The days of needing to buy the most expensive phone to get a good quality device are just plain over. While OEMs ensure that their premium and ultra-premium devices always have something extra inside, if you’re looking for a device that works reliably you’re no longer relegated to the over $1000 price tag.

Case in point is the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition 5G or S20 FE. While some call the S20 FE a stripped-down S20, I would disagree, it’s a thoughtfully modified device. Samsung has carefully lowered the bill of materials while still creating a device that would rival some other OEMs flagship devices.

So, in a world where economic uncertainty is now every day, does the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE let you save money without fearing getting something less? Read on to find out.

WHAT’S INSIDE?

The Galaxy S20 FE still a premium phone in my book, with a Snapdragon 865, memory options of 128GB storage with 6GB RAM, 128GB storage with 8GB RAM ND 256GB storage with 8GB RAM (we have the 6GB model), a 6.5-inch HD+ Super AMOLED 120hz display with in-display fingerprint sensor and a hole-punch selfie camera.

Designwise it features a flat display, hooray, a plastic outer body, which honestly we’re fine with it makes it lighter and more durable. The traditional rectangle glass-covered camera bump is on the back and everything else is how you would expect it.

Camera-wise the S20 FE is packing a rear triple camera set up including 12MP main camera, 8MP 3x telephoto and a 12 MP ultra-wide-angle lens. Around the front is a 32 MP selfie camera. Both front and rear cameras can record in up to 4K 60fps.

Powering all of this is a 4500 mAh battery with USB C 25W fast charging uses USB PD 3.0, 15W fast wireless charging and even reverse wireless charging to keep your accessories charged up on the go.

Under the hood is Android 10 and Samsung One UI 2.5 0, with a future upgrade to Android 11 and one UI 3.0 announced. Connectivity-wise there is WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC for mobile payments, GPS. Unfortunately, Samsung has continued the trend of removing the 3.5 mm headphone jack which does at least make the device IP 68 weather resistant.

There isn’t honestly anything you could need that’s missing from this device. Sure a 10x optical zoom might be nice, or perhaps QHD display, but honestly after weeks of using the Samsung S20 FE I found it lacking for nothing.

Coming in a just $999 for the 4G variant and $1149 for the 5G version you’re getting a lot of smartphone for a lot less than other flagship phones.

WHAT’S IT GOOD AT?

Everything! It’s fast, reliable and the photos are just as amazing as a $1500 phone. With extra features like wireless charging, wide-angle and telephoto lenses and a 120hz AMOLED display the S20 FE is easily my phone of the year for 2020.

The S20 FE represents improved value without the compromises other devices like the Pixel 4a 5G have made.

Cameras

For those who have used a Samsung premium device before the camera experience is very consistent. The UI offers you the seamless ability to slide between standard, wide-angle or telephoto and I have to say I don’t think I can live without at least one of the phones I carry having that option anymore.

The camera loads fast and takes photos just as fast, I’ve never had an issue with losing a photo I thought I’d taken and it’s hard to take a bad photo with the S20 fe. With the same primary lens as the regular S20, there is nothing cut back about the camera experience.

Battery Life

Some people have criticized the battery liFE of the S20 FE, but for me, I have never had an issue. I get up at 530, go to bed at 2300 regularly and even on a heavy day, including some gaming I have 20% left in the tank.

The S20 FE is not a two-day phone, but honestly with the vast majority of people charging their devices while they sleep, and with 25W fast charging and Qi charging, the S20 FE is easily an all-day phone.

CONCLUSION

I have to admit, I have been hoping for years for the commodification of the smartphone market, where we would see prices drop, features rise. Unfortunately, capitalism and consumerism have seemingly gotten in the way of that trajectory.

With smartphones now occupying a space somewhere between fashion and luxury goods it seems that for the foreseeable future the ultra priced devices are here to stay. However that doesn’t mean we aren’t seeing the commodification at some levels of the market, and that’s where the S20 FE fits in.

Starting at $999 it’s still not an inexpensive device, in fact, I’d argue it may not even be a ‘value device’. However compared to both the competition at the $999 space it’s a superior device, and when compared to the $1500 and above device sit does represent better value.

I absolutely love the concept of the Fan Edition line Samsung has to comply executed on the strategy and has delivered a well rounded, no-compromise phone ad just under AUD$1000. While I may want to see it sell for more like $800 perhaps I am unrealistic.

One thing is for sure, I will have a hard time recommending any other phone for people who can afford to pay the $999. And for those who just have to have more, well it’s their money.

7 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jamie S
Jamie S
1 month ago

I agree 100% with this review. Best phone I’ve ever had and I am yet to fault it and that is very rare for me. It’s so good I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another one if something happened to my current S20 FE. I’ll skip the S21 premium range and see what the S21 FE brings.

JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
1 month ago

While this phone is off my shopping list due to not having a 3.5mm socket, I think the $999 4G and $1149 5G price tags are right on the mark. The full featured Samsung S series devices are always supposed to be flogship territory. The stuff that makes the brand name. If this had been a cut down S20 Lite device, then yes, those prices would be excessive.

JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
Reply to  Duncan Jaffrey
1 month ago

I know it’ll be inevitable, Duncan, doesn’t make me like it though.

Rod
Rod
Reply to  JeniSkunk
1 month ago

Bluetooth audio has come a long way, but I do miss the simplicity of plug and play. My bt headsetet works wonderfully well with my S20, but not so with my work laptop, and not at all with Microsoft teams, as it’s supposedly not compatible. Oh the joys of technological “advancement”

sujayv_au
sujayv_au
1 month ago

I have the S20FE-5G and completely agree with this review. The reason I went for this phone was with Samsung, I know the updates will be coming in a timely manner. OPPO make fantastic phones but don’t back that up with updates. And with updates, I am talking about security updates rather than the OS updates (which is always nice but not a deal breaker). Similar to Duncan, I find that my battery sits around 70% at the end of each day but I would hardly call myself a power user. Having said that, I haven’t turned on 120Hz refresh… Read more »