Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: A worthy premium smartphone despite some compromises
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition) is a new smartphone model in South Korean electronics maker’s flagship Galaxy S20 series launched earlier this year. Priced at Rs 49,999, the Galaxy S20 FE is touted as a flagship smartphone with features inspired by premium siblings.
At first look, the smartphone appears to be an all-rounder, with a big AMOLED screen of 120Hz refresh rate, practical triple-camera set-up on the back, flagship processor, ample onboard storage, wireless charging, and ingress protection rating. But do these features and specifications translate into an experience one expects from premium smartphones? Let’s find out:
Design and Display
The Galaxy S20 FE comes in several bright colour themes, including navy, lavender, mint and red. The phone’s bright colour theme looks stunning, especially the cloud mint version that we reviewed. Made of plastic, the back cover has a matte finish, which is resilient to smudges and fingerprints. It is, however, not as sturdy as the glass back seen in its premium siblings and gets scratched easily. Though part of the Galaxy S20 series, the phone has a rear design that seems inspired by the Galaxy Note20-series, especially the rectangular-shaped rear camera module in the top-left corner. The camera module protrudes significantly from the body and make the phone wobble on flat surfaces. It, however, does not look odd and seems very much part of the overall package.
On the front, the phone has a flat 6.5-inch super AMOLED screen covered under a glass with curved edges. The flat screen leaves minimal bezels on the sides and features an infinity-O shaped punch-hole for the front camera. Though a flagship-grade AMOLED screen of 120Hz refresh rate and fullHD+ resolution, it does not translate into a flawless experience in real life. Not that it lacks brightness or has colour issues; it is just not up to the mark when you compare it with Samsung’s premium displays seen in the Galaxy S20 and Note20 line-up. It lacks HDR10+, resulting in a mediocre multimedia experience, and the adaptive refresh rate seems unpolished and requires further tuning for an improved user experience.
The Galaxy S20 FE sports a triple-camera set-up on the back, featuring a 12-megapixel primary sensor with dual-pixel autofocus and optical image stabilisation, a 12MP ultra-wide sensor of a 123-degree field of view and an 8MP telephoto lens for 3x optical zoom. On the front, the phone has a 32MP sensor of an f/2.2 aperture for selfies, videos and face unlocking.
The camera performance is good but not the best you get in this segment. The rear camera set-up is versatile and each sensor has an independent utility. The primary one works great across lighting conditions. It takes satisfactory shots with saturated colour tones and decent dynamic range. The ultra-wide sensor works fine, too. But it processes image with colour tones different from the primary sensor. The telephoto lens is good for portrait imaging and zoom shots. The camera is capable of doing up to 30x digital zoom. However, anything beyond 3x zoom looks underwhelming. The front camera is good for selfies and video calls. It does not resolve much details but the output is better than what you get from most other smartphones in the segment.
The Galaxy S20 FE’s imaging is complemented by Samsung’s premium imaging features, including Single Take, Pro Video, Pro Photo, Night mode, Live Focus Video, Hyperlapse and super slow-mo. These features improve user experience and provide new means to explore and experiment with the camera capabilities.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is powered by Exynos 990 system-on-chip, paired with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. It boots Android 10 operating system based OneUI 2.5 user interface. The performance is top-notch and the user experience is sublime. However, the phone sometimes warms up so much that becomes uncomfortable to use. On-battery time is another weak area, as the phone could not get through a day on a single charge. Though the phone supports 25W fast-charging, it comes with a 15W fast charger, it takes around two hours to get a full battery from zero per cent. The phone supports wireless charging and reverse wireless charging – a good addition if you have supported wireless charger and wireless charging-enabled accessories.
Priced at Rs 49,999, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is an interesting product in the premium smartphone segment. It cuts some corners in display, camera module, on-battery time, etc. But these compromises seem calculated and do not influence user experience in a terrible way. Therefore, the Galaxy S20 FE makes a worthy premium smartphone despite its limitations. However, if you are not averse to Chinese brands, you might like to compare it with the OnePlus 8T, OnePlus 8 and Xiaomi Mi 10 before making a purchase decision.