Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs. Samsung Galaxy S20: What Difference Does $300 Make?

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It may be only a few months since the Samsung Galaxy S20‘s debut, but Samsung has just gone and launched the Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition). Starting from just $700, it undercuts the S20’s original selling price while adding a larger screen and a bigger battery, aiming to triumph where the older phone failed. It’s certainly one of the best reasonably priced phones you can buy right now, but is it really better than a more expensive Samsung phone that was released only half a year ago?

We answer this question by comparing the two phones across a range of categories. We take a look at their specs, displays, designs, performance, batteries, and camera, seeing how each device fares in each area. By doing this, we should hopefully clear up where you should go for the slightly newer Galaxy S20 FE, or stick with the earlier Galaxy S20.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Samsung Galaxy S20
Size 159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4mm (6.29 x 2.93 x 0.33 inches) 151.7 x 69.1 x 7.9 mm (5.97 x 2.72 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 190 grams (6.70 ounces) 163 g (5.75 oz)
Screen size 6.5-inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X capacitive touchscreen
Screen resolution 2400 x 1080 pixels (407 pixels per inch) 3200 x 1440 pixels (563 ppi density)
Operating system Android 10, One UI 2.5 Android 10, One UI 2.5
Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB
MicroSD card slot Yes Yes
Tap-to-pay services Samsung Pay, Google Pay Samsung Pay, Google Pay
Processor Exynos 990 (5G version: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865) Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
RAM 6GB, 8GB 8GB
Camera 12-megapixel wide, 8MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide rear, 32MP front 12MP wide, 64MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide rear, dual 10MP front
Video 4K at 60 fps 4K at up 60 fps, 1080p at 30 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C, 3.1 USB-C, 3.2
Fingerprint sensor Yes, in-display Yes, in-display
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 4,500mAh

Fast charging (25W)

Fast wireless charging (15W)

4,000mAh

Fast charging (25W)

Fast wireless charging (15W)

Reverse wireless charging (4.5W)

App marketplace  Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network Support AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint
Colors Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud Navy, Cloud White, Cloud Red, Cloud Orange Cosmic Grey, Cloud Blue, Cloud Pink, Cloud White, Aura Red
Prices $699+ $1,000
Review score 4 out of 5 stars 3.5 out of 5 stars

Design, display, and durability

Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends.com

The casual observer will be forgiven for thinking the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S20 share identical designs. But there are a number of subtle differences. First, the FE is larger than the S20, a touch thicker, and 1 ounce heavier. These increases, when combined with its larger 6.5-inch screen and bigger frame, could mean some find it a little less comfortable to hold than the older Galaxy S20.

The S20 FE also features a “glasstic” body, which is a composite plastic that looks and feels more like glass than standard plastic. It’s nice, but compared to the Gorilla Glass 6 on the original S20, it isn’t quite as sophisticated or sleek. Still, it is comfortable, even if it’s not as aesthetically pleasing.

The differences in display are interesting, and you may prefer one or the other phone depending on whether you value size over clarity. The FE’s 6.5-inch screen boasts a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels, while the S20’s 6.2-inch display offers 3200 x 1440 pixels. This makes a noticeable difference to sharpness, something that is heightened further by the original S20’s incorporation of Dynamic AMOLED screen technology, which makes its colors and contrasts richer.

On the other hand, we noted in our S20 review the sheer beauty of its display is let down by its relatively small size. This doesn’t affect the FE, so large screen lovers may gravitate toward the newer phone. Both phones support a 120Hz refresh rate, enhancing the high-definition and realistically smooth visuals each provides even further.

Both phones come with an IP68 rating, indicating that you can get away with dipping them in 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. However, the original S20 looks better with its glass body and sharper screen, so we’re giving it a narrow win in this round.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20

Performance, battery life, and charging

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S20 have largely the same specs, but with a few notable differences. They both pack the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor, something that will help them handle the latest apps, as well as a significant degree of multitasking. However, the original S20 pulls away with 8GB of RAM as standard (the U.S. version comes with 12GB as standard), while the FE provides only 6GB.

Users may find that this may make a difference in how both phones handle the most computing-intensive games and apps, while the original S20 may prove better at juggling several open apps and tasks at once. Both phones provide 128GB of internal storage, and both include a MicroSD card slot, enabling you to top up the internal memory even further.

The S20 FE houses a 4,500mAh battery, as opposed to the S20’s 4,000mAh cell. The longevity of the FE’s battery still isn’t fantastic compared to some other devices, with the phone lasting for just over a day under heavy use. That said, the S20 doesn’t quite go even this far, with our review finding that its battery drains to around 15% by the end of a day of moderate to heavy use. Both phones support fast charging at 25W, so you’ll have no problems getting either of them refilled quickly.

This round is a draw. The S2o provides better performance, but the S20 FE offers a longer-lasting battery — so picking a winner will depend on which is more important to you.

Winner: Tie

Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S20 share the same triple-lens rear camera setup, except for one difference. Both have 12-megapixel wide and ultrawide lenses, but the original S20 has 64MP telephoto lens, while the FE’s telephoto is only 8MP.

This is significant if you tend to take zoomed photos regularly, yet otherwise, the two phones are basically as good for everyday pictures. Our review of the FE found that it is just as capable as the S20 in most situations, with photos capturing a broad dynamic range and providing a very good level of clarity. It still offers 3x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom, like the S20. However, the S20’s zoomed shots do provide more detail, particularly at higher zoom levels.

The S20 FE and S20 both let you take 4K video at 60fps, so there’s no difference there. Still, with a noticeably more powerful telephoto lens, this round is a slim victory for the original S20.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20

Software and updates

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Both devices run on One UI 2, which is Samsung’s own version of Android 10. As we’ve written before, One UI 2 is one of the best Android skins out there, offering an intuitive, colorful, and streamlined user experience. It’s well designed and clean, providing users with consistently shaped icons across the entire system and a good level of customization. It also contains a helpful system-wide dark mode, as well as a logically organized settings menu.

While Samsung may have gained the knack of designing operating systems, it still isn’t quite up to speed with updates. Users may find these to be a little slow, at least compared to Google and Apple smartphones. This is a problem that will affect both devices equally, so this round can be nothing other than a tie.

Winner: Tie

Special features

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE design

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and the S20 both support 5G networks, including support for mmWave and sub-6Hz 5G. While 5G still isn’t everywhere, its coverage is gradually growing throughout the United States, so users in cities with 5G will enjoy using either phone.

Aside from 5G, both phones support a refresh rate of 120Hz. This puts both of them in the same league as more expensive flagship Samsung devices, providing users with a very fluid and seamless visual experience.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE starts at $699 and can be pre-ordered from Samsung. It will also be available from every major carrier and the vast majority of major retail outlets.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 is officially priced at $999, and is available from Samsung and all major carriers. It’s still a new phone, so while it has been superseded to an extent by the FE, it doesn’t seem like anyone is offering significant discounts at the moment.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy S20

Samsung Galaxy S20 Hand
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends.com

The Samsung Galaxy S20 takes the overall win in this competition, largely by virtue of its superior specs. Thanks to its 12GB of RAM as standard, it can lay claim to better performance than the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, while its more powerful telephoto lens also means it has a superior camera system. On top of this, its glass body gives it a more elegant look than the newer FE, an impression reinforced by its sharper display.

It has to be said, however, that this is quite a narrow victory. It’s also awarded in complete disregard of the big price difference between the two phones, which sits at $300. If this $300 is taken into account, then the FE becomes the overall winner. It performs almost as speedily as the S20, while it offers improved battery life, a bigger screen, the same internal memory, almost the same camera, the same 5G support, and the same user-friendly software. If you want to save a nice wad of cash, it’s definitely the better option.

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