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Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Review – Don’t Miss This Hidden Gem

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By Akhil Kapoor - 
23rd Jun 2021
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Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
Review Summary

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is literally a hotshot roaming around with an affordable price tag on it. The extreme performance, magnificent display, and design, a superb camera setup are just a few of the traits that I personally love about the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. But again, even a flagship smartphone has some shortcomings and luckily, Galaxy S20 FE 5G has some too. The device has a super slow charging tech when companies are including even 65W charging tech on their mid-range phones if not lower. The plastic back panel is another thing that might hit a red flag for some.

PROS
  • AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate
  • 32MP selfie camera
  • 4500 mAh battery with wireless charging
  • Superfast 5G technology
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
CONS
  • Hybrid SIM slot
  • No Gorilla Glass protection
  • No NFC
Key Specs
Battery Capacity
Battery Capacity
4500 mAh
Operating System
Operating System
Android v11
Screen Size
Screen Size
6.5 inches
Highlights:
  • Yes
  • 4500 mAh
  • Android v11
  • 6.5 inches
Introduction

The Samsung Galaxy S20 series is one of the most popular and what better way to celebrate it than releasing a Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G (where FE stands for Fan Edition). Well, that’s what Samsung did and to be honest, Galaxy S20 FE 5G is an impressive smartphone in the flagship series that brings 5G capability along with a high-end chipset, a super-smoother 120Hz Super AMOLED panel, a hunky camera setup, and more that makes Galaxy S20 FE 5G a must. All that in a price that you will be stunned at.

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Well, gone are the days when you would believe in specs listed on paper but here’s a hands-on review that you must read to decide the fate.

Prices in India, Variants, Availability

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is available in India on Amazon at Rs 47,999/- for its 8GB+128GB storage as there’s no other configuration available in the country. Opt for either Cloud Navy or Cloud Green colour variants. There is a tonne of offers on Amazon India for Galaxy S20 FE 5G including an Exchange offer up to Rs 11,100/- off, a 6,000/- coupon, No Cost EMI, and more available at your fingertips. Also, avail of 10 per cent instant discount on using SBI Credit Card on Amazon.

Specs at a glance

Before we talk in detail about the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G let’s see what the on-paper specs look like?

  • Display: 6.5-inch (16.40 centimetres) Infinity-O Super AMOLED Display with 120Hz Refresh rate
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 5G
  • Storage: 8GB/128GB
  • Software: Android 11
  • Rear cameras: 12MP (Dual Pixel) OIS Wide Rear Camera + 8MP OIS Tele Camera + 12MP Ultra Wide
  • Battery: 4500 mAh, wireless charging
  • Weight: 190g
  • Dimensions: ‎84 x 74.5 x 159.8 mm
Design and Build

I am a big fan of Samsung when it comes to design and luckily, Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G didn’t fail to keep that belief intact. Although it looks more like an A-series smartphone, it does get its job done.

On the front, you get a giant display with a punch-hole cut-out at the middle. The display unlike its siblings is flat and has comparatively thicker bezels. I wouldn’t say that the bezels are a lot thicker but it becomes apparent when you hold the S20 FE 5G and S20+ side-by-side.

Moving on, Samsung chose to get a plastic back panel for S20 FE 5G instead of a premium glass back. In practice, I didn’t find it iffy or something of inferior quality but a glass looks better when compared to a pristine-looking plastic back panel. It is matte so no matter how you hold it or who holds it, there won’t be any fingerprints and smudges on the back panel. I wouldn’t stress that enough, Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G still looks as good as an S-series smartphone but without a glass panel.

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The sides are aluminium across all S20-series devices and that’s a relief. Plus, Galaxy S20 FE has an IP68 rating which means it can withstand water and dust like its elder brothers without any hassle. Perhaps getting the coveted IP68 rating at this price tag was a bit of a surprise as not all devices at this price segment offer it.

Moving on, there’s a protective glass on top which is not Corning Gorilla Glass 5 or 6 and neither is Victus. But rest assured as it is a Samsung and not an Apple to break open on just a single hit to the floor. A volume rocker and a power button are on the right and well within reach. There’s a USB-C port, a primary mic, and a bottom-firing loudspeaker at the bottom while the top has a memory card slot and a secondary mic. That’s all, there’s nothing on the left side.

Display

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G sports a colossal 6.5-inch Super AMOLED 120Hz HDR10+ display with a 1080 x 2400 pixels resolution. It has a rich 407 PPI density and comes with an almost 85 per cent STB.

The displays that Samsung uses are truly amazing irrespective of which price segment a smartphone is from. Similarly, Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G gets an impressive display tech too. After reviewing the device for more than a week, here’s what I have penned out about the display on the device.

It is large at 6.5-inch and comes with the Dynamic branding used in other S20 series smartphones. Luckily, Samsung has stuck to giving 120Hz with the S20 FE 5G which is twice what you are used to on other smartphones. Samsung has also dropped down the resolution to 1080×2400 pixels from 1440p. Although an FHD+ is not bad, a 1440p would have been a lot better given the fact that its siblings have it. But at the end of the day, the Galaxy S20 FE 5G’s 1080p display is worthwhile.

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The phone uses traditional non-variable refresh rate settings so once you set it on 120Hz, it will render it accordingly. Everything from UI to social media apps to video players renders at 120Hz and to be honest, it is splendid and you wouldn’t be able to take your eyes off the magnificently smooth display with some exceptions like games. On the other hand, another setting is 60Hz and it does what it says, renders at standard 60Hz.

The display is huge, viewing angles are great, and the colour reproduction is in-point. I tested the brightness of the display and as per my records, it is 404 nits on maximum brightness while the peak brightness on the auto mode is at 823 nits. To put things into perspective, Samsung Galaxy S20+ reported brightness of 379 and 797 nits respectively.

Next up, the phone supports HDR playback as well as HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG. However, it doesn’t play Netflix in HDR at least at the moment but YouTube and Amazon Prime Video work absolutely fine on HDR.

Performance

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G runs on a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 5G which is fabricated on a 7nm+ node. The chipset has an octa-core arrangement that has a single high-performance 2.84 GHz Kryo 585 cores, three 2.42 GHz Kryo 585 cores, and four 1.8 GHz Kryo 585 power-efficient cores. It comes embedded with an Adreno 650 GPU along with 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage and 8GB of RAM. There are other configurations available too but not in India.

One of the major distinctions that make Galaxy S20 FE 5G apart from other Galaxy S20-series is the inclusion of Snapdragon 865 SoC across all units. Yes, there’s no Exynos here which was earlier available on the 4G variant. SD865 SoC isn’t the latest but it falls almost every older Snapdragon processor to shame.

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Be it browsing content, watching videos, using social media, multitasking, and almost everything is a piece of cake for Galaxy S20 FE 5G. It can handle gaming like a pro too with ease. In fact, you can play Call of Duty: Mobile at the max available settings which don’t come as a surprise because at the end of the day, it’s the Snapdragon 865 SoC packed under the hood and not an Exynos counterpart. I played for almost 45 minutes of COD Mobile and found no lag whatsoever. The game ran without any frame drops, lagging, or stuttering and not to forget, it didn’t overheat as well although warming by raising a few celsius is obvious.

The LPDDR4x RAM with UFS 3.1 storage makes everything like a smooth experience and trust me, you will love it more than the 4G variant of Galaxy S20 FE. I have played Asphalt 9 Legends as well as PUBG Mobile on Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G as well and it is awesome.

I recorded GeekBench 5.1 scores for Samsung Galaxy S20 Fe 5G and it scored 906 and 3,296-points on single-core and multi-core tests.

Software

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G arrived with Android 11-powered OneUI 3.1 and for those who don’t know it, OneUI 3.1 is currently the latest and feature-rich custom UI based on Android 11. It packs in features like Dual Messenger, Edge Panels, Easy Mode, and plenty of customizations available at the user’s disposal. Plus, Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G comes with 3 years of major Android OS upgrade support which means it will get Android 12, 13, and probably 14 as well.

Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G packs in a triple-camera setup which includes a 12MP primary shooter with Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, f/1.8 aperture; an 8MP telephoto sensor with f/2.4 aperture with 76mm focal length, OIS, PDAF, 3x optical zoom; and a 12MP ultrawide snapper with f/2.2 aperture with 123-degree FoV on-board. Finally, there’s a 32MP selfie shooter on the front with an f/2.2 aperture as well.

There are some changes with respect to the sensors used when compared to the Galaxy S20 series i.e. Galaxy S20 and S20+. One major difference is the inclusion of two different sensors in addition to the same primary sensor on-board.

Daylight shots using the primary sensor on Galaxy S20 FE 5G are somewhat different when compared to Galaxy S20+ and in fact, it is different from the 4G powered S20 FE 5G as well. The shots after my analysis had a narrow dynamic range, colors were as vivid and rather muted a bit which isn’t something Samsung is widely known for. All shots using the primary sensor were sharp, detailed, and flawless in the daytime and practically without noise.

The ultrawide snapper is a bit wider with 123-degree and 120-degree when corrected for distortion. The image was sharper although I am talking about an 8MP sensor so don’t expect too much. The dynamic range is excellent on its part as well. The software distortion correction is on-point and it is enabled by default unless you want a non-corrected shot for some reason.

The third is a telephoto cam on S20 FE 5G and scales for a 12M output. The shots are upscaled rather than forming a composite of both primary and tele sensors. When compared to S20+, the telephoto samples had similar sharpness although the noise performance is better on S20 FE than the S20+ which is great. Telephoto camera grabs macro shots as well, giving you distortion-free shots of objects as close as 20cm retaining excellent details and more.

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Dive in the low-light photography section and you will see the gap between S20 FE 5G and S20+ closing in. Especially the night mode is where both the devices had highly competitive shots although in some cases, FE made a leap compared to S20+ which is something I didn’t expect.

At night mode, FE made great high preservations, had an aggressive noise reduction under the hood, and colours were saturated. The shots are consistently sharper when compared to the Plus variant in the same series which is mind-boggling.

Next up, we have portrait shots and as one would decipher, it is as good as it can get. Samsung devices are known for their photography chops and luckily, FE doesn’t fail to impress the masses with on-point object separation and detection.

Finally, the selfie shooter is way larger at 32MP that uses Quad-Bayer imagery to push 8Mp shots. It is way better than the 10MP selfie shooter that its siblings use and it goes without saying, you can see the increase in image quality considerably. You can snag a full 32MP shots as well or play in the middle to grab the best shots possible.

Video recording on Galaxy S20 FE 5G is available at 4K@60fps using the primary cam and 1080p@30fps on ultrawide. There’s no support to 8K unlike the Galaxy S20 series but 4K is still a lot better than FHD+.

Battery

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G packs in a massive 4,500 mAh battery that should get you over a day of battery life on moderate to high usage. Of course, I was glad to see the S20 Plus’ 4,500mAh battery on the S20 FE 5G although the charging speed is a massive red flag.

Firstly, talking about the backup, I was able to clock in more than 15:31 hours on 120Hz on video playback while Wi-Fi web browsing gave me a whopping 13:40 hours which is simply wow. This is also because of the SD865 SoC under the hood which is any day better than its Exynos counterpart and I am not even thinking of comparing it.

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Charging speed is a giant red flag as S20 FE 5G comes with a 15W charging brick in its retail box irrespective of the fact that it supports 25W. For the uninitiated, even the bigwigs like S20+ and S21+ support a max 25W charging speed. This is definitely a major blow as it takes around 1:30 hours to charge the battery while the OnePlus 9 Pro with 65W takes just 50 minutes to do the same.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G gives you access to 15W fast wireless charging as well as 4.5W reverse wireless charging which is better than not having it.

Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics

One thing that made Galaxy S20 FE 5G lovable was its stereo speakers. I tested them out as well and trust me, they are excellent. When tested on a loudness scale, Galaxy S20 FE 5G got a -26.3 LUFS score which is comparable to Asus ZenFone 7 and better than what Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G is capable of producing. On the device, you get a usual bottom-firing speaker while the earpiece acts as a secondary loudspeaker for a stereo setup.

The high-octane flagship smartphone aka Galaxy S20 FE 5G comes with a tonne of connectivity features. This includes USB-C 3.2 port, Bluetooth v5.0 with LE, and A2DP support. There’s Wi-Fi 6 dual-band support as well as GPS which include BDS, Glonass, Galileo, and A-GPS. There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack and no IR blaster either.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G has a dual hybrid SIM card slot that you can use to connect to 5G. Unfortunately, there’s no 5G at the moment in India and its introduction seems dubious at least for this year. I connected to 4G from Jio for browsing and it was flawless. YouTube had no time to buffer on Jio 4G and I was able to make calls even when in the basement of my office building with little to no disturbance.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G has an optical fingerprint scanner on-board which is different from the ultrasonic ones used in its siblings. It is snappy and reliable although you wouldn’t feel it’s snappy enough if you have used an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner from Samsung or the ones that OnePlus uses in its flagship phones. You also get a software-aided facial recognition system on Galaxy S20 FE 5G which does its job although I still feel more confident about FPS than Face Unlock.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate
  • 32MP selfie camera
  • 4500 mAh battery with wireless charging
  • Superfast 5G technology
  • IP68 dust and water resistance

Cons

  • Hybrid SIM slot
  • No Gorilla Glass protection
  • No NFC
Verdict
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is literally a hotshot roaming around with an affordable price tag on it. The extreme performance, magnificent display, and design, a superb camera setup are just a few of the traits that I personally love about the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. But again, even a flagship smartphone has some shortcomings and luckily, Galaxy S20 FE 5G has some too. The device has a super slow charging tech when companies are including even 65W charging tech on their mid-range phones if not lower. The plastic back panel is another thing that might hit a red flag for some but hey, Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is definitely a goldmine of sought when you are searching for a flagship phone well in your budget and that’s really something Samsung achieved with S20 FE 5G.


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