Let’s check it out the new Samsung S20 FE (fan edition) 5G smart phone with a review, unboxing and device runthrough. In a nutshell, the S20 fan edition is what the S20 should be, providing flagship specs at non-flagship prices.

The Samsung S20 FE (Fan edition) in the flesh
The Samsung S20 FE (Fan edition) in the flesh.

At its core, the Samsung S20 FE is a 5G enabled candy bar phone as a great price point. It goes by a Samsung model name of SM-G781B. The phone cladded with a glass front, built with a premium aluminium frame and a not-so premium plastic back. Also, despite this the plastic does not feels cheap and I do prefer this over glass for durability and being less of a fingerprint smudge magnet.

Plastic backing, which I tend to prefer over the quirky so-called premium but less practical glass back
Plastic backing, which I tend to prefer over the quirky so-called premium but less practical glass back on Samsung’s flagship lineups.

Moreover, the S20FE has external dimensions of 159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4 mm (6.29 x 2.93 x 0.33 in) sitting in a weight of 190 g (6.70 oz). The phone does feel a lot smaller than it is given its large 84.8% screen-to-body ratio.

Basic box contents with included USB charger, cable and SIM tray pin
Basic box contents with included USB charger, cable and SIM tray pin.

The box contents are simple, with an included USB charger, cable, SIM tray pin with some basic quick start pamphlets. You can see more of it with the unboxing video.

Great 120hz screen

Really vibrant Higher than HD screen, typical of Samsung AMOLED screens
Really vibrant Higher than HD screen, typical of Samsung AMOLED screens.

On the front, the phone spots a 6.5 inch flat Super AMOLED screen with a higher than HD resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels (20:9 ratio). This gives the screen a 407 pixel per inch density. The selling point here is the impressive 120Hz refresh rate which we last saw a flagship feature on the Razer phone 2.

Samsung's traditional Android 3 button action keys in place of the 2 button one
Samsung’s traditional Android 3 button action keys in place of the 2 button one,
The samsung S20 fe has no issues running even the most demanding benchmarks and games
The S20 FE has no issues running even the most demanding benchmarks and games.

Also, you can turn on this 120hz in the settings, allowing for buttery smooth UIs, scrolling and games (if supported). A 32MP front facing camera fits in a centrally placed hole punch on the top.

Top facing 32 MP camera
Top facing centrally-place hole punch 32 MP camera.

On performance, the phone clocked a 894 geekbench single-core score and 3201 on the multi-core score respectively. The scores even surpluses that of the flagship Samsung S20 Ultra released earlier this year.

Geek bench scores
Single core
Multi core

Also, the S20 has no issues running even the most demanding benchmarks and games. It clocked a respectable above-average scores rivaling similar flasghip phones on the 3D mark benchmark scores too. It did this without getting too hot, with temperatures always hovering below at toasty 39 degrees celsius.

3D mark slingshot
Wildlife bench
API test

Expansion and connectivity

Additionally, connectivity wise is the usual fan-fair with a right volume locker with the power button below it. The left side of the phone is clean and devoid of any buttons. The bottom of the phone spots a single microphone, USB-C (USB3) charging and sync port, and a downward firing speaker.

Bottom connectivity
Volume buttons
Top with the sim tray

At the top of the device sits a multi-purpose SIM and microSDXC slot and tray. You have the option to purpose it as a Hybrid Dual SIM device using two Nano-SIM with dual stand-by, or if you value external storage, give out one of the Nano-SIM slot for a microSDXC card (Up to 1TB). In Singapore, the S20FE comes in 128GB or 256GB internal storage (UFS 3.1), both paired with 8GB RAM (There is no 6GB RAM option available).

Wrapping up, on top of Bluetooth and Wi-fi, the phone has NFC supporting contact-less payments such as Samsung’s own S-Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified). Moreover, the S20FE is available in 5 colours, except black. This includes Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud Navy, Cloud White, Cloud Red and Cloud Orange.

Versatile cameras

To read up on a more detailed review of the S20FE cameras, click here to read the dedicated photography review with sample photos.

Outdoor test shots using the 3 lenses and 10x digital zoom
Day outdoor test shots using the 3 lenses and 10x digital zoom.

Moreover, the highlight of the phone is its triple lens setup, making it a highly versatile setup for day, night and objects far away. This is provided courtesy. Though the cameras have a megapixel reduction, the offerings are more than adequate for casual photography and web. Starting out is an ultra-wide 13mm 12 Megapixel camera (f/2.2, 123˚).

Samsung S20 FE Triple camera lens setup
The rear triple camera lens setup.

Also, the primary shooter is a 12 MP, optically stabilized Dual Pixel 26mm lens (1/1.76″, 1.8µm). Wrapping up the third camera is a 76mm 8 MP telephoto lens. (f/2.4,, 1/4.5″, 1.0µm, PDAF). It is similarly optically stabilized with an impressive 3x optical zoom. Notably, the zoom camera at 3x is better than the offerings of the S20 released early this year. It goes to show that Samsung is willing to put the best of their cameras bettering their current flagships, well until the S21 comes around.

Great Battery life

The phone is powered by a hefty 4500mah battery which is one of the largest in its class and one of the phone’s main selling points. With moderate use, you could actually make easily last 2 full days. Also, the non-removable battery is sealed with a IP68 dust/water resistant. It is able to be submerged up to 1.5m for 30 minutes.

The S20 FE easily manages 2 days of battery life with its huge 4500 mah battery, despite an always-on screen and tons of sideloaded apps like the Side swipe app-bar
The S20 FE easily manages 2 days of battery life with its huge 4500 mah battery, despite an always-on screen and tons of sideloaded apps like the Side swipe app-bar.

Furthermore, to feed this battery heft, the S20FE supports both 25W wired fast charging as well as 15W fast wireless charging. This is accomplished through USB Power Delivery 3.0. Also, the phone is able perform reverse wireless charging (up to 4.5W) which you can use to charge other Qi devices, like another phone or your wireless headphones, which you will need as 3.5mm jack is absent.

Under screen finger print sensor
Under screen finger print sensor.

The under screen fingerprint sensor allows you to register up to 3 fingerprints. On daily use, it is fairly accurate, but does not work on dirty finger. Also, it takes about 1-2 seconds to read and unlock and not as fast as the Google Pixel rear sensor or as liberal as the Vivo X21 under screen sensor we tested sometime back. Alternatively, there is also face unlock, though it does not work well with a mask on.

Pricing- Flagship specs at great value

At it’s launch, the S20FE is priced at about the $650 range with a base 2 year telco contract. It had been sometime since I had seen flagship spec phone hovering in the $600 price range. Given in the likes of Apple iPhones, Samsung and Huawei following suit into pushing the $1000 price barrier for their phones even after a 24 month contract subsidy.

Still the S20FE itself is ridiculously priced at $1000 on it’s RRP without a contract. Though a more realistic price point would be around the $800 range if you were to do your price research from third party stores.

The Samsung S20 FE is probably what the S20 would had been. At the release price point, that's really good value
The Samsung S20 FE is probably what the S20 would had been. At the release price point, that’s really good value.

Still, with the official pre-launch offers where Samsung is bundling a 128GB U3 MicroSD card with a pair of Samsung Galaxy Buds+ with a RRP of ~$300 (actual retail price about $200). Less, the freebie prices, this allows the S20FE to punch a rather attractive sub $400 ($~450) price point.

All in all, it had been sometime since we had seen a well-priced phone from a major brand which is not a Xiaomi or an Oppo. The Samsung S20 FE is probably what the S20 would had been. The package of flagship specs with the Snapdragon 865 CPU, 8GB RAM, 120hz screen and combination of great cameras offering better quality than the S20, I would say, that’s really good value.

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