There had been rumors swirling around in the July-August time frame that Samsung will be announcing a new addition to their S20 series lineup. In hopes of capturing every segment of the smartphone market, can this addition shine brightly enough to stand side by side its well-established siblings in the S20 family?
While these early leaks and rumors rarely amounted to concrete proof of what's to come, Samsung finally dropped the hammer on September 23th by announcing the Galaxy S20 FE (stands for "Fan Edition"). The phone hits retail shelves on October 2nd, and retail pricing starts at RM2,699 up to RM3,399 for the top end 5G model. With the pricing of flagships from various brands pushing north of RM4,000 for the likes of the iPhone and Note series, even brands like Xiaomi and OnePlus that traditionally excel at offering flagship specs at midrange prices have unfortunately caught on to that trend.
The pricing of the S20 FE does not place it in the budget smartphone segment. However, there is now a huge void in between the base model Galaxy S20 and the Galaxy A series lineup, and it looks like the S20 FE is a perfect candidate for Samsung to fill the RM2300-3300 void. Potential customers looking for a cheaper Galaxy device with the full Samsung experience can look no further. Truth to be told, Samsung did make a few compromises to achieve this price point when compared to the base Galaxy S20 model.
But fret not as the S20 FE still comes in a potent hardware package for its price, it still packs all the bells and whistles of what makes the S20 great. The S20 FE that I have on hand is the 5G variant that exclusively sports the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 System on Chip whereas the LTE variant comes with Samsung's own Exynos 990 System on Chip. Samsung chose to retain the most important features of the S20 models that appeal the most to younger users: a 120Hz display, fast processor, plenty of memory and a big battery.
Galaxy S20 FE 5G pictured. Front, Rear and Left side view.
The S20 FE's design is no stranger to look at, sharing many similarities with its S20 series siblings. The front display is completely flat in that it doesn't share the slightly curved edges of its S20 siblings, giving a slightly less glossy look to it when viewed from the sides. Though Samsung did opt to use a glasstic like material (polycarbonate) in the construction of the rear of the phone, the sides of the phone are still surrounded by an aluminium frame.
The polycarbonate back should at least not be prone to shattering if the device falls flat on its back compared to an all glass cover. Samsung did remedy this in a subtle and indirect way by including a quality clear standing cover as a free gift for all purchases.
The phone's speakers offers a pretty solid audio coming from a stereo configuration, where the top ear piece doubles as the second channel for audio output when watching media content in landscape mode. Users who come from smartphones with only one bottom-firing speaker should find the sound a pleasant upgrade.
Samsung hasn’t let us down in any department on the hardware side, as some may worry that the lower priced FE version would come with last year's hardware as corners are cut. However, the phone is no slouch as the Snapdragon 865 powers through games and everyday tasks blazingly fast. The 8GB system memory (RAM) may be slightly lacking compared to other smartphones offering 12GB RAM, but 8GB is still plenty enough for today's multitasking usage. As for the storage memory you have the option of choosing between 128/256GB for storage memory, with the added option of further expansion through the microSD slot.
In fact its even holding a stable 60fps on almost every game that I have tried on max settings (not all games support the full 120hz refresh rate) , with usually low-mid CPU+GPU usage. One notable example is Call of Duty Mobile which plays smoothly at 60fps even at Max settings while the GPU chugs alone fine at 30+% usage. For the few games that natively support up to 120Hz on the S20 FE, its an absolute delight to be gaming on the high refresh rate display. Forza Street and Subway Surfer are some of the examples which run on 120Hz straight out of Google Play.
Pictured on the left: Subway Surfer with a frame rate counter using the built-in GPUwatch.
Smartphones nowadays are more than powerful enough to handle pretty much every task you throw at it as an average user, so I wouldn't delve too much into the masses of graphs and numbers comparing the S20 FE 5G with other smartphone models. Since the point of comparing the phone to other high end smartphones that most likely sport the same Snapdragon 865 SoC is kind of moot.
The Galaxy S20 FE is a solid entry by Samsung into their lineup, with the pricing especially enticing to customers looking for an upgrade without breaking the wallet. It is essentially extracting what works and matters from the pricier Galaxy S20 and molding it into a lower priced package.
Sure they are other smartphones similarly priced or lower like the OnePlus 8T or Mi 10T, but its hard to get device support in Malaysia for these brands. Buying into Galaxy S20 FE also means buying into a device with strong backing from the Samsung brand, with the added convenience of having warranty service centers placed throughout Malaysia. Interested people may look forward to scoring an even better deal on an already good deal during the upcoming 12/12 online sales on Shopee or Lazada. Considering that we had deep discounts of up to RM400 for a recently launched device during the previous 11/11 sales, expect to see similar if not better deals for 12/12.
Link to 12/12 promo: KTS Shopee 12/12