Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Review: Perfect Balance of Power and Price
PC Magazine|November 2020
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is everything you need and nothing else. Samsung pared down its flagship S20 series to a more palatable price, and the result is a value-minded standard-bearer to properly face up against the forthcoming iPhone 12 line. With fast performance, solid cameras, and often substantial discounts at major wireless providers, the S20 FE 5G becomes our default Android phone recommendation for 2020 as well as our Editors’ Choice.
SASCHA SEGAN

SO MANY OPTIONS, SO MUCH TIME

Samsung has a ton of phones out right now, but the two you should keep in mind are the Galaxy S20 FE 5G and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra ($1,299). These two models offer flagship and super-flagship performance; the S20 FE will satisfy most people, while the Note 20 Ultra adds an even better screen, an S Pen stylus, and the best phone camera we’ve tested.

They’re also a reset from Samsung’s strategy earlier this year. While we recommended the $1,199 Galaxy S20+ as our Editors’ Choice for several months, the $999-and-up S20 lineup is overpriced for our struggling pandemic economy. The FE gives you more value for less money.

REFINED DESIGN

At 6.29 by 2.93 by 0.33 inches (HWD) and 6.67 ounces, the S20 FE is almost exactly the same size as the S20+. That means it isn’t a small phone, but it’s on par with most of the flagships on the market.

The phone comes in six colors—lavender, mint, navy, orange, red, or white. Overall, there’s a humble feel to it. With its flat front and matte-metal surfaces, the S20 FE doesn’t try to scream “luxury object” the way curved-glass phones do. It’s also a bit more usable, and you don’t have the accidental-touch problem people often have with curved-screen phones. In addition, the matte back does a much better job of repelling both fingerprints and scratches than the S20’s glass back does.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

PROS

Fast processor. Excellent cameras. Long battery life.

CONS

No Space Zoom. Not the absolute best lowlight camera performance.

BOTTOM LINE

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G delivers all the phone performance most people need at a price more people can afford.

The S20 FE has a 6.5-inch 2,400-by-1,080, 120Hz screen that should always be kept in 120Hz mode for smooth scrolling. There’s really no downside; the frame rate makes scrolling much smoother. Also, I tested battery life in 120Hz mode, and it’s excellent. As this is one of Samsung’s recent AMOLED displays, colors are gorgeous and the screen is bright. While the S20 series is capable of going up to a higher 2,560-by-1,440 resolution, it can do so only at 60Hz, and I’ve found the smooth scrolling is worth the difference from the higher resolution.

ALL THE PERFORMANCE YOU NEED

The S20 FE has the same Snapdragon 865 processor as the S20 line does, along with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, plus a microSD card slot.

Its score of 12,705 on the PCMark Work 2.0 benchmark is on par with the S20 series, and its Geekbench scores of 862 single-core, 3,069 multi-core are slightly below the S20 series but not enough to matter. GFXBench graphics benchmark scores are also on par with the other S20 phones, running at 45fps for the Car Chase onscreen benchmark.

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