It’s been close to 7 months since the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Series and its successor is expected to be announced sometime in January. Prior to that, Samsung surprisingly unveiled a toned-down version of the Galaxy S20 – the Galaxy S20 FE, the phone that is tailor-made for fans of all kinds. This phone has been created leaving no compromise behind, according to Samsung. I’ve been using the Galaxy S20 FE 4G for quite some time and in this review let us find out if this phone is worth your money and if there is indeed any compromise done.
Note: Our review sample is the 4G variant powered by the Samsung Exynos 990 SoC.
Table of contents
- Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
- 15W Charging Adapter
- USB Type-C cable
- SIM ejector
- Quick Start Guide
- Safety & Warranty Information
The S20 FE takes a lot of design cues from the Galaxy Note20 compared to the Galaxy S20. For starters, it has a boxier design with curves around the edges unlike the curved design of the Galaxy S20. The display is flat on the S20 FE and the bezels are also not as thin as the Galaxy Note20 or Galaxy S20, and the back has a soft matte finish to it and it is made of plastic, although it might seem like glass at first glance. It is to be noted that you don’t get a protective case out-of-the-box and owing to the slippery back, it is recommended to use a case. Designed for fans of all kinds, the Galaxy S20 FE comes in a range of attractive colors like Cloud Red, Cloud Mint, Cloud Lavender, Cloud White that indeed look great. Cloud Red is my favorite of the lot.
Moving on to the button placement, the volume rockers, and power button are present to the right edge of the smartphone, USB Type-C port, primary microphone, speaker grille are present to the bottom, Hybrid Dual SIM tray, secondary microphone at the top, and the left side is left empty. The antenna bands are noticeable along the edges, but it doesn’t take away the aesthetics of the smartphone. On similar lines, the build quality of this is smartphone is top-notch as well. It is well-built and does give a premium in-hand experience which is a good thing. On the whole, this is one of the best looking Samsung smartphones I’d say, and the company has done a good job with the design of the Galaxy S20 FE.
The Galaxy S20 FE flaunts a 6.5-inch FULL HD+ (2400 x 1080 pixels) Super AMOLED display with support for 120Hz refresh rate and a centered punch-hole for the front camera. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Moving on, you can set the display to 60Hz refresh rate (Standard) or keep it at 120Hz (High), and there is no support for the adaptive refresh rate. OneUI offers a range of display settings that you can choose from according to your preference. For starters, you can switch between Light or Dark Mode, customize the dark mode, screen mode between Vivid or Natural, tweak the white balance, toggle blue light filter, etc. You can also switch to Easy mode which has bigger on-screen items, a longer touch-and-hold delay, and a high contrast keyboard for better readability. Moving on, as this is a Super AMOLED display, there is support for Always-on Display functionality and you can customize according to your preference from the display settings.
As for the display quality, Samsung’s AMOLED panel is known for its bright, vivid colors and deep blacks, and the Galaxy S20 FE is no exception. It is an amazing panel that can get pretty bright outdoors and offers a great experience overall. Thanks to the brilliant display on this phone, I enjoyed consuming multimedia content. Speaking of multimedia content, there is support for Widevine L1 certification, which means you can watch FULL HD videos on Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and the Galaxy S20 FE was able to playback HDR videos on YouTube as well. Overall, the Galaxy S20 FE has a brilliant display and fortunately, our review sample did not exhibit a green tint or black crush unlike some of the previous Samsung phones, which is a good thing.
Under the hood, the Galaxy S20 FE is powered by the Octa-Core Samsung Exynos 990 7nm EUV processor (Dual-core at 2.73GHz, Dual-core at 2.50GHz, Quad Core at 2GHz) that is paired with 8GB LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB internal storage (UFS 3.0), and the graphic duties are handled by the Mali-G77 MP11 GPU.
Coming to real-world performance, the Exynos 990 processor handles almost any task thrown at it with ease. During my usage that involved constant browsing, juggling between social media applications, watching videos on YouTube, editing documents, etc, the Galaxy S20 FE handled it brilliantly. Thanks to the faster UFS 3.0 storage, apps were quick to load and I did not notice any sorts of lag or whatsoever. Similarly, 8 gigs of RAM ensured smooth multitasking as well.
As for the GPU performance, casual games like Ludo King, Temple Run, Leo’s fortune, etc ran smoothly as expected. Similarly, graphic intensive games like Asphalt 9 Legends, Call of Duty Mobile, Modern Combat 5 eSport FPS ran fine for the most part in high graphic settings, but there were random frame drops during heavy action which is to be noted.
While the performance of the Galaxy S20 FE is amazing, my biggest gripe with this smartphone is overheating. Even during casual social media usage and browsing for over 10 minutes, the phone heats up quickly, especially around the punch-hole area. Similarly, the phone started to heat up after 7-8 minutes of video playback and during intensive gaming on Call of Duty, the back panel was too hot to touch with temperatures hovering over the 46-degree Celsius mark. During my time with the phone, I received two OTA updates, but sadly, overheating still persists.
Check out the synthetic benchmark scores below
As for the optics, there are 3 cameras stacked vertically on the back and are housed in a rectangular-shaped module, similar to the Galaxy Note20. The triple-camera setup is a combination of a 12MP (primary with f/1.8 aperture) + 8MP (telephoto lens with f/2.4 aperture, 3X optical zoom) +12MP (ultra-wide lens with f/2.2 aperture). The primary 12MP shooter has a 79-degree field of view, the telephoto lens has a 32-degree field of view, and the ultra-wide-angle lens has a 123-degree field of view.
When it comes to picture quality in day-light conditions, the output from the 12MP primary sensor comes out really good with well-balanced colors. Although the megapixel count is not high, the pictures have good detail and sharpness. By default, the ‘Scene Optimiser’ is turned on which boosts the colors, but if you are not a fan of the extra bit of saturation, you can turn it off. Similarly, Auto HDR is turned on by default and it is not too aggressive, which is a good thing.
Coming to the 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle lens, it has a 123-degree field that offers a wider perspective while capturing photos or videos. The photos come out good in day-light conditions, but the details around the edges are much softer compared to the output from the primary sensor. Nonetheless, the ultra-wide-angle might come in handy in many situations and gets the job done.
Moving on, the 8MP f/2.4 telephoto lens offers 3x Optical Zoom, Up to 30x Super-Resolution Zoom. As expected, the details are retained on photos up to 3x and come out really good. You’ll start to notice the loss in detail when capturing photos beyond 3X, and images shot at up to 5x are usable I’d say. Further, the camera app offers quick google buttons to switch from ultra-wide-angle lens/primary/telephoto lens (0.5x, 1x, 2x, 4x, 10x, 20x, 30x).
As for the videos, the Galaxy S20 FE supports up to 4K at 60fps in 16:9 aspect ratio and it is to be noted that auto-focus tracking and video effects work only up to 1080p at 30fps. OneUI 2.5 also brings Pro Video mode that offers granular control over ISO, white balance, microphone, and more. In Pro Mode, you can shoot 21:9 videos up to 4K at 60fps, and the best part is that this phone also supports shooting HDR10+ videos (Labs). HDR10+ videos can be converted to the standard dynamic range to share them on sites that don’t support HDR10+.
When it comes to video quality, they have good detail and the stabilization works as expected too, thanks to OIS on both primary and ultra-wide-angle lens. On top of this, Super Steady (works on up to 1080 at 30fps) can be turned on as well which results in more stable footage, overall. Moving on, you can use the ultra-wide-angle lens to shoot videos (720p at 30fps, 1080p at 30fps, 4K at 30fps), and use the telephoto lens to shoot videos as well.
Lastly, the low-light images aren’t the best out there and could have been better in my opinion. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the Night Mode capabilities of this smartphone. It does brighten up the image, but the noise levels are kept to a minimum which is good. As for the selfies, the 32MP camera captures good selfies and you can see that in the samples below. Overall, the optics are really good on the Galaxy S20 FE, and is a versatile camera setup. Nice implementation, Samsung!
Samsung’s Android skin has got better over the years and with the release of One UI, the skin is a lot lighter compared to the older skin. The Galaxy S20 FE runs on the new OneUI 2.5 based on Android 10 and comes with the October 2020 security patch.
OneUI is a familiar user interface that is minimalistic, user-friendly, and thanks to the one-hand friendly elements in the UI, navigating across the UI is a lot easier compared to other skins. OneUI 2.5 comes with nifty features like Wireless Dex that allows you to get a desktop experience from your phone, gestures for third-party launchers, Pro Video mode, and more. There is support for the full version of Samsung Pay and works as expected.
Moving on, the advanced features option has Games Launcher that gathers your games downloaded from Play Store and Galaxy Apps into one place for easy access, smart pop-up view, Screenshots, direct share, motion gestures like lift to wake, double-tap to wake, smart stay, smart alert that vibrates when you pick the phone up after missing calls or receiving messages, easy mute by putting your hand over the screen or turning your phone face down, a one-handed mode that lets you use the phone easily with one hand, finger sensor gestures to open and close the notification panel using the fingerprint sensor, palm swipe screenshot capture, swipe to call or send messages.
Dual messenger lets you sign in to the second account of social media apps and the Panic mode lets you Send SOS message by pressing the Power key three times. Out-of-the-box, a bunch of Microsoft apps, and Samsung apps are pre-installed and you can uninstall some of them, according to your preference.
As for the connectivity, the Galaxy S20 FE supports Hybrid Dual SIM (nano+nano or nano+microSD), Dual 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0 (with support for HD codec), GPS with GLONASS, USB 3.1, NFC, MST. I tested the Galaxy S20 FE with Airtel 4G in Chennai, and in my time with the device, it worked like a charm. The call quality was excellent, and there were no stability issues as well.
Further, there is support for Wi-Fi calling, but there is no support for eSIM on this device. Similarly, this does not support 5G, unlike the US variant that is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform. Overall, I didn’t face any issues with connectivity on the Galaxy S20 FE.
As for the audio, the Galaxy S20 FE sports stereo speaker setup and it is fairly loud. Since it doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack, you can use a Bluetooth headset or a USB Type-C headset, and it supports HD codec as well. Further, this phone is IP68 certified for dust and water resistance.
When it comes to the fingerprint scanner, the in-display scanner on the Galaxy S20 FE is a hit or a miss. It is not the fastest out there, and there’s a lot of room for improvement. Further, there is support for Face Unlock as well and it is fast to unlock. Works as expected.
The Galaxy S20 FE is backed up by a 4500mAh battery with support for 25W fast charging. Further, it also supports WPC Qi wireless fast charging and Wireless PowerShare feature. This means you can charge other devices with wireless charging support like Galaxy Watch3, Galaxy Buds Live, etc by placing it on the back of the Galaxy S20 FE.
Coming to the battery life, with my usage that involved scrolling through social media feed, browsing, music playback, video playback on YouTube, editing documents, etc, I was left with around 10% juice at the end of the day. With heavy usage, you might end up draining the battery much earlier. It is to be noted that, the refresh rate was set to 120Hz all the time. So with a 60Hz refresh rate, the battery life could be better.
As for the charging time, it takes around 1 hour 15 minutes to charge from 0 to 100% using a 25W fast charger. The Galaxy S20 FE achieved a FoneArena OneCharge Rating of 16 hours 31 minutes.
Note: Battery test was done with 120Hz refresh rate
The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition gets most of the things right to call it an affordable flagship…almost, I’d say. It scores high with an attractive design, excellent quality display, an amazing set of optics. The battery life could be better and my biggest gripe with this phone is the overheating issue which I hope Samsung will address. That said, for an effective price of Rs. 40,999 (including special festive offer and Rs. 4000 cashback on HDFC Bank Cards), the Galaxy S20 FE is a solid option under Rs. 45,000 and in my opinion, it is indeed a FAN-tastic phone.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE comes in Cloud Red, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud Navy, and Cloud White colors. It is available to buy from Samsung India eStore, Amazon.in, Flipkart, and offline stores.
- Excellent quality display
- Amazing set of cameras
- Attractive design
- Smooth performance
- Average battery life
- Heats up quickly
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