Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Review

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Samsung spins the new Galaxy S20 FE, or “Fan Edition”, as a mannequin that offers all of the features that fans care most approximately in a more affordable package. As the prices of flagship phones have skyrocketed to mannered over Rs. 1,00,000 over the last few years, the “flagship killer” segment at around Rs. 40,000 to 50,000 has develop into increasingly important. Reasonably than let competitors such as OnePlus and Xiaomi eat its lunch, the Korean giant has made up our minds to fight back with a watered-down version of the Galaxy S20.

Samsung has dabbled with several ways to sell more affordable versions of its flagship phones without cannibalising sales. Final year, we had the physically smaller Galaxy S10e (Review) which proved to be a hit in the same vein as the “mini” versions of a few older models. The company also later introduced the Galaxy S10 Lite (Review) which used to be a slightly confusing but still decent mid-range option. We’ve also seen premium A-series models making an attempt to serve the same market.

Now that the OnePlus 8T (Review) has been launched and several flagships are dropping in price, can the new Galaxy S20 FE attract an audience of its own? Read on to find out.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE price and competition

Only one configuration of the Galaxy S20 FE in India, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, used to be announced at launch time, priced at Rs. 49,999. Alternatively, when this mannequin went on sale, a 256GB variant priced at Rs. 53,999 also appeared. Oddly, it’s sold only in a unmarried colour, Cloud Navy, relatively than the full range.

A 5G version is sold in other countries, but the Galaxy S20 FE is only to be had with 4G network compatibility in India. The most obvious target is the OnePlus 8T, which is priced starting at Rs. 42,999. Other likely competitors are the new Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G, gaming phones such as the Asus ROG Phone 3 (Review), and even the iPhone 11 (Review).

Alternatively, what makes the Galaxy S20 FE stand out for all of the mistaken reasons is the truth that the a lot more premium Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20+ (Review) now sell for much less than their official launch prices. Actually, Samsung is currently discounting the improbable Galaxy S20+ to precisely Rs. 49,999 by itself website, and it has been to be had for that much throughout ongoing online festive sales.

This is tough to understand, since it undercuts the brand new Galaxy S20 FE and even the Galaxy S20. So that you can reconcile its range, Samsung has just recently announced price cuts down to Rs. 44,999 and Rs. 48,999 (plus bank offers) for the 128GB and 256GB variants. This will undoubtedly annoy early adopters, coming less than two weeks after the Galaxy S20 FE first went on sale. So far as offering consumers value for money, this is hardly the most conducive surroundings in which to raise a mannequin with more modest specifications.

The Galaxy S20 FE has a 4500mAh battery and Samsung Exynos 990 SoC

 

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE design

The Galaxy S20 FE does fit in with its siblings. It has the same basic proportions but interestingly is larger than the Galaxy S20 thanks to its 6.5-inch screen. You do not get curved edges on the screen, which in my opinion is in fact a good object. The frame is shiny and metallic, while the rear panel is made of a matte polycarbonate. The 128GB version of this phone is to be had in five colours, ranging from the bold Cloud Red and Cloud Navy to the much softer pastel Cloud Mint and Cloud Lavender, plus a impartial Cloud White.

The rounded sides of the rear panel make the Galaxy S20 FE very easy to hold, and the non-slip texture is much appreciated. You also would not have to worry at all approximately fingerprints, but gentle smudges can also be seen after use. You do not get any roughly case in the box with this phone.

Contributing to the premium feel, the screen borders are somewhat slim. The earpiece is so narrow it can barely even be seen. The front camera is embedded correct in the centre of the top – it’s slightly small but is still a little distracting not only as a result of its position but also because there is a highly reflective silver ring around it. Samsung will ship this phone with a screen protector pre-applied, and the one on my review unit used to be rather misaligned.

The power and volume buttons are on the left, and are inside easy reach. Samsung has dropped its committed Bixby button and I don’t overlook it at all. There is a USB Kind-C port on the behind and no 3.5mm audio socket. The tray on the top can accommodate either two Nano-SIMs or one Nano-SIM and a microSD card.

Measuring 8.4mm thick and weighing 190g, the Galaxy S20 FE is slightly easy to care for and live with. It’s rated IP68 for water and dust resistance, so it will have to be ready to resist exposure to the elements. Despite being not precisely flagship-level, construction quality is very good and there is no doubt that this feels like a premium phone.

The ring around the front camera is distracting, but the earpiece is hidden neatly

 

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE specifications and software

The Galaxy S20 FE gets the same top-tier Exynos 990 processor as its siblings in the S20 circle of relatives. This is an octa-core SoC with two custom Samsung performance cores running at 2.73GHz, two more ARM Cortex-A76 cores running at 2.5GHz, and four more power-efficient 2GHz Cortex-A55 cores.

There’s 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage, plus improve for up to a 1TB microSD card the use of the hybrid slot. The battery capacity is 4500mAh and wireless charging is supported in both instructions. You only get a 15W adapter in the box, though this phone can make the most of up to 25W chargers.

Samsung has gone with a 6.5-inch 1080×2400-pixel Super AMOLED screen. There is not any official mention of HDR but it does appear to be supported. There could also be an always-on mode that’s disabled by default. One pleasant surprise is a 120Hz refresh rate, though there doesn’t appear to be any way to enable this dynamically – it’s either 60Hz or 120Hz at all times. A workaround is to enable Adaptive Power Saving, which will toggle the refresh rate along side several other settings based on your usage patterns.

Speaking of power saving, Samsung permits you to make a choice from four performance levels. The Medium and Maximum modes limit CPU performance to 70 percent and minimize the maximum screen brightness by 10 percent. The Maximum mode also locks you down to just a few apps and forces dark mode. Background data is restricted and the always-on display and all biometrics are also disabled.

These are just among the huge number of features you’ll be able to find during Samsung’s One UI 2.5, which runs on top of Android 10. My unit received an update to the October Android security patch throughout the review period, which used to be good to see. The Bixby button might be gone but the assistant can still be called up the use of the power button. You’ll be able to use your SIM for calls and text messages through other linked Samsung devices, and Samsung’s recent partnership with Microsoft for Windows 10 integration could also be supported on the Galaxy S20 FE.

There are more than a few shortcut gestures, a Game Launcher with optimisations, UI themes, a Dual Messenger feature for the use of two accounts with sure apps, a screen recorder, expandable notification bubbles, and quite a few options for home screen customisation. Edge Panels come up with quick access to more than a few shortcuts and mini apps with a swipe in from either edge of the screen, and you’ll be able to download many more free and paid panels from the Galaxy Store.

On the downside, there are somewhat a couple of Samsung apps preloaded, including a pointless Web browser and tie-in apps for the company’s AR, wearables, and IoT products. Samsung Health and Samsung Pay are potentially useful, but however, the My Galaxy app spawned annoying notifications a couple of times per day.

There is a USB Kind-C port on the behind, but no 3.5mm socket

 

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE performance

As expected, there is no lag whatsoever when swiping through the One UI interface and when multitasking between apps. The Galaxy S20 FE felt snappy, thanks to the high refresh rate panel in addition to the capable SoC and large amount of RAM. The in-display fingerprint sensor and face recognition don’t seem to be as quick as I would have liked, but this should not be much of a problem. This is the type of phone that you would be more than pleased to use for on a regular basis apps and tasks.

The screen is crisp and vibrant. Other than the distracting camera gap, videos and games look great. The experience is helped by this phone’s stereo speakers, which feel somewhat mannered balanced. Sound is a bit thin and missing in bass, but that’s to be expected.

Coming to benchmark tests, AnTuTu reported a score of 4,62,330, and Geekbench’s single- and multi-core results were 517 and 2,573 respectively. 3DMark’s Slingshot Extreme graphics test managed 6,649, while GFXBench’s Manhattan 3.1 and Car Chase scenes ran at 55fps and 33fps respectively. These scores are a bit lower than what the Galaxy S20+ (Review) and Galaxy S20 Ultra (Review) achieved.

Contemporary games including Call of Duty Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends were perfectly smooth at their default graphics quality settings. Alternatively, the upper rear of the Galaxy S20 FE did get somewhat warm after just five minutes or so of play. This became rather uncomfortable over longer gaming sessions.

Battery life wasn’t especially impressive. I used to be ready to receive a full day’s use out of a charge, but I wouldn’t expect more than that. Our HD video loop test ran for 12 hours, 44 minutes, which is below average. The use of the bundled charger, I used to be ready to stand up to 17 percent in 15 minutes and 61 percent in an hour.

All three of the cameras on the Galaxy S20 FE are useful and practical

 

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE cameras

Considering how heavily Samsung emphasised camera quality as the defining feature of the Galaxy S20 circle of relatives, it is going to be interesting to see how this lower-priced mannequin fits in. The Galaxy S20 FE has a scaled-down set of cameras, starting with a 12-megapixel f/1.8 primary camera with OIS. There’s also a 12-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide camera and an 8-megapixel f/2.4 3X optical telephoto camera. For selfies, you get a 32-megapixel f/2.2 camera.

Unsurprisingly, the camera app is jammed with features and options. Modes include Samsung’s Unmarried Take composition tool, pro mode, food mode, night mode, live focus for stills and video, slow motion and super slow motion, and hyperlapse. You’ll be able to download extra filters or create your own based on the colour profile of any photo, whether the default selection ever gets boring. The Scene Optimiser feature is on by default and will display a shortcut to enable Night Mode quickly whether it thinks it’s essential.

The Galaxy S20 FE locked focus quickly and metered scenes somewhat mannered throughout the day. Colours were vibrant, verging on oversaturated in some instances. Shots came out taking a look sharp and subjects were mannered defined. Detail on objects at a distance used to be also somewhat good. Near-up shots were excellent, with minute details reproduced very mannered and a very pleasant natural depth of field.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE daytime photo samples. Top to behind: Ultra-wide, standard, 3X zoom (tap to see full size)

 

Actually, close-ups taken in the default Photo mode were frequently better than when the use of the Live Focus mode, which requires you to stand back somewhat a distance from your subject. Whether you do use this mode though, you’ll be able to refocus shots, adjust the blur intensity and kind, and remove all colour except for for the thing in focus.

The wide-angle camera does introduce remarkable distortion and quality isn’t naughty in case you are just checking your shots on the phone’s screen. Colours don’t seem to be drastically different as a result of the re-framing. The 3X optical telephoto camera also captures excellent detail, and shots hold up even when seen fully magnified on a large monitor. The three cameras that Samsung has chosen are all genuinely useful without being gimmicky, and could all turn out to be useful often.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE daytime photo samples (tap to see full size)

 

Things get a little less passable at night – focus used to be occasionally inaccurate but tapping the screen manually will result in a quick lock. The excellent news is that you’ll be able to capture decent shots despite the fact that it’s too dark to see your subject in the viewfinder, whether you realize where to tap. The Scene Optimiser will force a slow shutter by default, but this is not the same as Night Mode, and results did vary rather.

Low-light shots were a little grainy and colours were occasionally off depending on the type of lighting around. The wide-angle and telephoto cameras do suffer thanks to their narrower apertures but shots are still usable. The use of Night Mode did generally result in better colour reproduction and rather improved detail.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Night Mode photo samples (tap to see full size)

 

The front camera takes 8-megapixel binned shots by default. A wide-angle mode essentially reverse-crops the frame, but the difference is very slight. Selfies came out taking a look crisp with good detail and exposure, but beautification is turned on by default and it takes several taps to disable it. Night mode works here as mannered, and can definitely help when there is not enough light falling on your face.

As for video, the Galaxy S20 FE used to be ready to capture smooth 1080p footage with all three cameras in the daytime. If standing still, panning, or walking, video looked good and there used to be no jerkiness. At 4K, motion used to be a little less smooth particularly with the telephoto camera. Low-light video shot with the primary camera used to be good enough, but quality suffered with the telephoto and wide-angle cameras. There used to be noticeable judder at 4K when moving while recording, and stabilisation artefacts were also an issue at 1080p. You’ll be able to switch between cameras while recording, and the transitions are slick.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE selfie samples. Top: daytime, behind: Night Mode (tap to see full size)

 

Slow-motion video came out taking a look great. In super-slow-mo mode, video is captured at 720p. The beginning and end of clips play back at normal speed, and you’ll be able to adjust the points between which footage is dramatically slowed down. You’ll be able to also reverse and loop it for creative effect.

Judgement

Samsung used the “Fan Edition” suffix when it tried selling refurbished Galaxy Note 7 units in South Korea with smaller, safer batteries. The move might have helped Samsung recoup one of the vital losses it suffered following the catastrophic and embarrassing global launch (and subsequent global bans) of the Galaxy Note 7, but this used to be never going to be a mass-market phone. “Fan edtion” basically acknowledged that only those people who find themselves fervently committed to the Samsung brand would in fact buy it.

That’s why it is a little surprising to see a brand spanking new mannequin launch in a couple of countries with the same branding – that too one aimed at a a lot more mainstream audience than its siblings. You would not have to be a fan of the brand to like this phone.

What Samsung has got correct though is the balance of cost and features. You do not get the full flagship experience, but whether people are happy with so-called flagship killers, you now have a pretty good choice inside the Samsung lineup. What works for the Galaxy S20 FE is its fit and finish, high-quality screen, and useful cameras.

Pricing is an unavoidable issue, though. People who pre-ordered or bought the Galaxy S20 FE early are going to be justifiably upset as a result of the impulsively reduced price and 256GB storage option. The bigger issue is Samsung now selling the far superior Galaxy S20+ at precisely the same price that the Galaxy S20 FE launched at. No matter how good this new phone seems and what kind of it gets correct, Samsung itself offers stronger competition so long as prices stay where they currently are.

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