Last month, Samsung released the Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition) in the Philippines, and it’s a more affordable version of its flagship S20 smartphone. While it has an SRP that’s over PHP 10k less than the base S20, the S20 FE still has a wealth of flagship features, including a high refresh rate display, an Exynos 990 processor, a triple camera setup, and more.
Of course, the S20 FE isn’t a replacement for the standard S20 as it’s not as ‘premium’ as the base model, given its lower resolution display and plastic back (instead of glass).
Given this, is the S20 FE a good choice for users who want a flagship phone without the flagship-level price tag? Here’s what we think in our full Galaxy S20 FE review!
First up, let’s talk aesthetics. While the S20 FE has a plastic back instead of glass, it’s still quite a good-looking phone. What’s even better is that the S20 FE comes in six eye-catching colors, meaning users have a lot of options to choose from. Another good thing about the plastic back is that while it may not feel too premium, it is not a fingerprint magnet. This means you won’t have to be worried about always having to wipe the back to keep it looking pristine.
I do have two reservations with the S20 FE’s design. For one, the camera bump is quite big, meaning it won’t lay flat on a surface (which can be annoying for some). Another is that the sides of the S20 FE feel a bit slippery. Because of this, I’d recommend getting a case if you are going to use an S20 FE.
At the front of the phone, we can see its 6.5-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and tiny holepunch notch at the top. Sure, it doesn’t have the curved edges of the main S20 phones, but it still has a nice “all-screen” look that befits a flagship-level device.
Samsung phones are often praised for their impressive screens, and the S20 FE is no different. This phone’s screen is a 6.5-inch AMOLED display with a 1080p resolution. While it may not have as high a resolution as the other S20 devices, the FE’s screen is still of great quality with vibrant colors and a good level of brightness. This makes the S20 FE an excellent binge-watching partner.
To complement the great display, Samsung outfitted the S20 FE with onboard stereo speakers which deliver good quality audio output that also gets decently loud. In fact, I can actually see myself watching TV shows/anime on the phone even with just the built-in speakers. As always though, I’d still recommend speakers/headphones for movie marathons or long gaming sessions. Do take note that the S20 FE does not have a headphone jack, so you’ll have to use a dongle or wireless audio devices.
The Galaxy S20 FE is powered by an Exynos 990 processor paired with 6GB of RAM. While the Exynos 990 Samsung’s flagship chipset, it wasn’t able to play some demanding games we tested at max settings.
For popular games such as League of Legends: Wild Rift though, the S20 FE had no trouble, even at the Ultra High Definition setting. We also tried out Legends of Runeterra, and the phone ran the game at the Ultra graphics setting with ease. So if you mostly play MOBAs, card games, or less-demanding shooters, the S20 FE is a good device to have.
Though that isn’t the case with some hardware-intensive games such as Genshin Impact. For reference, Genshin Impact defaulted at the Medium graphics setting, and even then there were some slight drops in framerate. This means the S20 FE might have some issues with demanding titles, as well as for games that have 120FPS support (as the phone has a 120Hz refresh rate screen).
Another concerning thing is that there were times that the phone became noticeably warm while downloading Genshin Impact updates and while playing the game. While it didn’t overheat and shut down, the warming can be a concern for the phone, and especially the longevity of its battery.
Geek Photoshoot Capabilities
The S20 FE features a 12MP wide + 12MP ultra-wide + 8MP telephoto (3x zoom) triple rear camera setup, as well as a 32MP front camera. On paper, these cameras may not seem as good as other phones with up to 64MP cameras, but in actual use, they deliver flagship-level photos.
The S20 FE’s main 12MP shooter is able to take great photos with vibrant colors, especially in daytime. The main camera can also take quality images in lower light conditions as well as indoors.
At night, the phone can take decent low light photos when using auto mode. But for better images, Night Mode is a must. With Night Mode, low light photos turn out much sharper and brighter.
The S20 FE’s ultra-wide camera is also pretty good for both daytime and nighttime photography. As expected, daytime shots are of high quality, while images taken with Night Mode have good colors and brightness.
Moving on to the telephoto shooter, the S20 FE is able to take nice zoomed in photos, with quality still being pretty good even at 10x zoom. Though at night, quality dips noticeably. Overall, the S20 FE’s telephoto shooter is a step below that of more expensive flagship phones.
Finally, the S20 FE’s 32MP front camera can capture social media-ready selfies, even with just indoor lighting. Though you may have to adjust the beautification level as it can be a bit too much by default (but that might just be personal preference).
While the phone wasn’t able to run some hardware intensive games at max settings, the Exynos 990-powered S20 FE had no problems with day-to-day tasks. Whether browsing or using Office apps, the S20 FE did not slow down in my time with it. The phone also felt smooth to use thanks to the 120H refresh rate display.
For its UI, the S20 FE comes with One UI 2.5 based on Android 10. While it’s not stock Android, I consider One UI to be one of the better Android skins, and 2.5 has a lot of useful features, including camera improvements and an improved screen recording feature.
While it’s a fairly reliable phone in terms of day-to-day performance, there were some issues in my time with the S20 FE. For one, the phone got warm at times even when I was using it just take photos. As I mentioned above, this can become an issue a long term (though it may also just be a problem with this specific unit that we reviewed).
Another thing that could be improved is battery life. While the S20 FE has a large 4,500mAh battery, the phone didn’t last that long one one charge, especially when using the 120Hz mode. In my use in the 120Hz mode, the S20 FE only lasted for around a day on a single charge. It can even get drained even before the day ends on heavy use. When you put it on the 60Hz mode, battery does improve, but it can still be drained with a day of heavy use.
Final Geek Lifestyle Verdict
The Galaxy S20 FE offers a lot of good features, including impressive cameras, a high quality display, stand-out internal speakers, and great day-to-day performance. Though there are some compromises, including so-so battery life and some warming issues. Even with a flagship processor, the S20 FE might not able to play some demanding games at max settings.
So is the S20 FE worth its PHP 35,990 price tag? Well, if you want a flagship-level phone at a more affordable price, the S20 FE is worth considering, that is if you are fine with some of its compromises.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Specs:
- 6.5-inch Super AMOLED Infinity-O display, 1080 x 2400 resolution w/ 120Hz refresh rate
- Exynos 990 octa-core processor
- 6GB RAM
- 128GB storage
- Rear cameras: 12MP wide + 12MP ultra-wide + 8MP telephoto (3x zoom)
- Front camera: 32MP
- Dual SIM (hybrid tray)
- 4G, LTE
- In-display Fingerprint scanner (optical), IP68 certification, USB Type-C port
- 4,500mAh battery with fast charging + wireless charging
- Android 10 (One UI 2.5)
- Price: PHP 35,990