Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and S20 Ultra might be packed to the hilt with the latest, greatest tech, but they also come with sky-high prices to match. That makes them a tricky sell at a time when purse strings are tightening and rivals like OnePlus are making great phones at more affordable prices. The Galaxy S20 FE (which stands for “fan edition”) aims to offer much of what you’ll find in the company’s top-end phones but with a few tweaks here and there in order to keep the price down.
That price is $700 — the same as the iPhone 11. In the UK and Australia, it’s £599 or AU$999 for a 4G version, and £699 or AU$1,149 for 5G . (Only the 5G version will be offered in the US.) That’s a significant price drop, given that the 5G Galaxy Note 20 Ultra retails for $1,300 (£1,179, AU$1,999). It also undercuts the OnePlus 8 Pro, which has a similar set of specs but costs $899 (£799). So much for OnePlus’ famous affordability.
See S20 FE at Best Buy
The price might be more affordable, but the key specs don’t seem to have suffered all that much. There’s a 6.5-inch, 2,400×1,080-pixel super AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling and a lightning-fast Snapdragon 865 processor (for the 5G models; there’s an Exynos 990 chip in the 4G models — the same one found in the Note 20 Ultra and S20 Ultra).
There’s a triple camera setup on the back, although the resolutions are lower and it lacks high-end features like the 100x space zoom (30x zoom is offered, but it relies heavily on digital zoom) or 8K video recording, neither of which I think you’ll miss. It still offers things like 3x optical zoom, optical image stabilization, night mode photos and the “single take” feature which captures multiple versions of the same shot when you hit the shutter button (zoomed in, zoomed out, a video, a GIF, different filters) allowing you to decide which to share afterwards.
Physically, it looks much the same as the rest of the S20 series. It has a Gorilla Glass 5 display (rather than Gorilla Glass 6 on the Note 20), and the back is made from a toughened, matte plastic rather than shiny glass. It still has IP68 waterproofing though, along with an in-screen fingerprint scanner and it’s available in a wider range of snazzy colors, including a vibrant red, a lavender purple, navy blue, mint green and orange — all of which look much nicer than the sinfully dull gray on Samsung’s most expensive S20 Ultra.
The phone is available for preorder globally from Wednesday, with in-store sales starting on Oct 2.
No, this phone isn’t a revolution in mobile technology, but that’s not what Samsung needs to do right now. What it should be doing is offering a solid all-round experience at a more attractive price, which on paper at least is exactly what the S20 FE provides. We’ll find out how it stacks up against similarly priced competitors like the OnePlus 8 Pro in the full review, but for now you can see how its specs compare in the chart below.