By definition, a flagship phone represents the pinnacle of the technological and engineering prowess of a brand with their best hardware along with a commensurately high price tag but the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is a pleasant anomaly as it has a powerful feature set that prioritises the essentials while remaining decently priced.
As the fourth addition to their Galaxy S20 series line-up for 2020, it’s a bit late for the party but it may yet be the most popular phone in their line-up as it’s quite literally everything that fans have asked for. Here is our review of the Galaxy S20 FE 5G for Malaysia and how it fares…
What’s in the Box
Out of the box, you’re getting the essentials which include the obligatory 15W charger to juice it, a USB Type-C cable and a SIM ejection pin on top of the obligatory warranty and quick start guides.
If you’re fairly fast on the draw and buy this phone in Malaysia, Samsung is throwing in a free standing cover worth RM119 on the house which is extremely handy as the kickstand at the back of the casing lets you prop it up for watching movies. Handy, that.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Design and Specifications
Officially known by its more formal name as the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition, the S20 FE 5G is a veritable wish list of features that fans of the series have been clamouring for wrought into an 8.4mm thin polycarbonate chassis that can be acquired in six different colours. There’s no creaking or any feel of cheapness here even with the use of a polycarbonate chassis – the Galaxy S20 FE 5G feels very sturdy with an even heft to it.
Unlike the somewhat staid colour choices for the mainline Galaxy S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra, the Galaxy S20 FE 5G’s paint jobs are a veritable rainbow of hues with your choice of Cloud Navy, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud White, Cloud Orange or in the case of our test unit, a fantastically fetching shade of Cloud Red.
While we prefer the classy Mystic Bronze finish of the Note20 series, the Cloud Red paint job is a real head-turner and is distinctive and attractive in its own way.
The matte finish of the Galaxy S20 FE 5G in Cloud Red also helps it to repel fingerprints nicely while offering a modicum of tactility. The addition of polycarbonate here works in the S20 FE’s favour, helping to shave a bit off the weight and making it more pocketable at 190g.
Up front, you get a luscious 6.5-inch Super AMOLED FHD+ display with a tiny punch hole for the single 32MP selfie camera up front as well as a tiny almost imperceptible speaker grille for half of a matching pair of stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos tech.
The right side is taken up by a power button and volume rocker while the left side hosts a hybrid SIM card tray.
The base of the phone hosts a USB-C port and a speaker grille. The backplate itself notably sports a triple rear camera array with a rectangular housing perched in the upper left corner of the phone in keeping with this year’s design language for the S20 series phones.
Overall build quality, notwithstanding its glasstic casing is excellent and the whole affair doesn’t feel cheap at all with a good heft and feel. The fact that it’s made of polycarbonate also means that it has a slightly higher chance of surviving getting pranged on the floor which is a pleasant bonus.
The front display does have a minor concession to cost though with the use of Gorilla Glass 3 versus higher end variants used in its pricier siblings but that’s not a deal breaker as the S20 FE 5G retains a far more important IP68 water and dust resistance rating which makes it all the more practical as a daily workhorse phone that won’t wilt in the face of rain or an accidental dip in water.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Performance
The Galaxy S20 FE 5G is technically supposed to be at the bottom of the totem pole for the Galaxy S20 series, more so seeing as it’s the most affordable phone in the line-up though what it has to offer enables it to punch way above its weight class. Here’s what it has to offer in terms of hardware…
|Display||6.5-inch Super AMOLED Infinity-O display, 2400 x 1080 pixels, 120Hz refresh rate|
|OS||Android 10 w/ One UI 2.5|
|Memory||8GB RAM/ 256GB storage + microSD card|
|Cameras||12MP F/1.8 Dual Pixel PDAF w/ OIS + 8MP F/2.4 w/ 3x optical zoom & OIS + 12MP F/2.2 ultra wide angle [rear] | 32MP F/2.2 [front]|
|Battery||4,500mAh W/ 25W fast charging [15W charger provided]|
|Size/Weight||159.8 x 74.5 x 84mm / 190g|
Where it primarily differs is that unlike the Exynos 990 processor that its pricier siblings pack, the S20 FE uses the Snapdragon 865 processor which is slightly faster on the draw. This is paired with 8GB RAM and a generous 256GB of expandable storage. The S20 FE also supports 5G and also has WiFi 6 connectivity. One thing to note is that the Galaxy S20 FE 5G also has a slightly cheaper variant that uses an Exynos 990 processor and lacks 5G connectivity though they are otherwise identical.
The storage in the S20 FE is double what the S20, the S20+ and even the S20 Ultra have and this is expandable via the hybrid SIM card slot up with up to 1TB microSD cards. The amount of RAM available is also equal to what the S20 and S20+ packs though the S20 Ultra has much more at 12GB RAM. That’s quite a feat for something that’s cheaper than even the S20 which officially retails for RM3,599.
While you’d typically expect a brand to cut corners when it comes to the display, Samsung has equipped the S20 FE with a large 6.5-inch Super AMOLED Infinity-O display that has 2,240 x 1080 pixels with a decent 407ppi as well as a 120Hz refresh rate for silky smooth animations on screen.
The modest trade-off here is that the 120Hz refresh rate isn’t dynamic and it’s set at 120Hz for everything you do on screen be it web browsing or staring at gaming which may lead to slightly more aggressive battery drain. You can also set it to 60Hz for better endurance.
Despite the fact that it’s capped at FHD+ resolution, the truth of the matter is that if you’re enabling 120Hz mode in the other Galaxy S20 phones and even the Note20 series phones, you’re reduced to FHD+ resolution despite having QHD+ displays anyway when enabling 120Hz mode so you aren’t losing out much and FHD+ resolution is plenty sharp for day to day use. Colours are punchy, vibrant and bright out of the box which look fabulous though you can tweak them in the settings if they’re not to taste.
Another feature working in the S0 FE’s favour is that unlike its pricier S20 siblings which have slightly curved edges, the S20 FE has a completely flat display which some fans prefer.
Under practical workloads, the S20 FE was a real trouper, tackling everything thrown at with deft aplomb. The Snapdragon 865 processor made short work of day to day tasks like web browsing, photo editing and heavy gaming too with the likes of Genshin Impact and Call of Duty Mobile running on high settings without it keeling over.
In terms of synthetic benchmarks, the Galaxy S20 FE scored the following:
|PCMark Work 2.0||12,137|
|Geekbench 5 Single Core Score||897|
|Geekbench 5 Multi core score||3,156|
|3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Open GL ES 3.1||7,101|
|3DMark Wild Life||3,763|
|PCMark Work 2.0 Battery Life||12 hours 25 minutes|
In comparison with the Galaxy Note20 5G which has an equivalent amount of RAM and the Exynos 990, the S20 FE 5G is slightly ahead in every benchmark. These are excellent scores that are slightly north of what an Exynos 990 is capable of in synthetic benchmarks but they’re not readily apparent under normal usage.
The 120Hz refresh rate allows for exceptionally smooth scrolling and web browsing while colour rendition was excellent with beautifully deep blacks and vibrant colour rendition too. The paired stereo speakers also proved to be pleasantly loud; add in their standing cover and you can get a few episodes of Emily in Paris sorted out in your free time too.
The provision of One UI 2.5 also ensures that the S20 FE is able to access DeX mode too, which enables a wireless desktop mode with a compatible Miracast enabled display. Throw in a wireless mouse and keyboard and you literally have a portable PC in your pocket with the ability to get your emails and most general computing tasks sorted. The addition of 5G is a bonus though one that won’t be realised anytime soon in Malaysia.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G cameras
The Galaxy S20 FE sports a triple rear camera array that bears some similarity to that of the Galaxy S20 and S20+ in that it retains a 12MP ultra wide angle camera and 12 MP primary camera but downguns the telephoto camera to an 8MP sensor with 3x optical zoom versus the S20 and S20+ which have a 64MP sensor. They’ve cut a few corners here with smaller sensors but they’re understandable seeing the price point of this phone.
Both the primary 12MP camera and the 8MP telephoto camera have optical image stabilisation and the rear camera is capable of capturing up to 4K @ 60fps video as opposed to 8K @ 24fps on the other Galaxy S20 series phones. While 8K may be the future, it’s still not very common yet in the industry so its omission here isn’t a major quibble at all. The selfie camera also proved up to part with shareworthy snaps though the phone doesn’t over enthusiastically smoothen faces.
Shots taken with the Galaxy S20 are excellent with good levels of detail and are slightly more saturated which look good on social media along with crisp shots at up to 3x zoom. Beyond that, shots start looking noticeably soft and start losing detail. Night shots are also good with decent dynamic range and detail on auto though you get better results with the provided Night mode. As it stands, this phone has very competent cameras that are worthy of the prestigious Galaxy S line.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Battery Life
Keeping the Galaxy S20 FE powered is a 4,500mAh battery with 25W fast charging support though the provided charger isn’t able to keep up with this charging rate as it’s capped at 15W though you can easily acquire one elsewhere. This battery capacity is equivalent to the one powering the Galaxy Note20 Ultra and the Galaxy S20+ and combined with the lower resolution FHD+ screen, the S20 FE should be able to offer better endurance.
With the phone set to a 120Hz refresh rate and fairly aggressive usage with social media, video calls, light gaming with Genshin and CODM while using either WiFi or 4G data on all day as well as modest usage of Snapseed with some light YouTube and Netflix it was able to easily last a full day’s worth of usage with about 30% left at sundown. In PCMark, the phone was able to last 12 hours and 25 minutes which is on the ball for its battery capacity.
Charging with the provided 15W charger is still a fairly nippy affair with a full charge from dead zero in about one and a half hours. Better yet, the Galaxy S20 FE 5G supports both wireless charging and Wireless PowerShare, allowing you to charge other devices like their Galaxy Buds off the back of the phone.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Verdict – Is this worth your money?
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is the right phone in the right place at the right time. It offers the most desirable features that exemplify the Galaxy S20 series at a decent price point: you get 5G connectivity, a 120Hz display, a powerful Snapdragon 865 CPU, a good set of cameras and DeX support too.
If you’re looking to get in on an excellent flagship phone at superb value, the Galaxy S20 FE 5G should be tops on your shopping list. If you still need something a bit more affordable, you can opt for its cheaper sibling the Galaxy S20 FE 4G.
What we liked Excellent performance with Snapdragon 865 CPU, good cameras, attractive colour variants, smooth 120Hz display, supports DeX mode, IP68 water resistance
What we didn’t No 3.5mm audio jack, no fast charger bundled with phone
We say The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is a rarefied blend of performance, value and sound design that combines the excellent Snapdragon 865 processor, a 120Hz display, a great set of cameras and excellent battery life in an incredibly comprehensive package. This is one of the best Android phones of 2020.
Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia. Available for purchase at the online Samsung store athttps://www.samsung.com/my/smartphones/galaxy-s20/galaxy-s20-fe/
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is a rarefied blend of performance, value and sound design that combines the excellent Snapdragon 865 processor, a 120Hz display, a great set of cameras and excellent battery life in an incredibly comprehensive package. This is one of the best Android phones of 2020.
Excellent performance with Snapdragon 865 CPU
Attractive colour variants
Smooth 120Hz display
Supports DeX mode
IP68 water resistance
No 3.5mm audio jack
No fast charger bundled with phone