Not just for Samsung fans: Here's our review of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

·7-min read
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. (PHOTO: Samsung)
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. (PHOTO: Samsung)

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By: Paolo Lacuna

Phone nerds and consumers highly covet this year’s collection of Samsung super-premium phones. Now, we have the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition 5G in our hands, priced at S$1,168 (there’s a Lazada promo at the end of the article). Among the mix of Samsung’s top-end phones, it is confusing why this phone exists. It’s a 5G phone with most of the flagship features that matter, yet priced somewhat reasonable. Let’s check it out, and see if this is the phone for you.

Disclaimer: Our test unit came from Samsung, but the opinions in our review are our own, they were not reviewed and vetted by Samsung.

The TLDR: the Samsung Galaxy FE 5G brings the best of a 2020 Samsung smartphone - Large screen 6.5-inch with 120Hz refresh, competent triple-camera set, and the current Snapdragon 865 chipset. Reasonably priced with, it’s easy to recommend.

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The specifications and design choices

For the phone nerds, here are the specifications you need to know:

  • Display - 6.5-Inch Super AMOLED - FHD+ 2400x1080 resolution, max refresh at 120Hz

  • Chipset - Snapdragon 865 with 6GB Memory

  • Storage - Option for 128GB or 256GB

  • Rear Camera - 12MP Main (f/1.8), 12MP Ultrawide (f/2.2), 8MP Telephoto (f/2.4) supporting 3x zoom

  • Selfie Camera - 32MP (f/2.2)

  • Battery - 4,500 mAh

  • Colour options - Cloud Navy, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud Red, Cloud Orange and Cloud White

The overall design of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G still conforms with the current S20 line, though there are some differences - the Galaxy S20 FE 5G is boxier, with a flat screen which honestly, I prefer. The back of the S20 FE is made of polycarbonate plastic unlike the S20’s glass back, but Samsung did a great job as it feels great in hand with a satin-like smoothness over a matte finish. Not to mention the finish is really good at keeping fingerprints away. The Galaxy S20 FE 5G is still IP68 rated though, which means it can take more than just a splash.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. (PHOTO: Samsung)
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. (PHOTO: Samsung)

The screen and fingerprint reader

It’s no surprise that the Samsung Super AMOLED screen included with the Galaxy S20 FE 5G has amazing colours, contrast and brightness. Though only at FHD+ (2400x1080), it’s so crisp and sharp it’s hard to tell the difference from the more expensive Galaxy S20’s higher resolution display. The 120Hz is just smooth and fluid; it was quite addicting just scrolling through pages. Note that the Galaxy S20 does drop resolution to 1080p when toggled to 120hz anyway.

There may be a lack of content or apps that capitalise on 120Hz, but with the Galaxy S20 FE 5G’s screen and processor, resource-intensive games like Genshin Impact on 60fps just look and perform great.

The in-display fingerprint reader works fine. It’s not the fastest, and can sometimes miss, but it was not troublesome at all.

Power, performance and battery

The Galaxy S20 FE 5G won’t disappoint having the current Snapdragon 865 with 6gb memory found in any flagship phone today. On daily use, It’s fast and zippy, especially when coupled with the 120Hz refresh. I’ve had no issues moving from one app to another, and the Galaxy S20 FE 5G has not crashed on me yet.

On playing Genshin Impact though, selecting 60fps brings it to an overclocked state. It still works great and plays great, and I have not seen stutters. But the Galaxy S20 FE 5G gets quite warm to the touch.

Genshin impack overclocked. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Genshin impack overclocked. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

It’s not running the bleeding edge software from Google. Our Galaxy S20 FE 5G is still running One UI 2.5 with Android 10. This isn’t a deal-breaker though, as it’s the same software found in most Samsung Flagships today.

Like most Samsung flagship phones, the Galaxy S20 FE 5G supports Samsung DEX. It also supported Samsung DEX wirelessly, and I was able to test this with my Samsung Smart TV. There is a bit of lag, though. I generally feel that using DEX wirelessly with this lag should only be reserved for watching media or doing a presentation. On DEX mode, the Galaxy S20 FE 5G will get a bit warm.

Wireless Dex on portable monitor. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Wireless Dex on portable monitor. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

On daily use, the 4,500 mAh battery will need a top-up near the end of the workday. You could extend the battery life by a bit if you drop down the refresh rate to 60hz (which I think is a disservice to this phone).

With only a 15W charger in the box, you’ll need a bit more than 1.5 hours to get from 0% to 100% battery life. Other flagship phones will include a fast-charger in the box, but for the price of the Samsung Galaxy S20 SE, I understand the need to drop down to a 15W charger. Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging is still present in the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G in case you need it.

Very capable camera array

While the camera array in the Galaxy S20 FE 5G is a step down from the S20, it’s still a capable set that will satisfy most consumers. The rear camera includes a main 12MP 12MP Main (f/1.8), 12MP Ultrawide (f/2.2), 8MP Telephoto (f/2.4) supporting zoom 3x Zoom.

On standard photo settings, the Galaxy S20 FE 5G captured this flower so well. It was a dim and rainy day, but the Galaxy S20 FE 5G still made sure that colours were vivid with this photo.

A close-up of a flower. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
A close-up of a flower. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Night shot. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Night shot. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

On limited lighting, the night mode also performed surprisingly well. This photo was taken on dusk and was quite dark already. There is some noise seen on the greenery, but the detail and clarity is still top-notch.

What really surprised me is the 30x space zoom. I’m not really a fan of taking pictures in this mode, but I did try taking a photo of a small flower a significant distance away, and the level of detail was really good.

Comparing flower zoom in standard mode vs. flower zoom 30x. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Comparing flower zoom in standard mode vs. flower zoom 30x. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

Videos can go up to UHD 3840x2160 at 60fps. I tried walking around in super-steady mode and while panning the camera around. It was doing well, minimising shakes and unsteady movements. But on panning, there is this wobbly effect that can be jarring.

The selfie cam is a 32MP (f/2.2) shooter that allows for ultra-wide shots. It did well in cropping my face and even my curly hair and made a dark, dreary day look normal by brightening the colours and increasing the contrast with the shadows and highlights. It was smoothing my face a bit too much, in my opinion.

Selfie. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Selfie. (PHOTO: Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

The selfie video, though, not the best for sure. Steady mode seems to only activate at 1080p. The video is quite wobbly with a narrow angle.

If you know what the camera limitations are for the Galaxy S20 FE 5G, then you can still maximise this capable shooter and draw out your best shots.

Final notes and where to buy

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is a capable phone, having flagship features that matter to most consumers - the Snapdragon 865, the 128Hz screen refresh and the capable camera array. Some unexpected wins include the flat screen which I prefer, the smooth back that while plastic, is a pleasure to hold. There are a few cons - it can get quite warm, the 6GB ram can be limiting, and the in-display fingerprint scanner can miss sometimes. But the pros, along with its reasonable price at S$1,168 (S$1,068 on promo) is enough for consumers to turn into fans.

Samsung’s official Lazmall is having an exclusive promo for the Samsung Galaxy FE 5G:

  • Receive S$100 off for the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G @ S$1,068 (U.P. S$1,168) and a complimentary wireless battery pack (worth $98). While stocks last, terms and conditions apply.

  • Receive free 6X of TPG 50GB Plan when you sign up for six times of 30-Day 50GB SIM Only plan, and get 600GB for S$60 only (UP S$120). Eligible customers will be given a letter to sign up at selected locations, terms and conditions apply.

You can check the promo out here.