Beyond the disappointing battery life and worrying levels of heat generated by the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, it's not a bad little device. It's got a fantastic display, an impressive camera and will stand toe-to-toe with some of the big boys. You get what you pay for, right? If you want in on the S20 ecosystem but can't afford a flagship model, the FE is well worth your time as long as you're willing to except that some concessions have been made. Hope you have a spare power bank for those long trips away from home...
The Samsung Galaxy S20 range was a big deal for the Korean tech giant. Released just a few months ago (even though it feels like years, please can someone just make 2020 end, we need a rest), the Galaxy S20 was both a leap forward to in terms of innovation and, unfortunately, price tag. It was a monumental phone that boasted some really cool features but all that new tech, unfortunately, made the phone inaccessible for a decent chunk of Samsung’s consumer base. That was the rationale behind the Fan Edition, which essentially took what the Galaxy S20 range did so well and reduced the scale, making for a device that offered a lot of the same benefits but at a reduced price.
For the most part, Samsung has done a solid job at offering users a chance to get onboard the S20 train. The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition is a remarkable device for the asking price as Samsung has chosen to compromise on features that don’t directly impact the basic-end users. Having said that, what corners have Samsung exactly cut and, beyond that, how does the phone feel to use? Well, to spoil the ending of the movie just after the opening credits, we liked it a whole bunch.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition looks like a gorgeous fun. From a purely aesthetic level, it looks similar enough to it’s more powerful siblings that if you didn’t know what to look for you, you’d be easily fooled. The range of colours is a nice touch too, with the soft palette tones going a long way to giving the phone a flagship model presentation. Who would have thought those delightfully soothing colours would be so effective?
If you do know what you’re looking for then you’ll be flipping the phone over and examining the back plate, arguably the biggest change between the FE and the standard S20. Gone is that glass backing and instead you’ll find a high-quality plastic. This isn’t a bad thing as the matte finish feels great to hold and even provides an extra sense of grip to the device making it feel more secure in the palm. The metal bands around the body and camera are akin to the ones you’d actually see on the Note 20 Ultra, giving an even more premium level of presentation.
Samsung continues its tradition of making some of the best displays in the business. While the FE certainly has some more pronounced bezels, the 6.5in AMOLED FullHD+ display is still a beauty to behold. What’s even better is that it runs at 120Hz, which is unheard of for phones at this price level. It’s an impressive display and after a while, you’ll stop noticing those intrusive bezels altogether.
A minor complaint from our side is that while the image quality is crispy and pristine, the colours felt slightly off. Almost like everything was slightly oversaturated with the contrast feeling like it’s overcompensating. It’s not a major issue but if you’re a stickler for screens you’ll no doubt notice. We ended up getting used to it in the end but it’s still worth mentioning.
Even in this department, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE impresses. While not as robust as the camera options on the other devices in the S20 range, the FE comes equipped with a 12 MP standard camera, 12MP ultra-wide and an 8MP telephoto lens. Those are only slight downgrades from the standard S20 as it does like a wide-angle lens but that’s by no means a deal-breaker.
What’s most impressive about the cameras on the FE is that 32MP front-facing selfie cam. That’s significantly better than the Galaxy S20 and only just below the S20 Ultra. It looks gorgeous too, taking some fantastic images that look great on the phone’s display. The only other concession is that you won’t be able to film in 8K as the FE only supports 4K. What a tragedy, we can barely contain our disappointment.
(We don’t really care, 4K is still exceptional)
Performance and Battery
Now for the other substantial changes from the rest of the Samsung Galaxy S20 range. The Galaxy S20 FE features 6GB of RAM which is half of its siblings. It also runs on a Samsung Exynos 990 processor which is nowhere near as nice as those 64-bit octa-core processors you’ll find in other Samsung Galaxy S20s. Still, the phone runs well and is able to juggle multiple tasks with ease. Yet there is a downside to this as the FE tends to run pretty hot, even with the most basic activities. Scrolling through Instagram or jumping around through apps caused the top half of the phone to become uncomfortably warm, a matter made even worse when running games like Fortnite Mobile or PUBG Mobile. It’s not going to fry an egg but it’s still uncomfortable to use.
The 4,500mAh battery, which is actually bigger than the battery in the standard S20 is also disappointing. We speculate that it has something to do with running the screen at 120Hz because even after a day of light use the device needed to be charged. Guess that’s the trade-off for a silky-smooth display running on a processor that’s clearly not been optimised for it.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Final Verdict
Beyond the disappointing battery life and worrying levels of heat generated by the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, it’s not a bad little device. It’s got a fantastic display, an impressive camera and will stand toe-to-toe with some of the big boys. You get what you pay for, right? If you want in on the S20 ecosystem but can’t afford a flagship model, the FE is well worth your time as long as you’re willing to accept that some concessions have been made. Hope you have a spare power bank for those long trips away from home…