assess that feature at this time.

Battery Life

Battery life on the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is more than acceptable for me. Battery life is very subjective, though; what works for me may not work for all. I plug my phone in every night before bed, and this phone was still usually at 50% battery when I plugged it in. That varied depending on what I was using it for throughout the day. When consuming media and playing games, the battery drained faster, that is expected and normal.

Overall, the 4,500mAh battery should last most people the entire day and then some.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is one of the best phones on the market period.

Price/Value

This is the winner-winner chicken dinner category. Given that the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G packs a plethora of premium features, our determination is that the US$699.99 price is a steal.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G packs a one-two punch with an amazing price and outstanding value. As of this review, some outlets offer this device at an even lower price, which is amazing.

Wrap Up

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is one of the best phones on the market period. This phone can easily compete for your pocketbook with phones priced much higher. If you’re looking for a feature-packed smartphone that’s easy on the wallet, then look at the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G.

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Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

US$699.99

Design

9.5/10

Display

9.5/10

Software

9.5/10

Performance

9.5/10

Speakers/Sound

9.0/10

Camera

9.0/10

Reception/Call Quality

9.5/10

Battery Life

9.5/10

Price/Value

9.5/10

Nailed it

  • Very nice design
  • I like that the screen isn't curved and the display is flat
  • Nice build quality even with glastic
  • Good software experience
  • Good performance
  • Very good camera for this price range
  • Great battery life
  • Outstanding value for feature set

Needs work

  • Speakers aren't great
  • Camera's low light performance isn't the best
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